Arkansas PBS wins five Mid-America Emmy awards

Arkansas PBS won five regional Emmy Awards from the Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS) Oct. 23, including the award for Community Service. The network earned a total of eight nominations this year.

“To have the highly relevant work of the Arkansas PBS team recognized with five Mid-America Emmy Awards is an incredible achievement,” CEO Courtney Pledger said. “Of particular note is the Community Service award that demonstrates our absolute dedication to remaining a place for every Arkansan by bringing people together around the compelling stories of the state that we love.

An image from “Urban Forge: Ozark Artistry.” Winner of Lifestyle – Long Form Content Emmy.

The eight nominated productions, including the five winners, are available in a playlist on the Arkansas PBS YouTube channel at

Arkansas PBS won the Community Service Emmy Award for extensive work in education, civic engagement, public affairs, race relations, and early childhood programming. Productions included: “Arkansas AMI,” televised lessons produced in partnership with the Arkansas Department of Education’s (ADE) Division of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) when schools closed for COVID-19; “Blueberry’s Clubhouse,” an original pre-k-2 children’s program produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts; “Civics in a Minute,” digital shorts designed to help children understand the election process; “Healing the Divide,” examining how race permeates and affects the lives of Arkansans; “Arkansans Ask: COVID-19 Vaccine,” a live program answering viewer questions; and many other projects. The effort in community service was led by Pledger, Ed Leon, and Sajni Kumpuris. Earlier this year, Arkansas PBS was also recognized with the national Public Media Award for Overall Excellence in Community Engagement.

“Urban Forge: Ozark Artistry” won Lifestyle – Long Form Content. The film centers on working blacksmiths in Mountain View as they pass down the tradition and skills from one generation to another, turning raw materials into functional art and keeping a centuries-old craft alive. “Urban Forge” was produced by Charles Eric White, Terrell Case, and CJ Burks and executive produced by Ed Leon.

“Blueberry’s Clubhouse: Blueberry’s End of Summer Jamboree” won Informational/Instructional – Long Form Content. The finale to the first season, this episode features a talent show with entries from kids all across Arkansas. The series is produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts. This episode was produced by Charles Eric White, Terrell Case, Corey Womack, and CJ Burks.

“Blueberry’s Clubhouse: Exploring Helium, Hydrogen & Nitrogen” won Informational/Instructional – Short Form Content. The segment, produced in partnership with the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, features a visit to the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock to show viewers what makes balloons float and explain more about gasses in the air. The short was produced by Charles Eric White and Terrell Case.

“Rap Squad” won Documentary – Cultural. The feature-length film is an intimate verité documentary about Arkansas high school hip-hop artists who seek healing for themselves and equity in their community through their music. “Rap Squad” was directed by Nathan Willis; produced by Willis and Nolan Dean; and executive produced by Craig Renaud and Courtney Pledger.

Other Arkansas PBS nominations included:

• “Blueberry’s Clubhouse PSA About Masks” – Public Service Announcement 

– Single Spot or Campaign. 

• “Arkansas AMI” – Promotion – Program (Single Spot). 

• “Arkansas PBS Sports – Home of High School State Finals” – Promotion – Sports. 

The NATAS Mid-America chapter, which includes television markets primarily in Arkansas, Illinois, and Missouri, was chartered in 1962 and began honoring outstanding achievement in this region with local Emmy awards in 1976. The organization’s mission is to encourage excellence in the television community.