An escalating number of senseless crimes leading to violence and murder among school-age students prompted WLS-TV in Chicago, Ill., to look for solutions. First, the station engaged viewers with an hour-long, commercial-free broadcast of a town hall meeting organized by the Chicago Foundation for Women’s "What Will It Take?" campaign. Next, the station produced a three-part special series, "Stop the Violence." Each 30-minute, commercial-free program explored a different aspect of the problem and possible solutions. Starting two weeks before each broadcast, the station ran a heavy promotional schedule to encourage its viewers to watch. Press releases were sent out to print media, and the station also reached out to local radio. Hosted by key WLS evening anchors, the specials included interviews with the local superintendent of police, the president of the Chicago Board of Education, school counselors, a father whose son was murdered and a local pastor. The specials have helped start a dialogue about how to find resolutions to conflicts before they escalate into violence.
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