Public radio station WDET-FM (Detroit) has received a $5000 prize as winner in the 2019 Local That Works contest, for a project that tells stories of the region’s communities through audio and photography. Since 2014, “Framed by WDET” has featured 10 communities, presenting images and audio stories in art exhibitions and community spaces.
The annual Local That Works contest, presented by Current, the nonprofit news service for and about public media in the U.S., showcases innovative and creative local content produced by public and nonprofit media organizations. Current presented the award this year in partnership with Greater Public and with co-coordinator Public Media Futures Forums.
Public radio leaders gathered for the Public Radio Super-Regional conference heard presentations on October 16 from four Local That Works contest finalists and chose WDET as the winner.
“In public media, we commonly cite our responsibility to ensure a healthy democracy. And as local media organizations, it’s also our job to ensure healthy communities,” said Courtney Hurtt, WDET’s associate director of product development and business operations, during her presentation. “And one way to do that is to reflect the lives of the people we’re here to serve. Framed by WDET did this.”
The project started when Detroit photographer Kenny Karpov suggested that the station work with him on stories about dress shops in Hamtramck, Mich., a community near Detroit with a majority of Muslim residents. Karpov took photos while audio producers recorded stories from the residents. WDET’s GM came up with the idea of presenting the photos and stories in an art gallery in the community, Hurtt said. Creating an exhibition space “allowed us to bring different types of people together, literally, in one space” she said.
More than 20 exhibits appeared in community spaces throughout the Detroit area, Hurtt said. Nearly half of attendees said it was their first WDET event.
WDET funded the project primarily through grants. The project allowed the station “to interact with new organizations, people who support the arts,” Hurtt said. The station also raised more than $19,000 through Kickstarter to produce a “Framed by WDET” book.