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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The Recording Inclusivity Initiative addresses the scarcity of classical music composers from historically excluded communities heard on the radio airwaves across the USA by producing new recordings.
Jazz 91.9 WCLK teamed up with more than 10 Atlanta’s Black Radio stations – commercial and community outlets – in partnership with the Urban League of Greater Atlanta with the common goals of voter registration, voter education and voter mobilization in advance of the November 2020 election. From July 2020 through September 2020, Jazz 91.9 WCLK and partner stations are dedicating a full day of on-air programming to voting and Census messaging via PSA and interviews and social media engagement.
American Homefront is a national/local collaborative reporting project focused on improving coverage of military and veterans issues. WIth support from CPB, WUNC’s dedicated full-time reporter and full-time editor moderate a Slack channel and lead weekly calls with partner stations: KPCC (Los Angeles), Colorado Public Radio, Texas Public Radio (San Antonio) and WUSF (Tampa) WUNC’s listening area includes Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, two of the largest military installations. American Homefront has helped WUNC build relationships with those communities and host the station’s first two engagement events in Fayetteville/Fort Bragg.
MPT’s Digital Studios partnered with the local NASA Goddard campus to create four digital shorts about Maryland’s contributions to space research, as part of the PBS Summer of Space programming, MPT held a public screening at the Old Greenbelt Theatre. The station’s digital team worked at Goddard’s social media staff to orchestrate cross-posting; NASA promoted the series to their 1.2 million on Facebook fans, and 543 thousand on Twitter contacts, resulting in 13,000 Facebook video plays.
The Playtime Pad Research Project investigates the effectiveness of tablet-based learning initiatives in early childhood math literacy, while providing access to the latest digital learning tools for students, teachers, and parents. Initiated by the College of Communication Arts and Sciences and WKAR Public Media at Michigan State University, the Playtime Pad Research Project is a unique partnership connecting PBS KIDS, the College of Education at MSU, and the Lansing School District.
Ross Fest was organized by WNIN to celebrate painter and art instructor Robert Ross, the creator of The Joy of Painting. The station asked a certified Bob Ross landscape instructor to help create an experience that would give participants a certified Bob Ross painting to take home and enjoy forever. WNIN added a light wall to play a Joy of Painting episode, threw in some music, food trucks, a bar trailer and a Bob Ross costume contest… attracting hundreds of people to a made-for-social-media engagement event.
KSFR partnered with the New Mexico Department of Veteran Services, Santa Fe Community College Veteran’s Resource Center, Santa Fe Vet Center, Horses for Heroes-Cowboy Up! and veterans groups to report on post 9-11 veterans’ re-entry into civilian life. The station helped organize a job fair for veterans that included screening the stories, speakers and entertainment for the veterans and their families. This project was supported with funds from CPB.
As part of a digital initiative that coincided with a documentary of the same name produced by Arizona Public Media, reporters asked community members to share stories about how they or their families were impacted by the Vietnam War. Stories were archived online to be watched or read, and some were broadcast by Arizona Public Media stations. Stories were written or taped at live screenings.
Via a four-year community engagement campaign that began in fall 2017, WTVI PBS Charlotte partnered with local workforce-related organizations to roll out a three-part media project (Dreamers, Doers, Destiny) designed to empower youth to capitalize on their dreams. The target goal is to engage with and help educate 600 local public high school students in career pathways and leadership training, leading to education completion and lasting success in the workforce.
Recording Inclusivity Initiative
Recording Inclusivity Initiative (RII): Let’s diversify America’s playlist, together.
RII was created by All Classical Portland (ACP), a public radio station based in the Pacific Northwest, in collaboration with N M Bodecker Foundation and Naxos Records. RII seeks to address the gap of classical music composers from underrepresented communities that make it onto the airwaves. Launched in January 2021, this initiative is the work of collaborators who believe that classical music is for everyone, led by ACP and funded in part by Oregon Cultural Trust, Regional Arts and Culture Council, and Sorel Organization. Over the past two years, ACP has outlined strategy and written curriculum; engaged legal counsel to advise on contracts, copyright, and trademark; designed marketing assets; assembled a nominations panel from diverse communities; and coordinated a recording schedule.
A public call for nominations encouraged listeners, Pacific Northwest artists, and arts organizations to nominate works by classical composers from underrepresented communities to be recorded and published, stimulating regional/national awareness and local community support. In spring 2021, the RII Panel and Executive Advisors reviewed nearly 100 submissions and selected five compositions: two posthumous awardees and three works by living composers. The living composers were named Composers in Residence, in collaboration with Bodecker Foundation, and offered a week-long residency including creative workshops with musicians, recording sessions in a state-of-the-art studio, and a $2,500 award.
All five compositions are currently being recorded by Bodecker Foundation at Halfling Studio. The scores will be published, if applicable, and the recordings will be mastered and distributed by a partner record label in tandem with Naxos Records. ACP will spearhead creating a database of RII recordings, to be shared with partner public radio stations for free download and airplay.
In the coming year, ACP will challenge public radio stations across the USA to launch their own regional initiative, providing a how-to kit based on lessons learned from the inaugural RII. This kit will include grant application materials, marketing and branding assets, curriculum for productive community discussions, recording specs for broadcast-ready recordings, legal contracts, and more. KMFA in Austin has officially signed on to the initiative and we aim to inspire production of 200 recordings over the next 2-3 years.
Recording Inclusivity Initiative is changing America’s playlist with new recordings of works by underrepresented composers. The classical music industry faces a pervasive, generations-long diversity deficit. ACP is a pioneer in its programming, outreach, and collaborations—leading the nation from Portland, OR to uplift long-silenced voices of diverse creatives, and to make progress toward overcoming historical inequities.
RII is recording 5 pieces—2 posthumous works: “Femmes de légende” by Mélanie Bonis and “Sonata for Flute and Piano” by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson; and 3 new works: “Taking Names” by Jasmine Barnes, “A Spark and a Glimmer” by Lauren McCall, and “Souvenirs” by Keyla Orozco. Following distribution by Naxos, ACP’s recordings will be heard by millions, significantly increasing the reach of underrepresented composers and local artists.
This innovative and powerful initiative, a model to be adopted by radio stations nationwide, will stimulate industry-wide change in public radio and classical music. RII could inspire the creation of 200+ recordings by 2024.
RII is impacting listeners and communities, expanding appreciation of previously marginalized voices through ACP’s global digital and radio platforms. It will also impact artists and composers, providing invaluable promotion and high-quality recordings of their works as ACP shares the microphone and invites those who have been suppressed to take center-stage in this limitless concert hall on the radio.
All Classical Portland’s Recording Inclusivity Initiative has garnered approximately $100,000 in support to date, including donations from individuals, foundations, organizations, and corporations: Oregon Cultural Trust - $34,376; Regional Arts and Culture Council - $3,000; Sorel Organization - $10,000; IBEW Local 48 - $12,000; Record Label - $27,000; First Republic Bank - $3,000. NM Bodecker Foundation is providing in-kind support for RII’s recording sessions valued at $9,000.