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Telling Public Radio's Story

2023 Local Content Services Report for CPB

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.

WHQR assesses community needs and issues through multiple community engagement efforts. Besides our regular art-related public events, such as the WHQR Art Gallery “Fourth Friday” where WHQR staff participates in the monthly art crawl and monthly music performances held by WHQR, both of which involve staff meeting and talking to attendees, our staff attends periodic “WHQR Meet-ups” at various venues in the community such as breweries and coffee shops. In addition, our News team conducts community engagement events such as Community Agenda where they solicit input from the public on critical questions to pose to government officials and the candidates for local office. The News team also holds public discussion and Q&A events called Cape Fear Conversations on topics such as local development, LGBTQ+ issues, DEI issues, housing and homelessness. In 2024 these efforts will be even more frequent since it is an election year. All of these community engagement events feed our local news coverage, local one-hour programs and podcasts such as The NewsRoom, Coastline, and Cape Fear Rundown. In 2023, our news team launched Ask A Journalist, where listeners email questions they want reporters to answer on the air. As station manager, I’ve initiated the Friday Feedback segment during ME and ATC during which I share and respond to listener comments and questions. The overall goal of all these initiatives is to provide relevant and authentic coverage of issues affecting our region.

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.

WHQR’s News Director has a regular weekly meeting with the News Directors at the other four North Carolina NPR stations to collaborate and coordinate coverage of issues in the state. Locally, WHQR has strong partnerships with WECT-TV’s news department, The Assembly, a statewide magazine and online news outlet and Port City Daily, a local daily online news outlet. We have many partnerships in the arts and culture community, such as WHQR’s Cinematique partnership with the local theater Thalian Hall, our regional arts theater featuring independent, foreign and art films. We partner with local businesses, Cape Fear Community College, and University of North Carolina Wilmington as venues to hold WHQR community engagement events. We also partner with local non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity and The Good Shepherd Center and many others on fundraising, where each pledge of support to WHQR generates a donation to the other non- profit from a local 3rd party or donor.

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.

In most cases, the main benefit WHQR provides to our non-profit and arts partners is promotion. Marketing can be very expensive for local non-profits, and as the newspaper shrinks in size and readership, the opportunities for effective promotion also shrinks. Partnering with WHQR gives them access to the broadcast megaphone, reaching the listeners in our demographic, to whom they are all seeking access. This increased awareness of our partners’ mission does increase donations to and requests for resources from our partners. In other cases, our partnership enables us to reach a larger local audience. For example, WHQR’s partnership with WECT TV allows to reach over a hundred thousand additional online readers when we co-publish stories; it also allows us to reach a television audience of nearly 200,000 when our reporters are brought on-air for interviews about their work. Our news partners have a similar mission to WHQR, and working closely with them helps all of us keep Cape Fear better informed. Examples of comments we get on our efforts are: “I really appreciate the reporting on the flood mitigation issue related to Hurricane Florence.” “Great work, appreciate all the professionalism in journalism” “I love the local news. I've lived in several parts of the country, and WHQR is the most community-based station I know.” “WHQR is part and parcel of Wilmington's artistic and cultural community. I am very proud to be a fan and supporter.”

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 2023, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2024. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

In FY23 Two events in our public forum series, Cape Fear Conversations, have focused on diversity issues – one on the LGBTQ community, and one on Black history. For many years, WHQR has produced the program A Season’s Griot for Kwanzaa. Our longtime host passed away last year, so in FY23 we broadcast and distributed a “best of” program in his memory. In July of FY23, we held a live concert at WHQR to celebrate Black Music Month (originally scheduled for June, but postponed due to technical issues). In FY24, WHQR is planning a new A Season’s Griot and another Black Music Month live concert. In addition, we’re partnering with the local YWCA to broadcast the monthly conversations they currently hold on Facebook Live on women’s health, specifically targeted to the Black community. Each program includes health experts answering questions submitted by listeners via Facebook. In FY24 our news team is investigating ‘newcomer schools’ and the needs of recent immigrants to the United States in educational terms.

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?

CPB funding makes it possible for WHQR to purchase core programming from NPR and other distributors. It would be prohibitively expensive for us to run two channels 24/7 of news, talk and music programming if we had to generate it ourselves. It is far more cost effective and important to our community to provide access to the recognizable and popular Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here and Now, Fresh Air, etc. CPB funding frees WHQR up to provide high quality local news and entertainment as a sole-source station in the Cape Fear region. This year, WHQR celebrates our 40th year of broadcast, which makes us younger than many other NPR stations. It was a motivated group of citizens that started the effort to create a local NPR station in 1980 that brought WHQR into being. CPB funding makes it possible for us to continue to provide the services Cape Fear community members like these saw the need for more than 40 years ago and still need.