Telling Public Radio’s Story

Telling Public Radio’s Story


Telling Public Radio’s Story - Fiscal Year 2018

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 is committed to serving as broad an audience as possible using every platform available to listeners, readers and viewers in North Carolina.  With a mix of acquired and original content WUNC uses a network of broadcast outlets to reach nearly 400,000 listeners every week in more than half of North Carolina’s 100 counties.  The Station’s goal is to support an informed citizenry with information that will help them make good decisions for their families, communities, state and country.  In addition to in-depth journalism WUNC also produces music programming that celebrates the tradition and diversity of North Carolina’s cultural communities.

WUNC employs a team of journalists, hosts and producers to serve its audience 24/7.  The news programming is produced with a statewide audience in mind.  WUNC stories, interviews and programs should appeal to people on I-540 in Raleigh, at their office in Kitty Hawk or in the barracks at Fort Bragg. This requires editorial focus and a strong commitment to story-telling.

WUNC actively shares its content, free-of-charge with other CPB-funded stations in North Carolina.  WUNC’s daily talk show The State of Things is on the air from the mountains to the coast thanks to partnerships with Blue Ridge Public Radio and WHQR Wilmington and the WUNC Stations.  In 2018 WUNC collaborated with WFAE, BPR, WFDD and WHQR on statewide, live coverage during Hurricane Florence and prior to the mid-term elections.  During Hurricane Florence the city of Wilmington was essentially cut off from the rest North Carolina due to extensive flooding.  WUNC worked with NPR to allow WHQR to rebroadcast WUNC for a couple afternoons to help give their on-air staff time to take a break.

WUNC owns and operates a network of 8 transmitters and translators and serves communities in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, Greenville and communities in between.  WUNC’s core service is centered around NPR News and local reporting.  WUNC also allows WCPE (Raleigh/Wake Forest) to use translators on the Outer Banks.  This ensures that people in rural northeastern North Carolina have an over-the-air Classical Music service available.

In addition to WUNC’s News Service the station has a long-running commitment to music.  WUNC produces three nights of “Back Porch Music” every week.  Our local hosts explore North Carolina’s rich musical traditions and connect those sounds to folk music from around the world.  WUNC also produces a 24/7 AAA/Music Discovery stream for its app, web, smart speakers and HD2 broadcast.  It’s branded as WUNC Music and is designed to help listeners discover new and adventurous pop music.  There is a heavy emphasis on local music with local bands, songwriters and musicians featured prominently on the stream.

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.

As described above, WUNC frequently partners with other public radio outlets across North Carolina.  Our original news reports, live talk shows and special coverage are distributed free of charge to all public radio stations in the state.

WUNC produced original news coverage in cooperation with five other public radio stations across the state of North Carolina.  When Hurricane Florence hit the state WUNC produced hourly updates that were distributed and carried by almost every news and information station in North Carolina.  During this same storm, WUNC produced a two hour live special that was also carried by those same stations.

During the worst of the storm WUNC sought permission from NPR to simulcast WUNC’s broadcast of All Things Considered on WHQR in Wilmington.  This allowed the tired and overworked staff at WHQR time to take a break and take care of personal matters.

In addition to the statewide collaboration, WUNC is a part of two national reporting initiatives.  WUNC has funding from CPB for American Homefront, a national reporting initiative on military and veterans issues.    This is a collaborative effort involving six public radio stations across the state.  WUNC is also a part of the 10 station collaborative reporting initiative “Guns and America.”  WUNC has a full-time reporter assigned to the project reporting on the complicated role that guns play in our country.  The station airs all of the reports produced by the collaborative.

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.

WUNC creates and distributes content that is intended to inspire and improve the lives of the people it serves.  With Broadcast, Digital and Engagement projects we dig deep into the news of the day, explore on-going trends and celebrate the music that is made here.  The end result is what researchers might call “soft deliverables” that are difficult to measure.  But it’s clear that WUNC has an impact as it continues to be one of the most listened to radio stations of any kind in our primary market.  WUNC was #1 in Morning Drive Time for all 13- books in 2019.  It was the overall #1 station in two of the thirteen books last year.

Our partner organizations have reported back that our initiatives, reporting and broadcasts have had a positive impact on the communities they serve.  Each summer WUNC hires a team of Youth Reporters and we hear from teachers, parents and community leaders that the youth experience is positive.  In addition, WUNC received direct praise from leadership at Fort Bragg and from the Fayetteville Observer about our Ft Bragg Stories reports and story-telling events.

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 2017, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2018. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

WUNC continues to be one of the only public radio newsrooms to have a fulltime reporter assigned to cover the “Race & Southern Culture” beat.  During the last calendar year that commitment resulted in dozens of stories directly related to the African American community. One of the largest on-going and at times breaking news stories we covered in the last year was the debate over Civil War memorials in public places.  The most public and prominent debate was over the future of the “Silent Sam” statue on the UNC Chapel Hill campus.  WUNC’s Race and Southern Culture reporter worked with the rest of the WUNC newsroom to cover every twist and turn in this complicated story.

This summer WUNC hired another diverse group of young people for its Youth Reporting Institute.  The majority-minority team covered stories thick with deeply personal issues of importance to their respective communities.

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?

WUNC has incredible support from its local community – but that would be made significantly more difficult without CPB funding.  WUNC uses grants from CPB as a foundation for our service to listeners and leverages that funding to raise the balance of the station’s operating budget. 

WUNC receives no direct support from the State of North Carolina or the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. If WUNC lost its CPB funding, there would be direct cuts to services and likely staff. The loss would result in less original content produced to meet the needs and interests of North Carolinians.