Aaron Henkin and Wendel Patrick’s neighborhood-centric storytelling series “Out of the Blocks” has received some much-deserved national recognition, taking home a national Edward R. Murrow Award.
The Radio Television Digital News Association announced the honors yesterday. The nod went to the podcast series in the category of News Documentary for large-market radio stations, specifically for its Jan. 4, 2017, episode “2100 Edmondson,” which focused on that specific stretch in West Baltimore’s Midtown-Edmondson neighborhood near the train tracks.
Surreal. They just announced that Out of the Blocks from @WYPR881FM and @prx earned the National Murrow Award for News Documentary. Beautiful validation that everybody’s got a story worth sharing. This award belongs to everyone on the 2100 block of Edmondson Ave in W Baltimore! pic.twitter.com/55fkvStoMj
— Out of the Blocks (@OutoftheBlocks1) June 19, 2018
“It’s a block where a Pentecostal pastor keeps her faith in the face of suffering, where a reformed drug dealer works as a kitchen appliance repairman, and where a political reporter from Kashmir has found sanctuary working behind the counter at a sandwich shop,” reads a summary for the 48-minute episode. “It’s a block where a former Nigerian soccer star operates an auto repair shop… Next door is an army veteran who issued air-strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And across the street is a tire repairman who’s trying to beat a 30-year heroin addiction.”
These types of vivid, diverse portrayals of Baltimore’s streets have garnered praise for Henkin and Patrick’s podcast since it first aired on 88.1 FM three years ago. For each one, the pair will pick a block of the city and spend eight weeks getting to know its inhabitants.
“You end up with real gems and… defining moments of a person,” Henkin told the nonprofit media news site Current in 2015, when it debuted. “There’s a beautiful internal pacing and the constant element of surprise. It’s like the beauty of making any kind of collage.”
The show is supported by a dozen different foundations and nonprofit groups, per WYPR’s website. It was also further developed in a five-month boot camp from the Public Radio Exchange, or PRX, last year.
The series has earned numerous regional awards since its debut three years ago, as well as federal grant funding that which allowed it to expand its coverage model to other cities, including Detroit just this month.