The PMJA Board is proud to announce that the 2021 Editor of the Year award will be given to Brian Larson, Director of News at KUNC in Greeley, Colorado.
His current position is the most recent in a long line of jobs Larson has held at KUNC. He started nearly 28 years ago as a part-time All Things Considered host. At the time, the news staff consisted of one and a half people. If he wanted to spend time on feature reporting, he had to do it on his own time. “I got bit by the storytelling aspect,” said Larson. Since those early days, Larson has held every position in the newsroom including reporter, editor, managing editor and director of news. He’s helped the newsroom grow to a staff of twenty people.
In nominating Brian for Editor of the Year, then-General Manager Jamie Wood said, “Ultimately, he is a great editor and has taught the craft of audio storytelling to dozens of journalists. Because of his ability to train and mentor journalists of all experience levels, as an organization we have really benefited by being able to hire journalists from all backgrounds knowing that under Brian’s guidance they will excel at our organization.”
This includes both staff members at KUNC and fellows in the AAAS Mass Media Science and Technology Fellowship Program. This program places science students at media organizations to help them tell stories of science. The fellows spend 10 weeks at the station, and frequently come with little to no journalism experience. Brian helps them become active, productive members of the news staff.
Like other newsrooms, KUNC faced many challenges in 2020. “...covering coronavirus, civil unrest, record-breaking wildfires - including the largest in state history in our backyard - and the election.” said Larson. “ But even with most of the staff working remotely, we were able to increase our level and depth of reporting. We already have an incredible team, but the experience of the past year has really brought everyone together.” .
Two years ago, KUNC launched a four day a week half hour news magazine called “Colorado Edition.” Brian serves as the executive producer for the show. Larson said, “It’s been a thrill hiring new people for the project and building things from scratch.”
We asked Brian if he wasn’t doing radio, what would he want to do. He didn’t have an answer for that. He said, “I love the creative aspect of this job and helping people try new things with their storytelling.” He continued, “I’m still pretty smitten with the broadcast thing.”
His love for radio shows in his work. During his years at KUNC, Brian has edited feature stories that have won 32 regional Edward R. Murrow awards, four national Murrow Awards, three national Sigma Delta Chi awards from SPJ, and others that have been recognized by the Associated Press, Colorado Broadcasters Association and PMJA.
Larson will be honored as the PMJA 2021 Editor of the Year during the PMJA Virtual Conference at 2:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 24.