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WESA wins Regional Murrow Award, Golden Quills and PAB journalism honors for 2024

People hold award plaques in a group.
Courtesy of Isabella Abbott
For 90.5 WESA
WESA and The Allegheny Front staff at the 2024 Golden Quill Awards.

Pittsburgh Community Broadcasting Corporation, parent organization of 90.5 WESA, Pittsburgh’s NPR news station, is proud to announce that the WESA newsroom, its journalists and The Allegheny Front have been honored in 2024 with significant awards in state and regional competitions for journalism excellence.

Among them are a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award and 10 Golden Quill Awards, both announced on May 28. The Golden Quill Awards also included a “Best of Show” honor for WESA reporter Oliver Morrison for his coverage of the aftermath of the derailment of a chemical-laden train in East Palestine, Ohio, in 2023.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters also honored WESA reporter Kiley Koscinski, naming her its winner in the “Outstanding Radio Feature Story/Report/Series” category in its annual competition.

“These awards recognize the deeply reported, fact-based work our journalists produce and deliver every day to inform our listeners and readers,” said Cindi Lash, vice president of news for PCBC/WESA.

“This recognition from our peers in journalism is particularly meaningful at a time when credible, trustworthy journalism has never been more important for the communities we serve,” she said. “Once again, I am extremely proud of and grateful to our team for its unstinting dedication to reporting and sharing original, independent journalism with the people of Western Pennsylvania.”

The awards include:

RTDNA Regional Edward R. Murrow Awards

On May 28, the Radio Television Digital News Association honored the WESA newsroom and its journalists with a 2024 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for journalism excellence. The Regional Murrow Awards — among the most prestigious in broadcast and digital news — honor newsrooms rather than individual journalists.

WESA is recognized in the continuing coverage category for “East Palestine Derailment Aftermath,” a package of broadcast and digital stories by reporter Oliver Morrison. Those stories are representative of WESA’s ongoing coverage of the impact on the town and residents of East Palestine, Ohio, after a chemical-laden train derailed and burned there in February 2023.

WESA’s work is judged in the large-market category within a region comprising Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, and it competes against far-larger stations in those states.

“We’re particularly grateful for this recognition by the RTDNA because it acknowledges our ongoing commitment of people and time to earn the trust of East Palestine residents and reflect the physical, emotional and social impacts of the derailment on this community,” said Lash.

Regional Murrow Award winners will move on this summer to the national round of the competition, which includes the best broadcast journalism from all over the U.S.

Golden Quill Awards

On May 28, journalists from WESA and The Allegheny Front won 10 Golden Quill Awards, presented by The Press Club of Western Pennsylvania during its 2024 awards dinner at Rivers Casino Pittsburgh.

The annual competition honors professional and student excellence in print, broadcast, photography, videography and digital journalism produced in Western Pennsylvania and nearby counties in Ohio and West Virginia.

WESA reporter Oliver Morrison won the Ed King Memorial Award for best-in-show in audio journalism for his feature, “East Palestine Drama Students Persevere Through Catastrophic Disruption.” In this broadcast/digital package, Morrison detailed the efforts of East Palestine high school students to move past the explosive train derailment in their community by putting on a spring-musical production of “The Lion King Jr.”

Other WESA and Allegheny Front winners for Excellence in Audio Journalism categories are:

  • Traditional Feature: Oliver Morrison for “East Palestine Drama Students Persevere Through Catastrophic Disruption”
  • Public Affairs/Politics/Government: Julie Grant of The Allegheny Front for “A New Ohio Law Encourages Fracking on State Land, Including Parks”
  • Education: Jillian Forstadt for “With 14 Challenged Books, Pine-Richland School District Wades Into Pa. Book Ban Debate”
  • Business/Technology/Consumer: Oliver Morrison for “After U.S. Steel Announces Sale, Reactions Range From Outrage to Concern”
  • Medical/Health: Reid Frazier of The Allegheny Front for “Health Care Has a Massive Carbon Footprint. These UPMC Doctors Are Trying to Change That”
  • Science/Environment: Kara Holsopple of The Allegheny Front for “Forest Owners Look to the Carbon Market to Help Manage Their Trees”
  • Arts/Entertainment: Bill O’Driscoll for “Werner Herzog, Steelers Fan? Tracing the Filmmaker's Pittsburgh Ties”
  • Lifestyle: Katie Blackley for “Meet Tom Seven, Who Ran Every Single Street in the City of Pittsburgh”
  • Enterprise/Investigative: Oliver Morrison for “Evolution of Point Park” series

Reporter Julia Fraser, who joined the WESA newsroom earlier this year, also won a Golden Quill in the Written Journalism-Business/Technology/Consumer category for work she produced last year for Pittsburgh Quarterly magazine.

A total of 28 entries from journalists for 90.5 WESA and The Allegheny Front were selected as finalists for Golden Quill Awards. Other finalists included Sarah Boden, Kate Giammarise, Kiley Koscinski, Jakob Lazzaro, Julia Zenkevich, Kevin Gavin, Marylee Williams, Laura Tsutsui and Emma Furry.

Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters

On April 26, PAB named WESA reporter Kiley Koscinski as its winner in the “Outstanding Radio Feature Story/Report/Series” category of its annual Excellence in Broadcasting Awards.

The competition encourages the highest standards in broadcasting and recognizes programming of excellence and achievement. Koscinski was honored for her feature story, "'I feel like I can breathe again:’ Pittsburgh synagogue attack survivors begin to move forward.”

PAB presented its awards at its annual luncheon in Harrisburg.