National Public Radio member station WUOT 91.9 FM, licensed to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has received two 2009 regional Edward R. Murrow Awards from the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA).
WUOT is the only radio station in Tennessee to be recognized in this year’s competition for the region that includes Tennessee, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kentucky. Named after newsman Edward R. Murrow, the annual awards honor outstanding achievement in electronic journalism.
WUOT was the regional small market winner in the “News Series” category for “My Life. My Vote.,” a series of personal reflections from eight East Tennesseans about why they vote and what drives them to overcome challenges and obstacles to do so. WUOT News Director Matt Shafer Powell produced the series in conjunction with the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee.
A portion of the “My Life. My Vote.” series aired on NPR stations nationwide. Plans are to use the interviews recorded for the series as the cornerstone of a research archive housed at the Baker Center. This archive eventually will feature 100 interviews gathered by Baker Center Scholars, a group of undergraduate and graduate students at the center.
WUOT also won in the “Best Writing” category for a compilation of three different feature stories that aired in 2008: “In the Space of a Moment,” “Cicadian Rhythms” and “My Life. My Vote. (Sarah Moore Green).”
“In the Space of a Moment” tells the story of John Bohstedt, one of several men who tackled the gunman responsible for a fatal shooting at Knoxville’s Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. “Cicadian Rhythms” allows listeners to experience, and perhaps better understand, the life of the 17-year cicada. In “My Life. My Vote. (Sarah Moore Green),” the matriarch of Knoxville’s Civil Rights movement reflects on the promise she made to a dying boy — and how that moment moved her to commit her life to social change. All three stories were written and produced by Powell.
“It’s an honor to receive an award named after Edward R. Murrow,” Powell said. “Murrow built his success on the idea that solid writing is a fundamental hallmark of a good broadcast story.”
WUOT Director Regina Dean said quality writing is an important piece of the public radio tradition.
“I’m very proud of our news department’s accomplishments in delivering thoughtful, in-depth stories to WUOT listeners,” she said. “These awards are a tribute not only to the talents of our staff but also to the compelling people and stories of our region.”
Winners of regional awards will move on to the national competition in July.
WUOT began to supplement NPR news programming with local news in November 2002. The station’s regional coverage includes daily newscasts as well as interviews and long-form feature stories focused on the people and issues that affect East Tennessee.
The world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism, RTNDA represents local and network news executives in broadcasting, cable and other electronic media in more than 30 countries.
Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM is a 100,000-watt station broadcasting from UT Knoxville. Qualified by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WUOT is a member of National Public Radio, and a Public Radio International affiliate. WUOT’s primary format is classical and jazz music, news and public affairs. WUOT serves listeners throughout East Tennessee, and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week and streams on the Web at http://www.wuot.org.