Liza reading her letter to WXXI while her sister Hannah looks on
Liza reading her letter to WXXI while her sister Hannah looks on wxxinews.org
Just before Thanksgiving, Julie Philipp, the news director at NPR Member Station WXXI in Rochester, New York, received a letter from one of the station's youngest listeners that gave her an idea for a special series.
The letter — hand-written on lined paper — came from the almost-ten-year-old Liza, whose mom listens to WXXI as she drives Liza to school. Liza's request: for the station to air some happy stories.
"...Every morning on the radio they're talking about sad things, crimes, murders, car crashes, terrible storms," Liza wrote. "Sometimes it depresses people who listen to it. So it would make me happy to hear good news, and would lighten other people up, too."
Leading the news team at this station covering the Finger Lakes region of New York, Philipp was very aware of these often-hard-to-hear stories Liza was referring to.
"We really just needed a break," Philipp says.
Philipp and her team of six journalists decided to act on Liza's request and put together a week-long series called "Liza Letter, Series of Good News Stories," highlighting the good news happening in their community.
"Each reporter was asked to come up with a story that wasn't too sappy or trite but was a different look on the positive," she says.
The segments in the Good News series included a profile of a barber who takes customers' blood pressure,
a local company offering music classes to employees and an arts and literacy program for young people in jail.
To kick off the series, Philipp interviewed Liza, who read her letter and even offered up some of her own 'Good News' story ideas.
Philipp is proud of her reporting team and is grateful for Liza who reminded them to look a little deeper for the good news in their community. Gauging by the comments left on WXXI's website, listeners were grateful for the series as well.
"I love this!" says commenter 'Bethhoh.' "As a therapist working with people who struggle with depression, I have told them to limit their intake of the 'news' because it is so saturated with sadness. I love Liza's idea and that WXXI is following up with it. My husband and I will surely allow our 7 year old and 13 year old sons to tune into this! Thank you WXXI."
Liza's interview and all the pieces from the series have been archived on WXXI's website: