What keeps you up at night?
More than 700 people have answered this question as part of WUOT 91.9 FM’s Tenn Words crowdsourcing project, which began in May. The anonymous answers—in ten words or less—come from area residents, young and old, with answers ranging from funny to the very serious.
“My snoring husband.”
“Regrets. The children I killed in war.”
These responses along with hundreds of others are being catalogued and analyzed for overarching trends by Tenn Words creator, WUOT Director of News Content Matt Shafer Powell, and students from UT’s College of Social Work.
Now, Tenn Words is being used as the basis for the new storytelling project “Localore: Finding America,” which brings together independent producers and forward-thinking radio stations to work on projects that embody the founding vision of public broadcasting service—to bring media to all people.
Created by AIR, a Boston-based network of independent public media producers, the project has paired WUOT with independent producer Jess Mador, who moved from Minnesota for nine months to take part in the project. WUOT is one of only fifteen stations in the country to secure the Localore grant.
“We’ll [now] be better equipped to reach more deeply into the community, which will help us better identify the real issues facing the people of this diverse and interesting region,” says Powell.
To carry out this hyperlocal reporting, Powell and Mador have created TruckBeat, through which Mador and a team of digital storytellers will hit the streets of Knoxville and the surrounding area in a food truck converted into a mobile studio. The reporting team will talk to people about topics raised in the Tenn Words project and report on issues changing life for people in southern Appalachia and East Tennessee.
The first issue TruckBeat will tackle is health, both physical and mental.
About 20 percent of the people who completed the Tenn Words project cited health as a worry that keeps them up at night. TruckBeat will investigate why many in East Tennessee suffer worse health than people in other states.
“We hope the truck will become a personality around the area,” Mador says. “We hope it sparks discussions and we can find ways to help the community talk about these important issues.”
Area residents may begin to see the TruckBeat vehicle around town as early as this month. However, if you have a question about health or health care in Knoxville or East Tennessee that you would like to see TruckBeat cover, you can ask that question at truckbeat.org.
Listener-supported WUOT 91.9 FM is qualified by CPB, a member of NPR, and an affiliate of Public Radio International and American Public Media. The station’s primary format is classical and jazz music, news, and public affairs. WUOT serves listeners throughout East Tennessee and parts of Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia. The station broadcasts around the clock and streams on the web at wuot.org.