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Wednesday, February 18, 2004
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Local radio program takes in-depth look at Appalachia

ATHENS, Ohio -- Residents of southeastern Ohio frequently turn to Columbus and West Virginia for their news. A local radio feature series, however, has brought the focus much closer to home. Over the past five months, "This Time Around: Reinventing Community," airing on the WOUB?FM Radio Network, has covered issues affecting the present and future of Appalachian Ohio while exploring the fabric of community.

WOUB_color"What we're trying to do is focus on people who are really doing things?working on economic change in the community," said Executive Producer Sandra Sleight-Brennan. "The whole thrust of the series is for people to take control this time around."

The year?long program is divided into four quarters, with a theme to tie each quarter together. The second quarter focuses on technology and its significance in the region. One show examined the manner in which some small businesses and craftspeople are using e-marketing to overcome distances between them and their customers. Another centered on the Student Entrepreneurship Training Program and its impact on area high schools, with interviews from students and faculty of Vinton County High School.

"The topics are designed to cover as broad of a range of stories as we can within 12 weeks," said Sleight-Brennan. "We wanted to show the diversity of how people are grappling with technology in the region."

The weekly feature series "This Time Around: Reinventing Community" also serves as a forum for the region, hosting four quarterly discussion programs. Listeners are encouraged to call in and voice their thoughts on a variety of topics. "The call-in shows provide an opportunity for people in the region to talk about things and really have their voices heard," added Sleight-Brennan.

"I answered the phone during the first call-in show, so I actually got to talk to people," said Radio Producer and Graduate Assistant at Ohio University Jennifer Curry. "We actually got a story out of one of the calls. A woman from the Coalition for Small Schools called and talked to us about the kids who live on farms and go to the small schools throughout the region, and it was really interesting."

"It's just one example of someone talking to us about an issue that we can now follow up on," said Sleight-Brennan. The upcoming call-in forum, airing on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m., will focus on technology and the impact it has on the region. Viewers can call 800-825-1771 with their questions and comments. The forum will feature two in-studio guests: Lou Stein, eonomic dveloper for Monroe County, and Bill Sams, cairman of the Board of Governors for the IT Alliance of Appalachian Ohio. Sams has 25 years of experience in management positions in Silicon Valley.

The call-in forum will also feature two listening groups, hosted by Russ Combs of ACEnet and Pat DeWees of the Institute for Local Government Administration and Rural Development. They will be held in Nelsonville and Marietta.

"One of the major goals of the series was to tell stories so people in the region would know what is going on in the communities here," said Sleight-Brennan. "We want to get people in the region to talk about the topics the programs focus on. Appalachia is not a sleepy little place. People are doing amazing things in their communities. These are the stories we want to talk about."

ABOUT THE PRODUCER: Award-winning producer Sleight-Brennan produces features and documentaries that help listeners to interpret their history and environment. She has won numerous awards for her work including Best of Show from The Association of American Women in Radio and TV. Her features have aired on National Public Radio (NPR), Public Radio International (PRI), "The Osgood Files," "Interworld Radio," "Living On Earth," "Prime Time Radio," "Marketplace," "Savvy Traveler" and "Soundprint."

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Media Contact: Public Information Coordinator Olivea Oldham, (740) 593-4944 or Olivea_Oldham@woub.pbs.org

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