WKU Public Radio's Section 6: Local Content and Services Report for 2014 CPB SAS
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 storytelling, 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:
*Arts & Culture
*Business and Economics
*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 2014 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.
For the first time, we hired a part-time photographer/digital media journalist who took professional quality photographs and created video reports for our website and social media sites. These elements greatly enhanced the quality of our digital story telling capabilities.
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.
We began discussions with our Kentucky Public Radio Network (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 impact 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.
KPR 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 14. 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 which 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 14 include:
* An interview we aired with WKU Economics Prof. Brian Strow detailing some of the benefits immigration has on our listening area and the state of Kentucky
*An interview with WKU Geography and Geology Professor Rezaul Mahmood about his participation in a group that produced the National Climate Assessment, which focuses on the impact of climate change on the U.S.
*A news feature we produced containing comments from Dr. Laura McGee, head of WKU's Department of Modern Languages, about a bill proposed in the 2014 Kentucky Legislature that would have allowed public schools in Kentucky to award foreign language credit to students who completed certain computer programming courses
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 14, 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 2014 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.
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 increased collaboration with our Kentucky Public Radio Network (KPRN) partner stations has led to increased local news content during weekdays on our station, most notably a new statewide newscast that we have begun to air six times a day, Monday-Friday, during FY 15.
While this newscast wasn't running in FY 14, it is a direct result of closer collaborative efforts that began during that fiscal year. Our goal was to find new ways in which partner stations could share news content. The results of the negotiations begun in FY 14 have led to increased opportunities for our audience to hear local/regional news content on our station.
An example of how our local news coverage impacted our community is the success of an event in Franklin, Ky., called "Kids Caring For Our Community." A group of sixth grade students at Franklin-Simpson Middle School spearheaded an effort to collect thousands of household items that could be given away to needy individuals in the region.
We interviewed teacher Cheyenne Brown and four students involved in the effort, and aired the interview in our morning and afternoon news magazines ahead of the "Free Sale", where the collected items were given away.
We later learned that our coverage had a direct impact on the success of the event. Cheyenne Brown emailed us the following comments afterwards:
"It's been a few months since we have spoken, but I am Cheyenne Brown, teacher at Franklin-Simpson Middle School. You were so, incredibly helpful with the promotion of our charity event back in April. Thanks to your help, we were able to collect over 40,000 items and touch the lives of around 500 individuals.
Considering the success of the event in April with 100 students, we have decided to host the event again this December 6, 2014 with the participation of all 700 plus students at Franklin-Simpson Middle School.
I received countless emails, calls, and donations due to the airing of your program. More importantly, countless individuals that Saturday said they decided to attend because of the interview they heard. For that, I thank you."
Our content producers also made a concerted effort during FY 14 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 a sound-rich feature highlighting the Bill Monroe-Style Mandolin Camp held at the Owensboro Bluegrass Music Museum; an interview with recording artist Neil Sedaka ahead of his concert at the Bowling Green Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center; a preview of recording artist Keith Emerson's concert with the Warren County-based Orchestra Kentucky; and an interview with WKU English Professor and author David Bell, talking about the release of his latest mystery novel, "Never Come Back."
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 2014, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2015. 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 14 include:
*A feature report profiling a program called Paw Pals, which takes place at the Bowling Green-Warren County Humane Society. English as a Second Language (ESL) students from Warren County schools read books in English while in the presence of shelter pets, which puts them at ease and makes them less self-conscious. The program has improved the literacy and self-esteem of many ESL students in the region
*Extensive coverage relate to same-sex marriage laws in Kentucky. Included are numerous stories aired during our local newscast related to a February ruling by a federal judge that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, striking down part of the state ban. We featured comments from Kentucky same-sex couples, opponents of changes to same-sex marriage laws, and an interview with a WKU Economics Professor about how changes to such laws might impact state income tax receipts.
*Other diverse audiences of importance to our region that we explored include non-traditional students at colleges and universities in our region, and military veterans. We profiled a non-traditional student at the WKU-Glasgow campus as part of a feature report about the unique challenges facing older students as they enroll in college classes, often decades after they graduated high school or last took college courses.
We also aired a Veterans Day interview with a WKU student and employee who served in the U.S. Marine Corp in Afghanistan and Iraq. He explained how, in his job with the school's military student services office, he helps other student veterans navigate the challenges of returning to the classroom after military service.
We are committed to continue the exploration of minority groups and other diverse audiences in our region. Issues impacting members of the LGBT community are one example, with Kentucky lawmakers debating a bill that would require transgender students use public school restrooms corresponding to their anatomical gender. The issue has received heightened awareness after a Kentucky public high school announced it would allow a transgender girl to use the women’s restroom and locker room.
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.