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WKMS Newsroom Wins 2021 Al Smith Award

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The journalists of WKMS-FM at Murray State University are the winners of the 2021 Al Smith Award for public service through community journalism by Kentuckians. This is the first time it has gone to broadcasters or a news outlet at a university. This award follows an Edward R. Murrow Award for OVR Reporter/ Assistant News Director Liam Niemeyer and four first place awards in the IBA college competition, sponsored by the Kentucky Broadcasters Association.

The station was nominated by Constance Alexander of Murray, a columnist and playwright who is on the Institute’s advisory board. She wrote, “With a consistent record of reporting on important events and community issues -- and editorial leadership that dares to address controversial subjects and hold power accountable -- WKMS serves the informational, cultural and community needs of the region, exemplifying the values represented by the Al Smith Award.”

The institute presents the award with the Bluegrass Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Chapter President Tom Eblen, a former Lexington Herald-Leader managing editor and columnist, said “WKMS has a history of reporting important stories in its region accurately, thoroughly and without fear or favor. It is a model for courageous public-service journalism, especially at a time when citizens are looking more to public radio to fill voids left by shrinking commercial media outlets.”

WKMS Station Manager Chad Lampe said, "I am so incredibly proud of our newsroom and our station staff as a whole. We take an ‘audience first’ approach to all of our work and this is why we remain committed to telling stories that matter. I am particularly proud of our Murray State student journalists who we bring into our newsroom, train and mentor to produce professional news right alongside the work of our staff."

See the full release from the institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues here.

The award is named for the late Albert P. Smith Jr., who published newspapers in Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, was founding producer and host of KET’s “Comment on Kentucky” and federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. He was the driving force to create the Institute, headed its advisory board and was its chair emeritus until his death in March at 94.

WKMS will receive the award at the Al Smith Awards Dinner in Lexington October 28.