For the third year in a row, the Associated Press has named WBUR “News Station of the Year.” The award, given to the Massachusetts radio station with the best overall news coverage, was presented Saturday night in a ceremony that also saw Boston University’s National Public Radio station honored by the New England Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA) for general excellence and for the top regional Web site among large market radio stations.
Sam Fleming, WBUR’s managing director of news and programming, says he found the award particularly gratifying because it represents the station’s whole body of work from the last year. “It represents the efforts of many journalists across the entire broadcast day,” he says.
The station also captured top honors in the AP’s “Enterprise Reporting,” “Feature Reporting,” and “Use of Sound” categories for large-market stations. Reporter Martha Bebinger’s series Health Care Disparities, which touched on the academic, scientific, and social, in particular racial, issues in relation to available health care, won in the “Enterprise Reporting” category. Harry Potter in Braille, a story by Monica Brady-Myerov on the reaction of several Perkins School for the Blind students to the Braille edition of the latest book by J. K. Rowling being published simultaneously with the printed version, bested the competition in the “Feature Reporting” section. Reporter Sean Cole’s decision to allow Shakespeare & Company’s education director to exclusively narrate his piece on the organization’s fall festival for students proved to be the winning formula within the “Use of Sound” category.
“At WBUR we talk all the time about how important it is to serve our listeners,” says John Davidow, WBUR news director and managing editor. “In 2005, given the wide range of coverage of major news events, important local stories, and in-depth special reports and features produced by the staff of WBUR, we feel we succeeded in meeting the high expectations of our listening public.”
At the ceremony, WBUR was also recognized for winning the 2006 Edward R. Murrow “Overall Excellence” award from the New England Radio-Television News Directors Association. The station dominated the RTNDA competition, prevailing in seven of the nine categories within the region’s large-market division, including best Web site. All regional winners are now eligible for the national competition, whose victors will be honored in New York in October.
The RTNDA near-sweep included the following:
• Overall Excellence
• Continuing Coverage — Hurricane Katrina
• Feature Hard News — College Drug Abuse (Monica Brady-Myerov)
• News Documentary — Snakeheads and Slavery (Senior producer Anna Bensted; reporter Michael Goldfarb; technical director George Hicks)
• News Series — Reading, Writing and Race (Reporters Monica Brady-Myerov, Audie Cornish, Martha Bebinger, and Bob Oakes; produced by Anna Bensted)
• Use of Sound — Thanksgiving Day Plumbers (Reporter Sean Cole)
• Web Site — WBUR.org
WBUR also broadcasts a selection of BBC programs and locally produced programs such as Here and Now, On Point, Only a Game, and Car Talk. WBUR has won more than 100 major awards for its news coverage, including several George Foster Peabody Awards, and has been named the Associated Press News Station of the Year four times since 2000.