Unresponsive government agencies. A new food desert in East Nashville. Thriving international music.
In 2019, WPLN’s best stories answered pressing questions from the community, showcased the diversity in our region and helped you understand complicated but important topics. Some stories were funny; some were sad; but we hope that all of them made you think and see new connections in your day-to-day lives.
As news director, I have the opportunity to see the immense amount of work that goes into our reporting and producing. Looking back through our recent stories makes me even more excited for the work we’ll produce in 2020.
Investigation: After Pledging To Examine Innocence Claims, Nashville DA Has Yet To Open A Case
Our first investigation of the year showed that a special unit within the district attorney’s office hadn’t opened any cases in the two years since it had been created. During our reporting, the DA’s office decided to change the structure of the unit and, soon after the story, opened its first case.
Capitol Ag Day Has Tennessee Lawmakers Passing Saws Rather Than Laws
Our coverage of the legislative session was filled with important information about new potential laws and political hearings, thanks to reporter Sergio Martínez-Beltran. But the sound of our governor using a crosscut saw (successfully!) brought the Capitol to life in a whole new way.
Tennessee Speaker Says He Won’t Step Down. Could He Be Forced Out?
As Rep. Glen Casada faced a political scandal, editor Chas Sisk discovered an interesting quirk in Tennessee law: Technically, it’s impossible for lawmakers to force out a House speaker, even if they force him or her out of the House. (The legal oddity became moot a couple of weeks later, when Casada stepped down from the speakership.)
The Nashville Man Who Used To Be A Country Star — In West Africa
Plenty of people move to Nashville to pursue their dreams in music. But most weren’t already country stars in West Africa. The story of Pierre Tra, or Peter One, shows the breadth of experiences in Nashville’s music business.
Another Nashville Neighborhood Becomes A Food Desert As Its Grocery Stores Close
Reporter Meribah Knight was the first to report on the unexpected closing of a Family Dollar near the James Cayce Homes in East Nashville. The closure has left the public housing complex without any businesses that sell food, besides gas stations.
After 125 Years, Ryman Auditorium Adds A Rare ‘First’ — A Headlining Hip-Hop Act
When the Wu-Tang Clan booked the Ryman, we decided to explore why no other hip-hop artist had ever been in their position. In part, it’s because of the long country-shaped shadow that the Grand Ole Opry cast over other genres in Nashville.
Investigation: Delays And Confusion Before Flood Death At Cummins Falls State Park
Why didn’t the state have a flood warning system in place at Cummins Falls, after two years of trying to make it happen? WPLN News obtained emails showing that, despite enthusiasm for the idea, the process stalled multiple times and lacked clarity on who was supposed to take the lead on key decisions.
Curious Nashville: What’s Inside The Governor’s Old Fallout Shelter In The Woods?
This building in rural Nashville was once considered of the important places in the state — the place where Tennessee’s governor would have gone in the case of nuclear attack. Now, it’s a repurposed apartment and storage closet for giant Nutcrackers. Don’t ask more questions. Just listen.
Nashville Mayor John Cooper Made Many Policy Promises — You Can Track Them Here With WPLN
This “policy tracker” is an ongoing project in which we keep tabs on Mayor Cooper’s progress. Reporter Tony Gonzalez last updated it a few days ago. It’s worth perusing not just for the status of big city projects, but also to understand more about how the Metro government functions.
Native Women’s Work Is Finally Recognized As Art In A New Frist Exhibit
For centuries, work by Native American women has usually been displayed without their names — examples of craft, not art. Host Rachel Iacovone explains how an exhibit at the Frist overturned that idea by showcasing women-produced art, both ancient and modern, that’s unique and thought-provoking.
The Cost Of Dying
Hospice has been a godsend for many families, but it also comes with a substantial set of burdens on caregivers. This three-part series by reporter Blake Farmer explores the gap between perceptions and reality of hospice — and who’s paying the cost of a loved one’s final days.
As Asian Carp Overrun Rivers, Tennessee And Kentucky Turn To A New Weapon: A Giant Sound Blaster
How are wildlife officials trying to keep out an invasive fish species? Build speakers at the bottom of the river that emit bubbles of super-loud sounds. (The best line from Jason Moon Wilkins’ story: “The sound, disappointingly, will not be death metal or Kentucky bluegrass.”)
Three Years, Three Mayors, And Still No Body Cameras In Nashville. What Happened?
After Nashville officials announced yet another delay in the rollout of body cameras, we decided to retrace the steps of city officials over the past three years — showing that they’re now almost back to where they started. Reporter Samantha Max’s story includes a very useful interactive timeline.
Why Being A Mom And A Heart Surgeon Remains So Complicated
Despite the high percentage of women entering medical school, heart surgery remains 94% male. When reporter Blake Farmer shadowed a St. Thomas surgeon one day, even a hospital staffer assumed she wasn’t the doctor. This story explores the surprising reasons more women don’t go into the field.
Mariachi In Schools — How The Growing Latino Population Is Shaping Music Education In Nashville
Sometimes we stumble across stories that are just made for radio. This is one of them.