WKU Public Radio's Section 6: Local Content and Services Report for 2015 CPB SAS

Jun 1, 2016

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.
 

WKU Public Radio seeks to keep our audience informed about a wide variety of diverse subjects through on-air and digital story telling and through community engagement. Our news staff produces original content for newscasts aired during our morning and afternoon news magazines. We also create long-form features and interviews that are aired during these drive time news magazines. The subjects covered by our news team largely fall under, but are not limited to, the following categories:

*Agriculture
*Arts & Culture
*Business and Economics
*Education
*Environmental Concerns
*Health and Safety
*Local, State, and National Government
*Women's and Minority Issues

The above categories are the eight issues of concern that we report to the FCC on a quarterly basis, as part of our Programs and Problems reports. This means that as a local news staff, we are committed to covering these areas sufficiently each quarter through a combination of spot news stories that air during our local newscasts, as well as longer-form features and interviews. In FY 2015 our news team produced and delivered approximately 193 hours of original news and public affairs content on the air. These efforts were backed up by our online presence, which featured transcripts of the spot news stories we covered, as well as transcripts and audio archives of our feature reports.
 

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.
 

FY 2015 saw the launch of statewide midday newscasts from the Kentucky Public Radio Network (KPRN). WKU Public Radio carries these six daily newscasts and our reporters and news stories are often featured in them. We continued discussions with our (KPRN) partner stations about ways in which we could more closely collaborate in terms of programming. Our membership in KPRN is a vital source of news and information content for this station. KPRN 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 on-air and digital coverage when the Kentucky legislature is in session, focusing on the writing of the next state budget, legislation of major importance to our respective regions, and statewide election coverage. This is an extremely valuable service for our audience, 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. KPRN also serves as a story-sharing service. Partner stations share scripts, audio, photos, and web content related to 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. We reached out to community nonprofits by airing approximately 3,800 Public Service Announcements in FY 15. These PSAs offer community organizations an opportunity to inform a wide listening audience about their upcoming events. We also maintain an online events calendar at our station website that offers community groups an easy way to upload event information. We actively promote this events calendar on the air through a series of regularly-scheduled promos, and through frequent promotion by our on-air hosts during live breaks. We maintain a wonderful relationship with Western Kentucky University. WKU faculty, staff, and administrators are an outstanding resource for a wealth of stories this station produces.

Examples in FY 15 include:

* An interview with WKU Chemistry Professor Kevin Williams, who explained how a grant from the National Institutes of Health was to be used to further research at WKU aimed at creating new drugs for cancer patients. We also aired an interview with WKU Communications professor Blair Thompson, who shared with our listeners his research into the accuracy—and lack of accuracy—of social media posts in the immediate aftermath of school shootings in Kentucky and South Carolina.

*Another example of WKU-based resources being a direct benefit to our audience is political science professor Scott Lasley. Throughout 2015, Professor Lasley provided insight and analysis about changes being considered by the Kentucky Republican Party concerning how they nominate presidential candidates. Professor Lasley’s expertise helped explain the potential benefits and problems associated with Kentucky Republican’s moving from a primary to a caucus nominating system. We offer station tours each semester to WKU broadcasting classes. This gives us an opportunity to speak to aspiring broadcast journalists about the mission of public broadcasting, and opportunities for internships and part-time work. A WKU student performed a semester-long internship with us during FY 15, and we offered numerous shadowing opportunities to broadcasting students. During these shadowing assignments, students observed a WKU news team member for part of a day and learned about how we present local news and information to our audience. 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. We are a part of the Leadership Bowling Green program, which includes young professionals working in the Bowling Green-Warren County region. These individuals tour our facilities and meet with staff members as a way of learning more about the mission of public radio and the programs and services we provide to our communities.

We maintain memberships in the Chambers of Commerce in the towns of Bowling Green, Glasgow, and Owensboro, 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. We also addressed the Bardstown Noon Rotary Club about the mission of the station. We helped sponsor the 2015 River of Music Party (ROMP), an annual bluegrass music festival in Owensboro. Bluegrass music is an important cultural asset in the rural regions we serve in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Indiana, and ROMP allows the station a way to connect with bluegrass music fans and inform them about the bluegrass musical offerings we have on our station.

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.
 

One way WKU Public Radio made an impact in our community was through the airing of stories related to Citizen Foster Care Review Boards in Kentucky. Numerous counties in our listening area were in need of volunteers for these groups, which review cases involving children placed in foster care due to abuse, neglect, and dependency. After we aired stories detailing the need for volunteers, we heard from the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts that they heard from numerous applicants who said they learned of the need through listening to WKU Public Radio. Another way had an impact our region is through our role in the Kentucky Public Radio Network. WKU Public Radio played a leading role in 2015 in the launch of new collaborative statewide newscast effort. The newscasts air six times each weekday, and utilize news content contributed by member stations. This station is a leading contributor to those newscasts, and they offer an enhanced service to listeners of public radio stations across Kentucky. Our content producers also made a concerted effort during FY 15 to increase our station's focus on local/regional arts and culture stories. As a public radio station, we are in a prime position to serve as a go-to source for stories and information on this subject. Examples of our increased attention to arts and culture reporting include coverage of the development of the Bluegrass Music Center in Owensboro and the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Museum in Ohio County, Kentucky. We also spoke with musician Greg Martin of the Kentucky Headhunters following the death of David Bowie.

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 2015, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2016. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

Exploring the stories, interests, and needs of minority communities within our region is a top priority of this station's local news team. One of the eight categories ("issues of concern") that we report to the FCC in our quarterly Programs and Problems reports is "Women's and Minority Issues." Some of the ways we explored issues related to minorities and other diverse audiences in FY 15 include: WKU Public Radio aired extensive coverage in our local newscasts about three Kentucky county clerks who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Their opposition to the unions was based in their religious beliefs, and the three maintained their position was protected under the Constitution. One of the clerks, Kim Davis of Rowan County, gained international attention when she was sued by a same-sex couple who was refused a marriage license. The issue drew strong emotions from many sides, and we provided fair and fact-based reporting on the lawsuit, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and analysis of the legal implications. We aired interviews with Bowling Green LGBT-rights advocates who are working to persuade the Bowling Green City Commission to add LGBT individuals to the list of groups covered by the city’s “Fairness Ordinance.” Currently, LGBT individuals in Bowling Green can be discriminated against in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

We also aired an interview with an Iraqi-born man who was preparing to graduate from a community college in our region. Fawzi Younus is a former political refugee who shared with our audience what it meant to come to America and get a higher education degree, and also his thoughts about calls in the U.S. to bar all Middle Eastern immigrants and refugees from entering this country. WKU Public Radio was also represented at a career day event held by the Multicultural Journalist group at Western Kentucky University. The group strides to promote diversity through the School of Journalism and Broadcasting at WKU and provide resources for students to get a jobs and internships. The WKU Public Radio news director attended the event, and spoke with students about career opportunities in public broadcasting, as well as resume and interview tips. In 2016, WKU Public Broadcasting plans to launch a classical music service on our HD2 service and through an FM translator in Bowling Green. Part of the programming on that station will include "Concierto" a show featuring a mix of English and Spanish classical music as well as "Alt Latino" a show spotlighting popular Latin music.

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.