Video: WBIR news truck finds new home at WUOT

Monday, March 7, 2016

Check out WBIR's story about TruckBeat, from reporter Becca Habegger.

(KNOXVILLE) Last year, WBIR bid farewell to its production truck bought for the 1982 World's Fair.

10News used it for more than three decades, and now it has a new home. It remains, however, in the world of broadcast journalism.

RELATED: WBIR says goodbye to an old friend

Matt Shafer Powell is director of news content and executive producer for Knoxville's National Public Radio member station, 91.9 FM WUOT.

WUOT has an initiative called the East Tennessee Listening Project.

"It started with this Tenn Words, where we just have been going around, asking people in 10 words or less, 'What keeps you up at night?'" Shafer Powell explained.

That led to a new project called TruckBeat and a search for a truck.

"We looked and looked, and we needed to find a truck that was inexpensive, reliable, low-mileage," Shafer Powell said.

That's where WBIR's old production truck enters the story. It was for sale at the exact same time.

WUOT bought the truck and is converting it into a rolling studio, to take TruckBeat and the East Tennessee Listening Project on the road.

On Thursday, the truck visited Market Square in downtown Knoxville, where Karen Yearwood stopped by.

"My father worked at WBIR...for 30 years and...helped outfit the inside of this truck," Yearwood said.

Her father, Varnell "Wolfy" Wolfenbarger, started working at WBIR in 1956, Yearwood said.

"I was very excited to see the truck living again, being useful again," she said.

Now, WUOT and WBIR's 10Listens initiative are joining up, to hear the health concerns of East Tennesseans.

"How are we really going to know what people are concerned about and what they're thinking if we're not asking?" Shafer Powell said.

Look for WUOT's truck and 10Listens in your city, soon!

To listen to the TruckBeat stories WUOT has produced so far, with independent producer Jess Mador, click HERE. People can also visit TruckBeat's website HERE.

According to a release from WUOT:

TruckBeat was borne out of WUOT’s participation in “Localore: Finding America.” WUOT was one of 15 stations chosen in a national competition to participate in #FindingAmerica, which was created by AIR, a Boston-based network of independent public media producers. The idea was to bring together forward-thinking producers and stations to work on public media projects that embody the founding vision of a public broadcasting service—to bring media to “all of the people.”

Through #FindingAmerica, WUOT was paired with independent producer Jess Mador, who relocated to East Tennessee from Minneapolis, where she reported for news organizations such as Minnesota Public Radio.

Mador is slated to lead the TruckBeat project in collaboration with WUOT through July 30. Powell and Mador have collaborated since last summer to develop TruckBeat. WUOT has committed to continuing TruckBeat for the next several years. 

Matt Shafer Powell

Matt Shafer Powell manages the news department at WUOT in Knoxville, Tennessee. A two­-time national Murrow Award winner, Powell is an audio junkie who has spent time as a disc jockey, news reporter, writer/producer of commercials and sound ­recording engineer. He created TruckBeat's sister project at WUOT, Tenn Words

Jess Mador

Jess Mador is the creator of TruckBeat for WUOT. She's an award-winning public radio and multimedia journalist who has produced stories for news organizations around the country, including Minnesota Public Radio, NPR News and PBS member stations. She has a Master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

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