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Notes from KUER's listening tour: "'Deserves' is a good word."

Photo of downtown Ogden.
Wikimedia Commons

“’Deserves’ is a good word,” panel leader Joaquin Alvarado said at KUER’s third Ogden listening session on February 15.

Alvarado hit upon the word “deserves” in response to panelist Karen Fairbanks’ comment that, “I think (Ogden) is a unique enough community that it is deserving of more journalistic effort.”

Alvarado expanded on Fairbanks’ comment, stating: “This community deserves truth and information; it deserves to see itself in coverage.”

So, what is that coverage? What aspects of this unique community – not a suburb of Salt Lake City, but a strong city with a distinct identity – is deserving of KUER’s resources?

At this third meeting, panelists and leaders together began to correlate coverages ideas that have percolated over the course of the listening tour.

Di Allison spoke about the Weber County Library System, a system, she said, that she could talk about “all night.”

“It’s exceptional. There’s nothing else like it in the state,” she said. And the main reason for that exceptionalism, she believes, comes from the library’s motto: radical civility.

The concept of radical civility grew under the leadership of Weber County Library director Lynnda Wangsgard, and essentially means that everyone who enters the library doors – patrons and employees alike – are treated with the upmost respect.

Alvarado reminded the group that libraries are wonderful community partners because they have responded to community needs so ably, providing services and space for everyone from young people to elderly veterans.

He encouraged KUER to look to institutions like public libraries or colleges such as Weber State as potential partners, stating, “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel.”

Panelist and KUER employee Benjamin Bombard cited KUER and RadioWest’s nearly 10-year-long relationship with the Utah Film Center as a successful partnership, telling the group that it has worked, “for a number of reasons” – but mainly because both organizations benefit from the relationship.

Mutual understanding of what the other partner needs, panelist and KUER employee Elaine Clark emphasized, is key to a successful partnership. Those who work with KUER do “need to have a clear understanding that we need a good story.”

The discussion of what and whose stories to tell brought the group around to talking about the importance of including different communities in our questions of coverage. Panelist Amir Jackson recommended reaching out to community ambassadors, talking to leaders within these groups, perhaps “their pastor or their priests, those are the people who move their community,” he said, to learn what the needs are.

Alvarado agreed, stating that asking one person for a good source often leads to more people who lead to more people until the asker has a much better understanding of the community.

As the group considered coverage ideas, Alvarado encouraged everyone to think big, and not “worry about the resources, even if it seems like it’s a little out there. It’s hard to get the imagination out if you don’t start somewhere.”

While resources are certainly something that KUER must consider, Alvarado’s advice seemed to prompt the group to think broadly about Ogden coverage.

In the final few minutes of the session, Alvarado laid out the following specific ideas he heard from the group – and encouraged them to come to the next meeting with more ideas to share.

  • Hill Air Force Base reporter
  • Youth coverage – who is the next generation of Ogden?
  • Partnerships with Weber County Library, Marshall White Center, Weber State University, local arts organizations

To close, Alvarado reminded everyone at the listening session that at its best, public radio, like the best public libraries, are a source of inspiration, insight and information largely because of the first word in its name: public.

KUER is listener-supported public radio. Support this work by making a donation today.