New Grants Fund Localore Expansion

We are proud to announce the creation of the New Enterprise Fund, a grant distribution that will spread new models and best practices from three Localore productions to stations and producers across the public media system. Principal funding for the grants comes from the Wyncote Foundation, with support from the Ford Foundation.

Jennifer Brandel (Curious City) and Julia Kumari Drapkin (iSeeChange) will receive matching production grants of $110,000 and $150,000 respectively to further develop their public media enterprises over the next 19 months. Indie radio producer Anayansi Diaz-Cortes will receive a planning grant of $50,000 to create a road map for her Sonic Trace.

This expansion of Localore’s research and development is supported by anchor stations Chicago Public Media (WBEZ), KVNF-FM (Paonia, Colorado), and KCRW-FM (Los Angeles) and managed for AIR by journalist and entrepreneur Maria Balinska. The stations’ engagement makes good on their original, shared commitment to help Localore’s lead producers “create replicable models to benefit the wider network of noncommercial stations and producers” and extend AIR’s public media research and development with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 

Wyncote Vice Chairman David Haas commended the producers and partner stations for developing new ways to engage — and be engaged by — local citizens.

“Our continuing support for these efforts is due to the success of the individual projects and also the new pathways they’re charting for local public media organizations around the country to change how they operate, systemically, in a rapidly changing media environment to build stronger relationships within their communities,” he said. 

Since its launch, Curious City has brought a new perspective to Chicago Public Media’s newsroom and inspired other journalists to explore ways to bring listeners and viewers into the reporting process. Brandel will cultivate a new network of stations — Curious Nation — by sharing best practices and technology designed to extend new kinds of public service media to more citizens across the United States.

“We’re pleased to be able to strengthen, and deepen, our partnership while supporting Jennifer’s ingenuity, which will benefit others in the system,” said Goli Sheikholeslami, CEO of Chicago Public Media. CPM is bringing additional funds and in-kind support, providing a platform for Brandel to launch the new phase of development. Sheikholeslami added, “For all of us interested in a rich culture of talent, and a stronger, more adaptive public service media, this phase presents exciting opportunities.”   

Drapkin’s iSeeChange has attracted partners who bring nearly $600,000 of in-kind support and matching funds, including NASA and its Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite, the Berkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network (BEACO2N), and six new public media partners. With BEACO2N, iSeeChange was named as part of the 2014 White House Climate Change Data Initiative. Drapkin will expand on her work in Colorado to devise new ways to marry satellite and sensor data with on-the-ground experiences from citizen storymakers via   

In Los Angeles, Diaz-Cortes is studying other corners of the city beyond the Korexico, South L.A., and Boyle Heights neighborhoods, where she conducted her original experiment. Diaz-Cortes will develop a plan to engage stations in areas of the U.S. that are ripe for new depictions of multinational immigration. Diaz-Cortes and Localore producer Todd Melby (Black Gold Boom) will soon complete documentary films funded through a partnership between AIR and ITVS, based on their Localore productions.

“This new and significant phase of our work demonstrates AIR’s commitment to supporting gifted talent and expanding the ecosystem where producers can do their best work,” said AIR Executive Director and Localore Executive Producer Sue Schardt. “It’s an important step forward in our sustained effort to bring producer-led R&D to a public media system in the midst of change.”

With primary funding from CPB, AIR has launched 18 discrete experiments since 2010. AIR’s projects, which include Localore and MakersQuest 2.0 (MQ2) marry outside producers with incubating stations and the networks. With a new, 15-project production coming in 2015, AIR will have directed more than $4 million in new funding and station support to AIR’s producers and the production teams they lead. 


New Enterprise Fund Producers:

Sonic Trace, Anayansi Diaz-Cortes

Grant amount: $50,000

Timeline: November 2014 to April 2015 

Goal: to develop a business and strategic plan to become a sustainable 501(c)(3) media arts organization that can export the Sonic Trace template to public media stations and audiences on the East Coast.

Partners: KCRW is the anchor station and has expressed its support for Sonic Trace to export its model to communities and stations outside Los Angeles. Potential partners have been identified as WLRN-FM and WPBT-TV in Miami; CUNY-TV, New York Public Radio and Radio Ambulante in New York City; and, in Washington, D.C., the Smithsonian Center for Folklore and WAMU-FM. 


Curious Nation, Jennifer Brandel

Grant amount: $110,000

Timeline: November 2014 to Spring 2016

Goal: to create a network of “Curious” city stations sharing know-how, best practices, and stories, forging more inclusive, personal, and relevant relationships between public media stations and their local audiences. 

Partners: WBEZ continues to be the anchor partner, having had major success with Curious City. The model is already in use in seven stations in addition to WBEZ (WYSO, WBUR, KCPT, MICHIGAN RADIO, WDET, WLRN, KUOW). Twenty-four more stations — as well as a handful of independent producers — have expressed serious interest. The feedback from these stations is that what interests them is the value of being part of a larger network, in addition to the Curious City journalism model.


iSeeChange, Julia Kumari Drapkin

Grant amount: $150,000

Timeline: November 2014 to Spring 2016

Goal: to create a citizen science corps to connect communities to each other and to their changing environments.

Partners: an initial network of four public media partners — KVNF (the original anchor), KPCC, WWOZ, the Allegheny Front  — as well as the Yale Climate Connections and two scientific institutions, NASA and the Berkeley Atmospheric CO2 Observation Network. Two other public service media organizations — the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and Bill Siemering’s Developing Radio Partners in Africa — are on board to bring on smaller stations and to experiment with farmers and listeners abroad.