WKU Public Radio's Section 6: Local Content and Services Report for 2019 CPB SAS

Mar 27, 2020

1. Describe your overall goals and approach to address identified community issues, needs, and interests through your station’s vital local services, such as multiplatform long and short-form content, digital and in-person engagement, education services, community information, partnership support, and other activities, and audiences you reached or new audiences you engaged.

The aim of every news story and every news/public affairs program on WKU Public Radio is to create a more informed, engaged, and connected community. We cover a wide listening that includes southern and western Kentucky, northern Tennessee, and southern Indiana. Our local news efforts focus on stories that have a wide-ranging impact on the individuals living in these areas. 

Our journalists work daily to produce original news content for our live morning and afternoon newscasts, and long-form features and interviews that air locally during Morning Edition and All Things Considered and are posted on our website and social media platforms. Those stories are also shared with other public radio stations in Kentucky through the Kentucky Public Radio Network collaboration. This sharing leads to our locally-produced news content being heard in numerous regions we otherwise might not reach. 

Our local content focuses on a variety of issues we know to be of interest to our audience. Some of the major subjects we cover on a regular basis include issues related to local and state government; health; business and employment; arts and culture events; education; and issues impacting the immigrant/refugee and LGBTQ communities across our service area. 

In addition to posting our local news content at our website, we also host an online community events calendar that allows organizations such as theatre groups, music ensembles, houses of worship, and school systems to post, free of charge, information about events they are hosting in our region. This results in a wonderful, easy-to-use resource where our audience can learn about what’s happening in their community. 

We have several opportunities per year aimed at face-to-face engagement with our community. This includes meet-and-greets with our journalists and management staff; regular live concerts that bring artists from around the region to a historic downtown theater. 

2. Describe key initiatives and the variety of partners with whom you collaborated, including other public media outlets, community nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, the business community, teachers and parents, etc. This will illustrate the many ways you’re connected across the community and engaged with other important organizations in the area.

WKYU is a leading member of multiple public media collaborations that create news and public affairs content for otherwise underserved, primarily rural regions of our country. 

We're a part of the Kentucky Public Radio News Network, a collaboration that also includes WKMS in Murray/Paducah, WEKU in Richmond/Hazard/Lexington, and WFPL in Louisville. KPRN stations share broadcast and online content, something that assists stations with newsroom staffing challenges, and avoids needless duplication of resources. This sharing of content ensures that important and timely stories produced by a partner station have a much wider reach and impact. 

KPRN stations also pool our resources to fund a statehouse reporter in Frankfort, Kentucky. Ryland Barton creates broadcast and online content for each partners station to use, something of increasing importance as many other media outlets have reduced their statehouse coverage in recent years. Ryland focuses on the most important issues developing in the state legislature, statewide elections, and other major state government topics. 

KPRN member stations also air a statewide newscast that covers the back half of the NPR newscasts at the top of the hour from 9am-2pm central time. These newscasts contain the latest content submitted by each KPRN member station, and greatly increase the number of opportunities for listeners to hear local/regional news stories. These newscasts are usually anchored by WFPL, but WKYU serves as the primary back-up statewide newscast producer when WFPL needs assistance. 

WKYU is also a member of the Ohio Valley ReSource (OVR), a CPB-funded Rural Journalism Collaboration (RJC) that includes stations from Kentucky, West Virginia, and Ohio. The OVR focuses primarily on feature-length broadcast and online storytelling that explores the evolving economic, education, agriculture, health, and substance abuse disorder challenges facing the region. 

WKYU is a part of a new collaboration led by member station WPLN in Nashville, and including several other public radio stations in Tennessee, and one other in Kentucky. The collaboration includes content sharing, and allows WKYU to access content produced by Tennessee stations that is of interest to our audience. WKYU is also sharing content we produce that is of interest to Tennessee stations. The content sharing includes both broadcast and online stories. 

WKYU partnered with our sister station, WKYU PBS, and the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center, to offer live and recorded broadcasts of the locally-produced Lost River Sessions, a show spotlighting local musical acts performing in venues across our region. 

WKYU began producing a program called the Stained Glass Music Series, which features musicians performing at St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Bowling Green. The concerts are open to the public, and are recorded and aired later on WKYU. 

WKYU partnered with the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Museum in Owensboro to promote the ROMP music festival in June. 

3. What impact did your key initiatives and partnerships have in your community? Describe any known measurable impact, such as increased awareness, learning or understanding about particular issues. Describe indicators of success, such as connecting people to needed resources or strengthening conversational ties across diverse neighborhoods. Did a partner see an increase in requests for related resources? Please include direct feedback from a partner(s) or from a person(s) served.

Our reporting partnerships with stations across Kentucky and our region helped gain exposure for the organizations/businesses/groups from our area that we covered in FY 2019. This brought attention to the significant issues facing our region. We also spotlighted the stories of individuals who are immigrants, refugees, coal miners, educators, artists, military veterans, the homeless, and members of the LGBTQ community. 

As part of our collaboration with the Kentucky Public Radio Network, WKYU aired a special election night special anchored on-site at member station WFPL. It featured our capitol reporter, other in-studio guests, and also used content produced by WKYU reporters. Airing that election night coverage provided enhanced on-air content, while freeing up WKYU journalists to better concentrate on publishing local election results and information on our digital platforms, as well as gathering audio for broadcast stories to air the following morning. 

We continued airing recordings of classical music concerts from Bowling Green-based Orchestra Kentucky. This allowed locally-produced classical music to air on the radio for not only Bowling Green but also our other markets as well, exposing our audience to easily accessible classical music. 

4. Please describe any efforts (e.g. programming, production, engagement activities) you have made to investigate and/or meet the needs of minority and other diverse audiences (including, but not limited to, new immigrants, people for whom English is a second language and illiterate adults) during Fiscal Year 2018, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2019. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

WKYU reporters continued to attend quarterly information meetings held by the Bowling Green-based International Center of Kentucky, a refugee resettlement agency. These meetings are a way for us to learn more about the challenges refugees face in relocating to southern Kentucky from war-torn areas and places where they faced political/religious persecution. 

We continued to produce news stories related to the continuing decline in the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. under federal policy, and the contributions made by refugees to the artistic, culinary, linguistic, and religious landscape of our region. 

WKYU produced reports profiling a Kentucky-based program that helps elder refugees find social outlets and avoid isolation, and also provides English language classes and help preparing for the U.S. Citizenship test; the ongoing progress of the Lake Cumberland Slaves Memorial project, which led to an art installation at Somerset Community College dedicated to slaves who had been buried in unmarked graves throughout the region; and a report focusing on the life and enduring impact of Garrett Morgan, an African-American inventor, businessman, and activist from Kentucky. 

WKYU also conducted several interviews and produced several news stories featuring the perspectives of Western Kentucky University students who have birthright citizenship. This was done at a time when there was a national conversation taking place about the possibility of eliminating birthright citizenship. 

5. Please assess the impact that your CPB funding had on your ability to serve your community. What were you able to do with your grant that you wouldn't be able to do if you didn't receive it?

CPB grant support is an absolutely essential component of our overall funding. In addition to the support we receive from our community and university, CPB funding allows us to serve a very wide geographic area, covering parts of three states.

Our CPB grant ensures that we can continue to provide high-quality public radio programming and meaningful community engagement. This station faces considerable challenges when working to raise financial support in our community. Much of of coverage area is rural, not affluent, and does not fit traditional public radio listener demographics.

CPB funding strengthens our efforts and helps us acquire programming that would otherwise be unaffordable and unattainable for us.

Without CPB's support, our public service efforts would be tremendously diminished, and many in our region would be left without a local public radio service. A lack of CPB support would also affect the size and quality of our staff.

Being a fully-qualified CPB station also gives us access to resources and program providers that are essential for our operation.