This has been a year of anxiety, but it’s also been a year of unrelenting silver linings. It’s easy to simply turn the page, call it a wrap and move on. These stories will show it’s more important than ever to reflect on 2020. What you’ve learned from WPLN News reports and investigations will help you go into 2021 more aware of the world around you and how you fit into this diverse Middle Tennessee region we call a community.
- Super Tuesday tornado. Hours before Tennesseans were set to go to the polls, the region was hit by devastating overnight tornadoes that killed two dozen people. Our reporters headed out in the early morning hours of March 3 to bring you the vital information you needed, and they stuck with the story months later.
— Amid Tornado Recovery, Residents Want To Preserve The Culture of North Nashville
- Pandemic investigations. Two days after the Middle Tennessee tornadoes, the state announced its first confirmed case of the coronavirus pandemic. That set into motion months of fast-paced reporting on our Coronavirus Live Blog, where we’ve reported more 500 digital stories and data visualizations on the pandemic. We’ve also put more resources into holding institutions accountable for failures and missteps with life-and-death consequences.
— Before A ‘Tidal Wave’ Of Sickness And Death, A Gallatin Nursing Home Thought It Had COVID Contained
- Racial equity. A few months into the “new normal” of staying at home, protests against police brutality erupted after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Our reporters covered weeks of protests, from the very first protest to subsequent marches and sit-ins. The conversations about racism, white supremacy and equity also permeated through every part of American life, including our own newsroom. We have shifted our news priorities to center Black and brown voices on our air and dig into how issues affected historically marginalized groups.
— Breaking Points: A Special Series From WPLN News
- Record-high voting. Not even a pandemic could keep away a record number of voters from turning out in Tennessee. Absentee voting took the spotlight, starting with the primary election in August. The final face-off between the presidential candidates happened right here at Belmont University in Nashville. A few weeks later, those who weren’t part of the record number of early voters in the state came out to the polls on Election Day.
— Higher Turnout In 2020 Split Largely Along Party Lines
- Lives lost. This year marked the deaths of several prominent civil rights leaders, including CT Vivian and Kwame Lillard; beloved musicians like John Prine and Charley Pride; and more than 6,500 Tennesseans who died of COVID-19. We tried to document not just the famous Tennesseans who passed away, but also the everyday people whose lives were cut short by the pandemic.
— Reavis Mitchell, Prominent Nashville Historian And Fisk University Leader, Dies At 72 (pictured above)
- Audio storytelling. WPLN News is more than what you hear on air or read online. Our podcasts are where we’ve showcased groundbreaking reporting in shows like The Promise and Deadly Force. We recently compiled some of our favorite homegrown episodes here, and you can check out all our shows here.
— The Promise: What You Can’t Unsee
- Moments of joy. When I asked newsroom staffers what their favorite joyful story of the year was, the answer was a resounding “bird poop.” In the midst of all the hardship of the year, Blake Farmer went downtown to hang out with bird-watchers amazed by a roost of purple martins who were frequenting the steps of the Nashville Symphony. Come for the sounds of delighted children, stay through the end of Blake’s sign-off. Listen here.