WKU Public Radio's Section 6: Local Content and Services Report for 2013 CPB SAS

Mar 8, 2014

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.

Our goal is to provide informative and interesting news and public affairs content, as well as arts and culture programming that is of interest to our wide listening area that includes central, western, and southern Kentucky; southern Indiana; and northern Tennessee.

We provide live, updated local newscasts every 30 minutes each weekday during the morning and afternoon drive-times. We also air local headlines three days during the midday hours of 11am, 12pm, and 1pm. We target these day parts because we know it is how we'll reach the largest number of listeners.

Our newscasts focus on the issues that have the widest impact on our listening area, including stories related to state and local politics, agriculture, business, education, and our region's growing immigrant populations. Our reporters work each day to produce content for these newscasts, as well as longer-format features and interviews that are aired during the morning and afternoon news magazines and then archived at our website and social media sites.

Our locally-produced features and interviews in fiscal 2013 covered issues such as the potential agricultural and economic impact of industrial hemp legalization in our region; the aftermath of the murder of a well-liked police officer with the Bardstown Police Department; the story of a Western Kentucky University instructor who was running in the Boston Marathon when bombs exploded; the controversy surrounding a proposed alternative birthing center in Elizabethtown; and how a new breast cancer treatment program in Louisville was impacting patients in our listening area.

Through use of the Core Publisher system, WKU Public Radio made tremendous strides in our digital presence. We now post on our website every spot news story, feature, and interview we create for the air. This provides our audience with a wonderful online and mobile news source that--unlike a growing number of internet news sources--does not require registration or payment of fees to access.

We have seen large growth in our social media presence by doing a better job of mentioning those resources during on-air promos and during our local newscasts.

A key way we help disseminate community information is through the regular broadcasting of PSAs. We actively invite organizations from throughout our region to send us PSA material that can be aired on WKU Public Radio. In addition, we provide those groups with a link they can use to upload event information on the community events calendar portion of our website. We actively promote that aspect of our website on the air, in an effort to make it a go-to resource for those interested in finding our more about events, programs, concerts, and arts events taking place in our listening area.

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.

One key initiative we are involved in is a collaborative partnership known as Kentucky Public Radio (KPR). In addition to this station, KPR consists of WFPL in Louisville; WEKU in Richmond/Lexington; WMKY in Morehead; and WKMS in Murray/Paducah.

KPR partner stations pool our resources to fund a full-time statehouse bureau reporter at the Kentucky capitol in Frankfort. This effort provides us with timely, accurate, and high-quality coverage when the Kentucky legislature is in session, focusing on the writing of the next state budget, legislation of major impact to our respective regions, and statewide election coverage.

This is an extremely valuable service, given that many other news outlets such as newspapers and TV stations have recently cut back on their statehouse and political coverage due to budget constraints.

KPR also serves as a story-sharing service. Partner stations share scripts, audio, and web content from spot news stories, features, and interviews they have produced. This content is shared through an email group listing and a server that is maintained by one of the partner stations. That arrangement benefits each partner station by enhancing its on-air and online news product, and by eliminating the chance that multiple stations will send reporters to cover the same event.

One of the goals of WKU Public Radio has been to strengthen our coverage and awareness of our region's growing immigrant communities. Our news room has worked to establish contacts within those communities that serve as ways for us to learn about issues, challenges, and programs related to these groups. For example, when the city of Bowling Green employed an International Communities Liaison, we connected with that individual to learn more about what was happening to newly arrived and established immigrants in our region.

WKU Public Radio joined the Chambers of Commerce in the towns of Owensboro, Somerset, Elizabethtown, Glasgow, and Bardstown, in an effort to better connect with those communities and explain to them the mission of public radio in general, and WKU Public Radio specifically. Staff members spoke at meetings of the Elizabethown and Bardstown Rotary Clubs, and the Owenboro Lion's Club.

Staff members also participated in a Red Cross Food Drive by handing out flyers and collecting and sorting food at local supermarkets.                          

WKU Public Radio maintains a wonderful relationship with the faculty and staff of our affiliate institution, Western Kentucky University. Our news staff utilizes WKU faculty and staff members for interviews on subjects of local, national, and international importance. Sound from these interviews is aired during our local newscasts and often appears in the locally-produced feature and interview pieces that air during our news magazines.

We also maintain a partnership with the WKU Music Department by producing an hour-long broadcast Monday evenings consisting of WKU faculty and student recitals.

As mentioned above in question 1, we partner with numerous community nonprofits from throughout our region by the daily airing of PSAs about events, programs, and concerts, as well as through our online events calendar.

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.

WKU Public Radio is committed to better connecting to the many communities that make up our listening area outside of our physical base of Bowling Green. Throughout FY 2013, numerous connections were made with individuals and organizations throughout our region that resulted in face-to-face meetings with community leaders who, in some cases, knew nothing about WKU Public Radio, and others who knew of us but had never had a personal contact with us.

We informally surveyed numerous groups in our region (Chambers of Commerce, Lions Clubs, etc.) to learn more about why people do or don't listen to public radio, what they are looking for in local media coverage, issues they feel are important, etc.

We have begun, in earnest, an effort to better connect with the international communities in our listening area, to learn their stories and the challenges they face, and to do more to get those stories out to our audience.

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 2013, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2014. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

WKU Public Radio maintains a focus on our region's diverse communities through our local news efforts. Local features we have recently aired included the perspectives of:

* Richard Brown of Owensboro, who spoke about his being named a member of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission, and his role in the civil rights struggle in the 1960s in Kentucky

*Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer, who talked about the positive potential impacts federal immigration reform could have on the state's agriculture industry

*Delaire Rose, Director of Very Special Arts (VSA) Kentucky, and parent Stacey Rowe, who talked about an art exhibit in Bowling Green featuring Rowe's daughter, who is a disabled artist

*Arnie Franklin, a retired Air Force pilot from Simpson County who flew in the 1986 air raid against then-Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi. Our coverage area includes Ft. Knox and Ft. Campbell, so stories involving military issues and veterans play an important role in our local news coverage.

As mentioned above in Section 6, Question 2, WKU Public Radio has also made an effort to better educate ourselves, and therefore our audience, about the many immigrant communities in our region. We are committed to pursuing more of this kind of coverage moving forward, as our region becomes even more diverse.

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 impact 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.