Current opens its 2019 Local That Works contest

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The 2019 Local That Works contest is officially open!

What cool projects at your station have deepened connections to your community? What are you doing to become more engaging, relevant, sustainable and local?

Tell Current and your station could win fame and fortune. Projects selected as finalists will be in the running for a $5,000 Grand Prize and will be given the spotlight during our annual plenary at the Public Radio Super-Regional Meeting and with coverage by Current. Priceless!

Some of the most inspiring work happening in public media is truly, madly, deeply local — from community forums on urgent issues to donations of musical instruments to schools and women’s arm-wrestling tournaments.

Yes, you read correctly. I recently returned from a family vacation at Ocracoke, a barrier island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Ocracoke is a low-key fishing village with about 1,000 residents and miles of pristine beaches. The infamous pirate Blackbeard liked to party on Ocracoke, and it was where he was eventually killed in 1718. These days, it’s home to WOVV — not a pirate radio station but a groovy low-power FM community station. Its annual summer fundraiser is a women’s arm-wrestling tournament.

The competition takes place in a renovated barn and is hosted by an announcer in a rainbow-clown wig. Like a drag show, the event is really a campy performance in which gals with big biceps and clever costumes go mano a mano, then hug in the spirit of sisterhood. The raucous crowd is lubricated by locally brewed craft beer. The tournament is a great example of Local that Works because it’s an annual, repeatable, replicable revenue initiative that engages the community and reinforces that station’s unique character.

There’s so much for passion for mission in public media — from tiny community radio stations to our largest major-market powerhouses. Stations depend on NPR and PBS to provide exceptional, trustworthy programs and a safe zone for kids. Off-air, stations sponsor events that enable audiences to interact with PBS Kids characters and NPR hosts, to screen and discuss independent documentaries, or to have candid conversations in a StoryCorps booth.

But in a world flooded with content options and platforms, stations must continually invent ways to distinguish themselves through uniquely local services, so that they are “NPR and much, much more,” or “PBS plus.” What makes your station look and sound like Salt Lake City, Kansas City or New York City — not just Anywhere, USA? That’s the whole point of Local That Works — to highlight the ways stations are becoming irreplaceable institutions in their communities, where everybody recognizes just how their services profoundly improve the quality of local life.

A panel of judges will choose finalists who will present their projects at the Public Radio Super-Regional this October in New Orleans. And this year, all contest entrants will receive a ballot to vote on the first-place winner.

Need inspiration? Check out all 260 entries from previous Local That Works contests online. Submit your 2019 entries by August 7. Good luck and good local!

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