Local that Works

Local that Works is an annual contest that spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations, and nonprofit news organizations in the U.S.

Explore the curated LTW database of 350+ projects. Entries from the 2020 contest will be added to this database this fall.

Tips on using the database: If viewing this on a computer, all projects are listed in the left column. Click on a project name and its longer profile will appear in the right column. If viewing on mobile, clicking on a project name will load the full listing on your screen.

You can filter your results by selecting a tag or multiple tags in the categories drop down menu and clicking on search. If you want to change, broaden or narrow the results, make sure to uncheck categories for subsequent searches.

To see previous Local that Works contest winners, finalists and semi-finalists, click on green, purple or orange tags and our judges’ favorite projects will show up in the left column.

Get inspired!

69 results found.

Hip-Hop U: The First Wave Scholars

PBS Wisconsin

PBS Wisconsin shares the voices and talents of students of color involved in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave Scholarship program in the documentary “Hip-Hop U: The First Wave Scholars.” By addressing local disparities in accessibility, representation, and education, we help Wisconsin educators be better prepared to implement culturally relevant pedagogy in their classrooms.

Radio Milwaukee – Grace Weber’s Music Lab

WYMS 88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Grace Weber’s Music Lab (GWML) is a free monthly music education program and talent accelerator for Milwaukee area high schoolers, providing opportunities to refine performance skills; build connections between engaged and talented young people; expose participants to the multiple career opportunities available in creative industries; and to participate in performances and talks by professional musicians, entertainment industry professionals and artists. This program is critical to meeting the growing and changing needs of our city and youth – Grace Weber’s Music Lab reaches kids with art forms that are increasingly relevant and central to their lives, including diverse music from hip-hop to alternative to spoken word.


WFAE 90.7 FM (Charlotte's NPR News Source)

Amplifier is a podcast that shines a light on Charlotte’s local music scene. More than 500 musicians have submitted their songs and shared their experiences. Amplifier launched with 20 episodes in 20 days, and is now a biweekly podcast featuring award-winning jazz singers to emerging pop acts, DIY venue owners to established record producers and beyond. Amplifier was named Charlotte Magazine’s “Best Podcast”, and received a Webby Award for innovation in music/arts podcasting.


Twin Cities PBS/KTCA

Twin Cities PBS (TPT)’s groundbreaking multi-platform arts program, ART IS, elevates renowned Minnesota artists of color who pick three up-and-coming artists – across any genre – and develop a series of media and public events. Over a 9-month period, TPT and artists co-create powerful short digital films that provide context and visibility for the artists’ work, enhanced by a series of public events in TPT’s studios that engage local audiences in new ways and help sustain and evolve our vibrant local artistic community.

Bluegrass Monday

KASU, 91.9 FM and kasu.org, public radio

On the fourth Monday night of each month, KASU presents “Bluegrass Monday,” a concert series in its 17th year, bringing professional bluegrass musicians to Paragould, Arkansas, for affordable, family-friendly concerts. Admission is always free. KASU feels presenting these concerts not only promotes its radio broadcasts of bluegrass music, but the concerts also help to promote the culture of the region that includes the nearby Ozark Mountains. All concerts are recorded for broadcast on KASU at a later date.

Donate a Recorder

WDAV 89.9 Classical Public Radio

Donate a Recorder is a “give back” initiative that tackles a genuine need in our region while embracing the mission of WDAV – to build a community focused on classical music. Donate a Recorder combines fundraising, education, musical discovery and community engagement all in one initiative. When people make a membership gift on air or in renewal mailings, instead of receiving a CD, coffee mug, or baseball cap, they can choose the “Donate a Recorder” option as a benefit at the $100 level.

Eye on the Arts

WYIN / Lakeshore Public Media

“Eye on the Arts” is a half hour TV series that showcases a diverse range of local artists, artistic organizations, events and stories, demonstrating the power of arts in people’s lives. The series draws attention to regional artists and cultural programs across the entire Chicagoland area, including many of Northwest Indiana’s under-served populations, people who often feel that the arts are inaccessible. “Eye on the Arts” also retains a radio presence through weekly segments on Lakeshore Public Radio.

Framed by WDET (2019 Winner)

WDET, Detroit’s NPR Station

WDET’s mission is to be the authentic voice of Detroit. Framed by WDET is a multimedia series that integrates photography and audio storytelling to present the authentic stories of Detroit’s ethnic and cultural communities on the radio, online, in a photobook, and at pop-up exhibitions in more than 20 art spaces in the Detroit region and beyond. Produced in collaboration with a community of Detroit-based photographers and storytellers, Framed empowers local residents to contribute to and inform the station’s programming. Read Current’s story about Framed.

Freestyle Friday 2.0: Outta Da Basement


From February through July 2019, WRTI invited residents of its North Philadelphia neighborhood to the station’s studios for Freestyle Friday – weekly performances, recording sessions with local rappers, training on music production software, and screenings of an Emmy-nominated documentary called “Quest,” a film that inspired this initiative These engagement events serve to bridge the community and the campus and heal a volatile relationship through the power of music.

Hip-Hop U: The First Wave Scholars

PBS Wisconsin
Public TV
Kira Story

Minority youth in Wisconsin and elsewhere face immense barriers to success in education and, in particular, music education. Noticing both a challenge and an opportunity in our service area, PBS Wisconsin embarked on a multifaceted collaboration to address issues of accessibility and representation in our state.

Through its Young Performers Initiative (YPI), PBS Wisconsin celebrates young people in the arts across the state and works with partners to support and advance music education. PBS Wisconsin realized that YPI could and should play a larger role in efforts to engage underserved youth in music education.

We reached out to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s First Wave Scholars program, which provides students who excel in hip-hop, dance, song, spoken word, and/or other urban art forms with a four-year full tuition scholarship. We wanted to collaborate with First Wave to develop new educational opportunities for students and educators, and to create a documentary to share First Wave with our viewing audience.

In 2016-17, PBS Wisconsin sponsored 78 music educators to attend First Wave’s annual Hip-Hop in the Heartland conference. We also gathered data to help us understand disconnects in music programming. We knew some educators were already doing inclusion work well and this group helped us create video content to demonstrate how others could successfully incorporate similar culturally relevant frameworks in their own classrooms.

Over the course of 2017, PBS Wisconsin documented the personal stories and performances of First Wave participants and featured them in “Hip-Hop U: The First Wave Scholars.” We first shared this documentary with our broadcast audience of 500,000 weekly viewers on Sept. 24, 2018, and believe it helped give Wisconsinites a starting point for conversations about equality, diversity, and social change during a time of increased racial tensions in our country.

In the years since, the partnership has continued to expand and deepen. PBS Wisconsin has both hired and helped produce work by former students.

Additionally, we have sponsored 78 educators to attend UW’s Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives’ annual conference. Each of these educators interacts with up to 100 different students per week, depending on the number of classes they teach. Many of their students come from underserved communities and diverse populations who may not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with a teacher practicing culturally responsive pedagogy in the classroom.