COA, contest winners recognized

Colorado Press Women members learned about Colorado Public Radio’s ongoing expansion and recognized the Communicator of Achievement and Communications Contest winners during an April 13 social gathering at the home of Sandy Graham in Columbine Valley.

Ryan Warner, host of CPR’s daily interview program, “Colorado Matters,” was joined at the meeting by Michelle Fulcher, the show’s radio and digital producer. The pair outlined steps CPR is taking to boost its statewide news coverage and provide more nationally produced programming.

Warner said that CPR hired Stewart Vanderwilt, formerly a public radio executive in Austin, Texas, as its president last year. In January, CPR added17 new national programs to its lineup. CPR also plans to open a downtown office to house its news operations, including “Colorado Matters,” complementing its headquarters in the Denver Tech Center.

Ryan Warner and Michelle Fulcher

The size and scope of the newsroom has doubled with new reporters hired to cover the Western Slope, Colorado Springs and Washington D.C., Warner said.  An investigative reporter will be hired soon. The station also recently purchased Denverite, an online Denver news outlet, courtesy of foundation money.

“We are number one in morning drive time,” Warner proclaimed proudly. He feels a great debt and sense of mission due to public support for the station, which has one of the largest auto donation programs in the area. A non-member donor gave more than a million dollars to CPR to create “OpenAir,” which broadcasts at 102.3 FM and launched in 2011; it features new artists and the local music scene.

Warner hosts quarterly interview events at the University of Denver’s Newman Center. He has also done regular interviews for “Colorado Matters” with Colorado’s last three governors, starting with Ritter, then Hickenlooper and now Polis.

Fulcher said they are working on more outreach and offering more coverage of the “firehose of legislation” from the state capital. Benta Burkland, the capital reporter, covered sexual harassment among legislators, she said. Fulcher also said they are expanding their horizons in different ways including podcasts. A $1.21 million grant from The Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation will enable the station to create a climate change reporting team.

Donna Bryson, hunger and housing reporter for Denverite (now part of CPR) and former international reporter and bureau chief for Associated Press, was presented with the Communicator of Achievement Award by Sandy Graham, who interviewed her in front of the group.

Donna Bryson responds to question from Sandy Graham.

Bryson explained that she grew up primarily in California and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Northwestern University. She worked for Associated Press from 1986 to 2012 in Missouri, New York City, Egypt, India, London and South Africa (twice). She met her husband Fred Glick, a Peace Corps volunteer, in South Africa. They have a 15-year-old daughter, Thandi.

Bryson interviewed Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black head of state, several times. She said he had been groomed for leadership and was an elitist, but interested in people. She was in South Africa in 1994 to witness the peaceful change in leadership with development of a new constitution and Mandela’s election. She said election day was particularly memorable with 27 parties running. People were excited and happily waited in long lines to cast ballots. She described India as overcrowded with “too much democracy. Their coalitions kept collapsing.”  Living under a dictatorship in Egypt, on the other hand, created uncertainty.

Bryson has written two books since the family moved back to the United States to Denver, Fred’s home. The first was about race relations in South Africa, and the second was about the Western Slope town of Montrose, which created a veterans support program including the Warrior Resource Center. 

When she joined Denverite last year, it was the first time that Bryson had had a beat. [EDITOR’S NOTE: In early May, Donna was named Journalist of the Year by the Colorado Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.]

Later in the meeting, those winners of the Press Women Communications Contest who attended were introduced and described their entries. Click here to read about them all. The afternoon closed with refreshments and conversation.

Story and photos by Ann Lockhart