CPB Puts Nearly $2M To Public Radio Election 2020 Efforts


The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has awarded a Kansas City-based public radio station that just agreed to purchase a facility for a 24/7 Classical station a grant to lead a nationwide noncomm community listening and engagement projected tied around the 2020 elections.

The Curators of the University of Missouri, the official licensee for a group of noncommercial stations including KCUR-FM 89.3 in Kansas City, received a $1.9 million grant from CPB to lead “Election 2020: Listening to America.”

The project, which aims to strengthen public media’s ability to incorporate community and citizen perspectives in local, regional, and national coverage of the 2020 election, was announced Wednesday at the Public Radio Program Directors Conference in Minneapolis. 

“Public media is uniquely positioned to provide election coverage that goes beyond the latest polling,” said CPB SVP/Journalism and Radio Kathy Merritt, who announced the grant. “The Listening to America initiative will strengthen the collaborative ties among stations as they engage with their communities to surface diverse voices from across America.” 

Through “Election 2020: Listening to America,” public radio stations will collaborate to gather data and engage communities through listening events, public forums and outreach, and through engagement tools on social media platforms. The stations will produce multimedia election reporting on specific issues that offer contrasts in community perspectives. The project aims to create visual reporting elements such as interactive maps, graphs, or other visualizations that can be adapted across multiple websites and stations. The stations will share insights, stories, and content with national broadcast collaborators such as NPR, PBS and podcast producers.

As the lead station in the initiative, KCUR will establish a small central team to support station engagement and editorial activities. The 18-month grant will support the hiring of seven full-time newsroom personnel. They will coordinate collaboration among public media stations and existing journalism collaborations to hold community convenings, listening sessions, surveys, and engagement practices, as well as ambitious reporting efforts that will elevate stations’ capabilities. The project will strengthen public media’s capacity to engage local communities and cover issues of local and national importance.

“KCUR is excited to lead this effort, which will help inform 2020 election coverage with issues that truly matter to communities,” said KCUR GM Nico Leone. “As a public radio station in the geographic center of the country and a leader and member of several highly successful public media journalism collaborations, KCUR is well-positioned to lead this effort.”

As RBR+TVBR reported August 16, The Curators of the University of Missouri is agreeing to purchase KWJC-FM 91.9, licensed to Liberty, Mo., from William Jewell College for $2 million. Serving as the broker of record is Guest Technology LLC.