A Day Out in Owensboro

Jan 26, 2014

John Gibson talks with Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne about downtown development
Credit Steve Burger

On January 24, 2014, WNIN-FM produced a historic broadcast when we took our studio to Owensboro, Kentucky for the entire day.  From 6:00 am to 8:00 pm, we profiled this dynamic Ohio River community.

The "Day Out"as we've branded the broadcasts, came from discussions of how to provide comprehensive news coverage in all the communities in the WNIN-FM listening area.  As it turns out, it was a massive effort that combined traditional live interviews with audio tours, features, and a live concert of bluegrass music in this area which is known as the birthplace of that music genre.

What we learned, and communicated to our listeners that day, ranged from comprehensive information about a huge civic project being paid for with their tax dollars, to a tour of a city-supported bioresearch facility that developed a key component of the only known cure for the Ebola virus that uses tobacco plants.

During Morning Edition, host John Gibson researched and interviewed Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne and Dean Dennis, the director of the Owensboro Convention, just prior to its grand opening.  Our special Day Out clock for Morning Edition allowed John over twenty minutes of interview time with each.

The subject focused on the $180 million investment Owensboro has made in its riverfront area, in hopes of becoming a destination city. In addition to the convention center and a new children's park, the city is helping fund a new facility for the International Bluegrass Music Museum, to be promoted worldwide.

WNIN has a proud daughter of the Commonwealth on staff. For her contributions on the day, reporter/host Cass Herrington wanted to profile Owensboro's contributions to the three "B's" of her home state; bourbon, barbecue and bluegrass.  She also caught up with some seniors playing pool who had interesting takes on economic development and the rise of new leadership in the city.

During All Things Considered that day, bilingual host Cass Herrington profiled the progress of the growing Latino community, discussed the signature bourbon industry and chatted with bluegrass museum director Gabrielle Gray. That evening, the museum hosted our live broadcast of a bluegrass concert by the Vickie Vaughn Band, also hosted by Cass.

For our weekly Trend program, also broadcast from Owensboro, we added a "sneak peek" audio tour conducted that morning of the new convention center. We also had an audio tour of the city's bioresearch laboratory and interview with director Madison Silvert, who, it turns out, also plays the banjo. We later learned that during the time of our audio tour of the lab, researchers were working on a key component of the only known cure for the Ebola virus, which uses tobacco plants in its production.