Public Radio News Directors Inc. Awards, 2011

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KJZZ, WBEZ, WBGO and KLCC led the annual contest among local pubradio newsrooms.

Each took three or more first-place PRNDI awards in a competition among peer-group stations. PRNDI groups stations into tiers based on the number of full-time news staffers they employ.

In division A, comprising stations with the largest newsrooms, KJZZ in Phoenix and Chicago’s WBEZ each received three top prizes. All three PRNDI awards to WBEZ recognized Inside and Out, a special series on juvenile justice that aired across a six-month period in 2010.

WGBO, a news and jazz station in Newark, N.J., won six first-place awards in division B, including stations with three or four full-time journalists.

KLCC in Eugene, Ore., won five PRNDI Awards in division C, which includes stations with full-time news staffs of one or two.
First-place PRNDI Awards were presented to a total of 31 stations across 16 categories:

Breaking News — Division A: WUSF, Tampa, Fla.; Division B: WBFO, Buffalo, N.Y.; Division C: KGOU, Norman, Okla. 

Spot News — A: KPLU, Seattle/Tacoma; B:WBGO; C: KLCC.

Continuing Coverage — A: KJZZ; B: KERA, Dallas; C: WCAI, Cape and Islands, Mass.

Newscast — A:WFPL, Louisville, Ky.; B:WBGO; C: KCCU, Lawton, Okla.

Writing — A: WNYC, New York; B:WILL, Urbana, Ill.; C: KLCC.
Multimedia presentation — A:WBEZ; B: KERA; C: KLCC.

Call-in program — A: WNPR, Hartford, Conn., for Where We Live; B: WJCT, Jacksonville, Fla., for First Coast Connect; C: WUOT, Knoxville, Tenn., for Dialogue.

News/public affairs program — A:KJZZ, for “Arizona’s Fiscal Nightmare”; B:WBGO, for WBGO Journal; C: KRCC, Colorado Springs, Colo., for Western Skies.

Commentary — A:Vermont Public Radio; B:WBGO; C: WFUV, New York. Interview —A: Colorado Public Radio’s KFCR in Denver; B:WBGO; C: KLCC.

Documentary — A:WGCU, Fort Myers, Fla., for “Lucia’s Letter”; B:WKYU, Bowling Green, Ky., for “The Decision to Drop the Bomb on Hiroshima”; C: WYSO, Yellow Springs, Ohio, for “Conrad and Evelyn.”

Enterprise/Investigative — A:WBEZ; B:Nebraska’s NET Radio; C: WKNO, Memphis, Tenn.

Series —A:WBEZ for Inside and Out; B:North Country Public Radio, Canton, N.Y., for The Hospice Path; C: WCAI for Venture Philanthropy.

Soft feature — A:WNYC; B:WNIJ, DeKalb, Ill.; C: KLCC.

News feature — A:KJZZ; B:Wyoming Public Radio; C: WRKF, Baton Rouge, La.

Use of Sound — A:Vermont Public Radio; B: WBGO; C: KSAK, Walnut, Calif.

All of the winning entries were produced in 2010.

PRNDI presented its Leo Lee Award to NPR journalist Jonathan Kern.

Kern, a producer and editor of award-winning NPR news coverage who created training programs and authored a book articulating the news organization’s journalistic values and reporting standards, received PRNDI’s highest honor.

The Leo C. Lee Award recognizes significant contributions to public radio news by individuals and organizations. It’s named for the late founder of Western Public Radio, who also shaped public radio’s sound and news values by training young journalists. The award “is never given lightly, and often the subject of many passionate discussions among the PRNDI Board,” said Jonathan Ahl, PRNDI president and Iowa Public Radio news director, who announced the award to Kern during the PRNDI conference this summer.

Kern’s work training journalists for public radio reporting embodies Lee’s spirit and legacy, Ahl said.

Kern began his radio career at Voice of America in 1978, and worked there as a reporter, producer, host, editor and manager. In 1995, he joined NPR as senior editor of All Things Considered. He became the show’s executive producer on Sept. 11, 2001, and shared credit for NPR’s Peabody and duPont-Columbia Awards for coverage of that day’s terrorist attacks.

Kern later established the NPR news training unit that develops and runs classes for NPR staff and station-based public radio journalists. His book Sound Reporting: The NPR Guide to Audio Journalism and Production is used in public radio newsrooms and j-schools across the country. Kern left NPR’s staff in 2009 but continues to work as a contractor training its journalists. In addition to helping print journalists learn radio reporting techniques, he’s developing training workshops around a new NPR ethics handbook commissioned last fall.

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