AIR announces new round of Localore projects, ‘Finding America’

Print More

The Association of Independents in Radio will seek pitches in May for a new round of 15 Localore projects under the theme “Finding America.”

With this round, AIR aims to observe and serve communities not being addressed by public media, said Adriana Gallardo, recently hired by AIR to work as Finding America’s network manager. “We’re not setting out to discover communities,” she said, but to “help our stations be better neighbors” by telling stories in their neighborhoods.

As with Localore’s previous projects, AIR will pair independent producers with stations. But this time the organization is looking in particular for stations that designate an employee to lead collaboration with the outside producer. Those relationships proved to be key to Localore’s most successful projects, said AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt.

Stations pitching ideas for the upcoming round will be asked to identify collaborators inside the station. “The goal of Localore is to leave behind whatever we build. . . . We want someone inside [the station] who owns it,” she said.

Each station-producer team will spend nine months “understanding microcosmic communities of America,” according to AIR’s press release, and develop projects based on these observations. AIR will also create a meta-documentary project that will gather stories coming out of the process.

AIR also hopes to expand voices engaging with public media, Schardt said. “Diversity is essential to the sustainability of pubmedia,” she said. “We hope to carry it much further in the next year of this work.”

“The long game remains to . . . take public media to all of America,” Schardt said.

In addition, AIR will try to expand diversity by seeking producers with a broader range of skill sets, such as cartoonists, developers or designers, “to bring in interesting communities that aren’t a part of public media,” Gallardo said.

“There is a vast number of people in this country that don’t know that public media exists,” Schardt said.

In addition to hiring Gallardo, a founder of the Vocalo Storytelling Workshop in Chicago, AIR has hired Teresa Gorman as curating producer. Gorman, previously a digital news specialist with NPR Digital Services, will support media strategies and story production for independent and station-based talent.

Related stories from Current: