These two East Dallas-dwelling journalists aren’t afraid to tackle tough — and touchy — topics such as the Trinity River Corridor Project, but they also like to look at the lighter side of life every now and then. The Texas Associated Press Broadcasters last month recognized KERA news director Shelley Kofler and reporter Bill Zeeble for their coverage of both the weighty issues and the not-so-serious news.

Together they won second place in the TAPB Special Series category for “The Trinity Decision” — an in-depth series of radio reports that delved into the financial details behind Dallas’ Trinity project, as well as the science and engineering behind flood prevention as it related to the development.

It was challenging to cover the cumbersome subject in a way listeners could understand, Kofler says.

“We had to work to find a way to explain it to people, capture their attention and tell them, some who don’t even live in the area, why they should care,” she says.

One of the series’ reports regarding flood control was based on Kofler’s travels along the Trinity River in a canoe. She won second place in the TAPB Serious Feature category for that particular report, “Canoeing the Trinity”.

Tough as it was, Kofler says it was essential that they take on the story. “The Trinity project is the largest economic development Dallas has ever seen, and it is a project that has the ability to transform our city.”

Thanks to experienced staffers like Zeeble who knew how to navigate the complex Trinity issues, she says, KERA was able to provide a great service to the community through “The Trinity Decision” series.

After the painstaking work put into the Trinity-related stories, it was nice to be recognized.

“For a long time we felt these type of awards went mostly to commercial television, so we feel great about it,” Kofler says.

Zeeble also took Honorable Mention in the Light Feature category for his report on the Richardson-based Bollywood theater, FunAsia.

“They really had to pull my leg to get me to do this one,” he quips. Actually, Zeeble had a great time covering the Indian movie industry.

“I’m a big fan of the music in India, and 95 percent of their pop music comes from the movies,” he says. “I was really taken in by the unique style, high quality of the productions. There’s a real industry here.”

The award-winning broadcasters may jump from one subject to another but one thing remains mutually consistent — affection for their East Dallas neighborhoods. Zeeble moved to the area with his wife in 1993 and “doesn’t ever want to leave.” Both journalists say they cherish the chance to live in a spot with a beautiful natural area, White Rock Lake, yet in an urban city — replete with plenty of newscast fodder.

Zeeble has tackled widespread to super-local happenings, such as neighborhood developments or community gardening, and Kofler says all of them are important. It doesn’t really matter whether the story is happening in one little-known neighborhood, or far-reaching.

“Every good story is about people,” she says. “And what one person is feeling in one place, someone far away can relate to that. We reach a large area, and our goal is for the audience to see themselves in every story.”

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