Local Content and Services Report (Section 6) for the 2022 CPB SAS
2022 Content and Services Report (part of SAS-Radio submission)
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 ultimate goal of the WKU Public Radio news team 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, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition, 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 (KPRN) 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 covered in FY 2022 include the impact of, and recovery from, a deadly tornado outbreak that ripped through much of Kentucky in December 2021. The historic event led to local deaths, the destruction of thousands of homes and businesses, and the temporary closing of some school systems in the days following the event. Our news team also covered the November 2021 Kentucky general election and the May 2022 primary vote. Other areas of local news focus include stories about the immigrant/refugee communities in our coverage area and the region’s LGBTQ+ population.
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 free resource where our audience can learn about what’s happening in their community.
The WKU Public Radio local news staff was awarded First Place in the category of Overall Excellence in the 2022 Kentucky Broadcasters Association Impact awards, the second straight year the news team took home this honor. That award is given to the radio news staff, regardless of market size or whether the station is commercial or public, whose local news content was determined to be the best in the state of Kentucky over the course of the year.
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.
WKU Public Radio plays an integral role in the Kentucky Public Radio Network (KPRN), a collaborative effort that also includes NPR member stations WFPL, WMKS, WEKU, and WVXU. Our collaboration involves the sharing of all local news content, both for broadcast and online. This sharing of content means important information produced by one station’s news team benefits all members of the network equally and is heard and seen by many more people than would be the case if we acted independently. It also allows us to avoid the needless duplication of resources by having open and constant communication among member stations, helping to ensure stations are spending time on a story that is already being covered by another news room.
Through KPRN, we also pool our resources to pay for a reporter who covers the state capitol in Frankfort. This on-the-ground reporter provides daily coverage of the most important actions taken by the Kentucky General Assembly, providing updated radio scripts, web stories, and social media content. This reporter also helps spearhead our coverage of statewide elections.
Another key aspect of KPRN is the six regional newscasts that we contribute to, and air, on weekdays. These newscasts include news stories created by each KPRN member station and air on WKU Public Radio during the back half of each top-of-the-hour NPR newscast weekdays between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. central time. These newscasts provide a strong statewide/local news presence during the midday hours between Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
In addition to airing these newscasts, the local news team at WKU Public Radio serves as the backup producer of the newscasts on days when WFPL is unable to do so.
The WKU Public Radio newsroom also has an informal sharing arrangement with our colleagues at WPLN in Nashville. Given that our coverage area includes a portion of northern Tennessee, we’re able to make great use of many WPLN stories related to that state’s legislature, elections, health care systems, energy/environment, etc.
A reporter from WKU Public Radio attends quarterly information sessions put on by the International Center of Kentucky, a refugee resettlement agency located in Bowling Green. Taking part in these meetings keeps our local news staff informed about the number of new refugees being resettled in our community, the countries where they are originally from, and efforts to help those individuals and families find housing, enroll in schools, get English language training, gain employment, etc.
A WKU Public Radio host/reporter is also a full-time instructor of broadcasting in the Western Kentucky University School of Media and is also the manager of the student radio station on campus. This employee’s efforts help better connect the public radio station with students who may be interested in pursuing internships, fellowships, part-time work, and possible careers with WKU Public Radio.
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.
(Jordan: as you can see in the copy of last year’s answer to this question, we focused on the Brinkley Fellowship. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if we want to focus on that again. If you need any info from me for this answer, holler!)
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 2022, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2023. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.
WKU Public Radio reporters also continued in FY 2022 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.
Our connections with the International Center led to a number of stories about the group’s plans to resettle a growing number of refugees in southern Kentucky during the federal fiscal year that began Oct. 1, 2022. That included plans to resettle around 200 refugees from Afghanistan in Bowling Green and Owensboro.
Our local news story also produced stories about a Bowling Green veteran of the U.S. war in Afghanistan and his wife who volunteered to serve as a guest family for Afghan refugees being resettled in the city. We also featured on the air a Western Kentucky University professor who spearheaded a local effort to prepare welcome bags/baskets for Afghan refugees arriving in Bowling Green.
Our efforts to explore the challenges facing immigrants and refugees in our region also impacted our coverage of the deadly tornadoes that struck parts of western and southern Kentucky in December 2021. Residents originally from other countries were among those who lost their lives and had homes and businesses destroyed in the storms. We featured news reports about efforts by the city of Bowling Green to reach the foreign-born population with information about what resources were available at the local, state, and federal levels as rebuilding began.
WKU Public Radio began airing a weekly four-minute radio segment called “The African American Folklorist.” The segment is produced by a Western Kentucky University student who, through interviews and archival audio/music, explores the history of Black people in our region and their contributions to the visual arts, culinary traditions, literature, music, and scholarship that make up our coverage area.
Our local news team also produced stories about a decision by Western Kentucky University to rename a residence hall in honor of the school’s first Black graduate; an event hosted by the Association of Black Social Workers about how social workers can help address issues impacting Black Kentuckians; and the possibility of Bowling Green being a relocation site for Ukrainian refugees who have fled their country following Russia’s invasion.
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 anduniversity, CPB funding allows us to serve a very wide geographic area, covering parts of three states. Our CPB grant ensures that we cancontinue to provide high-quality public radio programming and meaningful community engagement. This station faces considerable challengeswhen working to raise financial support in our community. Much of of coverage area is rural, not affluent, and does not fit traditional publicradio listener demographics. CPB funding strengthens our efforts and helps us acquire programming that would otherwise be unaffordableand 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 CPBstation also gives us access to resources and program providers that are essential for our operation.