Are you ready for more local news?
Starting today, KERA 90.1 FM launches a twice-a-day local news segment called “KERA Newsroom.” The 10-minute segments air weekdays at 8:20 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. The station’s news website, KERAnews.org, also has gotten a makeover.
Expect news from across North Texas, with a focus on key topics: education, including the Class of 17 series; Breakthroughs, featuring health, science and technology advances; arts from the Art&Seek staff; and politics.
Special features will include Sam Baker’s Vital Signs medical interviews on Mondays, The Big Screen, a Thursday movie chat with KERA’s Stephen Becker and Chris Vognar of The Dallas Morning News, and the Friday Conversation, in-depth interviews with newsmakers.
“We heard from our listeners that they wanted more local reporting,” says Mary Anne Alhadeff, KERA’s president and CEO. “Over the last year, KERA has hired more reporters to cover more local stories valued by our audience. ‘KERA Newsroom’ is the next step in providing even more best-in-class local news coverage to the North Texas community.”
The goal is to explore important issues through individual people’s stories, says Rick Holter, KERA’s vice president of news.
“We’re taking the same kind of approach to local reporting that NPR brings to national and international reporting,” Holter said. “We want to make it deep. We want to make it informative. We want to make it compelling.”
Sam Baker will host the 8:20 a.m. segment and Justin Martin will host the 6:20 p.m. segment – on the radio and online. Listeners won’t miss any NPR stories – all network pieces will air at least once during “Morning Edition” from 4 to 9 a.m. and “All Things Considered” from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
“KERA Newsroom” is the latest piece of the station’s three-year expansion project. In recent months, KERA has hired three new reporters. Ultimately, the station plans to expand “Newsroom” into a 30-minute program.
“Listeners have heard a lot more local coverage over the last year because we’ve added new reporters and new producers,” Holter said. “But this is the first time we’ll take it and put it into one package. We want to establish KERA News in the minds of our listeners and our online users as a strong local news source.”
KERA has also enhanced its online news presence with the redesigned KERAnews.org, which updates local news throughout the day. (The iconic North Texas photos at the top of the new homepage are by Justin Turveen.) In August, KERA launched two blogs: Class of 17 looks at education news and the journey of a group of North Texas eighth graders all the way to high school graduation. Breakthroughs covers ground-breaking health, science and technology advances rooted in North Texas. They join KERA’s Art&Seek, launched in 2008, which explores arts across Dallas-Fort Worth.
The “KERA Newsroom” segments feature a new, contemporary theme composed by James Driscoll of Hot Tonic Mastering in Dallas.
The “KERA Newsroom” name may sound familiar – it’s a nod to the station’s “Newsroom,” the pioneering daily TV news program on KERA in the 1970s. Jim Lehrer, who’d later anchor PBS’ nightly “NewsHour,” was the original KERA host.
“The ‘Newsroom’ name has deep local roots,” Holter says. “We’re trying to evoke that history while using 21st century tools on radio and online and with video and social media.”
Here’s a clip of an edition of “Newsroom” from August 1971 featuring Jim Lehrer: