Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit and digital news organizations in the U.S. LTW includes an annual contest and a database (below). LTW produces webinars that offer insights into projects and organizations that are reshaping local civic journalism.
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In October of 2020, WFAE collaborated with community institutions to produce the Charlotte Podcast Festival, the city’s first podcast festival designed to inform, enrich, and inspire audio storytellers.
KUER’s politics and government podcast and engagement initiatives provide a fun and accessible way to understand how bills become laws at the Utah Legislature and what they mean for the average person.
Iowa Science Phenomena allows Iowa educators/scientific community to use and contribute user-generated, standards-aligned, Iowa-based phenomena through a free, publicly available web-based platform.
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. 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.
Block Club Chicago hosted a free resource fair on the West Side, bringing together 21 community organizations to offer free food, toiletries and health screenings to residents. Our neighborhood reporter was also on hand to take story tips and meet people.
Jazz 91.9 WCLK convened more than 100 musicians at Atlanta City Hall Atrium for a portrait with the Mayor of Atlanta – WCLK Great Day in Atlanta with Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms – an ode to Art Kane and his 1958 photography, A Great Day in Harlem. WCLK issued a call for Atlanta-based musicians and amassed a list of performing artists who represent the beauty, the genius and the spirit of Atlanta’s Jazz Community.
Student Voices elevated the voices of young people at a critical moment in America, as we grapple with racism and the devastating effects of the coronavirus on education. Chalkbeat, whose mission is focused on educational equity, told student stories in creative ways and convened virtual gatherings to uplift their insights so people in power can make more informed decisions.
WYEP’s Reimagination project connects teen musicians with professional mentors to record and produce their own original music. Since 2013, the program has engaged with more than 220 area teen musicians, several of whom became Grammy and Emmy award winners.
Twin Cities PBS (TPT) fostered critical STEM learning in Minneapolis Beacons Afterschool Clubs by engaging students, families and educators with an important 21st-century workforce skill: computer science and coding. To add to the fun, TPT invited kids’ favorite PBS KIDS characters to learn along by using the innovative Scratch Jr coding program.
Charlotte Podcast Festival
Too often there are stories in communities, particularly in those of color, that go untold because people don’t have access to news organizations. What’s more, our ability to seek out those stories is limited by our newsroom resources. WFAE wanted to leverage a growing interest in podcasting to unearth those stories and connect with diverse audiences beyond our traditional listeners and readers.
As journalists, we understand the power of storytelling to effect change. That led to a series of community-minded podcast training initiatives that culminated in the fall of 2020 with the creation of the inaugural Charlotte Podcast Festival, produced in collaboration with community institutions: Blumenthal Performing Arts, hyperlocal Queen City Podcast Network and BIPOC-owned Eclecs Creative Agency.
Named one of the “best podcast conferences” by Buzzsprout, the Charlotte Podcast Festival (October 1-30, 2020) was the city and state’s first podcast festival, designed to inform, enrich and inspire audio storytellers and podcasters. This festival also marked the first entirely virtual and free-to-attend podcast festival produced by an NPR member station.
The festival was free and open to the public (with registration), with more than 40 virtual (Zoom) sessions devoted to podcast production, marketing, inclusivity of voices, monetization and community-building. All sessions were recorded and made available for free on YouTube and charlottepodcastfestival.com.
The festival also included more than 60 chart-topping speakers from around the Charlotte region as a way to spotlight Southern audio storytellers. This line-up included Chad Lawson (composer for the acclaimed “Lore” podcast), Rod and Karen Morrow (hosts of the Spotify exclusive podcast “The Black Guy Who Tips”) and Morgan Givens (Transom graduate / host of “Flyest Fables”), as well as highlighting the work of WFAE and fellow NC public radio outlets WDAV and WUNC.
Nearly 14,000 registrations from around the world occurred during the inaugural Charlotte Podcast Festival. As a result of excellent earned media coverage (from local/regional outlets to national publications), the festival received ~2 million impressions across multiple channels and diverse audience segments and trended locally on Twitter with #CLTPodcastFest.
The festival received rave reviews from attendees, who appreciated the accessible, well-thought-out programming: “If this festival were on Apple Podcasts, it would be in “New & Noteworthy!”
In its inaugural year, the Charlotte Podcast Festival provided a springboard for new relationships, new collaborations and new podcast productions to be made.
The festival’s speakers not only connected with new listeners, but also with fellow community podcasters and Charlotte-area institutions (who would go on to become podcast guests, co-hosts and promotional collaborators for future podcast productions and events).
By having the festival amplify the work of regional podcasters, global attendees were introduced to and grew affinity towards the Charlotte creative community, so much so that some attendees traveled to Charlotte for the first time as a result of the festival.
What’s more, multiple participants have since reached out to notify of their podcast either being produced and or published as a result of expert insight and inspiration provided by the festival.
While the Charlotte Podcast Festival was free to attend, member contributions were made through the website (https://charlottepodcastfestival.com/shirt/), where individuals could order a limited edition Charlotte Podcast Festival shirt designed by WFAE and printed by BIPOC-owned Charlotte screen printing company MacFly Fresh.
To date, the festival generated more than $5000 in contributions by both current WFAE members and new audiences who were introduced to the station through the festival.