WTOP picks up 10 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards

WTOP has been honored with ten 2019 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including an award in Overall Excellence by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA).

Mike McMearty, WTOP’s director of news and programming, holds the Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence after accepting the award during a ceremony on Oct. 22, 2018. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)
WTOP News Director Mike McMearty offered his praise for his news teams’ success.

“It’s an incredible honor to be recognized in 10 categories by our peers judging the Edward R. Murrow regional awards,” McMearty said. “2018 was a landmark year for WTOP. A year of innovation, invention and just plain solid journalism.”

The award winning pieces — and the hardworking journalists who crafted them — can be seen below.

Newscast: WTOP — June 29, 2018 (8 a.m.)

The day after a major tragedy is often more challenging to cover than the day itself. The facts of the event have been established and all that’s left is the why of it all. The morning following the shooting at The Capital Gazette newspaper offices in Annapolis, Maryland, in which five Gazette employees lost their lives, most newsrooms across America were still reeling, including our own. The Gazette itself became the standard-bearer in how to show bravery in the face of senseless violence. The morning after, they put out the damn paper. Following The Gazette’s cues, the morning crew of 103.5 FM constructed a broadcast that was mournful, but informative and passionate nonetheless. For that broadcast, WTOP was given the 2019 Newscast Murrow Award.

Excellence in Innovation: Michelle Basch — Going Under: The Story of Tangier Island

Tangier Island is small spot of land in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay renowned for catching Chesapeake blue crab. The island community is facing a challenge unlike anything it has dealt with before: It’s sinking. WTOP reporter Michelle Basch visited the island, spoke with its mayor and its people and found a way to convey their problem — and the ways the community confronted it — with sympathy and understanding. With help from WTOP’s Tiffany Arnold, Nahal Amouzadeh and Ginger Whitaker, Basch put together a five part podcast, a multimedia web article and on-air pieces that landed her the 2019 Excellence in Innovation Murrow Award.

Listen to the full podcast series on PodcastOne.

Multimedia: Jack Moore/Brennan Haselton — D.C. Uprising: Voices from the 1968 Riots

The civil unrest in the wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 changed the face of D.C. for decades to come. Many who lived in the city at the time still had unanswered questions about what happened during the upheaval. WTOP’s Jack Moore and Brennan Haselton spoke with those who experienced the chaos firsthand as they recalled one of the most painful moments in American history, and the effect it had on the nation’s capital. Together, they created a multipart series for broadcast and web that offered the intense and personal histories of those who lived through the riots. For their efforts, Moore and Haselton received the 2019 Multimedia Murrow Award.

50 years since the riots: Listen to Brennan Haselton's on-air report

Excellence in Sound: Rachel Nania — The Power of Music

In a small office in Middleburg, Virginia, Tom Sweitzer works with patients to help them find their voice. His greatest tool is not medication, but music. Sweitzer and his team employ musical techniques to connect with patients who are facing a wide range of challenges. WTOP’s Rachel Nania wove sound of Sweitzer singing, humming and playing piano into her piece alongside information about the techniques that Sweitzer uses when working with patients. Nania’s blend of music and information earned her the 2019 Excellence in Sound Murrow Award.

A music therapist helps toddlers, teens, adults find their voice (WTOP's Rachel Nania)

Hard News Feature: J.J. Green — Spookstock

“Spookstock” is a highly secret benefit concert put on to raise money for the family members of fallen CIA agents and other intelligence operatives. The event combines A-list talent, high-ranking members of the intelligence community and an air of secrecy to create a stunning tribute that has raised millions of dollars for the families of fallen intelligence agents. Green’s serious, solemn tone captured the feelings that no doubt inspired the event’s creators to launch the first Spookstock, and keep the tradition going. Green’s coverage garnered the 2019 Hard News Feature Murrow Award.

'A secretive organization. A secretive charity.' (WTOP's J.J. Green)

News Series: Michelle Basch — Going Under: The Story of Tangier Island

For her work highlighting the perils of Tangier Island, Michelle Basch picked up a second Murrow award. Basch secured the 2019 News Series Murrow Award for her on-air, multipart coverage of the people of Tangier.

Sports Reporting: Noah Frank/Dick Uliano — Tackling Concussions

The topic of brain injuries in football has long been discussed, but passions tend to run high when it comes to the All-American pastime. Noah Frank and Dick Uliano paired up to take a critical look at the issue. They looked at what the latest studies said and how best to address an ongoing crisis. Frank and Uliano were awarded the 2019 Sports Reporting Murrow Award.

Excellence in Video: Jack Moore/Omama Altaleb — Ben’s Chili Bowl

Ben’s Chili Bowl is a D.C. staple. It is one of the few locally owned businesses that has been through the highs and lows of the city and has remained a constant and comfort for the people who call the District home. WTOP’s Jack Moore and Omama Altaleb worked together to produce a video highlighting what it is that makes Ben’s such an important part of the fabric of the city. For that, they were given the 2019 Excellence in Video Murrow Award.

Excellence in Social Media: Tiffany Arnold/Nahal Amouzadeh/Omama Altaleb — WTOP Social

WTOP’s Social Media presence has grown and evolved in recent years and now reaches an audience in the hundreds of thousands. Between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, LinkedIn and Pinterest, WTOP’s social media team is dedicated to bringing the high-quality content that WTOP produces to a wider audience in an intelligent and approachable way. For that they received the 2019 Excellence in Social Media Murrow Award.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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