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ACS BLOG
on the record

2.4.2021

Arkansas PBS wins five national Public Media Awards

by
Kody Ford

Arkansas PBS has won five national Public Media Awards – the most for any network competing – from the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) in the 52nd annual competition, including Overall Excellence in Education and Overall Excellence in Community Engagement. Winners were announced Tuesday, Jan. 26, during the virtual 2021 NETA Conference and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Thought Leader Forum. Compilation videos of the winning and nominated projects can be seen at myarpbs.org/awardwinning and myarpbs.org/awardnominated.

The Public Media Awards honor NETA members’ finest work in education, community engagement, marketing/communications and content. This year saw a record number of entries from stations across the country as new categories were introduced recognizing excellence in podcasts and digital media use, as well as awards in each category specific to the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every single member of the Arkansas PBS staff has worked tirelessly in collaboration with many statewide partners during 2020 to provide citizens with engaging, entertaining and essential content,” Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger said. “To have that work recognized with five national Public Media Awards – including two for overall excellence – is a true honor and evidence of what we can accomplish together.

“These awards are something to be celebrated, as is the creative and innovative team at Arkansas PBS.”

Arkansas PBS won the following PMA awards:

  • Overall Excellence in Education.
  • Overall Excellence in Community Engagement.
  • Education – Educational Resources for the Community for “Arkansas AMI.” With schools closed due to COVID-19, Arkansas PBS, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, kept students learning from home with “Arkansas AMI.” The eight-week effort included 400 hours of programming for pre-K to 8th grade and 24 original learning guides and was made available throughout the state on television, online and through the Engage Arkansas PBS app.
  • Education – Teacher Professional Learning for “Coaching Self-Expression – Go in, Poet.” In this teacher professional development course in partnership with Arkansas Department of Education for Arkansas K-12 licensed educators, Arkansas 2019 Teacher of the Year Stacey McAdoo illustrates her relationship-based approach to nurturing expression in her students. She describes the underlying philosophy behind her guidance of The Writeous Poets, a youth performance poetry collective she founded with her husband, teacher Leron McAdoo. In these short mini-lessons, Stacey works intensively with individual students to coach them through revision of their writing. She also shares how the Little Rock Nine inspires her to give students the strength to raise their unique voices and to speak their own truths.
  • Marketing/Communications – Integrated Media Campaign for “GobbledyBook,” a literacy series that helps children develop a love of reading through fun, engaging videos and daily engagement activities. Each episode was carefully planned with the author, allowing viewers to hear stories from local celebrities, cool kids and other familiar faces. Associated activities and a robust, daily social media engagement campaign sparked curiosity and created deeper connections to each story.

Arkansas PBS was also a finalist in the following categories:

  • Overall Excellence in Content.
  • Community Engagement – National Project for “Country Music.” This multi-platform initiative included a Country Music Leadership Summit, eight screening events from a large concert, panel discussions and concerts. In conjunction with the Ken Burns’ documentary, Arkansas PBS produced the 30-minute, 8-episode series “Talkin’ Country,” more than 25 digital shorts, a podcast called “Country Fried” and a blog series.
  • Content – Short Form for “Hazel Walker’s Arkansas Travelers.” Arkansan Hazel Walker was the only woman ever to own, manage and star for her own professional basketball team. For 16 seasons – from 1949 to 1965 – her Arkansas Travelers barnstormed the country playing only men's teams under men's rules with 80-85 percent of their games ending in Travelers’ wins. This segment, produced by Charles Eric White, also won a 2020 Mid-America Regional Emmy Award for Historic/Cultural – Program Feature Segment.
  • Marketing/Communications – COVID-19 Marketing/Communications for the network’s education campaign. While schools were closed due to COVID-19, Arkansas PBS, with the Arkansas Department of Education, met a desperate need by creating a multiplatform solution to keep students learning from home with “Arkansas AMI” (Alternative Methods of Instruction). This campaign was created to clearly communicate with families about easy-to-find resources from Arkansas PBS, PBS and Arkansas PBS LearningMedia. Tools available to the public included livestreaming of Arkansas PBS, a help desk, FAQs, a specialized webpage, a daily e-newsletter, the Engage Arkansas PBS app and a blog series. This effort also resulted in three additional cable providers carrying Arkansas PBS in areas with limited broadband access.

This year, NETA partnered with The Brand Consultancy to develop the new awards program identity. Realizing that public media stations are stronger together, NETA used the concept of a mosaic as inspiration. The awards recognize a mosaic of the highest caliber programming, education, marketing/communications and engagement. Piece by piece and station by station, public media networks come together as choreographers of the public good, to spark more imagination and inspiration than ever could have been done alone.

Awards were judged by a group of expert panelists from within the public media system, as well as industry professionals working outside of public media.

Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, enhances lives by providing lifelong learning opportunities for people from all walks of life. Arkansas PBS delivers daily, essential, local, award-winning productions and classic, trusted PBS programs aimed at sharing Arkansas and the world with viewers through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at myarkansaspbs.org/watch, on-demand services and YouTube TV, and the distinct channels Arkansas PBS, Arkansas PBS Create, Arkansas PBS KIDS, Arkansas PBS WORLD and Arkansas PBS AIRS on SAP.  


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At the ACS, we believe that if we provide filmmakers an arena to exhibit their talents, and film enthusiasts a healthy diet of quality programming, we can inspire more Arkansans to make and watch more films. By supporting filmmakers, festivals, theaters and young people interested in filmmaking throughout the state, we hope to create statewide network, pool Arkansas’s resources and be an umbrella organization that feeds all things film. We believe a rising tide lifts all boats.

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To be a filmmaker, we have to connect to create. A painter needs a brush, paint and a canvas. A director needs a writer, a cinematographer, a sound mixer, production designer, editor, actors, distributors, and an audience. We cannot do it alone. This art form forces one to collaborate and thus, creates jobs. Filmmaking is unique in the arts in this way. It takes an army.