SPRINGFIELD — WGBY’s The Opioid Crisis: A Community Dialogue, which aired live on May 11, 2017, has been nominated for a regional Emmy Award.
When then-interim General Manager Lynn Page helped conceive of the special, award nominations were the furthest thing from her mind. Instead, she was focused on fostering a healing and idea-generating moment within the Western New England community around the growing concern of opioid addiction and misuse.
“We wanted the station to get involved,” Page recalled. “The opioid crisis continues to devastate our communities, and we knew we had the unique ability to bring a range of stakeholders together for a fruitful discussion about the serious health issues surrounding painkillers and narcotics. Local public television serves as a conduit for information and conversation.”
Her team’s work has since been recognized by the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) Boston/New England Chapter, which nominated The Opioid Crisis: A Community Dialogue for a regional 2018 Emmy Award in the category of Health/Science Program or Special. Executive Producer Tony Dunne and Carrie Saldo, the program’s host and producer, were both named in the nomination.
Moderated by then Berkshire Eagle reporter Saldo (now host of WGBY’s weekday public-affairs series Connecting Point), The Opioid Crisis: A Community Dialogue was developed in partnership with the Center for Human Development (CHD) and featured a panel of Western New England locals, including Dr. Robert Roose of Providence Behavioral Health Hospital; Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni; Chantal Silloway, Adolescent Recovery Program director at Goodwin House; Danyel Zerella, a mother in addiction recovery; Jennifer Kimball, manager of the Public Health Program at the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission; and Liz Whynott of Tapestry Health’s needle-exchange program.
With a town-hall-style discussion, the program was broadcast live from the WGBY studio in Springfield. Panelists fielded questions and comments from in-person audience members as well as Twitter and Facebook users.
“Anything can happen with live television,” Dunne said. “We were fielding social-media comments, managing audience questions, balancing panelist time. It was a lot to juggle. But we knew were doing this for the benefit of our community, covering a topic — opioid addiction — that continues to plague our region and places all across the country.”