New York state stations receive grants for health coverage

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Two public radio stations in western and central New York state are receiving grants from a community foundation to support their coverage of health.

WRVO Public Media in Oswego and WBFO in Buffalo are receiving $64,000 and $40,000 respectively from the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York. WRVO’s yearlong grant will support its health and wellness show, Take Care, and additional reporting. WBFO’s two-year grant of $20,000 per year is supporting a Seniors News Desk expected to begin reporting this month.

The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York advocates for improving health and health care by investing in people and organizations serving children and older adults.

“We’ve agreed and are completely aware of the fact that both stations maintain complete editorial control over all the content,” said Kate McLaughlin, the foundation’s communications director. “By no means do we want to influence what they cover.”

The foundation began partnering with WRVO in 2012 by supporting community forums hosted by the station. It began supporting Take Care in 2014.

This year WRVO is moving Take Care from a weekly half-hour radio program to semi-regular hourlong programs to devote more air time to “deserving” topics, Bill Drake, WRVO station manager, said in an email. “Grant funding will help pay for producers, hosts and editors,” he said. “And we’re putting more of our grant funding into regular news reporting and features on health issues, in an effort to reach an even wider audience through the NPR news magazines.”

“We realize grant funding for this coverage won’t last forever, so we’re exploring ideas to continue these projects into the future,” Drake said.

​WRVO’s grant this year is roughly equal to previous support. The station will produce 12 hourlong episodes of Take Care throughout the year and 42 news stories, according to McLaughlin.

WBFO has not previously received a grant from the foundation. Its new Seniors News Desk will covers topics related to aging. Longtime journalist Sandy White is the desk’s lead reporter.

“There are so many issues facing seniors — healthcare trends, retirement living, working during retirement, financial planning/security, transportation, exercise, nutrition, courtship and leveraging technology,” WBFO News Director Brian Meyer said in a statement. “Our coverage will cast a spotlight on senior issues in a way that will educate, engage and entertain our radio and digital audiences.”

WBFO is expected to deliver 50 on-air news reports. The foundation will also receive underwriting and promotional pieces in the station’s printed magazine, McLaughlin said.

“As a foundation that is focused on making a difference in the health of young children and older adults across Western and Central New York, we are excited to be able to provide support for a news desk that will give listeners a deeper understanding of the challenges seniors in our community face and the potential opportunities we have to address those challenges,” foundation president Nora OBrien-Suric said in a statement.

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