Public media helps make sense of the times, from WGCU GM Rick Johnson

Even to those of us who came of age in the turbulent 1960s and early ’70s, the events of the past few months have been extraordinary – more than 100,000 fellow Americans taken from us by a global pandemic, unemployment reaching levels not seen since the Great Depression and now mass demonstrations triggered by the unfathomable, broad-daylight murder of George Floyd.

It is difficult to process these events even with (and perhaps because of) the flood of “news” we are subjected to by the 24-hour cable news cycle and social media platforms. That might help explain why we’ve seen audiences for the PBS NewsHour and Washington Week nearly double recently. Context, measured analysis, in-depth reporting — all hallmarks of PBS/NPR public affairs and news programming – seem to be qualities that audiences are seeking to help them make some sense of the world.

WGCU’s news team has been hard at work keeping you apprised of local and statewide happenings on WGCU-FM. We will be expanding those efforts to TV on June 17 at 8 p.m. with 100 Days of the Coronavirus the first of a series of virtual town halls produced in partnership with The News-Press and Naples Daily News. The first program will focus on the pandemic’s effect on healthcare, education, restaurants and under-served  communities with thought-leaders in Southwest Florida.

WGCU and PBS will be reprising and updating programming that speaks to the complicated history of race relations in the United States. Tonight at 10 p.m. Race Matters – America in Crisis: A PBS NewsHour Special airs followed by Frontline – Policing the Police at 11 p.m. And on Monday, June 15 at 9 p.m. the broadcast of America in Black and Blue – 2020 premieres. WGCU And PBS are making available numerous other programs and series that speak to the issue throughout our broadcast schedules and online at WGCU.org.

Finally, I’m happy to announce that, as part of our Move to Include initiative (wgcu.org/movetoinclude/), WGCU has now made available descriptive video services for the blind and sight impaired. Descriptive video provides audible narrative description of key visual elements of a program and is accessed through the SAP or MTS channels of television receivers. Kudos to our Associate General Manager/Chief Technology Guru, Kevin Trueblood and his team for making this innovation accessible on all programs that feature DVS narration.

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