KOSU, Focus: Black Oklahoma win Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award for “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning” podcast collaboration
Thursday, February 10, 2022
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The duPont-Columbia University Awards are considered one of the most prestigious in journalism, recognizing investigations, podcasts and documentary films for the strength of their reporting, storytelling and impact in the public interest.
In its 80-year history, duPont-Columbia has given five awards to Oklahoma organizations, and two of those have been to KOSU. Its first win came in 1985.
“KOSU has played a key role in bringing this important story to the forefront,” said Oklahoma State University President Kayse Shrum. “I am proud of the work KOSU has done, and the high bar it continues to set for journalism in Oklahoma.
The 16 winners of the 2022 awards also include NPR, PBS and The New York Times.
The six-episode “Blindspot: Tulsa Burning” podcast explores the racial terror that destroyed the Greenwood District of Tulsa, Oklahoma, 100 years ago. Through conversations with descendants, historians and local activists, the series considers how the traumatic two-day attack continues to take a toll.
The jury proclaimed the podcast as an “immersive, deeply reported series” that “placed powerful eyewitness voices at the heart of a century-old narrative.”
The podcast season began as an idea conceived by Focus: Black Oklahoma executive producer Quraysh Ali Lansana for broadcast on KOSU.
“This series was an idea that I envisioned more than two years ago. It was crafted
on the front porch and ended up as an award-winning show. We laid the foundation and
the structure and brought it to WNYC and HISTORY Channel,” said Lansana, who is also
a Tulsa Artist Fellow and leads the Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation
at OSU-Tulsa. “This series is Oklahoma born and Oklahoma made, and I’m very proud
Combining its local expertise and sources, the collaboration was then brought to WNYC and The History Channel to be built upon and shared with a national audience.
“We are so honored to be part of elevating stories that have been ignored for decades,” said KOSU Executive Director Rachel Hubbard. “This unique collaboration gave life to the success and the tragedy of Greenwood.”
The stories of everyday people and voice actors reading eyewitness accounts from 1921 make the story come to life. It helps listeners understand the confusion and tragedy for Black Tulsans who lived in the 40 blocks that comprise Greenwood. Though the death toll is unknown, it's estimated hundreds lost their lives and thousands lost their homes and jobs to the destruction.
“I would give up this award to reverse the events of the 1921 Tulsa Massacre,” host KalaLea said in her acceptance speech. “If it never happened, we would all be better for it. But it’s not too late for some course correction and healing.”
The Oklahoma production for this podcast was made possible in part by The Inasmuch Foundation and George Kaiser Family Foundation.
KOSU is a public radio service of Oklahoma State University and a member station of National Public Radio. Its programming can be heard by more than 91,000 on-air listeners every week in central, northern and northeastern Oklahoma, parts of Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas and worldwide at www.kosu.org.
ABOUT FOCUS: BLACK OKLAHOMA:
Focus: Black Oklahoma is a one-hour news and public affairs program on topics relevant to Oklahomans across the Black diaspora that airs on KOSU monthly. The show is also available as a podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One and at www.kosu.org/podcast/focus-black-oklahoma.
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