The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association at its annual gala honored WGTD FM for its coverage of the shooting of Jacob Blake and the station’s programs on race relations and racial inequities.

WGTD received a first place award in the medium market category for “Best Coverage of Civil Discourse and Social Change.”

In addition, the 91.1 Players received a third-place award in the category of “Best Use of Audio” for a WGTD Radio Theater production that aired live before the pandemic struck.

Station honored for news coverage, analysis

“The Blake shooting that touched off peaceful protests and riots in Kenosha prompted an around-the-clock newsgathering operation that led to hundreds of over-the-air updates and posts on the station’s website and Facebook page,” said station manager Dave Cole.

The coverage began shortly after the shooting itself. Cole was at the scene within an hour, prompted by tips from station news “stringer” Earlene Frederick and staffer Russ Weller, who came across the police activity.

For the next several days, Cole split his time between the field and radio station, while WGTD digital director Troy McDonald monitored police frequencies, social media and live video streams. 

WGTD news director Dave McGrath provided over-the-air updates during NPR’s Morning Edition and during The WGTD Mid-Day News.

Long-form interview programs putting the Blake shooting and issues of race into perspective were produced by Morning Show host Greg Berg, Community Matters co-hosts Len Iaquinta and Laura Sumner-Coon and by McDonald, host of Generation Now. 

A 15-minute-long audio collage of the station’s coverage is available on WGTD’s website, wgtd.org.

“Parts of the collage are painful to listen to,” said Cole. “But it’s a reminder of the work that needs to be done in the community.”

Radio theater brings home honors

The radio theatre production winning the award consisted of the 91.1 Players annual “Cartoon Shows on the Radio” broadcast and a segment titled “Angela Uber Alles.” It was performed before a live audience at the Kenosha Southwest Neighborhood Library Feb. 1. 

WGTD Radio Theater performances are produced and written by Steve Brown and Michael Ullstrup.

The cast for the Feb. 1 show included Mike Bavido, Rene Bushelle, Siegfried Christoph, Viki DuMez, Todd Eaves, Brett Houdek, Natalie LaVoie, Larry Rowe, Ann-Marie Schmid, Cameron Spencer, Peyton Spencer, Naomi Waisman-Zabler and Kathy Zuhlke.

DuMez directed the show. Additional scriptwriting came from Ann-Marie Schmid. Barbara Tylla performed by live sound effects.

A recording of the program is also available at wgtd.org.

 Serving most of Kenosha, Racine, and Walworth counties over the air, WGTD FM is a service of Gateway Technical College. The station’s signal is also available online at wgtd.org and via a free phone app.