WITF shares stories of Central Pennsylvania ‘makers’

Colette Cope
Interactive producer
WITF
Grace Marie Hamilton, one of WITF's local 'makers,' teaches a course on creative nonviolent conflict resolution to incarcerated men at the Rockview State Correctional Institution in Bellefonte, Pa.

Grace Marie Hamilton, one of WITF’s local ‘makers,’ teaches a course on creative nonviolent conflict resolution to incarcerated men at the Rockview State Correctional Institution in Bellefonte, Pa. (Photo submitted by Melanie Snyder, courtesy of witf)

Editor’s note: In conjunction with the PBS documentary “Makers: Women Who Changed America,“ Harrisburg, Pa.’s WITF decided to cover women who have had an impact on Central Pennsylvania, with the goal of connecting local stories with national coverage. Colette Cope, an interactive producer at WITF, shared their experience with us. 


On “TV Smart Talk,” our live, interactive news series, we hosted three local “women of excellence.” We have a series called “Beyond the Bio” on our FM channel, which profiled local philanthropist Ann Barshinger. Our book club pick of the month was “Mira Lloyd Dock and the Progressive Era Conservation Movement.” On the web, we pulled together our previous coverage of local women making a difference to witf.org/makers, so that our audience could see all of these stories in one location.

We also decided to ask our community (through the Public Insight Network) to share stories about local women who have had an impact on the region. We didn’t receive a lot of responses, but the ones that people shared with us were very strong. We learned about Grace Marie Hamilton, who has volunteered in Pennsylvania state prisons for more than 30 years. The person who submitted her story even shared an audio version with us via SoundCloud. We hosted Hamilton on our daily interactive program, “Radio Smart Talk.” We wouldn’t have known about her without the Public Insight Network.

Another woman submitted the story of her mother, Dr. Marion Johnston. Johnston was born the year women won the right to vote, and yet she went on to become a female physician in the 1950s despite many social challenges.

We used all of this coverage to drive viewers to the broadcast of ‘Makers: Women Who Changed America’ on February 26. We also posted preview videos and a slideshow of women featured in the film to the web to promote the show.

‘Makers’ has already aired, but over the next month we plan to post several video profiles of local women online to stretch out our coverage of this topic a bit further. The project as a whole was made possible by local support from Partners In Women’s Health & Ella Health, with an additional grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.