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A Nation Engaged: Sparking Conversations That Matter

Let's Get People Talking

What happens if NPR and its Member stations asked people all over the country the same question?

This year NPR's political team has worked hard to find new ways to address the campaign—getting past the horse race to the crucial conversations happening across the country.

During the last week of January, NPR piloted a coordinated political conversation with several Member stations to create a national conversation around a topic that's on everyone's mind: voter anxiety.

Tracy Wahl, NPR's Executive Producer for Editorial Franchises, managed the pilot: "This coordinated approach creates something bigger than the sum of its parts."

Here's how it worked:

Michigan Radio #electionfeels Michigan Radio hide caption

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Michigan Radio

On Morning Edition on January 25, Mara Liasson reported on the theme of anxiety in the electorate.

We invited all Member stations to participate by asking their listeners "Why is America anxious?" in their call-in, locally-produced talk-shows and in their reporting.

In addition, The PBS NewsHour picked up on the themes raised in Mara Liasson's piece with a segment about the politics of fear, as part of our upcoming joint convention coverage.

We then asked Member stations if they would like to participate further by sending audio to Morning Edition for broadcast pieces to air on Friday, January 29.

In addition to the broadcast elements, one station got really creative on social media: Michigan Radio, for example, asked for selfies of people's moods.

30 Member stations in 18 states and the District of Columbia dedicated a portion of a locally-produced show to the theme. There was wide variation in the approach that each station took. Some hosted call-in shows with voters, some booked experts or analysts and some devoted as much as two hours to the theme of voter mood before the election.

30 Member stations in 18 states and the District of Columbia dedicated a portion of a locally-produced show to the theme.

26 Member stations in 17 states sent audio to NPR to be considered for the Friday Morning Edition segment. This audio included pullouts from the shows, reported pieces, and comments from voters.

At the end of the week, Steve Inskeep interviewed two hosts of local talk shows:

WJCT, Jacksonville, Florida—First Coast Connect with Melissa Ross

KNPR, Las Vegas, Nevada—State of Nevada with Carrie Kaufman

The show also broadcast tape sent by five other Member stations:

KQED, San Francisco, California – The Forum with Michael Krasny; NHPR, New Hampshire – The Exchange with Laura Knoy; WVXU, Cincinnati, Ohio; KERA, Dallas, Texas; GPB, Atlanta, Georgia.

Member Station Stories