Charlotte’s WFAE receives $100K grant to experiment on NPR One

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Charlotte’s WFAE is receiving a $100,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to help localize its content for NPR One.

“WFAE will use NPR One to deliver new local content, and utilize fresh local voices to report on topics of civic concern,” according to a Knight Foundation announcement Tuesday.

The station will hire an on-demand producer, develop podcasts, create content to serve “diverse audiences” and “uncover unique, untold stories,” the announcement said. It will also invite community members to submit ideas for topics and stories.

The station is planning a community podcasting project and training to help identify new contributors with fresh perspectives, Renee Rallos, WFAE marketing manager, told Current. Charlotte has experienced police shootings and other events that have brought to light conflicts within the community, and it’s important for the station to reach out, Rallos said.

“I think that we are all realizing that there are voices in every community that we’re not hearing from,” Rallos said. “You think you’re talking to all the right people, but there are always segments of the population we’re missing. I think everyone is becoming more aware of that and trying to reach out more.”

The station will also focus on local newscasts, which are among the least-skipped types of content on NPR One. “When a listener hears a local newscast, statistically they are more likely to listen to NPR One again and listen longer than listeners who don’t get a local newscast,” wrote Tamar Charney, NPR One managing director, in a 2016 essay for Current.

WFAE will analyze data collected through NPR One to learn more about audience preferences and convert dedicated listeners to station members. It plans to share best practices with other public radio stations.

“We’re excited about the opportunity this creates for us to reach new audiences who may not be traditional listeners of our broadcast programming,” said Ju-Don Marshall, WFAE’s chief content officer. “Through this initiative, we hope to build deeper engagement with the community, and to partner with them to share some of the stories and perspectives we haven’t heard.”