KCUR Selected as Key Station for NPR’s New Midwest Enterprise

Public radio service operated on UMKC campus
Steve Kraske

NPR has chosen KCUR 89.3 to help lead a new Midwest regional news hub that will create a greater capacity for investigative reporting in the Kansas City metro area. The station is operated as an editorially independent community service of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

KCUR – along with St. Louis Public Radio, Iowa Public Radio and NET in Nebraska – will play a major role in bringing the regional newsroom to life, ensuring the Kansas City community will be well-served by the reporting produced through this new collaboration.

The Midwest regional hub is made possible through a $3 million grant to NPR’s Collaborative Journalism Network by philanthropists Eric and Wendy Schmidt. An additional $1.7 million will go toward an existing regional newsroom in California, NPR announced today.

Through the Midwest hub, public radio stations in Missouri, Kansas, Iowa and Nebraska will coordinate and expand their local and regional reporting, providing content to national news programs and digital platforms. The 25 public radio stations serving the four-state region will have access to stories produced by the Midwest newsroom.

The startup investment by the Schmidts will allow KCUR and its partners at the three other stations to launch the hub and develop it into an essential contributor to the NPR network.

“This incredible decision to support local journalism is an exciting opportunity for KCUR,” said Sarah Morris, KCUR’s interim general manager. “The new collaboration not only will boost our own coverage of issues affecting Kansas City and the region, but also will allow us to bring more Midwestern voices to the rest of the nation.”

The Midwest hub is NPR’s fourth regional news collaboration, joining regional newsrooms already operating in Texas, California and the Gulf States of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

With a focus on in-depth reporting, the new Midwest team will include a three-person investigative unit and two editors, as well as a coordinating producer based at NPR in Washington, D.C. The team will bring public service reporting to a region dominated by rural news deserts as local publications have fewer resources for extensive projects.

KCUR is no stranger to the concept of collaboration, having built a national reputation for developing and sustaining multi-station partnerships. Harvest Public Media, a four-state partnership that covers issues related to food and agriculture, started at KCUR more than 10 years ago. The Kansas News Service, a collaboration of four public radio stations from Kansas City to Garden City, is based at KCUR. And KCUR is the lead station for America Amplified, a national elections project focused on community engagement.

Published: May 19, 2020

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