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VEA Extends Outreach Through Expanded Public Radio News Service


VEA President Dr. Kitty Boitnott today announced a new partnership with public radio that includes a grant to support the expansion of the Virginia Public Radio news service.

"We are pleased to support the expansion of this important news network," Boitnott said. "We believe that public broadcasting and public education share a mission to educate Virginians so they can develop opinions and make decisions as informed citizens. VEA members work hard every day to educate Virginia's children, while public radio does the same with the state's adults."

With VEA's support, Virginia Public Radio will expand the scope and volume of its news content while increasing the number of participating radio stations to create a major statewide news service available to most Virginia residents.

Participating public radio stations include WAMU-serving Northern Virginia and the nation's capital, WHRV-serving Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and the Hampton Roads area, WMRA-serving Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley, and WVTF/RADIO IQ-serving Southwest, Southside, and Central Virginia and Richmond.

"While everyone's budget is tight," Boitnott commented, "we are fortunate to have some dedicated funds that can be used only for public outreach purposes. The funds for this grant come from accumulated contributions by VEA members over the past several years. The timing of this grant, which will total $200,000 over a two-year period, is good for public radio stations suffering from their own budget cuts, and it helps expand VEA's public relations outreach."

Boitnott explained that VEA will have no influence on the news coverage or content , but will receive sponsorship announcements on the participating radio stations as well as ads on their websites leading the public to the resources for parents and teachers on the VEA website. "We also are excited about the creation of a new web site for Virginia Public Radio that will make its news and feature reporting available to all Virginians," Boitnott said.

"The grant from the Virginia Education Association to support Virginia Public Radio will make this important, high-quality service even better," commented Glenn Gleixner, general manager of WVTF and RADIO IQ Public Radio.

"This partnership of the state's major public radio stations enables all of us to offer more substantive reports and features," Gleixner added. "Plus, Virginia Public Radio now has the resources to produce Assembly Conversations, a significant new public affairs call-in program spotlighting legislative activity affecting all Virginians during the General Assembly sessions. Virginia Public Radio is poised to give Virginia citizens even more of the quality, depth, perspective, and context in its statewide reporting."

Virginia Public Radio provides partner radio stations with high-quality news and information content covering a wide range of topics and issues in flexible formats to fit the needs of each participating station:
• Daily news reports from its Richmond news bureau cover a wide range of state issues including activity by the General Assembly, the Governor, and state regulatory agencies. This news coverage is designed for use within local station newscast segments of NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered as well as within other programs that contain newscast opportunities.  Capitol reporters Anne Marie Morgan and Tommie McNeil are both professional journalists living and working in the Richmond area.
• Weekly feature stories cover issues of statewide interest. These NPR-style in-depth reports provide a balance of hard news and lighter topics with content coming from the many different regions of the Commonwealth. Feature stories are designed for placement within Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and other news magazines and productions. The reporting team consists of about a dozen top radio journalists reporting from their home regions across the Commonwealth.
• Assembly Conversations, weekly interview/call-in programs during the General Assembly sessions, will originate from Richmond and feature live interviews with state lawmakers, the Governor, and others who have a stake in the current legislative and political process. One weekly program will air during the 8-10 weeks of the legislative session. The program will also take questions from listeners. Program hosts include veteran reporters Bob Gibson, Tom Graham, and Fred Echols. Gibson is a veteran talk show host, former Daily Progress political reporter-columnist, and current director of the Sorensen Institute at the University of Virginia. Graham is also a veteran broadcast reporter and news anchor and currently is the host of Insight, a weekly interview/call-in program produced by WMRA. Echols is another long-time reporter, producer, and talk show host on public radio. He currently reports for WVTF and hosts its weekly interview/call-in program Evening Edition.
• A proprietary web site (www.virginiapublicradio.org) features all news content produced for Virginia Public Radio. Listeners have 24/7 access to the reports plus news related pictures and additional information not included in the broadcast material.

"With many media outlets reducing local and regional news coverage, Virginia Public Radio provides listeners to WAMU 88.5 and WRAU 88.3 the scope, depth, and quality of news and feature reporting they value," commented Jim Asendio, news director for the District of Columbia-based WAMU/WRAU. "Now more than ever, Virginia Public Radio is a valued partner in our effort to offer listeners the broadest range of statehouse reporting, public affairs programming and feature-length stories for which public radio is known."

WVTF's news director Connie Stevens commented, "The efforts of the Virginia Public Radio reporting team will tie Virginia's diverse regions together by giving a broader perspective to the important issues of the day. With this in-depth coverage, we'll also have deeper context into matters facing the state-as legislative issues converge with the economy, education, technology, and the arts.  We are excited to be a part of this effort to share Virginia's stories with listeners across the state."

"The Virginia Public Radio daily news reports are an invaluable service to the listeners of WHRV here in Hampton Roads," commented Heather F. Mazzoni, director of programming for WHRV-FM. "The collaboration allows us to bring the news of greater Virginia to our local listeners without additional expense to WHRV. We are thrilled with the partnership and look forward to providing stories from our area to Virginia Public Radio."

Matt Bingay, program director for WMRA, said, "We are very excited about this state-wide news partnership. This is an opportunity to pool our resources and provide a better service to all public radio listeners in Virginia. Especially at this time when commercial services are pulling back on local reporting and cutting staff."

"Virginia Public Radio helps bridge the disconnect between the eastern and western parts of Virginia, but at the same time, addresses issues pertinent to our locality," commented Ashlee B. Claud, general manager of Public Radio WVRU at Radford University. "Additionally, it showcases public radio's style of in-depth, comprehensive news coverage to our students. It's a great learning tool for our student staff as well as our audience."


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