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Colorado Public Radio Recognized with Gracie Award, Best of the West Award, CBA Station of the Year Award, SPJ’s Top of the Rockies Awards, and More

Reporter Allison Sherry recognized with Gracie Award; CPR and Denverite win combined 18 SPJ awards including First Amendment Award for Reporter Ben Markus; CPR shortlisted for New York Festivals awards

Denver, April 13, 2022 - Colorado Public Radio is proud to announce a number of recent awards for its work. Reporter Allison Sherry is the winner of a Gracie Award for her 2021 interview with Sheneen McClain, the mother of Elijah McClain. Vic Vela, Andrew Villegas and Shane Rumsey are the winners of a Best of the West award for first place in sports reporting. Ben Markus is the winner of the First Amendment Award from the Society of Professional Journalists (Colorado Pro Chapter). 

CPR also won a number of other awards from the Society of Professional Journalists (Colorado Pro Chapter) and the Colorado Broadcasters Association — including Station of the Year — and was shortlisted for awards from New York Festivals Radio Awards. 

“It’s always an honor to be recognized by our peers, but more extraordinary is that the work by our reporters, producers, photographers and editors shines a light on critical issues in our communities,” CPR News executive editor Kevin Dale said. “First, we have to find and cover important stories around the state in a way that moves our listeners and readers. We love it when those stories also get acknowledged by our industry.”

According to the Alliance for Women in Media, the Gracie Awards recognize exemplary programming created by women, for women and about women in all facets of media and entertainment. Allison Sherry earned the award in the Interview Feature [Radio - Non-Commercial Local] category for “‘I’ll Fight For The Rest Of My Life’: Elijah McClain’s Mother Reflects On Two Years Since His Death.”

“Throughout this past year we have seen a number of remarkable projects by and about inspirational women,” said Becky Brooks, president, Alliance for Women in Media Foundation. “We are honored to shine a spotlight on these women, whose stories have driven cultural awareness, offered entertainment that has made us laugh, cry, and everything in between.”

The Best of the West has rewarded journalistic excellence and promoted freedom of information in 14 western states since 1987. CPR’s Vic Vela, Andrew Villegas and Shane Rumsey won  first place in sports reporting for “Tiny Branson’s Field of Dreams” about a high school football team in a Colorado town of 57 people.

“Funny, funny writing, an irresistible story and Vic portrayed small (tiny actually) town life with respect and sensitivity and not like a big city anthropologist studying some strange phenomenon,” wrote a judge. “The story unfolded really well, it held my attention throughout — aided by great humor. And a great closing line, which every top notch story needs. Vic has a good eye too — wonderful photos. Congrats on a job very well done.”

The Colorado chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists selected Ben Markus for its First Amendment Award. Markus was honored for his work digging through thousands of pages of open records and data in telling stories about Colorado's response to COVID-19 and the weak record of the state in investigating the cause of human-started wildfires.

The chapter's Top of the Rockies honored CPR News with three first-place awards in diverse categories: Sports Feature, Health News and Podcast. Of the winning story for Health News, “Omicron has arrived in Colorado. Here's what we know about how COVID spreads in the air,” the SPJ committee said, “A great angle to explain COVID spread that’s understandable and accessible.” A full list of winners is available on our website.

Denverite picked up five first-place awards, for Specialized Reporting - Arts and Entertainment, News Photography/Videography, Business: Enterprise Reporting, Multimedia Story and Social Justice Photography/Videography. Four of those five awards were given to visual journalist Kevin Beaty. A judge called the winning story for Specialized Reporting - Arts and Entertainment, “a thorough and fair story,” pointing out a quote that “helped me to think about the issue in an entirely new way.”

The Colorado Broadcasters Association honored CPR News with the Station of the Year award (metro market) plus five Awards of Excellence for Best News Feature, Report or Series,  Best Sports Feature, Best Mini-Documentary or Series, Best Station Website and Best Radio Podcast. Indie 102.3 also picked up an Award of Excellence for Best Use of Digital/Social Media. In addition to the Awards of Excellence, CPR News earned five Certificates of Merit.

Additionally, New York Festivals Radio Awards shortlisted CPR’s podcast “Systemic” in the social justice podcast category, as well as Vic Vela’s “Remembering Betty White for the indelible impact her ‘Golden Girls’ HIV story left on me” in the Best Human Interest Story and Heroes categories for news reports and features. Last month, the CPR podcast “Music Blocks” won Best Podcast for Kids at the second annual Ambies, the awards for excellence in audio from the Podcast Academy.

Visit our website to see the full list of awards. Photos and graphics related to this release can be found here. Media inquiries: Clara Shelton, [email protected]


About Colorado Public Radio

Colorado Public Radio is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization delivering meaningful news, music, and cultural experiences to everyone in Colorado using the power of the human voice in all its forms. Roughly 95 percent of CPR’s funds come from the private support of listeners, businesses and foundations. For more information, visit www.cpr.org.

  • CPR News delivers in-depth, insightful and impartial news and information from around the world, across the nation and throughout Colorado, examining its relevance to our state and connecting it to our community.
  • CPR Classical takes listeners on an in-depth exploration of thoughtfully curated music – with an emphasis on Colorado’s classical community – providing context to a broad range of meaningful and compelling works from past to present.
  • Indie 102.3 takes listeners inside the world of new and independent music – exposing them to up-and-coming artists and highlighting Colorado’s local music scene.
  • Denverite is an online news source dedicated to Denver's curious and concerned.
  • KRCC is a public radio station in Colorado Springs, Colorado, serving Southern Colorado. KRCC is operated by Colorado Public Radio in partnership with Colorado College.