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 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!

73 results found.

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.

Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace

WPT, Wisconsin Public Television

Launched in February 2019 as part of Wisconsin Hometown Stories: Eau Claire, “Joe Bee Xiong: War to Peace” explores Hmong-American history with student-focused educational resources created to help fill the Hmong history gap in Wisconsin classrooms. This project includes an animation illustrated in the artistic style of a traditional Hmong story cloth, narrated in both Hmong and English and downloadable, printable and electronic biographies written at three reading levels in English and Hmong.

Radio Milwaukee – Grace Weber’s Music Lab

WYMS 88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Public Radio
Maggie Corry

The Music Lab was formed out of vocalist Grace Weber’s desire to give back to her city. Looking for a community partner, Weber reached out to 88Nine. Radio Milwaukee is one of the organizations transforming Milwaukee and galvanizing people to participate in its revitalization. Our unique mission, talented staff and Walker’s Point home makes us uniquely equipped to spearhead this effort. GWML channels the momentum in our music scene, while also addressing the city’s unique racial and social challenges by educating and uniting area youth.

GWML takes place monthly during the school year at Radio Milwaukee’s studios, reaching up to 100 youth per event. A critical element is recruiting participants from across Milwaukee to facilitate connections between students who may otherwise never meet. Partnerships with youth development organizations and high schools support recruitment efforts. Each Lab begins with a 30-minute educational module led by a professional musician or industry expert about different elements of the music business. The next hour is devoted to students’ open mic performances. After each performance, teaching artists and guests lead short, affirmative critiques and conversations with the students.

In the interest of safety during COVID-19, GWML quickly pivoted to virtual programming in March, and saw an increase in attendance with an amazing 606 participants in May’s Lab!
GWML’s caliber relies on the passion and expertise of artists involved, stoking enthusiasm, drawing on real life expertise and providing actionable feedback. We are proud of the musicians and educators who make this possible:

Founder – Grace Weber is a Milwaukee-born, Grammy-winning vocalist, actively working out of LA and returning to Milwaukee for each in-person Lab. With extensive connections in the industry, she is perfectly positioned to program events that are relevant and compelling to young artists.

Music Education Coordinator – Britney Freeman-Farr/B~Free, an educator and accomplished vocalist and flutist, oversees GWML. She brings her experience as a former school music director and practicing artist.

Grace and Britney represent white and Black communities, private and public schooling and a broad range of experiences, making them understanding and responsive to the students they serve. Further, GWML incorporates student voices through surveys, interviews and an internship program. Examples of past featured guests include Jamila Woods; Aja Monet; WebsterX; Nate Fox, Nico Segal, and Peter Cottontail of The Social Experiment; Lex Allen; Kweku Mandela and Elliott Skinner.

An important investment in the soul of a city is creating opportunities for youth to participate and benefit from a thriving music scene. We believe that student collaboration through music is critical to bridging the divides in Milwaukee communities. We hope that new friendships — and maybe even Milwaukee’s next big thing — will form.

Yes, the Music Lab has generated revenue and continues to connect Radio Milwaukee with funding partners that it did not previously have relationships with, specifically institutional funders. In 2018, $40,000 from three funders; in 2019, $50,300 from five funders; and in 2020, $61,000 and counting, from six funders (four of which are new to Radio Milwaukee)

While still a relatively new program, started in 2016, we are beginning to see the ripple effects of the program; Grace Weber’s Music Lab: - Offers free master classes and workshops to Milwaukee youth with nationally known artists; - Motivates students to be themselves, build confidence and nurture their unique talents; - Shows young people various career opportunities in the music and entertainment industries; - Builds bridges between students from different backgrounds and high schools; to date over 43 Milwaukee area high schools have been represented; - Builds relationships extending across communities between young people that would otherwise not meet, connect or collaborate; - Creates exciting opportunities for local students to: strengthen their own work while collaborating with other young artists; deepen their personal appreciation of and exposure to diverse music and entertainment industries; nourish creative and professional potential of emerging Milwaukee area artists; and match participants with resources and opportunities to facilitate their own career development. - Specifically during COVID-19, as many schools will remain virtual and physical distancing remains the norm, the continuation of the Music Lab provides a place for release, socialization, connection and creativity. Through virtual programming we’ve had over 900 attendees! Participant quotes illustrating impact: “This place was magical. You could feel it in the air. I could touch it, you know?” "I felt like I was going to cry. This made me know that music is what I should do, that I have a purpose. This is the best day ever.” “Being able to perform a poem I created for an audience for the first time was extremely life changing for me. The feeling of having my message heard and accepted by the audience is a beautiful feeling that I only dreamed about, but Grace and her team turned it into a reality.”