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From the CEO - February 2023

We may not be that far into the new year yet, but it's already an exciting year for WHRO Public Media. I am so proud of the work we are doing locally, specifically in the area of local journalism. Over the past several years journalism at local and regional levels has been particularly hard hit which is why WHRO is focused on expanding our newsroom.

In the fall of last year, the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism at WHRO was awarded a Local Reporting Network grant from ProPublica. ProPublica is the leading nonprofit newsroom in the U.S., regularly winning national awards for its investigations. The grant supports work by journalist Brandi Kellam, an Emmy-award- winning reporter who has produced national stories for CBS News. Brandi, one of five journalists chosen from around the country for the highly-competitive grant, will spend a year with the Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism at WHRO.

This ProPublica grant greatly enhances our mission to expand community-supported, independent local and state journalism. The award also furthers WHRO's mission to expand its newsroom and provide more quality, unbiased reporting on issues vital to the community.

I am also thrilled to share Brandi's impressive background in the world of journalism. In 2021, she was awarded a fellowship from Columbia University's Ira A. Lipman Center For Journalism and Civil and Human Rights. She has also been an instructor, leading course discussions on journalism for the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University where she earned a master's degree in broadcast and digital journalism. She also holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Additionally, I am proud to announce that WHRO has been appointed as a Climate Collaborative Member Station through NPR's Climate Desk. NPR's new Climate Desk and Member Station grants are being funded by The Rockefeller Foundation. What does that mean? With the grant funds, WHRO will hire a reporter to cover local/regional climate research and stories. The reporter will work with an NPR climate editor regularly. NPR's climate editor's priority will be to train station reporters in climate journalism, and the NPR climate editor will then coordinate and collaborate with the station editor and reporter on regional coverage. Pretty cool, huh?

Have you been listening to podcasts as much as I have in this new year? An excellent podcast you should listen to if you haven't already is WHRO's Rural, produced by our friend and award-winning documentarian, Amy Drewry. Each episode explores the history, culture, benefits, and challenges of rural America. Did you know that rural America is more than 95 percent of the land mass in the United States, but fewer than 20 percent of Americans live there? It has been fascinating to learn about the complex issues that rural communities face in our nation. I highly recommend taking a listen to this new, locally produced program. To listen online visit whro.org/rural

It's an exciting time to be working in public media, and I'm so thankful for your continued support.

Take care and be well!

Bert Schmidt President & Chief Executive Officer