A statement from BPR staff on racial justice

Dec 21, 2021

In the wake of our nation’s reckoning with racial justice, this is a time of transformation for public media and Blue Ridge Public Radio. Just over one year ago, BPR committed to creating a more equitable future for public media through Public Media for All, a coalition led by people of color to raise awareness and offer solutions to the current lack of diversity in public media. This letter details our actions this year to move toward that future.  

The reality is that systemic racism is woven into the foundation of this country and the fabric of our policies, organizations, and behaviors.  BPR recognizes this in ourselves and is examining the ways that we must address it. We see the damage racism has done and its contribution to inequity in wealth, health, education, and employment, as well as representation in government, in public and private institutions, and in media.

At BPR we regret not taking real action sooner. BPR accepts responsibility for prolonging race-based privilege because we previously failed to sincerely address the lack of diversity on our staff, board, our Community Forum (the station’s advisory group), and the voices you hear on our airwaves. 

We are reaching out to our community to share our actions and our plans to put equity at the core of our decision-making, our operations, our content, and our engagement with our audience. 

  • Our entire staff participated in an intensive DEI training that helped us name and work through where we have been and where we need to go in our equity work. We are creating a plan for our board of directors to participate in a similar training. 
  • Last winter, we set up a DEI Task Force to begin to identify priorities in our DEI work, including hiring, content creation, fundraising, and more. That Task Force evolved into our newly formed Equity Team, a group of dedicated staff working with our DEI trainers to develop a Charter and continue to build our DEI Action Plan. 
  • We continue to monitor and advance progress on our strategic plan, BPR 2025, which identifies diversity and inclusion as our number one priority. 
  •  BPR developed new hiring procedures to ensure our organization implements an inclusive recruitment process and an equitable screening policy that involves managers and staff members. Hiring committees ensured finalist pools for three open positions in 2021 had at least 30% people of color.
  • The diversity of both our staff and our governing board has become more inclusive in the past year. 
  • We are implementing our second source diversity study to ensure diverse representation in our reporting.
  • BPR increased the number of hours of diverse programming. This includes expanding our locally produced program The Waters and Harvey Show from 30 to 60 minutes, commissioning a bilingual podcast pilot, and partnering with a POC-led organization on a youth storytelling initiative. Additional changes resulted in 60% of our daily programming being hosted by people of color (outside of Morning Edition and All Things Considered) and 36% of our weekend programming hosted by people of color (outside of weekend news magazines).

There is still much more work to do; work that will never stop. Serving all communities of our region is at the core of BPR’s mission, and the mandate of public media since its founding. As we move toward this overarching goal, we are looking at all the functions of BPR: from what we cover and how we seek out sources for stories, to how we hire and recruit new employees.  

We invite our community to learn with us, to critique us, and to offer ideas and solutions to make BPR your public radio station, and the public radio station for ALL in Western North Carolina. Please reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns to equity@bpr.org or leave us a voicemail at 828-253-6700.

 

Thank you for your time and happy New Year, 

BPR Staff