From last Tuesday’s Sacramento Bee —J.S.
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KXJZ’s surge of popularity proves that quality broadcast journalism, featuring in-depth reporting that eschews the sensational for the analytical, can draw big numbers.
Not to gloat or anything, but Eytcheson and staff believe these are, indeed, heady days to be in public radio.
While many other news organizations are cutting back on personnel and budgets due to stagnant advertising, KXJZ is in the process of expanding its morning team with a news anchor to complement local “Morning Edition” host Donna Apidone. The station also is hiring a full-time health reporter, thanks to a grant from the nonprofit California Heathcare Foundation (which has no editorial input).
Yes, KXJZ will weigh in on the news of the day, especially if it involves state government, but its long-view and long-form approach has proved popular with listeners and peers in journalism. Even with a rigidly defined news hole – a maximum of 10 minutes an hour is carved out for local news – the depth of the reports is impressive. (Of course, the station also has its weekday, hourlong public affairs show, “Insight,” with Jeffrey Callison.)
You won’t hear KXJZ reporters, for example, weighing in breathlessly from a stabbing at a Natomas minimart or phoning in a 20-second live report from an Elk Grove house fire. Those are ephemeral events. Rather, KXJZ will take an issue in the news and cover all sides in news reports and features often lasting as long as four minutes, unheard of on commercial news stations.
Last year’s four-part series “All About Bonds,” regarding state bond measures (which sounds as if it would test positive for Sominex), explained the legislative process in a way that made it entertaining and informative. And it showed, as reporters Marianne Russ (another KFBK exile) and O’Mara won second place in the national Public Radio News Directors Inc. awards for best series. They were beaten out by KUOW in Seattle, a huge NPR station with significantly more resources. In addition, “Dina’s Diary,” an account by cancer survivor Dina Howard, won first place in the documentary category for producer Paul Conley.
Full story . . .