How We Choose

AIR has appointed a Selection Committee comprised of station staff, independent producers, and others from across the industry to work with AIR staff members to judge and select the Localore projects. We sought out a broadly representative group, below, to ensure a fair and transparent process.

In terms of matching producers to incubators, we ask stations, via the initial runway application process, whether they have producers they’d like to have incubate with them.  Likewise, producers are asked in their initial proposal if they have a station incubator they’d prefer. These station and producer requests will be taken strongly into consideration by the Committee.  We expect, too, that some producers or stations will not express a preference and will depend on the Selection Committee to do the matching.  Regardless, it will ultimately be up to the Committee to make the final recommendations for matching stations and incubators.

The producers’ proposals will drive the decision-making process. The Committee will evaluate all submissions and select up to 30 producers they feel have a) the most promising ideas, b) values that match the goals of the project, and c) a demonstrated capacity to execute a project at a local station.

These producer finalists will be asked to work with their incubator station to submit a more finely tuned proposal and budget.  The Committee will evaluate the final proposals and choose 10 to execute their concepts.  

Selection Committee Members:

  • Davar Ardalan: Senior Producer, “Tell Me More,” NPR
  • Jacquie Jones: Executive Director, NBPC
  • Nishat Kurwa: Senior Producer, Turnstyle and
  • Matthew Meschery: Director of Digital Initiatives, ITVS
  • Rekha Murthy: Director of Projects and Partnerships, PRX
  • Kara Oehler:  Editor-in Chief, Zeega and MQ2 Grantee
  • Lu Olkowski: AIR Board, MQ2 Grantee
  • Angela Tucker: Independent Filmmaker and Writer 
  • Celeste Wesson: Senior Producer, “Marketplace,” APM
Davar Ardalan

Senior Producer, NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin
Davar is responsible for orchestrating the live daily news broadcast.  From the opinions of global newsmakers to listeners, to the wisdom of renowned thinkers, activists and spiritual leaders, NPR's Tell Me More brings fresh voices and perspectives to public radio. Prior to TMM at NPR, Davar was in charge of Weekend Edition Saturday and Sunday were she helped integrate social media tools and expanded audience interactivity.  In 2009, Davar collaborated with AIR in incubating several MQ2 projects on Weekend Edition. The MQ2 interactive media projects captured stories and images from around the country and encouraged audience participation across platforms.  Davar has also worked as a Supervising Producer for Morning Edition where she helped shape the daily newsmagazine, and was responsible for decisions that required elaborate coordination such as broadcasts from Baghdad, Kabul and New Orleans.  Davar is the recipient of several radio journalism awards including two from the NABJ for her work in 2010 on the Michael Eric Dyson Show.  She began her radio career in 1991 at member station KUNM in Albuquerque, NM. She is the mother of four and the author of My Name Is Iran.

Jacquie Jones

Executive Director, National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC), a 30-year-old media arts organization that funds, distributes and produces public interest media for all platforms. Since taking over leadership of NBPC, Jacquie has established herself as a leader in the evolving next-media landscape through innovative partnerships and initiatives such as the Katrina Project in 2005, the ground-breaking New Media Institute, which she founded in 2006, and the portal Currently she is piloting the Public Media Corps, a collaborative engagement framework that includes public media stations, producers, schools, libraries and a variety of community-serving institutions as partners. Jacquie is also a Peabody Award-winning producer and director of documentary films. She has a BA in English from Howard University and an MA from Stanford University’s documentary filmmaking program. She has been a Revson Fellow at Columbia University and is currently a scholar-in-residence at American University in Washington, DC. In addition to her service on the iMA board, she serves on the board of directors of Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media and many other advisory committees focused on the intersection of media and the public interest.

Nishat Kurwa
Senior Producer, Turnstyle and, Youth Radio's online information service for 18-34 year old audiences. She has been a co-developer of Youth Radio's digital and social enterprise strategies, and led the team that launched the company's music site, international reporting has included coverage of girls returning to school in Kabul after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan; young Bombayites exploring new employment options amid India’s liberalizing economy; and the changing demographics of Cape Town’s college students a generation after the end of apartheid. In the commercial radio sphere, Kurwa worked as the producer of the seminal hip hop public affairs show "Street Knowledge with Davey D" on KMEL FM.

Matthew Meschery

Director of Digital Initiatives, Independent Television Service (ITVS)
Matt oversees the development of new media content as well as ITVS' digital activities. He specializes in developing scalable and replicable cross-media strategies and technological solutions for filmmakers and arts organizations. Matthew is one of the prime architects of an internal initiative at ITVS to support independent filmmakers creating original online content as well as new media extensions of their documentary films that are broadcast on public television in the U.S. This initiative has funded media makers across the country creating a spectrum of new media projects including original web video series, mobile applications, digital games and social media campaigns.

Rekha Murthy
Director of Projects + Partnerships, Public Radio Exchange (PRX)
Rekha helps public media stations and producers grow their audiences on a range of digital platforms. Rekha advises various multimedia initiatives for public media, and serves on the board of the Integrated Media Association. Before PRX, Rekha was a user experience designer for web and mobile, with clients ranging from startups to large organizations including France Telecom, Bank of America, IEEE, and Her public radio career began at NPR, first at and later as a producer for "All Things Considered." She received her Masters from MIT's Comparative Media Studies program, where she examined how people use physical, public spaces to communicate, and how that can inform emerging digital communication tools.

Kara Oehler
Editor-in-Chief, Zeega/Independent Producer/MQ2 Grantee
Kara Oehler is a Peabody award-winning radio documentary producer and media artist whose work over the past decade has focused upon pushing the boundaries of narrative journalism both on the air and across multiple platforms, combining investigative storytelling with participatory media, building new systems and opportunities for education and artistic practice. Kara is Editor-in-Chief of Zeega, an open-source platform for creating interactive documentaries and inventing new forms of storytelling that is a winner of the 2011 Knight News Challenge. She is also the creator of multiple other transmedia projects through which she has created new forms of interactive experience, including the collaborative documentary Mapping Main Street; Capitol of Punk, featured in MoMA’s Design and the Elastic Mind exhibition; and the UnionDocs Collaborative. Since 1999, her radio stories and media projects have received George Foster Peabody, Edward R. Murrow, Associated Press, and Third Coast International Audio Festival awards and been exhibited at MoMA, among other venues. Kara is a 2011-2012 Radcliffe-Film Study Center Fellow at Harvard University and Co-Founder of metaLAB (at) Harvard, an experimental research center dedicated to innovation in arts, media and humanities hosted at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. 

Lu Olkowski
AIR Board, MQ2 Grantee/Independent Producer
Lu Olkowski is an independent producer based in New York.  Her work has been heard on All Things Considered, Radiolab, Studio 360 and This American Life among others.  She has been honored by the American Women in Radio & Television; the National Association of Black Journalists; the literary magazine The Missouri Review and the Third Coast International Audio Festival.  Prior to a career in public radio, Lu was a creative director at Nickelodeon.  There, her responsibility was to lead a team of television and online producers to use emerging technologies to explore new ways of storytelling.

Angela Tucker

Independent Filmmaker and Writer
Angela Tucker is a Brooklyn based filmmaker and writer. She was the Director of Production at Big Mouth Films, a social issue documentary production company that is a project of Arts Engine, Inc. There, she produced Pushing The Elephant (IDFA, Independent Lens), the Emmy-nominated documentary, Deadline (NBC), Election Day (PBS' POV) and Beyond The Steps: Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (Great Performances). She directed the feature length documentary, (A)sexual, about people who experience no sexual attraction, which is currently doing the festival circuit. Angela directed a six episode web series for the National Black Programming Consortium entitled Black Folk Don't, which will have its second season in the summer of 2012 and is the series producer for AfroPop,  a public television show featuring independent documentaries about life, art, and culture from the contemporary African Diaspora. Angela received her MFA in Film from Columbia University where she was awarded a Dean's Fellowship and has her BA with Honors in Theater and African American Studies from Wesleyan University. In 2010, she was a Yaddo fellow.

Celeste Wesson

Senior Producer, Marketplace
Celeste has worked in all aspects of public and community radio: as a reporter and an editor; at NPR, at stations, and as an independent. She’s excited about being part of this new AIR project to encourage innovation and collaboration between independents and stations.