By Katie Mazerov, contributing editor
IADC is providing underwriting support for an initiative being launched by Houston radio station KUHF News, 88.7 FM, that will give the oil and gas industry a much higher profile. The new Energy & Environment desk is being established as a two-year pilot under a start-up grant from a National Public Radio (NPR) project called “StateImpact Texas: Power, Policy and the Planet” to provide in-depth reporting and commentary on energy and the environment. KUHF is the Houston NPR affiliate.
The IADC grant will provide long-term support, including the hiring of a full-time energy and environmental reporter, to enable the station to examine, as part of its ongoing programming, key issues, technology advances and legislative actions impacting the industry. The station is partnering with KUT-FM, the NPR affiliate in Austin, in the effort. KUT-FM also will hire a full-time reporter, as well as an online reporter.
“We in the energy industry are proud not only of its technical ingenuity, but of our history as good corporate citizens who take seriously our role as stewards of the environment and our employees’ safety,” IADC president Dr Lee Hunt said. “The KUHF Energy & Environment desk will provide an important vehicle to communicate our industry’s contributions throughout Houston, the state of Texas, and potentially across the United States.”
The energy and environmental news segments will be inserted into KUHF’s daily news format in the context of its regular 24/7 news programming, such as Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Stories also will be offered to networks such as BBC’s World News & Features, American Public Media’s Marketplace and other national news providers that have already expressed interest, said John Proffitt, general manager and CEO of KUHF and its affiliate station, KUHA Classical 91.7 FM.
“Houston is the world’s energy capital, and we need to have the kind of ongoing reporting that will do it justice,” Mr Proffitt said. “The IADC grant will enable us to plan several years going forward and lay a foundation to get the resources in place to do a terrific job of reporting on energy from the Houston perspective.” The long-term goal is to have two or three reporters covering energy and environmental issues.
Regular news segments and features will address key developments and issues impacting the industry such as advances in hydraulic fracturing and offshore drilling safety, green energy companies being established in Texas and legislative initiatives. Interviews and discussions with experts from the industry also will be featured. The reports will be available in traditional broadcasts, blogs and mobile services. “So often in the news, questions about the energy industry’s activities and growth are tied into environmental concerns and policies, so we thought it would be a good idea to have a reporting function that looks at these areas simultaneously,” Mr Proffitt said.
KUHF ranks fourth in the greater Houston morning drive-time market and 17th in the overall market, according to May 2011 Arbitron data. An estimated 360,000 listeners tune into the station each week. Houston is one of several US markets participating in the NPR pilot program to offer programming on various issues impacting local communities.