The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Apr 17, 2012

Radio show gives community a voice in addressing environment and health issues

Posted by Elizabeth R. Miller

This post is one of a series focused on how community foundations are investing in news and information projects to make an impact on issues they care about. The following video was filmed during Knight’s 2012 Media Learning Seminar, where five community foundations gave brief, TED-like talks on how the projects they launched are impacting their cities.

In the video above, Tycoma Miller shared how the West Anniston Foundation has taken a leadership role in addressing environmental threats facing her Georgia community by investing in a community information project.

For nearly 40 years, the city of 25,000 was unknowingly exposed to PCB contaminants from a nearby chemical factory, which led to a myriad of health problems including cancer and diabetes.  

With support from Knight Foundation, the community foundation launched the weekly radio program West Anniston Today to provide a way for people to ask questions and share stories.

A handful of calls turned into hundreds a month. Miller described how the show not only gave people a voice,  but also the ability to share what mattered most to them about what to do moving forward.

The project wasn’t without its obstacles, however. Miller said her biggest challenge was getting young people - 18 to 25-year-olds - to participate in the radio program: “We tried using Facebook and Twitter. Young people were engaged in the website, but they weren’t calling in to the radio program to discuss the issues.”

The next phase of the program will work on identifying ways to increase trust in the community and focus on creating a larger impact for the program, Miller said.  

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