New Orleans Public Radio Series on Incarceration Selected as Peabody Awards Finalist

Apr 6, 2017

WWNO New Orleans Public Radio is proud to announce the selection of Unprisoned: Stories from the System as a finalist in the 76th annual George Foster Peabody Awards.

Louisiana imprisons more of its people, per capita, than any other US state, making it the incarceration capital of the world. In a series of over twenty radio broadcasts and live audience events, producer Eve Abrams set out to go behind the headlines. She explored the impact of mass incarceration through the stories of those most involved – family and friends of those imprisoned and former inmates.

Abrams introduced listeners to the people living through the collateral consequences of mass incarceration — those serving time outside of prison. Unprisoned discovered an institutionalized criminal legal system in which many New Orleanians — mostly poor and mostly people of color — live in fear of the police and judicial system, and who have inadequate support reentering their communities after incarceration.

Unprisoned episodes were broadcast in New Orleans on 89.9 FM WWNO and 1230 AM WBOK from November 2015 to September 2016. Find all the episodes, and more, at http://wwno.org/programs/unprisoned-stories-system. Unprisoned included unique live audience storytelling events for adults and children, drawing hundreds of people together to experience stories of incarceration and its effects on the communities left behind.

"It has been a privilege coming to know the people whose stories grace Unprisoned,” says Abrams, a New Orleans independent producer and longtime contributor to WWNO’s local news and cultural content. “These vital voices are ones we don't hear often enough in public media. I am humbled and unbelievably grateful to The Peabody Awards for choosing to amplify them.” 

The Peabody Awards annually honor the nation’s most powerful, enlightening and invigorating stories in television, radio and digital media. Winners in the radio category will be announced on April 25, 2017.

“We couldn’t be more proud of Eve,” says Paul Maassen, WWNO’s General Manager. “At a time when other newsrooms are focused on the latest celebrity tweet, Eve told us deeply meaningful stories of people right here in our community — stories that should concern us all.”

Unprisoned was one of fifteen productions comprising Localore: Finding America, a national initiative of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio with financial support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Wyncote Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Find more stories at http://findingamerica.airmedia.org.

"Eve Abrams and her team in New Orleans made powerful work," said Sue Schardt, CEO of AIR and Executive Producer of Finding America. “By bringing forward stories from the people most closely involved in New Orleans’ prison system, we’re deeply moved by their faith, endurance, hope and determination.”

Finding America producers spanned the country to work for up to a year embedded in public radio and television stations. Collectively, AIR and its producers worked in communities typically defined in the news media by violence, injustice, or despair with a goal of inventing new approaches to making stories “with and for the people,” and surfacing a rich and more universal dimension of experience.

89.9 FM WWNO, New Orleans Public Radio, is the listener-supported NPR radio station serving New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana on 89.9 FM and on KTLN 90.5 FM in the Houma-Thibodaux area, with 24-hour classical music on Classical 104.9 FM and WWNO HD2 and jazz anytime on WWNO HD3. The station’s website, wwno.org, streams all of its news, music and quality cultural entertainment across the region, and carries the stories of New Orleans around the world. 

AIR is a vibrant international network of 1,200 makers powering public media and podcasting. The Boston-based organization identifies, cultivates and deploys storymakers to deepen understanding of and bring enlightenment to people worldwide. Since 2010, AIR’s national incubator, Localore, has engaged more than 400 independent, station-based, and community producers creating work that spans digital, broadcast, and street media platforms — challenging and inspiring other media makers to join in at AIRmedia.org.

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