Murrows go to pubcasters, SPJ recognizes radio, and more awards in public media

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Idaho Public Television's Outdoor Idaho received awards from the Idaho Press Club. (Photo: Idaho Public Television)

Idaho Public Television’s Outdoor Idaho received awards from the Idaho Press Club. (Photo: Idaho Public Television)

Radio and Television Digital News Association

Marfa Public Radio, WHYY and WBHM-FM led public broadcasting in the regional Edward R. Murrow awards.

A total of 229 trophies went to public stations in the competition’s 12 regional contests. Most of the awards went to large-market radio stations, which garnered a total of 114 regional Murrows. Pubradio broadcasters in small markets took 99 awards. And public TV stations made a showing too, taking a total of four Murrows for news coverage.

Philadelphia’s WHYY topped the field of large-market public radio stations with its seven awards, including two for investigative reporting and news series on fracking and energy. The station also won for hard news and sports reporting, use of sound/video, writing and their website,

Three other stations came in just below, with six Murrows in large-market divisions: KERA in Dallas, WUNC in Chapel Hill, N.C., and St. Louis Public Radio.

Eight regional Murrows put Marfa Public Radio ahead of small-market public radio stations that took multiple trophies. It garnered awards in categories for overall excellence, breaking news, news series, website and feature, investigative, sports and hard-news reporting. WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., won seven awards: overall excellence, newscast, breaking news, continuing coverage, feature reporting, investigative reporting, and writing.

Three pubcasters in small markets each received five Murrows: North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y.; KBIA in Columbia, Mo.; and South Dakota Public Broadcasting in Vermillion.

Four public TV stations were among the winners as well. Among small-market stations, Idaho Public Television won in the news documentary category, and WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., won in best website for, a multimedia look at the state of health care. For large-market stations, KCPT in Kansas City, Mo., won best website for, a collaborative local news project, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting won for best documentary with 1964: The Fight for a Right, about the “Freedom Summer” drive to register black voters in Mississippi.

Texas Tribune, the nonprofit news organization based in Austin, also made a strong showing in RTDNA’s regional contest. It won Murrows in every non-broadcast category: overall excellence, use of video, website, and video investigative reporting.

Regional winners now compete for the national phase of RTNDA’s annual Edward R. Murrow Awards, to be announced in June.

Society of Professional Journalists

Nine public radio stations and two investigative news centers received Sigma Delta Chi Awards.

SPJ judges evaluated radio entries in two divisions: broadcasters in the top 100 media markets, and markets 101 and smaller.

Four pubradio winners in the large-market radio division were:

  • WNYC in New York, honored for public service radio journalism in “NYPD Bruised”;
  • WBEZ in Chicago, for the feature report “The Dark Arts of Politics: Changing political history, in a closet near you”;
  • Minnesota Public Radio, for the documentary “Betrayed by Silence: How three archbishops hid the truth”; and
  • Maine Public Broadcasting Network, breaking news reporting in “Ebola Healthworker Defies Quarantine.”

Pubradio winners also topped four categories in the small-market division:

  • WVTF in Roanoke, Va., breaking news reporting in “The Disappearance of Hannah Graham”;
  • KBIA in Columbia, Mo., for the documentary “Heartland, Missouri”;
  • KUNC in Greeley, Colo., feature reporting in “Finding Soldierstone”;
  • KMUW in Wichita, Kan., investigative reporting in “Dangerous Chemical Invades West Wichita Drinking Water.”

In the online reporting division, Boston’s WBUR won for best digital audio with “A Fear of Going to School: 5 Former Boston Students Reflect on Busing.”

Also honored for online reporting were the Center for Public Integrity, recognized for best digital video in “Time Is Money,” and ProPublica, lauded for public service in online journalism for “Segregation Now: Investigating America’s Racial Divide.”

Overseas Press Club 

POV, PRI’s The World and NPR were honored for international reporting.

POV, a PBS series showcasing independent film, won the Edward R. Murrow Award honoring documentaries or other video that expose an issue in international affairs. Big Men, the winning film, was directed by Rachel Boynton and produced by Simon Kilmurry. It follows the story of a Dallas company that aimed to invest in Ghana’s oil industry.

The Lowell Thomas Award, which honors best radio news or interpretation of international affairs, went to The World’s Marine Olivesi and Aaron Schacter for their “Repercussions of the Arab Spring” series. And NPR’s Steve Inskeep, Kainaz Amaria and staff were cited for best multimedia news presentation for “Borderland,” a look at the U.S.–Mexico border.

Idaho Press Club

Outdoor Idaho won six of ten awards presented to Idaho Public Television in the press club’s annual awards.

The IPT series on Idaho’s natural resources won in a wide range of television categories: public affairs program, documentary, sports program, writing, videography and video essay.

Science Trek, another IPT series, took awards for best TV graphics and best studio-based public affairs program; its companion web series won for best online-only program. In addition, “Dick Dorworth: A Life of Adventure” won for best sports news story.

The Northwest News Network, a regional pubcasting news collaborative, took two awards for radio reporting. Stories about Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s return to the U.S. won for general news reporting and spot news.

Daytime Emmy Awards

PBS programs and promotional spots garnered 17 awards for Creative Arts.

Sesame Street led PBS’s Daytime Emmy contenders by taking five statuettes in crafts categories. It won for original song, costume design/styling, sound editing, multiple camera editing and directing.

Four additional PBS Kids series also won awards:

  • Odd Squad, for directing in a children’s or preschool children’s series and for hairstyling;
  • Word Girl, for writing in an animated program;
  • Peg+Cat, for writing in a preschool animated program; and
  • Design Squad, for new approaches in an original program or series.

In the lifestyle program genre, The Mind of a Chef won three awards: for graphic design, photography, and camera editing. A Chef’s Life won for outstanding directing.

PBS also picked up awards for promotional spots for The Roosevelts: An Intimate History and Al Capone: Icon.

The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences presents the Daytime Creative Arts Emmys to recognize technical achievements and behind-the-scenes crafts in television production.

International Institute of Wisconsin

Milwaukee Public Television received a Corporate Citizen Award for its programs that promote multicultural understanding.

The institute lauded MPTV’s broadcasts of BBC World News, Rick Steves’ Europe, and several cooking shows with an international focus.

KCRW, PBS Digital Studios and On Being won Webbys for their innovative websites.

PBS Digital Studios’ Shanks FX, a YouTube show in which host Joey Shanks creates movie effects with household objects, won for how-to & DIY online film and video. On Being’s website won both a Webby and a People’s Voice award for best religious and spirituality website. And KCRW, in Santa Monica, Calif., won for best radio and podcast website.

The Midwest Broadcast Journalists Association gave its annual award to Ron Hull, who has worked in public broadcasting for 60 years.

Hull, now a special advisor to Nebraska Educational Telecommunications, began working at the station in 1955 and went on to direct its programming for more than 30 years. The Mitchell V. Charnley Award honors people who have made outstanding contributions to broadcast journalism.

Correction: An earlier version of this post omitted regional Murrow awards won by Marfa Public Radio and KERA in Dallas.