After a gunman published a racist manifesto online and opened fire killing 10 people in a supermarket in a predominantly Black Buffalo neighborhood, WBFO launched an hour-long daily radio program and podcast, hosting candid conversations about what happened, what’s next, and what role each of us can play in solving the problems that caused it.
“Buffalo, What’s Next” was born from a need to have open, honest, and uncomfortable dialogue about race relations in our community. The program is a commitment to continue and broaden these imperative conversations, long after national attention wanes. Further, WBFO is committed to hearing voices of this impacted in our community — in our first three months, we have not hosted a single elected official on-air.
The necessity for creating a program in light of this community crisis was urgent and we immediately employed our News Director, Managing Editor, and Morning Edition Host to anchor the program. An Executive Producer from our TV documentary unit was drafted and a part-time booking associate from the newsroom was also included.
While we have mostly included voices of color from where the attack occurred, we have also featured national thought leaders such as anti-racist author and educator Dr. Ibram X. Kendi of Boston University. Every episode has looked at current community needs and long term ways to achieve racial equity.
We have also included reporting from our news staff, focusing on issues such as extremism in Western New York and a contentious debate over whether redistricting plans will dilute the city’s Black vote. As the program continues, we expect more cross-pollination with our newsroom. We are committed to highlighting these issues long-term.
While not every community has had the tragedy of a racially motivated shooting, the transformational effect of the project is translatable to other media that want to focus on race and feature community voices.
Early in the program we broadcast live from a neighborhood coffee house steps away from the shooting scene, and there are plans to host a closed-circuit community summit with over 100 past guests in order to chart our course for future programs.
Each episode is rebroadcast the same evening it airs, is distributed as a podcast on several platforms, and available on demand on our website. We have recently launched a weekly highlights program that airs on weekends and also on our Classical music station.