Arkansas PBS Wins Top Content Prize at Public Media Awards, Again

Arkansas PBS Wins Top Content Prize at Public Media Awards, Again
Courtney Pledger, CEO of Arkansas PBS (Hannah Jobe)

Arkansas PBS, the state’s public TV and educational network, has claimed top honors for the second straight year with the overall excellence prize in content at the National Education Telecommunications Association’s 54th annual competition.

The awards honor the association’s members’ “finest work in content, community engagement, marketing/communications and education,” according to a news release from the Conway-based network.

Arkansas PBS, the brand of the Arkansas Educational Telecommunications Network, claimed its awards at the association’s Public Media Awards Gala Sept. 18 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Videos of the winning and nominated projects can be seen at and

In comments to Arkansas Business, Arkansas PBS CEO Courtney Pledger said the back-to-back victories for content judged as “the highest caliber work from public media networks across the nation” had left her with “one fired-up team.” The goal is to “continue telling stories to Arkansans as well as to people across the country, and to continue building our connection with our Arkansas audience through community services around our content,” Pledger said.

The winning content included the development and production of a summer learning series with the Arkansas Department of Education, “Rise and Shine,” and an original prekindergarten series produced with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, “Blueberry’s Clubhouse,” which returned for a second season.

Arkansas travel journalist Chuck Dovish reinvented his long-running magazine show with “Exploring Arkansas From Above.” A partnership with Arkansas Farm Bureau created “Good Roots” – a monthly look at the communities, families and farms that are doing the work of Arkansas’s largest industry, agriculture. A powerful part of Arkansas PBS’ content entry, “7 Days: The Opioid Crisis in Arkansas,” was written and directed by Nathan Willis and produced in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education, the Arkansas Office of Drug Director, the Little Rock office of the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. The documentary reported deeply personal stories from Arkansans facing addiction and detailed the struggle to address opioid use, misuse and addiction. Community engagement projects included livestreaming Dolly Parton’s visit to the state for the Arkansas Imagination Library celebration; the “Be Pro, Be Proud” digital series created in partnership with the Department of Workforce Education and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce; and Read to Succeed: Reading in the Delta, which brought books and literacy engagement to rural communities.

Other top projects included a community initiative to combat COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, with public service announcements produced in partnership with the Arkansas Community Foundation, ImmunizeAR, UAMS Center for Health Literacy and Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese; a collection of oral histories from the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock; and a short-form production, “Speaking Volumes,” on high school broadcaster Lexi Jarrett of Cross County High School, who has succeeded at the microphone despite having Tourette Syndrome.

Arkansas PBS was also a finalist in numerous categories: Overall excellence in education, in community engagement, in marketing/communications, in local projects, in “kids and family” productions, in topical features, podcasts, learning events and “educational resources for the community.” 

The complete PMA winners’ gallery is here.