The Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board Honors WNET, NYPR with Inaugural Community Lifeline Awards

Washington, D.C. – The board of directors of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) yesterday honored public television station WNET and NYPR, which includes stations WNYC and New Jersey Public Radio (NJPR), with the first Community Lifeline Awards. The award recognizes public media stations that provide exemplary service to their communities during local emergencies, such as natural disasters, major industrial accidents, acts of terrorism or other urgent situations.

WNET and WNYC/NJPR each received the award for serving as important lifelines to the citizens of New York and New Jersey leading up to and in the weeks following Hurricane Sandy. The stations provided extensive live coverage on storm preparedness, weather and flood bulletins, status updates about restoration of power and other services, and in-depth information regarding emergency resources and recovery assistance across multiple platforms including television and radio broadcasts, social media and online.

“Public media has a mission to provide trusted and reliable information to the communities it serves, and this is never more important than in times of crisis or emergency,” said Patricia Cahill, chair of the CPB board of directors. “WNET and NYPR exemplified this mission by delivering in-depth coverage of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath to the citizens of New York and New Jersey, even after other news coverage is moving on. On behalf of CPB, I thank the staff and management of WNET and NYPR for their extraordinary work in these difficult times, and I am pleased to present the Community Lifeline Award to both organizations in recognition of their dedicated and exemplary service to communities affected by Hurricane Sandy.”

“In order to serve the community, we must be a community,” said Laura Walker, president and CEO, New York Public Radio. “And Sandy bonded us together with our listeners and each other in a whole new way. I am very proud of the WNYC and NJPR news teams who served as a bright light while many lived in darkness, providing news and information, comfort and companionship to our audiences. We are deeply grateful to CPB for recognizing our work with a Community Lifeline Award.”

“For 50 years, our first responsibility has been to serve our community, and Sandy dealt our community an enormous blow,” said WNET President and CEO Neal Shapiro. “We worked around the clock in New York and New Jersey to provide information on the air, online and by mobile technology. This Community Lifeline Award is a meaningful acknowledgment of our efforts, and we are grateful to CPB for honoring us in this way.”

WNYC and NJPR provided news coverage from throughout New York City and New Jersey, broadcast press conferences by elected leaders, featured interviews with key officials, including New York City’s Metro Transit Authority Chairman Joe Lhota, and provided information on-air and online about emergency resources. The stations acted as a public square, producing morning and evening call-in programs during which listeners could ask questions and share personal stories and reports from their own neighborhoods. Radio proved indispensable to listeners without power and access to television or newspapers.

WNYC and NJPR also created data maps that helped online audiences follow the path of the storm and track storm surges and flooding throughout the region. A "transit tracker" kept people up to date on the status of mass transportation systems, while a map of the five New York City boroughs provided a color-coded update on traffic jams.

On television, WNET stations THIRTEEN, WLIW and WNET-operated NJTV broadcast extensive Hurricane Sandy coverage throughout the duration of the storm with live updates, programming and press conferences with Governor Christie and other state and local officials. In addition, the station provided streaming coverage on its website, which was a valuable resource for thousands of people without power in the days following the storm.

WNET used the most up-to-date equipment available to provide live video feeds from devastated coastal areas and used mobile digital technology to interact with citizens who lacked access to computers and televisions due to flooding and power outages. Many of the stations’ staff worked tirelessly to provide updated information and news throughout the region, while experiencing personal hardships, such as a lack of electricity, water and heat.

WNET and NYPR received their awards yesterday at the CPB Board of Directors meeting.

About CPB

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government's investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,400 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.