Independent Lens films take home honors, Midwest pubcasters receive Emmys, and more awards in public media

Print More
Still from film’s reenactment of Darius Monroe and accomplice on the way to rob a bank. [from press release] Credit: Daniel Patterson

Darius Clark Monroe’s Evolution of a Criminal was honored by the International Documentary Association. (Photo: Daniel Patterson)


Independent Lens took home four wins from the 30th annual IDA Documentary Awards.

The public TV documentary series won the award for best curated series for the second year in a row, along with the Humanitas Documentary Award, ABCNews VideoSource award and Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award.

The Humanitas Documentary Award recognizes films that, according to the IDA, explore what it means to be human when facing differences in “culture, race, lifestyle, political loyalties and religious beliefs” that create barriers between people. Thomas G. Miller’s film Limited Partnership, about the struggle of a legally married same-sex couple fighting for U.S. citizenship for one of the partners, won the award.

The ABCNews VideoSource award honors films that make the best use of news footage. Johanna Hamilton’s 1971 won the award for its use of footage in telling the story behind the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI, a previously anonymous whistleblower group that was ahead of its time. The group was involved in breaking into an FBI office near Philadelphia and leaking stolen documents to the press.

Darius Clark Monroe won the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award for his first feature film Evolution of a Criminal, which premieres on Independent Lens in January and features Spike Lee as an executive producer. The film explores circumstances in the filmmaker’s life that led him to plot and execute an armed bank robbery as a teenager.

PBS’s American Experience also won an award for Best Editing for Last Days in Vietnam, given to editor Don Kleszy.

NPR took home an award for best short form series for its multiplatform project “Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt.”


Milwaukee Public Television won an Emmy for Outstanding Crafts Achievement Off-Air — Audio for its broadcast of a Milwaukee Ballet performance of Peter Pan.

This was the third win for Gail Grzybowski, the recipient of the award and the lead audio engineer for the production, who has been previously nominated six times. The broadcast of the ballet premiered in April as part of a PBS initiative to promote performing arts.

Chicago’s WTTW received a statuette for Outstanding Crafts Achievement Off-Air — Musical Composition/Arrangement. Nicholas Tremulis took home the award for his work on A Taste for the Past: Architect Pier Carlo Bontempi.

And Wisconsin Public Television in Madison took home an award for Outstanding Crafts Achievement Off-Air — Photographer — Program (non-news). Ryan Ward won for his work in Wisconsin Life, a program covering unique stories across the state co-produced with Wisconsin Public Radio.


David Osenberg, host and music director for WWFM The Classical Network in West Windsor, N.J., won the Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Radio Broadcast Award.

Osenberg received the award for his work as the host of Cadenza on the station licensed to Mercer County Community College. The twice-weekly program features interviews with regional, national and international performing artists. More than 400 episodes have aired since its first broadcast in 2006.

In a written release, Osenberg said, “When Cadenza began more than nine years ago, it was my vision to not only have a program that would let a listener find out information about my guest’s latest release or upcoming concert, but the interview would let my guests tell more about themselves and show their stuff – their ‘cadenza,’ as it were.”


The University Station Alliance gave its inaugural Madison Hodges Innovator Award for Public Media Advancement to Hodges’s family on behalf of the late general manager and public radio executive.

Hodges began his career in Little Rock, Ark., as a reporter for commercial radio, then transitioned to public radio at KUAR. He went on to work as general manager of KUAR and other university-licensed stations, including WEKU in Richmond, Ky.; WFSU in Tallahassee, Fla.; and WQCS in Ft. Pierce, Fla.

Hodges joined NPR in the mid-1990s as director of policy and station services and also served as executive director of the University Station Alliance. He died in July 2014 from a cardiac arrest after receiving treatment for cancer.

“This award reflects the essence of Madison’s career in public broadcasting,” said USA president John Hess, reading a statement from Hodges’s wife, Anne. Hess accepted the award on behalf of the family. “It honors his legacy while encouraging current professionals to think boldly toward the future.”

USA is a nonprofit organization for university-licensed stations. The award recognizes leaders in public media who strive to strengthen the relationship between broadcasters and their licensees.


Jerry Franklin, president and c.e.o. of the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network, received the Business Journal’s 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award for his work as a local business leader making a positive impact through community outreach activities.

Franklin has led CPBN since 1985. CPBN’s offices host the Learning Lab, an educational initiative for high school seniors to develop digital media skills in partnership with Hartford Public Schools and the Journalism and Media Academy Magnet School. The lab is also home to the Institute for Advanced Media, a veterans’ vocational training program in journalism and digital media skills that is also open to their spouses and caregivers.

Under Franklin’s leadership, CPBN’s WNPR and Connecticut Public Television have won numerous awards, including two National Daytime Emmys and two George Foster Peabody Awards. CPTV became a leader in children’s programming by bringing Barney & Friends and Thomas & Friends to public television.


Amy Goodman received the I.F. Stone lifetime achievement award for her work as longtime host and executive producer of Democracy Now!

Democracy Now! airs on college, community and public radio stations and PBS stations across the country. Goodman, along with co-host Juan Gonzalez, founded the program in 1996 at WBAI-FM, the Pacifica station in New York.

“By insulating herself against commercial pressures, she has fought vigilantly for a free press and has ensured that her reporting would always be done in service of speaking truth to power,” the nominating committee said.

Goodman will be honored at Harvard University Feb. 5, 2015, alongside filmmaker Laura Poitras, who won the 2014 I.F. Stone Medal for Journalistic Independence. Poitras’s films have aired on public television’s POV. — Teta Alim


The Public Radio Regional Organizations presented former NPR Labs director Mike Starling with its annual PRRO Award Nov. 19 at the Public Radio Super-Regional meeting in Las Vegas.

Starling was recognized for his work in moving NPR into its new headquarters in Washington, D.C., and into its old Massachusetts Avenue headquarters in 1994. He was also recognized for arranging an online auction this year in which public radio stations could buy equipment that was not moved to the new headquarters.

The PRRO Award is given to behind-the-scenes “heroes” whose work advances public radio. John Hess, g.m. of Boise Public Radio and president of Western States Public Radio, presented the award.

Starling retired from NPR earlier this year after taking a voluntary buyout. He has since founded a low-power FM station, WHCP in Cambridge on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

His previous awards include the 2012 Meritorious Service Award from the Association of Public Radio Engineers, an organization he helped found in 2006. He was also named the Radio World Engineer of the Year in 2005 and received the C. Stanley Potter award from the International Association of Audio Information Services in 2004 for his work on making radio more accessible to the visual- and hearing-impaired. — Ben Mook

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *