The 2021 grants were just a start and admittedly didn’t represent the diversity Godell hopes to achieve.
“The one disappointment I have is that all of the organizations had white leadership,” Godell said. The grantees did represent the station’s commitment to diversity through the composition of their boards, and their work with disabled and BIPOC communities.
But Godell recognizes that relationships with Lexington’s African American and Latino/a/e/x businesses, for example, can’t be extractive or one-sided. That will take time and intention.
“I hope there is value we bring to minority communities that have not felt a connection with us,” he says. “Wouldn’t it be nice if we had success stories, business people in those communities who we could introduce to other business people?”
The station plans to continue and develop the program, and making these connections will be a focus in 2022.
“This year we want to be more public,” Godell says, referring to the in-person opportunities that are opening up as the pandemic appears to subside. “We were limited [last year] in public events, and doing outreach that we would have liked to do. But now we can go to businesses to hand out fliers and posters.”
He looks forward to seeing how the program can grow, and urges other stations to try something similar.
“We’ve got to diversify across our organizations,” he says. “Fifteen years ago I worked to change our mindset about how much trade we can offer before it devalues our airtime. I still feel that way about most things. But with this there are enough benefits to outweigh the ‘cost.’”
“It’s the right thing to do.”