WTHR-TV Channel 13 last week learned it has won two national George Foster Peabody Awards, an accomplishment station officials are calling unprecedented.
“It’s difficult to say without a lot of research that this is the first time a local station has won two Peabodys in a single year, but it’s certainly the first time this has happened in as long as anyone with our organization can recall,” Jeffrey Jones, Peabody Awards executive director, told IBJ. “The one thing I can say is that this is highly, highly unusual.”
Multiple sources in the local broadcast industry told IBJ that this marks the first time an Indiana station has won two Peabody Awards in one year.
Out of more than 1,000 entries, 30 Peabody Awards were awarded for 2016, with three Peabodys awarded to local stations. Two of those went to WTHR for investigative pieces.
Both were entered in the news category, and WTHR's competition included work from CNN, CBS and HBO.
“For a local station to commit the resources and human power to do this level of top-notch work is very uncommon,” Jones said.
WTHR’s two winners are “Charity Caught on Camera,” an undercover investigation that exposed mismanagement at the Grant County Rescue Mission, and “Dangerous Exposure,” which exposed oversights by environmental regulators tbat allowed contamination to spread in the air, soil and water.
“I am so very proud of veteran investigative reporters Bob Segall and Sandra Chapman, as well as the entire investigative team and talented production staff for their hard work,” WTHR General Manager Larry Delia said in a statement.
The other Peabody for news that went to a local station was awarded to KNTV, the NBC affiliate in San Francisco.
Founded in 1940, the Peabody Awards are a national award administered through the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications.
The awards are given in an array of categories for radio and television with other winners this year including PBS' documentary series "Frontline," the Oscar-winning documentary "O.J.: Made in America," and a package of CNN war correspondents' reports from Syria.
“The Peabody Awards are like the Pulitzers for broadcast journalism,” said Rick Gevers, an Indianapolis-based agent who represents on-air talent and who pens a blog covering the industry. “It’s a very big deal to win one of these awards and even a bigger deal for a local station, because they’re competing alongside many of the major national news outlets.”
WTHR will be presented its Peabody Awards on May 20 in New York City.