WYSO

Renee Wilde

Community Voices Producer

Renee Wilde tumbled into public radio - following a career path that has been full of creative adventures and community service. After graduating from the Ohio State University with a fine arts degree in photography - she served as the Exhibitions Coordinator for several Columbus art galleries and the Columbus Art League, while simultaneously slinging food and booze  - memorably dropping a glass of orange juice on Johnny Rotten’s bare feet when he answered the hotel room door in just his skivvies (his response, “would shit be the appropriate word?”).

Renee moved on to create the first recycling program for the arts in the midwest in Columbus, Ohio -  based on similar programs in New York and LA - where artists, galleries, non-profit arts organizations, and public art teachers could shop in a warehouse filled with free discarded materials from local businesses. From there Renee went on to develop a city-wide urban beautification program for Columbus, creating seasonal and year-round botanical displays in street containers, hanging baskets and pocket parks along downtown streets.

After leaving the city for rural life on a small farm, Renee heard about the Community Voices program on her local public radio station. She was accepted into the program (class of 2013) and at the age of 49, started another career adventure when she became hooked on audio storytelling. Renee produced 23 stories on her own, co-produced an award winning series, and provided a weekly community on-air spot all as an unpaid producer before the station developed a fund for freelance reporters.

As a station volunteer, she taught storytelling at a women’s prison with WYSO’s former News Director, Lewis Wallace. Renee combined the stories from the incarcerated women into her very first attempt at an hour-long documentary, which won first place for best long form documentary in 2017 by the Public Radio News Directors, Inc.

Renee also had the top highest ranking stories on WYSO.org in 2017 with two pieces she produced for YSO Curious -which is based on the Hearken Model where listeners ask questions and producers find the answers.

Her stories have been bought by the NPR news programs All Things Considered and Morning Edition, Harvest Public Media, 51%, WAMC’s Northeast Public radio, WABE in Atlanta, Georgia, KSJD in Cortez, Colorado and WOUB in Athen’s, Ohio

Renee now helms County Lines for WYSO - a series that takes listeners into the small towns and rural communities of Ohio - which is also available through Ohio Public Radio and the NPR ONE app.

Pop-up labyrinth in the Oratory
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Just a stone’s throw away from downtown Loveland, Ohio sits a cluster of turn-of-the-century barns and houses. These empty buildings used to be a working farm and spiritual retreat founded by two Dutch women and 16 other U.S. Grail members 80 years ago, in 1940. The Grail is a women's movement that grew out of the Catholic church, and the women of the Grail had a vision for world peace, justice and renewal of the earth.

Along with learning how to collect and save seeds, part of Beth Bridgman's class included collecting the oral history of seeds.
courtesy of Beth Bridgeman

78 percent of the world’s seeds are now owned by three companies, and it’s those companies who decide which ones to make available to the public. 

That’s quite a turnaround from America’s early years, when the U.S. government was giving billions of seeds away for free. But it’s not just the variety of seeds being lost, it’s also the history that those seeds represent. 

Many people, like Rosealie and Katie are opting for locally grown, seasonal flowers for weddings and other special events.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Jackie Hampton has pulled up to a small, self-serve, farm stand. It houses seasonal produce from That Guy’s Farm and floral bouquets from That Girl’s Flowers. She’s here to buy flowers for her daughter’s anniversary.

“Actually this is my first time. I’ve always bought their produce and stuff.” Jackie says looking opening the door to the small, refrigerated building, “ They have beautiful flowers. You don’t see this kind in the stores.”

Brooke Stingley with her family at the Clinton County Fair
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Farming presents unique challenges for women. As wives of farmers, they often balance full-time jobs off the farm while raising a family. Living in sparsely populated areas means many farm women are left trying to cope with the stress alone. Today County Lines introduces us to Annie’s Project, intended to build a community among rural women in Ohio.

Monica Wood lives in Clinton County. Today, she’s in the barn with her husband training calves for the show ring.

Harness racing horses
tvnewsbadge / Flickr Creative Commons

County Fairs and harness racing go hand in hand. The 200 year old sport has been dominated by men, but here in Ohio, a group of women are changing that.

Oakview Farm Meats host gatherings at the farm where diners can sample the collaboration of Hippie and the Farmer.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Pam Bowshier and Mark Runyan run the Champaign County Virtual Farmers Market together, but they also have working partnership, which they call Hippie and the Farmer. She is Hippie, the free-spirited baker; he's the conservative, 4th generation farmer. Together they've created a unique farm to table business. 

Pam Bowshier was selling her baked goods at the local farmers markets when she paired up with Mark Runyan, creating a breakfast sandwich from her bread and his sausage that people loved. 

Pam Bowsheir and Mike Runyan run Champaign Locally Grown.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

The first American farmers' market opened in Boston in 1634. They were the center of many communities until advances in modern refrigeration spawned the birth of the supermarket. In the 1970’s, Americans became more health conscious and the concept of buying fresh, locally grown produce straight from the farm caused a renaissance for farmers' markets.

Today, farmer’s markets are everywhere - even online.

Rory Dingey, campground owner and event host sitting in the doorway of her vintage camper.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

In Woodstock, Ohio in Champaign County women from all around Ohio and neighboring states who make up a sort of traveling sisterhood gathered on the anniversary of the legendary Woodstock Music Festival in New York.

There’s a 60’s vibe going as women in tie-dye dresses and flowered headbands mill around a clearing in Woodstock, celebrating the anniversary of the legendary music festival. But this isn’t New York, it’s Woodstock, Ohio, a small town in the rolling countryside east of Urbana.

American soil.

Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can't be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities.

Centre city building downtown dayton
Renee Wilde / WYSO

If you go downtown to the Levitt Pavilion to take in an outdoor concert this summer, look up at the surrounding buildings.  From the street level they seem like typical high rises, but on top of Centre City building on the corner of Main and east fourth street, there’s a seven story tower that looks a little like a house.  Listener Earl Moyer asked WYSO Curious:  What IS that structure on top of the Centre City building?

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