KGNU is a community radio station serving Boulder, Denver and Fort Collins for more than 40 years. They decided to embark on a Zero Waste series because of the huge potential to provide solution-oriented content to let the public know what they can do to make a difference in the community. To reach wider audiences, KGNU’s Zero Waste tips were translated into Spanish and broadcast on their weekly Spanish language show, Pasa la Voz.
KGNU’s Zero Waste series covers a variety of zero-waste issues: reuse programs, electronics recycling, impacts of plastics, food waste, textile recycling, youth-led recycling movements and other topics. KGNU went beyond traditional news reporting by including a variety of formats, for example, four call-in “town halls” where members of the community could call in with questions. To Maeve Conran, KGNU’s News Director, these town hall call-in shows, which were also video streamed on Facebook live, were the most impactful elements of the series because of the interaction with the public.
KGNU’s Zero Waste series was supported by a partnership with Eco-Cycle and funded for one year by a grant from Boulder County. At the end of the year, KGNU decided to wrap up the series with a community conversation on plastic waste, a live event in Longmont, in January 2019. The event reached KGNU listeners and non-listeners alike, allowing KGNU to reach an even wider audience. Information on the event had been widely shared on social media, and for many in the crowd this live event was their first exposure to the KGNU Zero Waste series; they were introduced to the rest of the series as a result of the community event. Based on the success of this community conversation, KGNU was asked by a group in Fort Collins host a similar event in their community.
The success of KGNU’s Zero Waste series had a lot to do with the variety of topics they covered. But, more importantly, they coupled their educational Zero Waste series with community engagement and personal empowerment, making the listener see themselves as active parts of a myriad of accessible and impactful Zero Waste solutions.