Author Archives: Florida Public Media

ERIKA PULLEY-HAYES NAMED PRESIDENT AND CEO OF 90.7 WMFE | 89.5 WMFV

NEW LEADER COMES TO CENTRAL FLORIDA FROM CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING, WHERE SHE SERVED AS VP OF RADIO

ORLANDO – The Board of Trustees of 90.7 WMFE | 89.5 WMFV announced today the appointment of Erika Pulley-Hayes as President and CEO.

Pulley-Hayes succeeds LaFontaine E. Oliver, who led the station since 2013, before returning to Baltimore in July to lead NPR member station WYPR.

Pulley-Hayes is currently vice president of Radio at the Washington, D.C.-based Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit steward of the federal government’s investment in public media, which supports the operations of over 1,500 locally owned public TV and radio stations. She will assume her new role on Jan. 13.

“WMFE|WMFV provides an important service to Central Florida, and this is an incredible opportunity to build upon the quality journalism and programming this organization delivers to the community,” Pulley-Hayes said. “I am very excited to join this team and continue working to enhance the local service that engages audiences across platforms.”

In her role at the CPB, Pulley-Hayes has provided strategic leadership to the public radio system by developing initiatives that sustain and advance public media service. She has driven innovation in a legacy industry through programs that enable public media organizations to respond to disruption and prepare for the future. She has extended public media to new audiences across platforms by providing podcasting expertise to local stations and developing a new format for multicultural millennials.

“We are excited to welcome Erika Pulley-Hayes to Central Florida,” WMFE|WMFV Board Chair Anne E. Kelley said. “She is uniquely positioned to continue her record of driving innovation, now on the local level, and to further our stations’ mission to engage new communities, both on our terrestrial airwaves as well as our growing number of digital platforms.”

More about Pulley-Hayes

Pulley-Hayes has worked at CPB since 2005 and has been responsible for managing daily operations, financial administration, grant programs, funding decisions and impact evaluation. She has worked to enhance local service and sustainability by identifying new business opportunities and operating models that increase organizational capacity.

She began her career as a legal assistant at a Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company. She later managed legal operations of a small clinical research organization in Virginia.

Pulley-Hayes holds an MBA and an MS in nonprofit management from the University of Maryland University College. She also holds a BA from William Paterson University in her home state of New Jersey. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, attending live events and traveling. She has two adult sons.

About Community Communications Inc.:
Community Communications Inc. is a non-profit, member-supported, community-based public broadcasting company that operates 90.7 WMFE-FM, metro Orlando’s primary provider of NPR programming; 90.7-2 Classical; and 89.5 WMFV, public radio for The Villages, Leesburg and The Golden Triangle. Part of the community since 1980, Community Communications focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. Visit wmfe.org and wmfv.org for more information.

WGCU launches Move to Include with storytelling workshop

Best Buddies, peers, public media staff work together on digital project

(FORT MYERS, FLORIDA) – WGCU Public Media teamed up with Best Buddies of Southwest Florida the first weekend in November for a digital storytelling workshop that launched WGCU’s Move to Include initiative, which is ongoing and anticipates the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act in July 2020.

The ADA is the civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public.

Move to Include is a pilot project led by public media station WXXI in Rochester, N.Y. It began in 2014, and was made possible with the support of the Golisano Foundation and Tom Golisano – who also donated $20 million to build Southwest Florida’s Golisano Children’s Hospital.

Funded by a $645,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, this project includes multimedia elements developed by WXXI and the Golisano Foundation that combine content production, curation and engagement to encourage dialogue about disability issues.

“People with disabilities make up our single largest minority in this country,” explains WXXI President & CEO Norm Silverstein. “Now we’re proud to pilot Move to Include in five additional communities, using public media’s many platforms to promote equity and inclusion. Through Move to Include, we hope to build more inclusive communities by inspiring and motivating people to embrace different abilities and include all people in every aspect of community life.”

“Public media belongs to everyone, and Move to Include is an important part of our mission to ensure inclusion for people with disabilities,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “CPB is proud to support this effort to replicate through locally owned and operated public media stations, a community-based model that truly works.”

Move to Include encompasses PBS KIDS programs, prime-time curated TV specials, news and arts features, radio talk shows, educational segments, social media and online content, and screenings. A collection of 50 video segments on inclusion is distributed nationally through PBS LearningMedia, the go-to destination for classroom-ready, digital resources including videos, games, audio, photos and lesson plans.

Participating stations in Move to Include, including WGCU, are planning additional events through next summer and beyond that emphasize ability, rather than disability.

The storytelling workshop at WGCU, held Friday, Nov. 1 through Sunday, Nov. 3 in the Myra Janco Daniels Public Media Center on the FGCU campus, turned young people into filmmakers and public media staff into mentors.

“Buddies” with intellectual and developmental disabilities were paired with school-age “Peer Buddies” for the workshop. Five teams of two each created a short video on a topic of their choice, doing the interviewing, filming and editing themselves with the help of a member of the WGCU production crew. They did all of their work on kits consisting of an iPad, a tripod and bracket, headphones and two lavalier microphones.

The teenagers got acquainted Friday evening and learned some basics of film production from Betsy Newman, a documentary filmmaker from South Carolina who has conducted similar workshops for 25 years. They determined the topics of their videos and talked about interview questions.

The young filmmakers came back Saturday and got down to work, shooting B-roll, recording interviews and finally, editing videos.

Late Sunday afternoon, the teams finished editing and screened their works for friends, family and mentors over dinner at the station.

Savannah Louderback, a senior in business management at FGCU, worked with the buddy she has known for two years, Devin Cannon. For their video, Cannon talked about the second annual Friendship Ball that Best Buddies held recently and at which he was crowned king. About his film, he said, “It was so awesome!”

The point of the workshop, said Newman, was to “give kids an opportunity to express themselves, to find their voices, to learn about the experiences of others through the interview process.”

WGCU is one of the five PBS stations to participate in the national pilot project, which officially will kick off in July 2020.

“We are ecstatic over the success of WGCU’s first-ever Move to Include digital storytelling workshop,” said Amy Shumaker, Associate General Manager for Content, who worked on similar programs with Newman in South Carolina. “It is our mission in public media to bring diverse and inclusive voices to all of our broadcast platforms.  By partnering with Best Buddies, we had a group of talented young people with differing abilities eager to learn the fundamentals of visual storytelling from our staff.”

Participating buddies were Cannon, Thomas Browning, Gianna Gaziano-Whalen, Miranda Huber and Will Thibado; peer buddies included Louderback, Rayne Roe and Celine Lobocchiaro, with some help from a couple of the teens’ fathers.

Best Buddies of Southwest Florida Executive Director Melanie Musick and Jennifer Mackler from Ida Baker High School were on hand to help. Mackler has worked with most of the students in the Best Buddies program.

“It can be tough for our students with physical or intellectual disabilities to connect with peers their age, but when we pair them with a buddy, it helps them to develop those skills in a safe way,” Mackler said.

 

About WGCU Public Media

WGCU is Southwest Florida’s source for PBS and NPR programming. As a member-supported service of Florida Gulf Coast University, WGCU’s mission is to provide educational programming that inspires, informs and engages our community. Serving all or part of 12 counties in South and Southwest Florida, with five distinct digital TV channels, two FM radio channels and two HD radio channels and multiple websites, WGCU delivers national and international programming and develops, produces and delivers relevant, informative and educational local programs to the region.  More information about WGCU is available online at WGCU.org, and by following us Facebook at wgcupublicmedia.

About the Corporation for Public Broadcasting

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org and follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebookLinkedIn, and subscribe for other updates.

WMNF-FM Hires Rick Fernandes as New General Manager

WMNF has a new general manager; the Tampa Bay area’s full-power community radio station announced Wednesday that the station’s board of directors has hired Rick Fernandes, who will start on November 11.

Rick Fernandes
In the past, Fernandes served as the executive director of the Fred Rogers Center, an executive at Time Warner and the director of television programs.
In this interview, WMNF News asked him what he brings to the station and how 88.5 FM can stand out in a crowded media environment.

 
“I like to consider myself a ‘down to earth’ person. Though I may have fancy titles before, I consider myself just a kid from Brooklyn. My experience has been — sort of what I bring to the table — that I’ve been on both sides of the fence, per se, in every area.
“I’ve been in the production / creative side, but I’ve also been on the business / management side. I’ve worked for for-profit companies, and I’ve worked for non-profit organizations. And that sort of gives me a different perspective. And able to look at things from a different angle. And what I hope is to sort of bring the best out of people, and help WMNF achieve its goals.”

 
“There’s tons of media choices. But, in the end people generally look for two things, in my opinion. It’s not the medium or for the content, but it’s the person who is presenting it.
“So, whether it’s the news reporter or whether it’s your disc jockey, they attach to people. Because in the end, there are so many choices out there. Who is your curator?
“So, to me, it’s how do you highlight that? WMNF really has impressed me. You think: ‘Oh, it’s a community radio station.’ You have done incredibly well. You don’t last 40 years in the media industry without changing formats, without trying to reinvent yourself all the time. You have a very clear mission, and you’re delivering on it.

 
“I think the challenge in this landscape is that there are so many choices. How do you make people aware of who you are and what you stand for?

 
“So, for me, the goal really is, how do we raise the profile? How do we let people in the community that aren’t aware of the station, become aware of it? Because I honestly believe it’s not about changing you are. You are great! I wouldn’t want to be part of an organization that I didn’t believe in its mission.

 
“It’s how you let more people know about the diverse viewpoints you have. The music is phenomenal. The news programming, in that you are serving the local community. Because in the end, there’s so much about national coverage and music just being about what’s the most popular. I think people relate to something that’s different, unique, that relates to them.”

 
In a press release, the president of WMNF’s board of directors David Harbeitner writes, “Richard joins WMNF with an opportunity to help expand our presence in the community.”

With CPB support, WUCF will expand video series about emergency responders

By Liz Shoemaker, Current.org Editorial Intern

The WUCF program Meet the Helpers, which teaches children about who emergency responders are and what they do, is expanding nationally to connect more children with a wider variety of “helpers.”

The station in Orlando, Fla., created the digital video series in response to shootings and natural disasters affecting the community. The program encourages children to find emergency responders who can help with frightening situations.

The title of the project draws inspiration from Fred Rogers, who told children to “look for the helpers” in a crisis. Its website (https://www.meetthehelpers.org/) features short videos explaining the roles that firefighters, police officers and paramedics play in emergencies. The site also provides community toolkits for educators to use in their own towns.

The program launched in 2016 after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. WUCF soon started receiving inquiries from community members, other stations and CPB, which was hoping to provide additional funding for the project.

WUCF “identified an urgent need in their community: to support children’s emotional well-being and help them understand the roles of adults who keep them safe,” said Debra Sanchez, SVP, education at CPB.

The WUCF team devised a plan to include five new partner stations. Each will receive $10,000 from CPB to support their work with Meet the Helpers and will aim to reach at least 200 people through videos and outreach. The University of Central Florida’s Education Department and School of Communications will work with the stations to formalize findings on crisis communication for children.

“There’s a knowledge gap on that type of research,” said Jennifer Cook, senior director of content and engagement at WUCF. “Our partner stations will be tapped into these university experts who will help us conduct research across the country so that we can better tailor messages in the future, develop new helpers and measure the impact of this type of content.”

WUCF designed the project to be flexible. “We wanted a bunch of different market sizes,” said Cook. “This is one of those instances where a crisis will impact any community regardless of size, regardless of demographic.”

“We have to be proactive,” said Kellie May, digital media specialist at partner station CET Television in Cincinnati. “Meet the Helpers gives families a platform to start what can sometimes be challenging conversations, and that’s important. If we wait for a disaster to help kids understand who the helpers are in our community, it’s too late.”

The project has brought new regional perspectives and experiences to the helpers featured on the show. WUCF in Orlando may not need to feature a ski patrol officer, but stations in New England do and could add that helper to their series.

Meet the Helpers goes beyond the screen. Community groups and educators who worked with WUCF during the show’s launch have organized larger meet-and-greet days with helpers and children. Cook would like partner stations to follow suit.

WUCF is reviewing grant applications and hopes to choose partner stations by Aug. 1. Cook said she would like to add even more stations in the future. She and UCF researchers also hope to compile and publish the data gathered from the first group of partners to strengthen the program and feature more helpers

 

https://current.org/2019/07/with-cpb-support-wucf-will-expand-video-series-about-emergency-responders/

Florida Public Media elects new officers

The association of public broadcasters elected new officers during the group’s annual board meeting in July.

Elected to office were:

Chair: Randy Wright, Executive Director WUFT-FM/TV (Gainesville/Ocala)
Vice-Chair: Bob Culkeen, General Manager, WSRE-TV (Pensacola)
Treasurer: David Mullins, General Manager, WFSU -TV/FM (Tallahassee)
Secretary: Amy Shumaker, Associate GM – Content, WGCU-FM/TV (Ft. Myers/Naples)
At-Large: Phil Hoffman, Executive Director & Assistant VP, WUCF-TV (Orlando)
Immediate Past Chair: Dolores Sukhdeo (President & CEO, South Florida PBS, Miami)

Florida Public Media (FPM) is the organization of 24 public radio and public television stations in the state. The stations broadcast programming by NPR and PBS, and a wide range of news, public affairs, and music producers. TV members provide the main distribution of The Florida Channel, and radio members serve as the backbone of the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN).

FPM is the state’s leader in educational programming and emergency communications.

“Public media in Florida touches millions of lives each day and I couldn’t be more proud to work with my colleagues across the state to help ensure our work in education, news and information, public safety and service to the community and state remains on a track of growth and even greater impact in the future,” new chair Randy Wright said.

“Projects like FPREN highlight the unique power of public media during the most challenging of times.”

“Public stations across the state are there for Floridians when they need it most. While we don’t enjoy hurricanes, tropical storms and other emergencies public media sets the standard for community service and being a voice of calm and reason that people can count on during these events. I’m very proud of what public media in Florida is doing for our state related to public safety and emergency messaging.”

Located on the University of Florida campus, FPREN has been widely recognized in the state and on the national level for its leadership in public safety communications.

In March 2019, it won the prestigious Community Lifeline Award presented by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

In May 2018, FPREN received the Public Information Award at the 32nd Annual Governor’s Hurricane Conference® Awards.

CPB Honors WUFT and Florida Public Radio Emergency Network with Community Lifeline Award

Collaboration of Thirteen Stations Based at University of Florida

(WASHINGTON, DC) March 19, 2019—The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) today presented the Community Lifeline Award to WUFT-TV/FM (WUFT) and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN) during a meeting of the CPB Board of Directors. The award recognizes public media stations providing outstanding service to their communities during local emergencies, natural disasters and other urgent situations.

“Public media’s services are especially important for communities affected by natural disasters and other emergencies. Under the leadership of WUFT, FPREN provided lifesaving information not only across Florida but also in North and South Carolina,” said CPB Board member Elizabeth Sembler. “The innovative approach demonstrated by these partner stations exemplifies both the spirit of public service and the powerful role of public media.”

FPREN Community Lifeline Award

From left, CPB Board Chair Bruce Ramer, CPB Board member Robert Mandell, FPREN Chief Meteorologist Jeff Huffman, WUFT and FPREN Executive Director Randy Wright and CPB Board member Elizabeth Sembler.

FPREN is the collaboration of 13 public radio stations based at WUFT in Gainesville-Ocala, Florida, and delivers emergency broadcast and social media content across the state. Their free app, Florida Storms, provides geotargeted live forecasts, information about evacuation routes and shelters, and live streams local public radio broadcasts. FPREN served millions of people through multiple emergencies including Hurricanes Michael, Irma and Matthew.

“We’re honored by this recognition from CPB for what we feel is a core mission of public media. We appreciate the ongoing support of CPB, Pat Harrison and the Board for their encouragement of innovative concepts like FPREN and look forward to providing these public safety services to even more Americans in the future,” said Randy Wright, executive director of WUFT and FPREN.

WUFT operates as a part of the University of Florida and incorporates hundreds of students annually from the UF College of Journalism and Communications into immersive professional experiences. WUFT also launched the South Carolina Emergency Information Network with South Carolina ETV/South Carolina Public Radio in 2018, serving South Carolina and parts of North Carolina with emergency messaging.

Established in 2012, this is only the second time the Community Lifeline Award has been presented. The inaugural recipients were WNET and New York Public Radio (WNYC/NJPR).

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services.

50 Public Media Stations Receive CPB Education Planning Grants

$10,000 Seed Grants to Spur Education Innovation

Jun 14, 2018

(WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 14, 2018) – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has awarded $500,000 to 50 public media stations across the country to explore innovative education programs. The grants of $10,000 per station will help fund research and planning, a crucial first step for stations to assess local needs and opportunities and to innovate on a local level.

“Through these pilot grants, we want stations to consider innovative ways to use media to meet pressing educational needs in their communities,” said Deb Sanchez, CPB senior vice president, education and children’s content. “The needs assessment and planning process will give stations the opportunity to discover today’s teaching and learning challenges and how public media can serve as a trusted educational media partner to serve their communities.”

CPB announced the grant opportunity at the Public Media Thought Leader Forum, at the 2018 National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) conference in January. Forum speakers inspired public media leaders to think about their education work in new and different ways. For example, Michael Horn of the Clayton Christensen Institute challenged stations to identify individual needs when developing educational content, as well as service and engagement strategies to better connect resources to those individuals.

The 50 stations receiving grants include public television and radio stations as well as joint licensees of all sizes, including WNET in New York City, New England Public Radio, KRWG in Las Cruces, N.M., and a collaboration between East Tennessee PBS and WUOT-FM. CPB will supplement the grants with professional learning activities, including an in-person meeting, needs assessments and personalized technical assistance, and a series of webinars showcasing tools and processes stations can use to build and implement a new vision of their education service. After six months, participating stations should have a fully developed project or service that they can bring to CPB or other partners for funding.

The stations include the following, alphabetically by state:

  • KHSU-FM, Arcata, Calif.
  • PBS SoCal, Costa Mesa, Calif.
  • Rocky Mountain PBS, Denver, Colo.
  • Connecticut Public, Hartford, Conn.
  • WJCT, Jacksonville, Fla.
  • WUCF-TV, Orlando, Fla.
  • WMFE-FM, Orlando, Fla.
  • WFSU, Tallahassee, Fla.
  • WUSF, Tampa, Fla.
  • Iowa Public Television, Johnston, Iowa
  • Idaho Public Television, Boise, Idaho
  • WKU Public Broadcasting, Bowling Green. Ky.
  • Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Baton Rouge, La.
  • WGBY, Springfield, Mass.
  • New England Public Radio, Springfield, Mass.
  • Maryland Public Television, Owings Mills, Md.
  • WKAR, East Lansing, Mich.
  • WGVU, Grand Rapids, Mich.
  • Detroit Public Television, Wixom, Mich.
  • WCMU Public Media, Mount Pleasant, Mich.
  • Twin Cities Public Television, St. Paul, Minn.
  • KCPT, Kansas City, Mo.
  • Nine Network of Public Media, St. Louis, Mo.
  • Montana PBS, Bozeman, Mont.
  • UNC-TV, Research/Triangle Park, N.C.
  • Prairie Public Broadcasting, Fargo, N.D.
  • KRWG, Las Cruces, N.M.
  • Vegas PBS, Las Vegas, Nev.
  • WSKG, Binghamton, N.Y.
  • WNED/WBFO-FM, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • WCNY/Public Broadcasting Council of Central New York, Syracuse, N.Y.
  • WNET/Educational Broadcasting Corporation, New York City, N.Y.
  • WMHT, Troy, N.Y.
  • WPBS, Watertown, N.Y.
  • WGTE, Toledo, Ohio
  • Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • WLVT-TV, Bethlehem, Pa.
  • WQED, Pittsburgh, Pa.
  • WVIA, Pittston, Pa.
  • WHYY, Philadelphia, Pa.
  • WPSU, University Park, Pa.
  • WSBE/Rhode Island PBS, Providence, R.I.
  • WCTE, Cookeville, Tenn.
  • East Tennessee PBS/WUOT-FM, Knoxville, Tenn.
  • Nashville Public Television, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Panhandle PBS, Amarillo, Texas
  • KERA, Dallas, Texas
  • KLRU, Austin, Texas
  • KUEN, Salt Lake City, Utah
  • WHRO Public Media, Norfolk, Va.

 

About CPB:
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of nearly 1,500 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit www.cpb.org and follow us on Twitter @CPBmediaFacebookLinkedIn, and subscribe for other updates.

WUCF Unveils Project To Help Children During Emergencies

ORLANDO, June 1, 2018 –  WUCF TV begins a new initiative today, Meet The Helpers, a multiplatform project aimed at teaching children about important community helpers so they are better prepared in emergency situations.

Working with Judith Levin, a University of Central Florida professor and expert in early childhood development and education, WUCF developed a series of short videos to introduce common “helpers” in the community. The project includes videos featuring:

  • an emergency room doctor
  • a meteorologist
  • a teacher
  • a police officer
  • a firefighter
  • a paramedic
  • and a 911 operator

Helpers from Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, WKMG News 6, University of Central Florida College of Education and Human Performance, Orange County Sheriff’s Office and Orange County Fire Rescue contributed to make the series.

These videos will air on WUCF during PBS KIDS programming and on WUCF PBS KIDS 24/7 channel. Videos are also available online at meetthehelpers.org.

“This project began as a way to help the Central Florida community talk about emergency preparedness with our youngest citizens after the Pulse nightclub shooting,” said Phil Hoffman, WUCF executive director. “Drawing on inspiration from TV’s Fred Rogers, we looked to the helpers and soon realized a void in this type of content for children. Now we’re expanding this project to share with PBS stations nationwide. Meet the Helpers shows the power of public media in strengthening the safety of all our communities.”

You can learn more about Meet the Helpers and check out the videos and resources by visiting meetthehelpers.org.

 

About WUCF TV

WUCF TV, Central Florida PBS is the sole-service PBS member station whose mission is to encourage curiosity and learning through compelling content and community engagement. The station serves nearly 4 million Central Floridians across nine counties and is community-supported public broadcasting from the University of Central Florida.  Learn more at http://wucftv.org.

Media Contact:

Jennifer Cook, WUCF, 407-823-2947, jennifer.cook@nullwucf.org

WUCF Helps Families Discuss Traumatic Events With Children

In WUCF’s “Meet the Helpers” campaign, Dr. Brandon Carr explains his job and how he helps in times of trauma.

Among the many reassuring messages that young children heard on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood during its decades on PBS, host and producer Fred Rogers encouraged his viewers to “look for the helpers” whenever they saw news coverage of scary events.

WUCF in Orlando, Fla., has adopted this philosophy in its response to mass shootings and natural disasters that have affected its community.

To help children cope with these traumatic experiences, WUCF is producing a new video series, “Meet the Helpers,” which aims to familiarize children with emergency responders, such as firefighters and doctors, according to Jennifer Cook, WUCF Director of Communications.

The initiative began after the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. Since the station doesn’t operate a newsroom, WUCF decided to become a “hub of the helpers.” It created spots and online content advising community members about where to receive or provide help in response to the event, Cook said.

The conversation quickly shifted. Within 24 hours, the station began receiving questions on how to explain the event to kids and help them cope with their fears.

“We started getting a lot of questions … saying, ‘That’s great and we love this, but how do I talk to my kids about this shooting?’” Cook said. “That sparked us to think about it differently as well.” The station reached out to educators for advice on how parents and teachers can talk to children about traumatic events.

Working with Judith Levin, a professor and expert in early childhood development and education at the University of Central Florida, and other community organizations, the station developed a series of interstitials that introduce common “helpers” to kids, according to Catherine Hiles, manager of education and community engagement.

Based on Levin’s insights, the initiative is structured around the importance of giving kids an opportunity “to meet these helpers in a safe environment before something traumatic happens,” Hiles said. After receiving these messages when they feel safe and secure, children are more likely to feel less anxious about accepting assistance during times of emergency.

Videos now in production also feature a sheriff’s deputy, a teacher, a meteorologist, a 911 operator and an emergency medical technician. Each “helper” appears separately in spots that run during program breaks and as streaming videos posted on WUCF’s website, according to Cook. WUCF is also sharing the videos on social media platforms.

Florida Humanities Council Announces Grants for The Great American Read Project

THE GREAT AMERICAN READ is an eight-part television and online series designed to spark a national conversation about reading and the books that have inspired, moved, and shaped us. The series will engage audiences with a list of 100 diverse books. Audiences are encouraged to read the books, vote from the list of 100, and share their personal connections to the titles. The Great American Read premieres Tuesday, May 22 at 8/7c on PBS stations with a launch special, kicking off a summer of reading and voting.

Then in the fall, starting Sept. 11th, seven new episodes of the series will air as the quest to find America’s most beloved book moves into high gear. Episodes from the series will feature appearances by celebrities, athletes, experts, authors, and everyday Americans advocating for their favorite book. The finale will air on Oct. 23rd. FHC and the Florida Library Association (FLA) are proud to co-sponsor the Florida public broadcast of this engaging series. To learn more about The Great American Read click here.

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The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network