Oct. 25-Nov. 7, 2002
Back Issues
Garry Wills takes his turn at writing U.Va. history
Headlines @ U.Va.
Lampkin named new VP

Wanted: Minority grad students

Faculty Actions -- from the October BOV meeting
New director has familiar face
The struggle to create the University -- excerpt from Mr. Jefferson’s University
Grounds Keeper
Nursing enrollment, ranking on the rise
Opportunity key to library’s outlook
‘With Good Reason’ turns 10
Talk maps out path of early explorations
Dove’s play debuts in C’ville
America’s global stature Levinson Lecture focus
Tears for the Earth
Bond package to spur research
Sarah McConnell
Photo by Andrew Shurtleff
Host Sarah McConnell in the studio. To catch a show, go to WGR’s 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 Commonwealth’s public colleges and universities.

This fall, the radio program celebrates its 10th year.

‘With Good Reason’ turns 10

By Rebecca Arrington

Every day we have them. Dozens, hundreds, thousands of them. Ideas, that is. But few of these fleeting thoughts ever become reality. There are exceptions.

And “With Good Reason” is one.

The 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 Commonwealth’s colleges and universities.

“Each program is a mini-course brought to citizens for free,” McConnell said.
This fall, “With Good Reason” celebrates its 10th year.

“‘With Good Reason’ says to Virginians, ‘Thanks for your tax support; here's your knowledge dividend.’”

Michael Marshall
Editorial adviser, “With Good Reason” radio program

Being 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.”

“Most new radio programs fail within a year. A show that’s been on for 10 years is doing something significant to serve a need for information and entertainment in the communities where it’s heard,” he said.

“With 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, D.C.

Weekly 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.

“The 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.”

A 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” was conceived.

“The 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 state’s 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.

“People 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.”

Marshall, who continues to serve as editorial adviser to “With Good Reason,” said he chose radio because it’s “intimately human and personal.”

“To 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 professors engagingly.”

Marshall 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.”

Both 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 show’s early years, but the production quality and the quality of programs now are more compelling, even more attractive to our stations’ audiences,” Miller said.

“The 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.”

Wyndham 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 said.

McConnell thinks the increased popularity of the program stems from spending “more time in our cars, starved for quality information.”

“With Good Reason” fits this need, she said. “There’s 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 Reason.”

“There’s a need for local programming in a time when satellite programming is wiping out the things that make our communities what they are,” McConnell said.

“It would be fabulous for the show to be a live, daily, hour-long show.”
Sound far-fetched? Maybe. It’s just an idea.



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