MPR sweeps regional Murrow awards with record-breaking 10 wins

MARFA — Marfa Public Radio has won ten 2020 Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Radio Television Digital News Association announced on Tuesday. It is the most the station has ever received in a year, and the most wins of any small market radio station in the country this year.

The station was recognized for coverage of a revived drag racing event, the story behind a business’s wacky advertising, a school district’s secret to success and two tragic mass shootings. It’s a collection of stories Pepple describes as a “tapestry of West Texas.”

The station swept its category, winning every Small Market Radio award in Region 6, which covers all of Texas and Oklahoma. The ten awards honored the station, its social media and a variety of stories by reporters Sally Beauvais, Mitch Borden, Carlos Morales and Diana Nguyen.

The staff was initially wowed by their wins, but General Manager of Marfa Public Radio Elise Pepple described finding out MPR was the single most recognized small market station as a “wild moment.” The news brought tears to Pepple’s eyes, and she credits the tremendous success to the reporting staff and their exceptional dedication.

The ten awards are as follows: Overall Excellence, Continuing Coverage for “Mass Shootings in West Texas,” Excellence in Social Media, Excellence in Writing for “With A Good Gimmick And Catchphrase, One Man Made A Name For Himself In The West Texas Boot Game,” Feature Reporting for “How One Tiny School District In Rural West Texas Is Making It Work,” Hard News for “Box Of Ballots Found In Texas Could Change Outcome Of Midland Bond Proposal, Again,” Multimedia, News Documentary for “West Texas Talk: The El Paso Shooting,” News Series for “Tipping Point” and Sports Reporting for “In Presidio, Amateur Drag Racing Is Back.”

“I think the reporters at MPR are the next generation of journalists for our country,” Pepple says. One staffer, Beauvais, is already on to a new role at The Texas Tribune. The general manager lauded the staff for rolling up their sleeves and doing their jobs each time news breaks in the area. Earlier this spring, the Washington Post visited MPR, praising the station for “approaching reporting the way a big station would,” according to Pepple.

“We know that part of our role is to honor the stories in West Texas and the realities of residents of West Texas. That only happens through local stories.” Looking back on the station’s successes and its growth from one dedicated reporter to now a handful, Pepple summarized, “I can say for the whole team, we’re proud to be a team.”

Named after famed broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, the Edward R. Murrow Awards have honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism since 1971. Marfa Public Radio’s regional wins will be entered into the national round of competition, with national awards announced later this year.