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WUOT, the public radio station licensed to UT, is one of fifteen stations chosen in a national competition to participate in a storytelling project that aims to bring public media to more Americans.

“Localore: Finding America” was created by AIR, a Boston-based network of independent public media producers, to bring together producers and forward-thinking stations to work on projects that embody the founding vision of a public broadcasting service—to bring media to “all of the people.”

WUOT is being paired with independent producer Jess Mador for nine months. Mador, who is from Minnesota and has worked in radio and TV, is set to begin working with WUOT on November 9. The collaboration will run through July 30, 2016.

Mador and WUOT Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell will collaborate on a project they’re calling “TruckBeat,” which will send a Question Truck around East Tennessee to ask people provocative questions about their thoughts and concerns, such as “What keeps you up at night?”

It will build on Tenn Words, WUOT’s ongoing effort with UT’s College of Social Work.

“Since May, we’ve been working on our own crowdsourcing project, called Tenn Words, to uncover the thoughts and concerns of East Tennesseans,” Powell said. “Our new partnership with AIR will significantly expand those efforts. We’ll be better equipped to reach more deeply into the community, which will help us better identify the real issues facing the people of this diverse and interesting region.”

Mador agreed: “Our multimedia documentary radio and video reporting will amplify Tennessee’s Appalachian voices and spark new conversations about the economy, health disparities, immigration, and other important issues that are changing life for people in southern Appalachia and East Tennessee.”

Powell said he and Mador are still working out the details of the TruckBeat, but hope to roll it out during the next couple of months.

AIR received more than 200 applications from independent media talent, radio and television stations, educators, and coders who wanted to participate in “Localore: Finding America.” Among the other cities where projects will launch: Anchorage, Baltimore, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Tucson.

The teams, paired by AIR with local stations, will produce events, experimental digital projects, and stories for broadcast and publication.

“‘Localore’ looks at how and where community talks about itself, where its data is gathered, and where the flow of information moves or is interrupted,” said Sue Schardt, AIR’s executive director and the executive producer of “Localore.” “Our independent producers are building media with and for that community on the radio, on the Internet, and in the streets.”

Pat Harrison, the president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, said “Localore” is emblematic of CPB’s commitment to connecting public media with an increasingly diverse America.

Principal funding for “Localore: Finding America” comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting with additional support from the Wyncote Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

WUOT is funding its participation, in part, through the Lauren P. Murphy Endowment. Murphy was the executive director of WUOT from 1989 until her death in 1994.

About WUOT: Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM is qualified by CPB, a member of NPR, and an affiliate of Public Radio International and American Public Media. 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 around the clock 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 (865-974-9354,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,