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KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee’s public radio station, WUOT 91.9 FM, has been awarded a grant by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to expand its coverage of education.

The grant is part of a $1.2 million CPB project to establish a Local Journalism Center with eight Southern public radio and television partners. The center will be called the Southern Regional Educational Desk and will be based in Atlanta.

The funding will allow each partner to hire an additional journalist specifically assigned to report on the unique educational challenges that have plagued the Southern region as well as examine potential solutions. In addition to reporting and producing broadcast content, the partner stations will create an interactive website and Web modules that will distribute and curate content and will undertake community engagement activities through events, partnerships and social media.

WUOT’s partners in the Southern Regional Education Desk include WBHM-FM in Birmingham, Ala.; KEDM-FM in Monroe, La.; Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta; Alabama Public Television; Louisiana Public Broadcasting; Mississippi Public Broadcasting and WNPT-TV in Nashville.

“This is very exciting, not only because WUOT can expand its reporting capabilities but also because we’ll be part of a regional effort to cover these issues in a more comprehensive, coordinated way,” Matt Shafer Powell, director of news content for WUOT, said. “Education reform in Tennessee will be one of the state’s defining issues over the next few years, thanks in large part to national ‘Race to the Top’ funding. This award gives us the opportunity to examine these challenges and changes in great depth and contribute to the discussion using multiple technologies.”

The Southern Regional Education Desk is one of two new centers created and funded by CPB. The second is in the Northwest. The new centers will expand the major journalism initiative CPB launched last March from five to seven regional centers across the country.

“The Local Journalism Centers initiative enhances public media’s ability to meet the information needs of local communities at a time when access to high-quality, original reporting is declining, and we are very happy to be expanding the program,” Patricia Harrison, the CEO and president of CPB, said. “The need for independent and in-depth coverage of local issues is greater today than ever, and we have a responsibility to ensure that journalism can continue to thrive and serve the needs of our democracy.”

WUOT’s local news department was established in 2002 and has since received many regional and national awards, including the prestigious national Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism in 2009.

Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM is licensed to the University of Tennessee. WUOT is a member of NPR and a Public Radio International affiliate. The station’s primary format is classical and jazz music, news and public affairs. WUOT serves listeners throughout East Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. The station broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and streams on the Web at WUOT’s second audio channel, WUOT-2, is available on HD Radio™, Internet radio and on the Web.


Matt Shafer Powell, WUOT Director of News Content (, 865-974-9354)

Cindy Hassil, WUOT Director of Development (, 865-974-6167)