Arkansas PBS wins five Public Media Awards

Arkansas PBS has won five Public Media Awards from the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) in the 53nd annual competition. Winners were announced Tuesday, Jan. 25, during the Public Media Awards Gala during the 2022 NETA Conference and Corporation for Public Broadcasting Thought Leader Forum. Compilation videos of the winning and nominated projects can be seen at and

The Public Media Awards honor NETA members’ finest work in content, community engagement, marketing/communications and education.

“Our Arkansas PBS team is honored to have been recognized with these highly competitive national awards – including two for overall excellence for the second consecutive year,” Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger said. “Through hard work and dedication, and together with our numerous statewide partners, we have committed ourselves to reaching new audiences and sharing one-of-a-kind Arkansas stories.

“Congratulations to everyone who worked together to make this recognition possible – your creativity and innovation are truly worth celebrating!”

Arkansas PBS won the following Public Media Awards:

  • Overall Excellence – Excellence in Content.
  • Overall Excellence – Excellence in Marketing/Communications.
  • Local Project – Reading in the Delta. Over the course of four days in four cities, the Reading in the Delta initiative nurtured the love of literacy in the Arkansas Delta. This program was designed to seed high-quality books and literacy experiences in areas challenged by distance and isolation from libraries and other community assets including digital connectivity. Reading in the Delta was made possible by the Joan R. and Charles M. Taylor II Memorial Endowment Fund.
  • Cultural Documentary – “Urban Forge: Ozark Artistry.” The feature-length film centers on working blacksmiths in Mountain View, Arkansas, as they pass down the tradition and skills from one generation to another, turning raw materials into functional art and keeping a centuries-old craft alive. “Urban Forge” was produced by Charles Eric White, Terrell Case and CJ Burks and executive produced by Ed Leon.
  • Independent Production – “Rap Squad,” Nathan Willis. The feature-length film is an intimate verité documentary about Arkansas high school hip hop artists who seek healing for themselves and equity in their community through their music. “Rap Squad” was directed by Nathan Willis; produced by Willis and Nolan Dean; and executive produced by Craig Renaud and Courtney Pledger.

Arkansas PBS was also nominated for the following Public Media Awards:

  • Overall Excellence – Excellence in Education.
  • Overall Excellence – Excellence in Community Engagement.
  • Community Initiative – Celebrating Black Lives Every Day and All Year Long. As conversations around race relations continued to increase and evolve in the past year, Arkansas PBS established this initiative to create and share impactful, relevant content, convene conversations, and position Arkansas PBS as an inclusive, supportive statewide public media partner around these topics.
  • Community Initiative – Reading in the Delta.
  • Use of Digital Media – You Decide: Know. Think. Participate 2020 Civics Campaign. Arkansas PBS created this multiplatform, 6-month awareness campaign to educate, engage and provide resources to Arkansas citizens during the 2020 election year. The campaign included the creation and distribution of unique, hyperlocal digital content across online platforms. Goals included civics education during an election year; engaging first-time voters and sharing the importance of voting; increasing awareness of the AR-CAN streaming service for government proceedings; and promotions for election programming including “Election 2020: Arkansas PBS Debates.”
  • Teacher Professional Learning – “Portraits of Courage: The Story of Women’s Suffrage in Arkansas.” The story of women’s suffrage in Arkansas has been largely undocumented, remaining unclear. In 1917, Arkansas ultimately became the 12th state to grant women the right to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment was ratified three years later, granting American women the right to vote. ArkansasIDEAS, in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education’s Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), worked to share this special history through a professional development course to fulfill the law-based history requirement for Arkansas K-12 licensed teachers.
  • Integrated Media Campaign – “The Glow With Big Piph” promotional effort. “The Glow With Big Piph,” a digital-first series from Arkansas PBS, celebrates multicultural creatives and artisans as they make The Natural State more vibrant and diverse. Multiplatform marketing efforts included media relations, social media, broadcast promotions, advertising, events and more.
  • Promotion – “Rise and Shine” promotion campaign theme song and Mr. Steve the Music Man “B&D.” “Rise and Shine” was a multilayered summer 2021 educational program aimed at boosting learning for kids in grades K-5 after more than a year of school upheaval due to COVID-19. Arkansas PBS, along with the Arkansas Department of Education, melded learning with entertainment to offer a six-week schedule of PBS KIDS and locally produced programming. Promotions with original songs and video content were created to encourage parents, communities and families to utilize the educational programming aligned to Arkansas academic learning targets in core subjects.
  • Special Event – NASA livestream. In the fall of 2020, Nettleton STEAM Intermediate School in Northeast Arkansas was selected to share a live, downlink conversation with astronauts aboard the International Space Station. This downlink was a historic first in Arkansas, and a celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the first long-term mission aboard the space station. The Arkansas Department of Education called on Arkansas PBS to help livestream the event.

The complete PMA winners’ gallery may be viewed here.

Awards were judged by a group of expert panelists from within the public media system, as well as industry professionals working outside of public media. Except for the overall excellence categories, stations competed within their appropriate divisions based on their station size.