by Andrew Shurtleff
Sarah McConnell in the studio. To catch a show, go to WGRs
Web site www.virginia.edu/vfh/wgr
where programs are audio-streamed.
With Good Reason is an eclectic
blend of timely and engaging features and interviews with faculty
members from the Commonwealths public colleges and universities.
fall, the radio program celebrates its 10th year.
With Good Reason turns
By Rebecca Arrington
day we have them. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of them. Ideas,
that is. But few of these fleeting thoughts ever become reality.
There are exceptions.
With Good Reason
only statewide public radio program of its kind we think
in the country, says host Sarah McConnell, With Good
Reason is an eclectic blend of timely and engaging features
and interviews with faculty members from the Commonwealths
colleges and universities.
program is a mini-course brought to citizens for free, McConnell
This fall, With Good Reason celebrates its 10th year.
Good Reason says to Virginians, Thanks for
your tax support; here's your knowledge dividend.
Editorial adviser, With Good Reason radio
on the air for a decade is no small feat, said Bill Miller, station
manager for WCVE-FM in Richmond and National Public Radio adviser
to With Good Reason.
new radio programs fail within a year. A show thats been
on for 10 years is doing something significant to serve a need
for information and entertainment in the communities where its
heard, he said.
Good Reason is produced for the Virginia Higher Education
Broadcasting Consortium, of which U.Va. is a member, by the Virginia
Foundation for the Humanities. The show is broadcast in partnership
with public radio stations in Virginia, Tennessee and Washington,
programming is drawn from faculty who explore the worlds of literature,
science, the arts, politics, history and business. By the end
of this year, more than 800 faculty will have been featured on
the half-hour shows.
latest in research, pressing social issues, and the curious and
whimsical provide the grist for lively discussion, McConnell
said. Topics range from Corporations with a Conscience
to Fiddling in Southwest Virginia.
program that aired this week, Bonds on the Ballot,
discusses the fiscally tough times academia finds itself in now,
a situation similar to a decade ago when With Good Reason
show was born in precisely these kinds of tight budget times,
McConnell said. In the early 1990s, people in higher education
were seeking creative ways to fend off the states budget
ax. One administrator at U.Va. thought it vital to give scholars
a voice, and to publicize that voice so the public and elected
officials alike would not think of higher ed as an inhuman entity.
were thinking about colleges as being campuses and buildings.
I was after a way that the public would see professors as people
whose knowledge did have applications in ways the public
wasn't noticing, said Michael Marshall, director of academic
communications at the Law
School. There was a general public sentiment that schools
deserved [budget cuts] because they were high-priced and professors
had cushy jobs.
who continues to serve as editorial adviser to With Good
Reason, said he chose radio because its intimately
human and personal.
my knowledge, no other state has been able to form a consortium
like we did, Marshall said, recalling its conception in
the president's conference room at U.Va. We proved what
people thought couldn't be done getting colleges to hang
together to do something bigger than each one and interviewing
credits the early success of the show to Brenda Pennell, then
station manager at WMRA in Harrisonburg and now at WUSC in Los
Angeles. She had the credibility with the other NPR managers in
the state to get inside their doors with the idea.
Marshall and Miller attribute the continued success of the program
to McConnell, who joined the program as host and producer in 1999.
Not to take anything away from the shows early years,
but the production quality and the quality of programs now are
more compelling, even more attractive to our stations audiences,
program has really come fully into its own, said Andrew
Wyndham, executive producer of With Good Reason. We
are receiving a record number of listener responses and requests,
the vast majority praising the content of the shows and the terrific
job that Sarah is doing.
said he sees the show entering a new era in its second decade,
one marked by the very high quality of the programs and
a significant broadening of our reach. Just this year, the
show began streaming archival programs on the Web, and providing
radio stations with spin-downs, or excerpts, of interviews.
Stations use these during drive-time, morning and evening, he
thinks the increased popularity of the program stems from spending
more time in our cars, starved for quality information.
Good Reason fits this need, she said. Theres
no other show like it. The closest prototype is Terry Gross
weekday, hour-long show, Fresh Air. In the next decade,
this format is what McConnell hopes to do for With Good
a need for local programming in a time when satellite programming
is wiping out the things that make our communities what they are,
would be fabulous for the show to be a live, daily, hour-long
Sound far-fetched? Maybe. Its just an idea.