Winner 2021


NBC News Audio

In September 2020, Houston-based NBC reporter Mike Hixenbaugh was working on a story about friction the upcoming presidential election was causing in suburbia. He was referred to Southlake, a northwest Dallas suburb where a 2018 video of white high school students chanting the N-word went viral. The uproar and reckoning the controversy stirred would have put the mostly white enclave on a more inclusive and diverse path were it not for the way an upcoming school board election allowed the incident and its fallout to become a lightning rod for debate about race, but also about “critical race theory,” a concept weaponized here to score political wins. In seven episodes, Hixenbaugh and his reporting partner Antonia Hylton took listeners on the sordid four-year history of an intriguing local scrimmage whose participants would include former NFL stars, airline executives, a vindictive podcaster, a progressive battered widow, a conservative convicted felon, and two school board members arrested on Easter Monday. At the heart of each episode, however, are the interviews with students, who are clear and direct about the racism, homophobia, and harassment they have endured. As Hixenbaugh had first gleaned, the themes of the series became all the more timely once the pandemic and the country’s racial reckoning after the death of George Floyd intensified its stakes. For spotlighting how local elections can have outsized power on the way education in the 21st century is framed, Southlake wins a Peabody Award.


Network/Station/Platform:  NBC News. Creators:  Mike Hixenbaugh, Antonia Hylton, Madeleine Haeringer, Reid Cherlin, Julie Shapiro, Michelle Garcia, Frannie Kelley, Rachel Yang, Bryson Barnes, Seth Samuel. Showrunner:  Reid Cherlin. Executive Producers:  Reid Cherlin, Madeleine Haeringer. Associate Producers/Producers:  Frannie Kelley, Rachel Yang. Writers:  Mike Hixenbaugh, Antonia Hylton. Editors:  Julie Shapiro, Michelle Garcia, Reid Cherlin. Reporters:  Mike Hixenbaugh, Antonia Hylton. Sound/Music:  Bryson Barnes, Seth Samuel, Sharif Youssef, Ali Shaheed Muhammad.