As the statewide media sponsor for the Jefferson Awards for Public Service, KCWY-TV in Mills, Wyo., asks its viewers to nominate extraordinary people from the community. The first requests air in January, through public service announcements (PSAs) and news stories. Nominees and their stories are then shared through the production of additional PSAs. The four finalists who are then chosen to go on to compete in the national Jefferson Awards are featured in congratulations spots and have their profiles posted on the station’s Web site. Past finalists include a cancer survivor who counsels cancer patients and a foster parent who has brought more than 400 children into her home. Making sure to pay tribute to all nominees, the station hosts an annual luncheon. While recognizing those who are making Wyoming and the world a better place, the Jefferson Awards serve as inspiration for others to volunteer and do good for the community. KCWY was named the 2008 Television Station of the Year by the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters.
Topic: Youth-Focused Initiatives
All hands at KGWY-FM in Gillette, Wyo., and two of its sister stations are on deck when it comes time for the yearly radiothon to benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. From answering the phone bank to making appeals to listeners on the air, the event takes a station-wide effort. During the 2008 radiothon, staff put 500 man hours into the event. Their hard work paid off; Wyomingites gave more than $112,000 to provide treatment for children suffering from cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Two months worth of planning went into working out the details surrounding the radiothon, including getting other organizations and businesses involved in the cause. Part of this outreach led to a “Penny Challenge,” where collection jars were placed in the public schools, allowing children an opportunity to donate the contents of their piggy banks to help other children. “We went into this project with the idea if we raised $5,000 it would be a success,” said General Manager Don Clonch. “This is an event that has grown, and we get tremendous local support.”
Topic: Health Awareness Campaigns
KUGR-AM in Green River, Wyo., helped round up more than $250,000 for Cowboys Against Cancer last year. The all-volunteer charity helps cancer patients who live in rural areas, such as the listeners of KUGR, travel to receive treatment. Not only does the station provide on-air support for the nonprofit group, KUGR also maintains the Cowboys Against Cancer Web site and helps plan the organization’s main benefit gala each year. The majority of the charity’s annual resources come from this event, which includes dinner, dancing, raffles, and both live and silent auctions. The station’s 14 staff members contributed more than 250 hours of volunteer time to make sure the most recent gala went off without a hitch. KUGR’s support went a long way and the Cowboys Against Cancer raised $65,000 more than the previous year.
Topic: Disaster Relief and Recovery
When a death threat forced the local high school and an adjacent elementary school to immediately go into lockdown, KZEW-FM and KYCN-AM in Wheatland, Wyo., became a main source of information for frightened parents. For four hours, the station gave continual updates and hosted the superintendent on air several times. Communication with school authorities allowed the stations to share detailed information on what steps were being taken to ensure the students’ safety. When the students were moved to another school to be released to their families, the stations played a key role in getting word to parents. “The stations were our best way of getting information out to the community that the kids were in lockdown,” said Stuart Nelson, superintendent of Platte County School District One. “They did a great job. They kept everybody from panicking.” KZEW was named Small Market Station of the Year by the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters.
Topic: Disaster Relief and Recovery
It was a Memorial Day weekend that required 5,000 sandbags, and KLGT-FM and KBBS-AM in Buffalo, Wyo., broke from their format from evening to early morning to bring listeners continual information on the high waters and flooding. Through the stations, the county commissioner’s office, city planner and fire department got crucial flood warnings to the community. “They were instrumental in keeping the community advised,” said Fire Chief Wes Johnson. Additional staff came into the studio to help answer the deluge of calls from those needing aid. Listeners tuned in to the two stations knew where sandbag trucks making deliveries throughout the community were going to be at any given time. The stations kept contact with emergency responders to keep information up-to-date. “We coordinated with the fire chief all night,” said KLGT’s Smokey Wildeman. “It is really crucial to have the right information.”
If you could have one wish, what would it be? This is the question stations KROE-AM, KWYO-AM, KZWY-FM, KYTI-FM and KLQQ-FM in Sheridan, Wyo., pose to listeners each year during their annual "Christmas Wish" effort. Overwhelmingly, the requests that come in are for a neighbor, a friend or a loved one in need. Now in its 10th year, the program has provided everything from a new mattress for an elderly man who had slept on the same one for 30 years to groceries for a family of four facing large medical bills. In the first years of the program, the station selected 10 wishes and granted one a day during the days leading up to Christmas. As the program has grown, in addition to 10 days of wishes broadcast on air, the station fulfills as many additional requests as possible. In 2007, the combination of hard work from the stations’ staff and donations from individuals and businesses made it possible to deliver 34 Christmas wishes involving 28 families and 93 children. According to Kim Love, general manager of the five stations, the real impact of the effort was brought home when his wife was approached at church by a woman who told her, "My family and I were recipients of a ‘Christmas Wish.’ I can’t tell you how much this meant to us. It gave us hope. Thank you."
For more examples of how Wyoming’s local radio and TV broadcasters are serving every local community, please contact the Wyoming Association of Broadcasters .