OSWEGO — The SUNY Oswego-based National Public Radio affiliate WRVO Public Media recently earned a variety of honors, including a prestigious Regional Edward R. Murrow Award.
Payne Horning’s feature story on the 75th anniversary of Jewish refugees arriving at Fort Ontario in Oswego received the Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Feature Reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association. The story also aired on NPR’s “Here and Now” in August 2019.
This spring, the WRVO News team also received awards from the Syracuse Press Club (SPC), New York State Broadcasters Association (NYSBA) and New York State Associated Press Association (NYSAPA).
“The Murrow Awards are one of the most prestigious awards a radio station can earn,” said Jason Smith, director of news and public affairs for WRVO. The award, he added, is highly competitive, “because you’re being judged against stations from all of New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And this is where everyone submits their top material.”
From the NYSBA, WRVO won Outstanding Podcast for “The Heidi Allen Case: Central New York’s Most Enduring Mystery.”
From the NYAPA, Horning earned Best Continuing Coverage for his stories on Lake Ontario Flooding. “The Heidi Allen Case: Central New York’s Most Enduring Mystery” also won Best Podcast.
In addition, the SPC announced the following awards to WRVO stories:
For Spot News, Ellen Abbott’s piece “SU students walk out of forum to address racism, chancellor agrees to majority of demands.”
For News Feature or Series, Tom Magnarelli’s piece “For struggling farmers out of options, FarmNet offers help.”
For Human Interest Feature, Horning’s “The legacy of Oswego’s Safe Haven is its lessons”
For Special Program, Mark Lavonier, Leah Landry, Jason Smith and Catherine Loper’s “Take Care: Legalizing recreational use of marijuana, revisiting medical use.”
A producer/reporter for WRVO, Horning has covered a wide range of stories and subjects, but said the Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum is “by far” his favorite topic.
“Oswego played a small but significant role in World War II as the only site in the country to serve as a camp for what were mostly Jewish refugees during the Holocaust,” Horning explained. “Congress was opposed to taking in refugees at the time, but President Franklin D. Roosevelt was able to maneuver around their opposition by bringing over the 982 individuals as his ‘guests.’ Nearly 1,000 lives were saved from the horrors of the Holocaust as a result of this action.”
With ceremonies planned to honor the 75th anniversary of the 1944 establishment of the center, the WRVO team saw the significance of what was likely the last reunion of its kind, given the age of the former refugees.
“And of all the places in the nation where they could have been taken, it was Fort Ontario in Oswego that had the special honor of housing them during the remainder of the war,” Horning said. “
For more information about or to find ways to listen to WRVO Public Media, visit WRVO.org. WRVO is based in SUNY Oswego’s Penfield Library.