Telling Public Radio’s Story

1. Describe your overall goals and approach to address identified community issues, needs, and interests through your station’s vital local services, such as multiplatform long and short-form content, digital and in-person engagement, education services, community information, partnership support, and other activities, and audiences you reached or new audiences you engaged.

WUNC works hard to identify and address community issues, needs and interests through our journalism.  WUNC supports one of the largest public radio newsrooms in the Southeast and is always listening to our community.  The station’s direct service to listeners falls into the following categories:

Newscasts: WUNC produces 26 newscasts every weekday.  Each of these newscast features original reporting and nearly every one of them includes voices from the communities we serve.  We use audience analysis to place these newscasts throughout the day to ensure maximum exposure to listeners.  Topics covered in these newscasts reflect listeners’ interests and include politics, education policy, environment, health, crime/safety, technology and the economy.

Feature news reports: WUNC reporters produce multiple feature length news reports each week.  These too are placed on the air at times when the maximum number of listeners are tuned into WUNC.  Feature reports employ all the qualities of craft associated with excellent public radio journalism.  They are explore deep questions, consider issues in a broad context, include diverse voices, rich sounds and are stories told in an engaging manner.

In-depth interviews: WUNC prides itself in being a home for civil discourse.  It’s a place on the broadcast spectrum where ideas, opinions and individuals are treated with respect and are allowed to be heard.  WUNC hosts and producers craft daily interviews with newsmakers and influential community members.  These interviews are placed into our flagship talk show The State of Things and are also included in morning and afternoon newsmagazines.   These interviews explore a broad range of topics and are conducted in a civil manner.

Digital treatments: WUNC produced hundreds of multimedia stories during 2015.  These normally start on wunc.org and are pushed out into online communities through social media feeds like Facebook and Twitter.  The digital treatments reflect the editorial agenda of WUNC News and are created with high attention to journalistic standards.

Special Reports:  WUNC produced at least one in-depth documentary for broadcast about Education.  This hour-long piece capped off a year of reporting about public school teachers.

Youth Engagement:  2015 marked the fourth year for the annual WUNC Summer Youth Reporting Institute.  WUNC raised independent funding to support the hiring and training of a diverse team of teenage reporters.   These teenagers spent the summer working at WUNC, learning the qualities of craft of public radio journalism and in the end created a series of reports that gave voice to youth in our community.

2. Describe key initiatives and the variety of partners with whom you collaborated, including other public media outlets, community nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, the business community, teachers and parents, etc. This will illustrate the many ways you’re connected across the community and engaged with other important organizations in the area.

WUNC has an on-going relationship with the business community in the market to sponsor a variety of community events.  In particular WUNC has built a strong relationship with Capital Broadcasting/American Tobacco Campus to produce the Back Porch Music on the Lawn concert series.  This free, culturally rich concert series is held outdoors in downtown Durham.  It’s been a highly successful engagement event attracting more than 15,000 citizens each year.

In the Triad region (Greensboro/High Point/Winston-Salem) WUNC partners with the professional theater group Triad Stage on monthly live broadcasts from downtown Greensboro.  During these events WUNC’s The State of Things is produced in front of a live theater audience.  Issues directly impacting the Greensboro community are addressed through civil discourse.

Additionally WUNC reaches deep into the business community to partner on events for listeners.  In 2015, WUNC held more than a dozen events in partnership with restaurants, museums, art galleries and public festivals.  More than 1,500 community members attended these events.

WUNC makes broad use of contacts and relationships in the public school system to recruit high school students for its Summer Youth Reporting Institute.  This involves regular outreach by WUNC staff to teachers, administrators and youth advocates in the school system.  These relationships have made it possible to ensure that we have a majority minority youth team, bringing richly diverse voices to public radio listeners every year.

WUNC hosts and reporters are widely involved with community organizations.  This engagement ranges from State of Things host Frank Stasio moderating a public conversation at the Durham Public Library, to Program Director David Brower giving a talk and tour to the entire 10th grade from the Wake Charter School, to reporter Leoneda Inge addressing members of the biotech community.

3. What impact did your key initiatives and partnerships have in your community? Describe any known measurable impact, such as increased awareness, learning or understanding about particular issues. Describe indicators of success, such as connecting people to needed resources or strengthening conversational ties across diverse neighborhoods. Did a partner see an increase in requests for related resources? Please include direct feedback from a partner(s) or from a person(s) served.

Public outreach events continue to have direct impact on building brand awareness and engagement with WUNC as a leading public media outlet in our community.  These are opportunities for our staff to tell public radio’s story and espouse the virtues of the medium.

The direct engagement of our hosts, producers and reporters in community events have generated countless news story ideas and broadened the range of guests that are included in reports and talk shows.  In addition the Summer Youth Reporting Institute had a similar impact.  During this summer-long program WUNC staff develops rich relationships with youth who help reflect back the informational needs of their communities.

4. Please describe any efforts (e.g. programming, production, engagement activities) you have made to investigate and/or meet the needs of minority and other diverse audiences (including, but not limited to, new immigrants, people for whom English is a second language and illiterate adults) during Fiscal Year 2014, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2015. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

WUNC News pays close attention to the diversity of guests in its news reports and talk show productions.  The staff of our flagship talk show The State of Things meets regularly to review demographic information of guests and topics addressed during the program. 

During 2015 WUNC’s The State of Things launched a new segment called #backchannel.  This segment features two prominent African American scholars who join our host to address a wide range of issues from topical news to cultural issues.  The goal of this segment is to broaden the range of perspectives addressed during the program.

WUNC News was at the center of coverage of an international news story that involved minority audiences, immigrants and people of faith.  On February 10, 2015 three young American Muslims were shot and killed in Chapel Hill North Carolina.  This story, often referred to as “the Chapel Hill Shootings” made international news.  During this time WUNC News assigned two reporters to cover the aftermath in-depth.  As a part of this coverage, WUNC uncovered a StoryCorps segment recording with one of the victims of the shootings while the StoryCorps Mobile Booth was in North Carolina.  WUNC took that interview, edited it for broadcast and web and got it out to the public within 36 hours of the crime.  It was an incredibly moving and poignant segment that spoke directly to issues of race, religion, inclusion and discrimination against the Muslim community.  WUNC’s use of the StoryCorps tape rippled across the globe, resulted in thousands of news stories, social media posts and finally ended up being quoted in a statement issued by President Barrack Obama on February 13, 2015.

WUNC has continued to produce programming designed to discuss issues related to this landmark community event in a civil manner.

5. Please assess the impact that your CPB funding had on your ability to serve your community. What were you able to do with your grant that you wouldn't be able to do if you didn't receive it?

CPB funding to WUNC is an essential part of our structure.     WUNC receives no direct support from the State of North Carolina or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Instead WUNC is able to leverage CPB support to inspire widespread giving in our community.  During 2015, more and more listeners two WUNC chose to move to a sustainer model for giving monthly.  By the end of the year nearly 80% of WUNC donors were giving as sustainers.  CPB funding is a part of the foundation for this level of on-going community support.

Loss of the CPB Community Service Grant could lead to the end of WUNC’s daily talk show The State of Things – ending a daily outlet for civil discourse in our community.  It could also lead to a dramatic downsizing of the reporting staff that covers the state for listeners.  Commercial broadcast radio has all but eliminated its news gathering efforts in the communities we serve.  CPB funding is an essential part of filling this gap.