Our Favorite KUT Stories of 2016
It's the time of year to look back and take stock of the last 12 months. So we've asked the staff in the KUT newsroom to go over the stories we've done this year and pick their favorites.
Here are the highlights:
Audrey McGlinchy, City Reporter
Favorite story she produced in 2016: 'A Cop Shot My Son': An Austin Mother Reflects on Shared Loss
Why: We don't often hear from the families of those killed by police months after the incident. Sully's pain was visible in such ordinary moments -- in the couch she chose to sit on, the food she chose to cook.
Jennifer Stayton, Morning Edition Host
Favorite story she produced in 2016: Jessica Luther's 'Unsportsmanlike Conduct' Tackles Sexual Assault in College Football
Why: College football is a major business; the programs bring in millions of dollars to many large universities, and coaches at the most prestigious programs can earn in excess of $5 million a season. The players are treated like celebrities and seem often to get a pass for something as minor as breaking team curfew rules, or something as major as accusations of sexual assault. Austin writer Jessica Luther chronicles the culture on college campuses that has allowed players to get away with sexual assault and proposes ways to change the system to prevent that from continuing.
Ben Philpott, Senior Editor
Favorite story he produced in 2016: Is Austin Really Still Keeping It Weird?
Why: I really liked this story because so many people had so much to say about it. Is Austin weird? Was it ever? What is weird?! (For more on the response to this story, check out this follow up post.)
Kate McGee, Education Reporter
Favorite story she produced in 2016: One Mile and One Week Apart, Two Brothers Meet Similar Fates Walking in Austin
Why: I still think about Adrienne White and her family when I drive around Austin, especially when I drive past the two locations her father and her uncle were hit by cars a week apart earlier this year. Austin had a record number of traffic fatalities in 2015 and while the number of deaths is down this year, the city of Austin still has a lot of work to do when it comes to improving traffic and pedestrian safety in the city.
Ashley Lopez, Health Care and Elections Reporter
Favorite story she produced in 2016: What It's Like To Be Sober in Austin, Where Alcohol Is Pretty Much Everywhere
Why: As a new resident of Austin, I’ve spent a lot of this year meeting people and exploring the city. After several months, I noticed a lot of time my time was spent drinking, though. Austin is a place where you can get a drink anywhere, which is part of its charm. But I’ve done also done a lot of reporting on addiction and health in Texas. So, I wondered what it would be like living here if you are trying to stay sober?
Mose Buchele, Energy/Environment Reporter
Favorite story he produced in 2016: Why Do Grackles Flock To Grocery Store Parking Lots at Dusk?
Why: When I was asked to look into the habits of grackles, I knew the assignment would take me to an HEB parking lot, but I never thought the it would take me to the waning days of the Aztec Empire. This story was fun to put together, it revealed something kind of magical in the mundane, and it had a lot of resonance with listeners. I probably received more emails about this one than any other I did all year.
Nathan Bernier, All Things Considered Host
Favorite story he produced in 2016: S U R V I V E's 'Stranger Things' Spotlight Shines on Austin's Synthesizer Scene
Why: I chose this one because it involved synthesizers and I love synthesizers and electronic tones and music…also Stranger Things was great!
Trey Shaar, All Things Considered Producer
Favorite story he produced in 2016: Requiem for a Rehearsal: The Story of One Band's SXSW Audition
Why: During this year's South by Southwest, I put together the story of the my band's performance for a record company talent scout during SXSW of 1989. It prompted a heart-warming response from people who remember the band and those long-ago years of the Austin music scene. The story also led to that talent scout tracking me down and reaching out. No record deal, yet, though.
Jimmy Maas, Morning Edition Producer/Reporter
Favorite story he produced in 2016: Meet Austin's Real 'People of Walmart'
Why: Austin homeless are living in the parking lots of America’s biggest retailer. Dramatic juxtaposition aside, the people of Walmart offer a window into the myriad of reasons for why we become homeless. I spent a lot of time wandering Walmart parking lots looking for stories. What I found was a scrappy community.
Syeda Hasan, Real Estate and Development Reporter
Favorite story she produced in 2016: Lack of Contractor Oversight Leaves Texas Homeowners Unprotected
Why: I learned a lot while reporting on this story. It started with meeting one couple who was struggling to repair their home after a bad experience with a contractor, to learning how and why the industry isn't regulated statewide. The feedback from listeners was also great – several people shared their own experiences, and one local contractor volunteered to help the couple rebuild their home for free.
Andrew Weber, Online Reporter/Editor
Favorite story he produced in 2016: 36 Hours in Austin, Realistically
Why: Honestly, this wasn’t my absolute favorite story I’ve produced in 2016. I’ve had probably more professionally gratifying stories (storytelling-wise) on a series I do, Wayback Wednesday – yes, that is a shameless, shameless plug – and also (production-wise) on our “Road to Zero” series (again: no shame).
But this story seemed to get the most reaction.
Some people saw it as a timely satirical send-up of the Gray Lady’s guide to Austin; others, who didn’t see the satire, harangued me for unbridled foolishness.
Like I said, while it wasn’t my favorite work, it did allow me the opportunity to write this sentence and get paid at the same time:
You are a visceral actualization of an emoji — fun, accessible, loved by all. In the back of your head, you hear a familiar refrain: This is Austin. You’re on vacation. This is Bat City, baby. Wait, do people call it that?
They do not.
Matt Largey, Managing Editor
Favorite story he produced in 2016: What's the Story Behind the 'Fair Sailing Tall Boy' Memorial?
Why: I had always wondered about this memorial, since I drive by it almost every day on my way to work. So I was excited when someone asked about it for our ATXplained project.
I was not prepared for the kindness and beauty that I would find in reporting this story.
Ivan Garth Johnson's parents were so thoughtful and generous with sharing the story of his death and how it affects them to this day. I still think about them – and Ivan – every time I drive past the memorial.