When editor Eliza Borné looked to extend the Oxford American’s literate and unapologetically Southern voice last year, she turned to an executive editor with precisely the right skill set for podcasting.
Sara A. Lewis, who learned audio production in high school, journalism in college and storytelling and literature as a master’s and Ph.D. student at the University of Southern Mississippi, also turned out to be a dogged grant hunter.
The OA’s “Points South” podcast, which made its debut in September, landed a $350,000 grant this month from the National Endowment for the Humanities. OA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit arts organization, publishes Oxford American magazine, founded in 1992 in Mississippi but transferred to Little Rock in late 2002. It now has a “positive institutional partnership” with the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, Borné says.
“The OA is the only NEH grant recipient in Arkansas this cycle,” Borné told Arkansas Business by email. Lewis, in a phone interview, described the podcast opportunity as “a convergence of all my professional training, including audio engineering, a bachelor’s degree in journalism and graduate training in fiction and storytelling.”
The grant will fund a series of 20- to 30-minute reported segments of “Points South,” which produced podcasts last year on Ruth Coker Burks, who used her real estate earnings to care for dying and abandoned AIDS patients in Hot Springs at the height of that epidemic, and on Clyde Kennard, the first person to truly pursue desegregation at Southern Miss.