WTOP has been honored with six regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, including honors for the “Best Newscast” and “Overall Excellence,” the Radio Television Digital News Association announced Tuesday.
The overall excellence award, which recognizes the station’s radio and digital work in 2019, marks the fourth year in a row — and the ninth time in the past 11 years — that WTOP has been honored with the accolade.
“Our mission is to deliver the top news of the day and tell stories about the world around us in a way that resonates with our audience,” said Julia Ziegler, WTOP’s director of news and programming. “It is humbling when that work is recognized by our peers.”
The best newscast award recognized the station’s coverage of a massive summer storm in July 2019 that brought torrential rain and serious flash flooding around the D.C. region.
In addition, WTOP won awards in the categories of “Featured Report,” “Hard News Report,” “Podcast” and “Excellence in Social Media.”
The awards are handed out by the Radio Television Digital News Association and honor achievements in radio, TV and digital media.
Regional winners automatically move on to the national round of the competition.
See and hear more from the award-winning entries below:
Overall Excellence: WTOP
From the blackface scandal that engulfed Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to the impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump and — literally — almost everything in between, hear highlights of the stories WTOP covered in 2019 that garnered the overall excellence award.
Best Newscast: WTOP — July 8, 2019, 10 a.m.
A pounding summer storm brought an hourslong torrential downpour to the D.C. region, flooding roads and trapping drivers in their cars. WTOP was honored for its coverage during the flash flood emergency.
Feature Report: Mike Murillo — “Answering the Call”
When a current or former cop issues a Code 9, you can bet someone is going to answer that call of “officer needs assistance.”
And, that’s exactly what happened when retired Montgomery County police officer Stanley Barsch desperately needed a new kidney: His former partner, Megan Ambrose, was the first of 31 people who stepped up to get tested and see if they were matches.
In the end, Ambrose was indeed a match and donated a kidney to her old partner. WTOP’s Mike Murillo brought listeners their story.
Hard News Report: Megan Cloherty and Dave Dildine — “Rock Creek Rescue”
On a cold, snowy January evening, WTOP Reporter and Photographer Dave Dildine decided to head to Rock Creek Park to snap a photo he had always wanted to capture. What he didn’t know was the excursion would end in a life-or-death situation.
As he headed back to his car after taking the photo, Dildine heard a woman screaming for help after falling into the water. Without hesitation, he jumped into the frigid waters, pulled her to safety and she was transported to the hospital.
Dildine heard from first responders that the woman he saved was going to be OK, but he still didn’t know her name or how the accident happened. The next day, Dildine and fellow WTOP reporter Megan Cloherty returned to Rock Creek Park to put the pieces together. Their investigation led them to find the woman’s phone, track her down and reunite her with her rescuer.
Podcast: Megan Cloherty and Jack Moore — “22 Hours: An American Nightmare”
WTOP reporters Megan Cloherty and Jack Moore spent months covering the trial of Daron Wint — the man convicted of torturing and murdering four people inside a D.C. home before setting it on fire. The murder and trial made national headlines, becoming known as the D.C. Mansion Murders.
After the sentencing in February 2019, the reporters went on to research, write and produce a 12-episode podcast covering the tragic story in a way it had never been told before — revealing new details and analysis from family friends, jurors and members of the legal community.
The journalists’ work may also lead to a significant change in policy at D.C. Superior Court that would set a new precedent for transparency. In the course of their investigation, the journalists realized D.C. Superior Court has audio recordings of trials that are not currently released to the public.
Megan and Jack petitioned the court to release this audio. Due to their request, the chief judge opened a review and we are awaiting a final decision.
Excellence in Social Media: Tiffany Arnold and WTOP Staff
WTOP was recognized for the creative ways the station has leveraged social media platforms to reach and engage new audiences and tell compelling stories in new ways, from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Reddit among others.
The WTOP team has used the power of social media platforms to share amazing photos and stories and to engage with readers on topics spanning a high-profile murder trial to D.C’s iconic cherry blossoms.
The social media team also created a special Facebook page to discuss transportation issues in the region.
Among the posts that resonated with readers: A now-iconic photo taken by WTOP’s Dave Dildine of a man standing atop a car on flooded-out Canal Road posted to Reddit.
On Facebook, a post saluting WTOP’s longtime traffic guru Bob Marbourg, who retired last year, became an outlet for followers to share their favorite stories. The post reached more than 109,500 people and had more than 20,300 engagements and 400 comments.