WILL Pressroom

Illinois Public Media wins Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for centenary coverage


Illinois Public Media has won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Jim Meadow’s coverage of WILL-AM’s 100th anniversary.

“We’re thrilled to be honored with a Regional Edward R. Murrow award this year— widely considered the most prestigious award given in local journalism,” said Moss Bresnahan, executive director of Illinois Public Media. “Jim’s work brought to life the incredible characters, events, and trends that have shaped Illinois’ past and present, all while celebrating WILL’s 100th anniversary.”

Regional Edward R Murrow Award graphicThe Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) has honored Illinois Public Media with excellence in radio in a “Small Market – Best News Series” for a collection of four features exploring the history, impacts, and programs of interest throughout WILL-AM’s first century, all written and produced by Meadows.

“Jim deserves many accolades for this honor from the RTDNA. He spent more than a year digging through archives, many of which have not been digitized, to find jewels from WILL-AM’s past,” said Reginald Hardwick, director of news and public affairs for Illinois Public Media.

During Meadows’ reporting, he spoke with several present and former staff members, worked with archivist and former Focus 580 producer Jack Brighton, and spent countless hours digging through the University of Illinois archives to produce features celebrating the oldest component of Illinois Public Media as the organization marked 100 years of broadcasting in back in April 2022.

“It was very gratifying to have these features, which took a lot of work and were of great interest to me personally, be appreciated by judges from elsewhere in the country,” Meadows said. “I wanted to tell our audience about WILL’s place in the earliest days of radio broadcasting, and some of the programs that the station produced that listeners have really valued.”

Two hands hold up an old record

One of the 16-inch transcription discs used by WILL Radio to record Langston Hughes’ 1957 poetry reading at the University of Illinois.

Photo Credit: University of Illinois Archives

This award-winning collection included: “From its first broadcast on April 6 1922, WILL evolves from high-tech novelty to pioneer broadcaster”; “Langston Hughes poetry reading, recorded by WILL Radio”; “Roger Cooper’s ‘Classically Black’ provided a showcase for Black musicians”; and “Remembering Focus 580, WILL-AM’s long-running local call-in show.” To listen to this particular collection of stories, visit Illinois Public Media’s SoundCloud submission. To explore all of Illinois Public Media’s centennial coverage during 2022, please visit will.illinois.edu/will100.

“Hearing the voice of poet Langston Hughes was a real treat. It was also a pleasure listening to Roger Cooper talk about his legacy at WILL,” Hardwick said. “It was a privilege to share these stories with our listeners and an honor to be recognized with a Regional Edward R. Murrow award from our news directors around the nation.”

For Meadows, his favorite was the story of WILL’s early days. “It presents WILL’s role at the very beginning of radio broadcasting, when people were just thinking of radio as something for reaching a mass audience, not just as a telephone without wires. The feature also touches on WILL’s important but generally unheralded role in shaping what was then called educational broadcasting on a national basis.”

Murrow Awards are the embodiment of the values, principles, and standards set forth by Edward R. Murrow, a journalism pioneer who set the standards for the highest quality of broadcast journalism. The Murrow Awards are among the most respected journalism awards in the world.

WILL At 100: A Century of Making Waves” is under consideration for a National Murrow Award.