KUNR Public Radio in Reno, Nev., has joined the Mountain West News Bureau, making it the sixth station to contribute to the regional collaborative.
The station joins KUER in Salt Lake City; Wyoming Public Media in Laramie; KRCC in Colorado Springs, Colo.; KUNC in Greeley, Colo.; and lead station Boise State Public Radio in Idaho. KUNR’s participation expands Mountain West’s reporting from the Rocky Mountain states to include Nevada’s high desert and the Sierra.
The fit felt natural for Kate Concannon, managing editor of Mountain West. “We’re very tied to a region with shared issues and themes,” she said. “It felt like Nevada should be a part of that.”
KUNR and Mountain West’s other partner stations have already begun to see the benefits of the expanded collaboration, announced May 17. By airing reports from other Mountain West stations, KUNR has been able to expand the diversity of its coverage, said News Director Michelle Billman.
Billman said she has been especially happy to incorporate stories about wildlife into the station’s programming. She and Concannon also appreciate the chance to share more stories about public land use, a topic of concern across Mountain West’s coverage area. And adding KUNR to Mountain West expands the collaborative’s ability to assign contributors to longer-term investigative reporting, Concannon said.
Mountain West launched in early 2018 with a $475,000, two-year CPB grant. As the funding from the initial grant winds down, Concannon is focused on how to sustain the collaborative. “We’re really thinking about how to support ourselves among the member stations, but we’re happy to be expanding at the same time,” she said.
Concannon said she’s also focusing on getting wider distribution of stories coming out of the West. “There are so many important stories that aren’t getting told,” she said, “and they really need to be told to the nation.”
Billman is excited about what Mountain West’s support will add to KUNR’s relatively small news team. “There are a lot of voices from smaller towns where there aren’t as many media outlets,” she said. “Collaboration like this is going to elevate those voices to the level they need to be on.”