The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) recently recognized public radio station KTEP-FM (88.5) with two regional 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards, which honor outstanding journalism that brings context and clarity to issues.
KTEP won in the categories of Hard News for “Survivors Reunion,” and News Documentaries for “Resilient El Paso Remembers.” Both projects, which revolve around the one-year anniversary of the El Paso mass shooting on Aug. 3, 2019, were reported and produced by Angela M. Kocherga, KTEP news director and lecturer in The University of Texas at El Paso’s Department of Communication.
Kocherga said the anniversary of the shooting deserved special attention so she set out to find the stories that showed the border’s strength and resilience. The documentary, which she produced, included reflections from UTEP student journalists about how the shooting affected them and how they moved forward.
The longtime journalist said the Murrow awards, among the most esteemed in broadcast news, showcase the importance of in-depth coverage of local issues. She said many of UTEP’s multimedia journalism students, who report for Borderzine.com, are equipped inherently to report borderland stories because they are bilingual, bicultural and binational. She said KTEP can serve as a place to learn and a vehicle to showcase their best work.
“There’s never been a more important time to tell our own story or to teach and train the new generation of journalists,” Kocherga said.
The UTEP instructor earned a third regional Murrow award in 2021 for her work as part of a team of journalists who reported about Latino voters. It was produced by Texas Public Radio in San Antonio.
The association bestowed 750 awards to 350 radio and television stations across the U.S., the District of Columbia and four other countries for their work on local and national stories that demonstrate technical expertise and epitomize the impact and importance of journalism.
“The winning work demonstrates dedication, determination and a commitment to the highest ethical standards enshrined in RTDNA’s Code of Ethics,” Andrea Stahlman, association chair, said in a statement.
KTEP participated in the Small Market Radio category in Region 6, which is made up of stations in Texas and Oklahoma.
John R. Carrillo, interim KTEP general manager, said that when the station named Kocherga its news director in early 2020, it was a step to make KTEP a leading producer of local news for this region and beyond. Her stories also are broadcast by other public radio stations that are part of The Texas Newsroom collaborative and National Public Radio.
“If (Kocherga) was not reporting local news, these efforts would not have happened,” said Richard Pineda, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Communication. “Angela’s efforts are to be lauded not only for their impact on journalism and on training our journalism students, but for this community being able to ‘tell’ its own stories to a national – and international – audience.”
Prior to the Murrow Awards, the last time the station was recognized for news coverage was 1993 when Louie Saenz, KTEP news and public affairs director, earned two Katie (now Hughie) Awards, the most prestigious journalism awards in the Southwest given by the Press Club of Dallas. They were for Best Interview, “The Iron Curtain Falls,” and Best General News Story, “Cholera.”
The regional Murrow winners will go on to compete in a national competition this summer. Organizers will invite those recipients to an Oct. 27 awards gala in New York City.
RTDNA is the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to broadcast and digital journalism. The awards are named after Edward R. Murrow, a pioneer U.S. news broadcaster.