We announce the four finalists in our 2019 Local That Works contest

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The results are in from two rounds of judging for Local That Works, our annual contest showcasing innovative and creative local content produced by public media.

From 106 projects submitted for consideration this summer, four finalists are in the running for the $5,000 cash prize to be presented at the Public Radio Super-Regional conference in October.

The 2019 finalists are:

  • KMUW in Wichita, Kan., for Engage ICT, a series of free monthly panel discussions of topics that touch Wichita residents’ daily lives, including climate change, Medicaid expansion and education funding. Local experts participate in each panel, and the format is open for attendees to ask questions and join the conversation.
  • Pennsylvania Public Media, a collaboration of the state’s seven public TV stations, for “Battling Opioids.” The project, which will deliver a third statewide television broadcast Sept. 26, combines multimedia content and community engagement programs to help families understand and take steps to combat opioid addiction.
  • Voice of San Diego in California for A Parent’s Guide to Public Schools, a free magazine-style guide for families making decisions about their children’s education. Published in English and Spanish, the guide combines school performance data with reporting and explainers on local public school options.
  • WDET in Detroit for Framed by WDET, a multimedia project combining photography and audio storytelling on the city’s ethnic and cultural communities. WDET mounts audiovisual exhibitions of the work, shining a spotlight on local artists and creating space for people to see their lives and communities represented in galleries and other gathering places in southeastern Michigan and beyond.

Two of the projects set notable precedents: With A Parent’s Guide to Public Schools, Voice of San Diego became the first nonprofit news organization to be chosen as a Local That Works finalist. Likewise, “Battling Opioids” is the first statewide collaboration among public TV stations to reach this stage.

Our call for Local That Works submissions early this summer drew entries from 41 public radio stations, 25 public TV stations, 25 joint licensees and 15 nonprofit news centers. Mark Fuerst, director of the Public Media Futures Forums and co-coordinator of Local That Works, worked with Ellen Rocco, former GM of North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y., to select 25 projects as semifinalists.  

Then a panel of judges, including me, weighed in on the selection of finalists. It wasn’t an easy process. We were asked to evaluate each entry by four criteria — whether it is widely replicable, demonstrates impact that adds civic value or support of the organization, displays creativity and innovation, and can be repeated and improved upon over time. All of the semifinalists had more than one of these characteristics. Each judge brought their own perspective on which rose to the top.

Thanks go to Ashley Alvarado, director of community engagement at KPCC in Pasadena, Calif.; Erika Howard, impact producer at Frontline; Jonathan Kealing, chief network officer at the Institute for Nonprofit News; Kate Myers, director of community engagement at First Look Media Works in New York City; and Andrew Ramsammy, director of audience strategy, Arizona PBS in Phoenix, for the time and insights they brought to the selection process. Thanks also to the Wyncote Foundation, which funds Local That Works.

Finalists will present their projects during the Public Radio Super-Regional conference in New Orleans, where the first-place winner will be announced. Each finalist will receive free registration to the 2020 Public Media Development and Marketing Conference. Greater Public, which runs the PMDMC, joined Local That Works as a partner this year and is providing the free registrations. Current awards a free universal subscription to the first-place winner.

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