Arkansas PBS has won four Public Media Awards – including Overall Excellence in Content for the second consecutive year – from the National Education Telecommunications Association (NETA) in the 54th annual competition. Winners were announced Sunday, Sept. 18, during the PMA Gala at the 2022 NETA Conference and CPB Public Media Thought Leader Forum. Videos of the winning and nominated projects may be viewed at myarpbs.org/awardwinning and myarpbs.org/awardnominated.
The Public Media Awards honor NETA members’ finest work in content, community engagement, marketing/communications and education.
“The Public Media Awards showcase the highest caliber work from public media networks across the nation,” Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger said. “At Arkansas PBS, we are proud to be counted among those producing exemplary educational content and are thrilled to earn Overall Excellence in Content for the second consecutive year.”
Arkansas PBS won the following Public Media Awards:
- Overall Excellence in Content – For Arkansas PBS, 2021 was about digging deeper and reaching further. The network’s Education Department continued their groundbreaking work with the Arkansas Department of Education in the development and production of the summer learning series “Rise and Shine.” “Blueberry’s Clubhouse,” an original pre-K-2 series produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, returned for a second season. Arkansas PBS legend Chuck Dovish reinvented his long-running magazine show with “Exploring Arkansas From Above.” A partnership with Arkansas Farm Bureau created “Good Roots” – a monthly look at the communities, families and farms that are doing the work of Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture. “7 Days: The Opioid Crisis in Arkansas,” written and directed by Nathan Willis and produced in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education, the Arkansas Office of Drug Director, the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Little Rock Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration shared deeply personal stories from Arkansans who have suffered from addiction and documented the continued fight to address the issues surrounding opioid use, misuse and addiction. Community engagement projects included livestreaming Dolly Parton’s visit to the state for the Arkansas Imagination Library celebration; the “Be Pro, Be Proud” digital series created in partnership with the Department of Workforce Education and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce; and Read to Succeed: Reading in the Delta, which brought books and literacy engagement to rural communities.
- Community Initiative – COVID-19 PSA. This multi-pronged campaign was designed and executed to be a hyperlocal, highly personal “friends and neighbors” effort to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation and vaccine reluctance. It featured intimate and confessional video storytelling by people who have been negatively and profoundly affected by the coronavirus, and plain-spoken, fact-based information by healthcare professionals. The PSAs were produced in partnership with the Arkansas Community Foundation, ImmunizeAR, UAMS Center for Health Literacy and Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese.
- Education – Oral Histories With The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. In this virtual field trip kids learn about “Passing it on!” with the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center. This segment teaches that things that happened in the past have actually been passed down through storytelling, as well as how to ask questions to build an oral history. The segment was featured in “Blueberry’s Clubhouse” featuring Blueberry, a curious puppet guide, and her friends participating in summer activities across The Natural State.
- Short Form – “Speaking Volumes.” Inspired by her time with EAST Initiative, 10th-grader Lexi Jarrett has been building up sports broadcasting for years at Cross County High School, near Wynne, Arkansas. Jarrett pursued a course in media, served as the Thunderbirds’ first female commentator and led a team of students to livestream football games, produce podcasts and more — all while showing resilience through personal trials with Tourette Syndrome.
Arkansas PBS was also a finalist in the following PMA categories:
- Local Project – Dolly Parton Special Event. When Dolly Parton came to Arkansas to celebrate the success of her Imagination Library program in the state at a closed event hosted by Arkansas Imagination Library (ARIL), Arkansas PBS stepped in to livestream the event for the general public. This service allowed Arkansans to not only experience a moment with Dolly, but also to share awareness of the amazing resources of books the Arkansas Imagination Library provides in the state for free to children.
- Kids & Family – “Rise and Shine” Power Packets. Understanding that Arkansas faces immense challenges with poverty, transportation and broadband access, Arkansas PBS provided dual-language (English and Spanish) educational Power Packets as a supplemental solution to the “Rise and Shine” summer learning educational broadcast, reaching the entire state with no expense to the recipient. As a result, 53,574 total Power Packets were delivered to families, childcare providers, and community organizations.
- Topical Feature – “7 Days: The Opioid Crisis in Arkansas.” This intimate film illustrates the human toll of the current opioid crisis in the Arkansas, sharing deeply personal stories from Arkansans who have suffered from addiction and documenting the continued fight to address the issues surrounding opioid use, misuse and addiction. "7 Days," produced in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education, features medical professionals and leaders from the Arkansas Office of Drug Director, the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Little Rock Office, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
- Podcast – “The Growing Season.” This monthly agricultural podcast follows the stories of six Arkansas farmers as they work through a year on their land. Listeners get an inside look at what it truly means to be a farmer today, and the stressors and struggles that come with the lifestyle.
- Educational Resources for the Community – “Rise and Shine” Summer Learning. This extensive educational program was designed to boost summer learning and help K-5 students retain academic learning targets. The six-week program – featuring lessons led by Arkansas teachers to reinforce learning in key subjects including literacy, math, science and social studies – was produced in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education.
- Learning Events – “Rise and Shine” Summer Learning.
With the exception of the overall excellence categories, stations compete within their divisions based on their station size. Awards are judged by a group of expert panelists from within the public media system, as well as industry professionals working outside of public media. The complete PMA winners’ gallery may be viewed here.
The National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) is a professional association representing 294 member stations in 48 states, the Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia. NETA provides leadership, general audience content, educational services, professional development, and trusted financial management services, including human resources and benefits administration, to individual public media licensees, their affinity groups, and public media as a whole. More information is available at netaonline.org.
About Arkansas PBS
Arkansas PBS, Arkansas’s only statewide public media network, empowers learners of all ages by educating, informing, entertaining and inspiring communities. Arkansas PBS serves as a daily and essential resource for Arkansans by creating, sharing, celebrating and driving conversation around Arkansas stories and classic, trusted PBS programs through multiple digital platforms, including livestreaming at myarpbs.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. Members with Arkansas PBS Passport have extended on-demand access to a rich library of public television programming. Arkansas PBS depends on the generosity of Arkansans and the State of Arkansas to continue offering quality programming. Additional information is available at myarkansaspbs.org. Arkansas PBS is broadcast on KETS (Little Rock), KEMV (Mountain View), KETG (Arkadelphia), KAFT (Fayetteville), KTEJ (Jonesboro), KETZ (El Dorado), KETS (Lee Mountain) and KETS (Forrest City).