AIR Names Ten to Transform Public Media

[Source: Association of Independents in Radio, January 30, 2012]

From coast to coast, producer-station teams gear up for multiplatform storytelling. 
Boston: After a stiff national competition this fall, the Association of Independents in Radio, Inc. (AIR) today announced ten winning producers to spearhead its Localore initiative — a  transmedia project challenging public media makers and outlets to invent new forms of  reporting that expand service to a wider public. Localore winners will head up collaborative  teams — whose members work inside and outside public media and include independent and station-based producers, distinguished documentary filmmakers, gamers, data journalists and front-edge developers. Projects will begin launching in March.
Localore is a $2-million initiative produced by Boston-based AIR, with more than $1 million in funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting directed to support the Localore teams at public radio and television stations for up to one year. Lead producers are tasked with bringing their ingenuity to crafting journalism projects that blend digital and broadcast technology, and “go outside” public media’s core platforms and traditional audiences. With guidance from a distinguished Selection Committee, AIR chose from proposals submitted to an open call, including 61 media shorts produced by a diverse range of stations and posted to the unprecedented Station Runway. The competition sparked broad interest, drawing more than 7,200 
unique visitors to since mid-September.
Here’s the short list of producers and their partner stations: 
  • Jennifer Brandel, WBEZ-FM, Chicago, Illinois 
  • Anayansi Diaz-Cortes, KCRW-FM, Los Angeles, California 
  • Julia Kumari Drapkin, KVNF-FM, Paonia, Colorado 
  • Ken Eklund, Twin Cities Public Television, Minneapolis, Minnesota 
  • Delaney Hall, KUT-FM, Austin, Texas 
  • Todd Melby, Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, North Dakota 
  • Erica Mu, KALW-FM, San Francisco, California 
  • Julia Reichert, WYSO-FM, Dayton, Ohio 
  • Nikki Silva (of the Kitchen Sisters), KQED Radio and Television, San Francisco, California 
  • Val Wang, WGBH Radio and Television, Boston Massachusetts 
“We’re tremendously excited to turn this important corner,” said Jay Kernis, co-chair of AIR’s programming committee. Kernis, former Senior VP for Programming at NPR and Managing Editor at CNN, is now producing for NBC News. He continued, “To have such a diverse array of remarkable producers and a full complement of enthusiastic stations across the system take up this challenging assignment bodes well for the public media system as it continues on its path of 21st-century reinvention.” 
Building on the legacy of AIR’s Makers Quest 2.0 (MQ2), Localore is the second in a series of innovation projects created by AIR that tap producers to reinvent public media. Zeega — a technology team that emerged from MQ2 project Mapping Main Street, and was awarded a 2011 Knight News Challenge Grant — will develop transmedia production tools with selected Localore projects. Localore teams will also join AIR’s New Network of innovators. 
AIR is a vibrant, tightly networked association of more than 800 journalists, documentarians, technicians, media entrepreneurs and sound artists. Founded in 1988, AIR has emerged as force for identifying, cultivating and deploying talent to accelerate public media innovation and expand service to more citizens across the U.S. AIR’s membership now spans 46 states and 14 countries worldwide including leading stations, 501c3’s, organizations and networks including APM, BBC, NPR, PRI, PRX, Transom and the Third Coast International Audio Festival. In addition to CPB, financial support for Localore comes from the MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Wyncote Foundation. 
Learn more about Localore:
Localore 2012 Producer-Station Teams 
Jennifer Brandel / WBEZ, Chicago, IL: Curious City: Let’s Get Answers will prompt audience members to pose, rank and help to answer relevant questions about community and news topics through online and mobile tools. Designed to democratize editorial research and story selection, the project will make the reporting process transparent at every step, and surface key issues for further exploration. 
Anayansi Diaz-Cortes / KCRW, Los Angeles, CA: How do immigrants’ ideas of self and place shift in an era of always-on communication? Multiplatform documentary Sonic Trace will explore the relationship of Latin American immigrants to their home communities. Diaz-Cortes will gather stories from both sides of the border, with a focus on three evocative places (“Tres Puntos”) in LA: a church in South Central, Koreatown kitchens where Oaxacan cooks are rising in popularity and a mobile recording booth in local food trucks. 
Julia Drapkin / KVNF, Paonia, CO: iSeeChange is a crowdsourced reporting project that will draw from participants’ everyday observations about shifts in the weather. Inspired by successful “citizen science” projects, Drapkin will elicit photos, quotes and art submitted by local ranchers, coal miners and others vitally affected by environmental shifts — showcasing debates about climate through a mobile documentary unit, weekly broadcasts and multimedia explorations of each season. 
Ken Eklund / Twin Cites Public Television, Minneapolis, MN: What should today’s high school seniors know before they head out on their own? This question will drive Get Real Ed, a participatory alternate reality game that asks users to provide real-world solutions for the nation’s pressing dropout crisis. The game will revolve around five fictional “OpOuts” led by the strong-willed Edwina, whose interactions with participants will both shape the game’s trajectory and prompt lively dialogue about the state of U.S. education. 
Delaney Hall / KUT, Austin, Texas: Beyond Austin’s much-documented music scene lie the “third places” where musicians regularly meet, perform, and commune: front porches, backyards, garages, sidewalks and churches. Austin Music Map (AMM) is a collaborative documentary and performance series exploring Austin’s diverse sonic subcultures, and offering users a digital map to discover and learn more about such spots. The project will culminate with a celebratory music festival. 
Todd Melby / Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, ND: Through embedded reporting from the oil patches and “mancamps” of North Dakota, Black Gold Boom will catalyze discussion about the local and national impacts of the region’s rush to drill. An interactive site featuring multimedia portraits of workers who have streamed to the state and the families they left behind will accompany a related photo exhibit mounted in local businesses. Data-driven reporting and mapping of active oil wells will provide deeper context for individuals’ stories. 
Erica Mu / KALW, San Francisco, CA: A roving crowdsourced storytelling project based in the Bay Area and Oakland, Pop-Up Radio aims to build connections between these disparate communities through a series of playful events and broadcasts. Mu will gather stories in 2-month cycles around six themes — via a mobile recording booth, online and in concert with community partners such as schools, youth media programs, libraries and barbershops.  
Julia Reichert / WYSO, Dayton, OH: Veteran documentary filmmakers and Dayton residents Julia Reichert and Steven Bogner will produce this participatory documentary, examining how residents of Dayton — one of America’s “fastest dying cities” — are reinventing themselves in a new and unstable economy. Producers will ask residents: “Who was I before the bottom fell out? What happened that changed my life? Who am I becoming, or trying to become now?” 
Nikki Silva (Kitchen Sisters) / KQED Radio and Television, San Francisco, CA: Northern California is America's ground zero for innovation. Two of public media's most influential native institutions join forces to bring together a young, diverse collaborative team from inside and outside public media to bridge dynamic communities of invention in new ways.  They'll tap the worlds of interactive media, Berkeley School of Information, transmedia documentarians and young ethnic producers to create THE MAKING OF... an exciting, year-long initiative reflecting the universality of craft across culture, ethnicity and socioeconomic divides.
Val Wang / WGBH, Boston, MA: Planet Takeout highlights the role that Chinese restaurants play as vital crossroads between cultures in neighborhoods in Boston and beyond. This participatory, multiplatform documentary project aims to break down barriers between the Chinese immigrants running these hyperlocal establishments, and the diverse customers they serve, through mobile storytelling, face-to-face dialogues and an interactive site documenting the restaurants’ eclectic visual flavor.