The non-profit news organization IowaWatch is launching in July an ambitious audience engagement pilot project that consists of an original half-hour-long weekly radio news and public affairs program and a series of public forums.
The goal for this project, called the IowaWatch Connection, is to engage Iowans in conversation about issues that have impact on them, seek solutions to problems facing the state, and determine interest by potential underwriters for continuing the program.
The project calls for 13 IowaWatch-produced radio programs at several stations across Iowa that give an in-depth treatment to issues that are important to Iowans, plus several public forums where discussion about those issues can take place.
The radio program will premiere the weekend of July 5-6 with an exploration of how to fill needed jobs in Iowa. Jeff Stein, Iowa’s leading broadcasting historian and executive director of the Iowa Broadcast News Association, is The IowaWatch Connection radio host.
The radio program’s launch is funded by a $25,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, awarded through the Investigative News Network, of which IowaWatch is a member.
Event sponsors and IowaWatch are funding the forums. One public forum addressing concerns about elder care issues was held in Des Moines on April 29. Another forum, on July 1 and about breaking the cycle of meth addiction in Iowa, is an IowaWatch collaboration with the Council Bluffs Nonpareil and event sponsor Alegent Creighton Health Mental Health Services and Mercy Hospital.
“We are excited about expanding the audience for the investigative and public affairs reporting that IowaWatch does as its prime mission,” Lyle Muller, the Iowa Center’s executive director-editor, said. “Radio is a powerful tool for communicating in Iowa’s local communities and we are grateful that so many radio stations are willing to take on this pilot. We also are pleased to have Jeff, who is well known in broadcast circles, at the helm of The IowaWatch Connection radio show.”
Radio stations airing the program initially are WMT-AM, Cedar Rapids; KASI-AM, Ames; KSCJ-AM, Sioux City; KXIC-AM, Iowa City; KROS-AM, Clinton; KFJB-AM, Marshalltown; KWPC-AM, Muscatine; KDEC-AM, Decorah; KVFD-AM, Fort Dodge; KCHA-FM, Charles City; KSOM-FM, Atlantic; KWBG-AM, Boone; KCNZ-AM, Cedar Falls/Waterloo; KSIB-FM, Creston; KCZE-FM, New Hampton; and KWAY-AM, Waverly. The programs also will be available at IowaWatch.org.
“The stations that have agreed to carry The IowaWatch Connection are already well respected in their communities,” Stein said. “We are pleased to partner with them in extending their public service commitment to their audiences.”
In addition to forums on elder care and meth addiction, future forum topics such as dealing with farm safety are being considered. “We think we have a lot to offer when it comes to provoking discussions that move us closer to finding solutions to problems in Iowa,” Muller said.
The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism-IowaWatch, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that does investigative and public affairs journalism; makes that journalism available free on its website, IowaWatch.org, and through media partners; and trains college students to do this journalism at an ethical, high level. You can learn more about its funding and support its work with your tax deductible donation at this link.