CPB Funds Public Media Stations Addressing COVID-19 Misinformation

$275,000 in Grants to 14 Stations in Communities with Low Vaccination/High Infection Rates or Emerging Hotspots

August 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 19, 2021) – The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is awarding a total of $275,000 in emergency grants to 14 public media stations across the country to address COVID-19 misinformation in their communities. The grants – up to $20,000 each – are being awarded to public television and radio stations in areas with low vaccination and high infection rates, or in emerging hotspots for coronavirus infection.

“Public media stations, locally operated, work with their communities through partnerships of trust. General managers of stations serving America’s communities that are hard hit by the pandemic are committed to breaking through the cycle of misinformation regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and are providing information that is saving lives,” said Patricia Harrison, CPB president and CEO. “CPB is committed to funding their work as part of our stewardship and mission.”

Public media organizations are using the funding to produce or extend programming about the coronavirus pandemic, to develop multiplatform public service announcement campaigns, and to organize community outreach efforts regarding the pandemic and vaccines. Many stations are working with local partners to reach specific audiences with low vaccination rates, through communication methods ranging from public affairs programming to text messages to viral TikTok videos.

The grantees are:

  • Arkansas PBS (Conway, AR). AR PBS will design and execute a hyper-local, highly personal “friends and neighbors” campaign to combat vaccine misinformation and reluctance in the largely rural state by disseminating facts and true accounts through trusted community relationships.
  • Boise State Public Radio (Boise, ID). KBSX will boost the digital and broadcast reach of the station’s weekly doctor’s roundtable, which answers listener-submitted questions, and will partner with an Idaho community organization to address culturally nuanced questions.
  • KERA (Dallas). KERA will launch a “Bring the Music Back” campaign, featuring local and national musicians talking about why they got vaccinated, the importance of wearing masks, and how much they want they want their audiences to be safe when they return to touring. KERA will offer the content free to other public media stations in Texas and across the nation.
  • Nine PBS (St. Louis). Nine PBS will work with community partners to develop engagement efforts to vaccine-hesitant populations: young people 12-29 and their primary influencers, Black residents, and rural communities in Missouri and Illinois.
  • KRSU (Tulsa, OK). RSU-TV will work with local health officials, public schools, tribal leadership and trusted community organizations to produce and circulate public service announcements and public affairs programming for broadcast and digital audiences.
  • KOSU (Stillwater, OK). KOSU will target the low vaccination rate among 12- to 24-year-olds by collaborating with clubs, after-school programs, and other community organizations to solicit and answer questions from teens and their parents about vaccine misinformation. Outreach will include content translated into Spanish and Vietnamese.
  • Louisiana Public Broadcasting (Baton Rouge). LPB will target young people with a one-hour, dialogue-driven broadcast and digital special about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations, as well as a social media campaign featuring Louisiana influencers. LPB will coordinate with local universities and youth organizations.
  • WRKF (Baton Rouge). WRKF-FM will target communities and age groups that have low rates of vaccination, through an outreach strategy to include audiences who don’t listen to the station regularly. Digital multiplatform content about vaccination will include a series of live round table discussions with local medical experts and community leaders airing and distributed in Baton Rouge, and in partnership with WWNO, in New Orleans.
  • Mississippi Public Broadcasting (Jackson, MS). MPB will produce a series of radio and television broadcast specials focused on COVID-19; host a virtual town hall featuring local medical experts; and produce a social media campaign designed to combat misinformation. MPB will produce multiplatform public service announcements featuring MPB’s popular animated character, Ed Said.
  • WBHM (Birmingham, AL). WBHM will target 18 to 30-year-olds, who have the lowest vaccination rate in Alabama, with a social media series featuring original music and content for distribution on TikTok and other social media platforms, containing science-based information about COVID-19 vaccines to dispel widely circulated myths.
  • WCTE (Cookeville, TN). WCTE will launch a multi-platform informational campaign targeting rural audiences, featuring information from trusted community sources about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • West Virginia Public Broadcasting (Charleston, WV). WVPB will produce a multi-platform outreach effort targeting vaccine-hesitant communities across the state, leveraging its signature program, “Mountain Stage,” to target younger audiences. The station will also work with a notable local pastor to reach African American communities and use PBS KIDS to reach families of children through PBS KIDS content.
  • WJCT Public Media (Jacksonville, FL). WJCT Public Media will use digital engagement and texting tools to reach people in targeted areas with high levels of vaccine reluctance. WJCT will develop personalized, branching information trees to provide users accurate, accessible information on vaccine safety; connect users with coverage by their award-winning news team; and incorporate updates from local doctors and pharmacists to provide answers to specific questions.
  • Wyoming Public Media (Laramie, WY). Wyoming Public Media will take an informational approach to covering the effects of COVID-19 in the state, spotlighting personal testimonials about COVID infections and boosting newsroom reporting on the pandemic’s rippling impact on the state economy and on Wind River Reservation activities. Wyoming Public Media will also produce children’s podcast content as well as hold town halls and other engagement activities.

These grants are in addition to more than $300,000 in grants awarded in April to Native Public Media and to KTSU-FM, a public radio station licensed to a Historically Black College and University (HBCU), to coordinate COVID-19 public outreach campaigns to 51 public radio stations serving Native and Black communities. The campaigns, airing on 36 tribal stations and 15 stations licensed to HBCUs, will provide trusted, life-saving information to populations that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic

CPB supports the dissemination of accurate information about vaccines and other protective measures against COVID-19 and is a founding partner of the COVID Collaborative, a national assembly of leaders from different sectors developing a unified platform for addressing the coronavirus pandemic.

About CPB
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, 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 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for email updates.