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Confronting Systemic Racism As A Public Media Organization

The following is a statement from KLRE/KUAR general manager, Nathan Vandiver, and the Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board of Directors, shared via email Thursday morning:

Dear KLRE/KUAR community,

As a public media organization, KLRE and KUAR are charged with illuminating and addressing the issues of their community. This is a foundational tenet of the public broadcasting system in the United States.

In the months since the killing of George Floyd the country has been reckoning with systematic racism. We, as an organization, have been grappling with whether, and how to make public our process in acknowledging and addressing this issue. Traditionally, journalists do not make themselves part of the story, and there are limitations on what public media organizations can say beyond the educational news and programming we produce and distribute.

However, while we have restrictions on expressing opinions, we have a duty to report facts. It is a fact that systematic racism is built into current structures of governance and organizations in our country. And it is a fact that public media exists to educate, inform and enlighten citizens. As a news and public media service of UA Little Rock, we are always seeking to improve the way we serve this mission. Thus, KLRE/KUAR is taking concrete steps to increase our understanding of the ways that race affects our community and our service so that we are better able to report and provide programming that addresses these issues and the communities most affected by them.

As a starting point, staff have participated in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) training and are rewriting KLRE/KUAR’s DEI statement. Additionally, our Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board, as an advisory group, has created a statement, standing in support of persons of color and our stations. I have attached this statement with this message and hope you will read it and support us as we move forward together.

We are committed to a process of action and change to improve our service and to create an environment for intentional dialogue that values human dignity for our staff, Friends Board, volunteers and community members. As we work to address the issues of our community, and to be better in the way we do that, I’m reminded that the content we provide is intended to foster lifelong learning. I look forward to your input and participation as we move forward, and learn, as an organization and as a community.

Yours in public media,

Nathan Vandiver

General Manager

A message from the Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board of Directors:

Our Public Radio Family,

The time is always right to do what is right. Those words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resonate as the Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board acknowledges that we can no longer remain silent about the systemic racism that plagues the nation. The deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others, are stark reminders that there remains much work to do to end the injustice and oppression suffered by people of color.

As the Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board—a non-governing, advisory group chosen by listeners to support the mission and purpose of UA Little Rock Public Radio—we know that journalism is as necessary today as at any time in our history. KUAR provides honest, reliable reporting of what is happening here in Arkansas while connecting us with NPR's national and international coverage. We are proud to support this independent, nonprofit media.

The Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board stands with our fellow residents in rejecting racism and discrimination because these are antithetical to an informed and diverse community. We have identified specific actions we can take as a Board, including:

  • Increasing the number of people of color to serve on the Board;
  • Expanding opportunities to Black and other ethnic minority-owned businesses during fundraisers;
  • Enhancing the recruitment of minority candidates by promoting open positions with new and different audiences;
  • Supporting KUAR to expand storytelling in communities of color; and
  • Encouraging one another to take action and to learn more about the injustices faced by people of color.

We pledge to listen, learn, and share our knowledge. By committing ourselves as a board to these actions, we will continue to support our member station in doing the same. We hope you will join the Friends Board as we continue to support the essential work of UA Little Rock Public Radio.
In service and solidarity,

The Friends of KLRE/KUAR Board

Nathan Vandiver is the former General Manager of UA Little Rock Public Radio.