RICHMOND, Ky. – Ron Smith, long-time reporter/producer with WEKU-FM at Eastern Kentucky University, has received a national award for excellence in religion reporting from the Religion Newswriters Association. Smith received a second-place award for radio and podcast reporting for a segment on young Muslims’ efforts to improve Americans’ perception of Islam.
Other finalists in the broadcast section of the annual competition included CNN, BBC, Miami Herald, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, and Voice of America.
For his award-winning piece, Smith interviewed Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith Youth, on Patel’s visit to nearby Berea College, and Rushda Majeed, an EKU graduate, when she returned to Eastern to deliver a Chautauqua lecture.
“I hope my story brought attention to a nationwide movement featuring people from diverse backgrounds and their unique approaches toward building a positive future,” Smith said.
WEKU News Director Charles Compton said Smith “brings to a story a deep respect for the individual. That comes out, especially when reporting on stories that can be controversial. Subjects know Ron will give them a fair shake and portray them accurately and sensitively. As a result Ron’s interviews uncover much more information.
“We live in a very religious part of the country,” Compton added. “To ignore issues related to religion, spirituality and values amounts to ignoring a major focus of human endeavor in Kentucky. We simply must report on such activity or we’d be guilty of malpractice.”
Smith is the previous recipient of the Best Feature award in the radio category from the President’s Committee for Employment of People with Disabilities.
“The Religion Newswriters award is equally satisfying for its content and because it was also selected from among highly reputed peers from across the nation,” Smith said.
WEKU, the public radio service of EKU, broadcasts to more than 50,000 listeners in central and southeastern Kentucky on WEKU (88.9FM in Richmond-Lexington), WEKH (90.9FM in Hazard) and WEKF (88.5FM in Corbin), as well as 106.7 in Frankfort, 96.9 in Barbourville and 95.1 in Pikeville.