WPR wins Murrow Awards

Melodie Edwards won a regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Use of Sound. Her story, “The Secret Life of Mountain Lions,” features sounds from mountain lions and hiking to a kill site. (Photo by Morgan Roppe)

Wyoming Public Radio (WPR) has won three regional Edward R. Murrow awards. The awards are for Best Hard News Story, Best Use of Sound and Best Series.

The Edward R. Murrow awards go to the best broadcast stories of the year. This is the second year WPR has won three regional Murrow awards.

“It’s an award given out by the Radio, Television, Digital News Association,” Bob Beck, WPR News Director, said. “This is now back to back years that we’ve won three [awards].”

Melodie Edwards, general assignment reporter and anchor, won Best Use of Sound for her story on mountain lions and how little researchers know about them. Edwards has received a Murrow Award for Use of Sound in the past.

“It’s called ‘The Secret Lives of Mountain Lions,’” Edwards said. “It was a story about how researchers in Jackson were putting camera traps and recording video of mountain lions.”

Edwards said that the researchers found previous assumptions about mountain lions being loners were wrong. The footage showed that the mountain lions were very social.

“The cubs stay and hang out with their parent, interacting with them, for years,” she said.

Edwards said the story was very sound rich because of the footage taken of the mountain lions interacting with one another.

“These little mountain lion cubs were talking to their parents and making sounds that you just have never heard,” Edwards said. “Very private, intimate sounds.”

Edwards’ story was also entered for another award for ability to work with sound.

“We also entered that for another award that’s going to be a national competition,” Beck said. “It had excellent components online along with what people heard on the air. Edwards really is good at telling a story with sound. It’s very sound rich.”

The story was also played on National Public Radio.

Former WPR education reporter Aaron Schrank won in the hard news category about his story on Rihanna Kelver and her run for school board as a transgender student.

“Aaron Schrank did a story on a transgender kid here in Laramie, who was a little frustrated with the process of making bathrooms available to transgender students was going,” Beck said. “It was an interesting profile and not a story that was typical in Wyoming.”

Edwards and Schrank worked together to produce a series of stories about Native American boarding schools. The series won the Best Series award.

“I did a story about how the Northern Arapahoe tribe is trying to get the remains of some of the children who died at a boarding school in Pennsylvania returned to them,” Edwards said.

This lead Edwards to speak to others who had experienced Native American boarding schools and the history of these schools.

Schrank added onto the story about the continuation of Native American boarding schools today.

“People from the Wind River [Reservation] still continue to send their kids to boarding schools,” Edwards said. “How they now no longer keep kids from using their language but teaching it. This comparison between the historic boarding school and the modern day boarding schools for Native Americans.”

The tie of the boarding schools and the Wind River Reservation brings the story back to Wyoming.

“I found that to be interesting as well,” Beck said. “I hadn’t heard much about and didn’t know there was such a strong Wind River Reservation connection.”

Beck said all three stories had exceptional storytelling.

The three stories will be entered in to win a national Murrow Award. WPR has never won a national Murrow Award but has won 12 other awards.

Beck said he thinks Edwards’ story about mountain lions has a shot at winning the national Murrow Award.

“I think it would be an excellent shot at winning a national award as well,” Beck said.

For WPR, Beck believes, the Murrow Awards show how strong their news team is.

“I think what the awards show is just what an outstanding news department we have,” Beck said. “They’re not easy to win. It just shows the kind of news department we’ve put together here for a number of years.”

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