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KNKX earns multiple first-place SPJ awards

From left to right: Sound Effect producer Jennifer Wing, youth and education reporter Ashley Gross and South Sound reporter Will James.
Parker Miles Blohm
From left to right: Sound Effect producer Jennifer Wing, youth and education reporter Ashley Gross and South Sound reporter Will James.

KNKX Public Radio has earned three first-place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists Western Washington. The Northwest Excellence in Journalism Awards honored work published or broadcast across Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Alaska in 2018.

Honors include:

  • Sports Audio Reporting: “These Women Hit 50. Then They Took Up Basketball” is about the Port Townsend Drizzle basketball team, winners of three gold medals in the over-50 women’s division at the Washington State Senior Games. The Drizzle were the best women’s team at the Games because they were the only women’s team at the Games, so they literally expanded the playing field by recruiting other women’s teams to compete against, resulting in six teams contending for the gold in the 2018 Games. KNKX reporter Jennifer Wing’s story aired on the station’s weekly show, Sound Effect, and also won a national 2019 PRNDI (Public Radio News Directors, Inc.) award. 
  • Feature Audio Reporting: “Unraveling the Mystery of Why So Many African-Americans End Up Homeless” is a story by KNKX’s South Sound reporter Will James that delved into the results of a national research study pointing to possible explanations for why there are a disproportionate number of homeless African-Americans. James talked to a Tacoma man whose struggles are representative of what the research study characterizes as “network impoverishment,” or lack of a safety net.  (James expounded on the study and shared his experience reporting the story on New York public radio station WNYC’s nationally syndicated weekday conversation program, The Takeaway.)  The story also won a 2019 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
  • Investigative Audio Reporting: “Why Are Top School Officials from Washington Getting Paid to Meet with Tech Companies?” looks at how education technology has become a big business through a local lens. Investors have poured more than $19 billion into education-technology startups in the past five years and these education-technology companies want to find a way into school districts. KNKX youth and education reporter Ashley Gross profiles one school district south of Seattle — which has been struggling with a debt crisis — whose superintendent was paid an honorarium to meet with technology companies and give feedback on their products, raising grave concerns among parents.

"These stories represent a broad mix of topics that KNKX reporters tackle including homeless trends, educational funding, and efforts to push cultural boundaries — in this case, opening up team sports to older women,” said Erin Hennessey, news director for KNKX.  “It's gratifying to have these in-depth stories recognized by our peers."