Local that Works spotlights innovative and replicable content, engagement and revenue initiatives at public radio and TV stations and nonprofit 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 journalism.
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Every weekday morning, Interlochen Public Radio (IPR) presents Kids Commute, an interactive exploration of classical music centered around weekly themes such as mermaids, opera, and elephants, that are designed to educate and entertain our youngest listeners. We also explore ballets, their stories, and the music that goes along with them. This interactive radio experience delivers strategies for early childhood artistic development that can be easily replicated in a variety of genres.
Prior to the pandemic, WFYI had set up a Be My Neighbor Day event at the city library with several community partners, a sensory-friendly area, and an expected 1,200 guests. COVID-19 forced us to cancel the live event, so we pivoted to a mix of educational outreach and volunteer engagement for a Be My Neighbor Week.
In partnership with Fresno Unified School District, the 3rd largest in the state of California and a district with 90% economically disadvantaged and diverse students living below the poverty line without equal access to online learning, Valley PBS created an on-air program from 8am – 9am each day that targets Literacy Lessons for K, 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders and is taught by FUSD teachers. Students have been able to learn and review fundamentals over-the-air, streaming on Facebook Live daily and on the website since June and lessons are translated into Spanish and Hmong as well; the program has just been extended until December 18th and expanded to include Pre-K and T-K lessons.
At-Home Learning was a rapid response learning service for school closures in our local broadcast region. We created an on-air and digital service that was then shared with PBS stations across the country.
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.
COVID-19 and the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s orders for social distancing put a damper on traditional kids’ summer camps. PBS39’s “It’s Camp!” brought the best parts of camp into kids’ homes every weekday during the summer of 2020. This 30-minute program for kids ages 9-14 taught science, art, fitness, survival skills, connecting with nature, and more.
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.
Utilizing the power of television and digital platforms Arkansas PBS dedicated our resources (with no budget) for eight weeks to become the state’s main provider of learning tied to state standards for Pre-K – 8, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. – 1 p.m., while in school instruction stopped due to COVID-19 – at the same time learning how to work virtually to collaborate, produce, direct, edit and promote – to ultimately create more than 400 hours of content, 20 hours of original content and 24 lesson plans resulting in more than 300,300 video views, breaking all of our digital platform records. This daily and essential educational community service, especially critical for 42% of Arkansans who live in rural areas and may not have access to broadband, included five Arkansas Teachers of the Year as our daily hosts who provided a personal connection and daily routine kids were craving; our Department of Education who created curriculum tied to each PBS KIDS program that our Arkansas PBS certified teachers identified and vetted; statewide community partners who created Arkansas-specific content to reduce stress; and a new locally produced puppet segment that turned into a virtual summer camp series.
Series of one-minute interstitials (spots) featuring South Florida PBS KidVision’s Miss Penny providing information to families and children about the many changes in their lives due to Coronavirus, from practicing healthy habits to explaining why and how our lives and habits have changed due to the pandemic as well as preparing them for the new protocols they will see when they return to school.
Classical IPR’s Kids Commute
Our mission is to inspire love and appreciation for classical music among young people by providing history, context, and insights into composers and their works. Every week, we ask our young listeners a trivia question related to the current theme. Those who answer correctly receive a Kids Commute Prize Pack. We also encourage them to participate in the Kids Commute Story Challenge to create artwork or a story inspired by a specific piece of music. We then pick our favorites and bring them to life in a dramatic reading voiced by Interlochen Arts Academy theatre students.
In addition to its weekly broadcast, Kids Commute has hosted popular live concerts in cooperation with Interlochen Arts Academy faculty. For example, the Circus Extravaganza concert featured students from the IAA Theatre Department who, in collaboration with the IAA Wind Ensemble’s performances, depicted clowns portraying how various emotions can be expressed musically.
Kids Commute educates and inspires our audience by not only connecting them to the mainstays of classical music, but also introducing them to what’s new and relevant in classical music. Our “Pop! Goes the Classical Week” highlighted classical arrangements of pop songs by modern classical ensembles and interviews with renowned musicians and composers.
Many of our young listeners are learning to play a musical instrument themselves, and we encourage them to record their version of our show’s theme song and send it in. To date, dozens of students have submitted their greetings, artwork, and stories, and the program features them regularly. Through these efforts, we are creating a generation of listeners who have the capacity to appreciate music and hear with a more sophisticated ear.