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.

Santosh Kumar / Flickr Creative Commons

It's been a wet spring here in Southwest Ohio. April showers dropped above-average rainfall amounts, and more rain is in the forecast for the rest of the week. Drive along the county roads in this region and you can see a lot of muddy fields and standing water, and so we wanted to know: if you're a farmer, are you worried about too much rain?

In Greene County, the birds are singing, the chickens are clucking, and in the distance another storm is moving in. In this part of Ohio there has been above average rainfall for the past 6 months.

Bald eagles Willa and Orv are nesting at Carillon Park for the second year.
courtesy of Jim Weller

WYSO Curious is our series where listeners ask questions and WYSO producers find the answers. Today’s question comes from listener Heather Atkinson who says "I am so very curious about Willa and Orv, the bald eagle pair who have been nesting in Carillon.”

Thomas Hawk / Flickr Creative Commons

Next year will be the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Founded on April 22 in 1970 as a civilian protest against the environmental impacts from industrial development - that spring day sparked the beginning of the environmental awareness movement - and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Earth Day has now become a global event marked by civic participation and political action. Protect Our Species is the theme for this year, which falls on Monday, April 22. 

solar panel
Credit Sergey Edentod/SHUTTERSTOCK

Governor Mike DeWine’s new Director of Ohio’s Department of Agriculture, Dorothy Pelanda, is hosting a series of ​Meet and Greets​ across the state. These local meetings are a chance for Pelanda to introduce herself to the agricultural community, and for farmers and members of the state’s food and agriculture industry to share concerns.

Members from the Preble County Soil and Water Conservation district are busy setting up chairs inside this church gymnasium for today’s public meeting with Ohio’s new Director of Agriculture Dorothy Pelanda.

Violet Alexander sells pumpkins she raised on her family's farm.  Her parents, Ryan and Melissa, are part of a new generation of young farmers in Ohio.
courtesy of Ryan and Melissa Alexander

Ohio has a long and rich farming history, but today less than a third of the state's farms remain. Every year 10 percent of small farms disappear. 

The climate change and political tariffs have made it harder for farmers to grow and sell crops and smaller farms can no longer compete against giant agribusinesses. The average age of a today’s farmer is 59, and the industry is having a hard time attracting new, younger people. 

Although the Pinnacles no longer exist physically, their role in aviation keeps this local landmark alive.
courtesy of the city of Moraine

WYSO Curious is our series where listeners ask questions and WYSO producers find the answers. Today’s question comes from Jeff Wilson in Vandalia. Jeff had seen a photo in the Wright Brothers Museum of a curious geological formation called the Pinnacles, and he wanted to know more about this Dayton Landmark.

Ashlie Tinor works at Uncle Beth's BBQ, a small family restaurant in Champaign County.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

When small towns shrink or disappear in rural America, homestyle, family restaurants feel the pinch, and they have often been replaced by chains like Applebee’s, Cracker Barrel or Bob Evans.

But that trend looks to be reversing. In 2016 Bob Evans, based in Ohio, sold 27 restaurants, and Bloomberg News has reported a resurgence in the popularity of mom and pop restaurants all over the country.

courtesy of Jason Heaton/Boonshoft Museum of Discovery

WYSO Curious is our series where listeners can ask questions and producers at WYSO try to find the answers. Today’s question comes to us from retired lawyer Nadine Ballard who has asked -  two years in a row -  where’s the best place in the Miami Valley to watch a sunset.

Renee Wilde / WYSO

Here in southwest Ohio, it’s not hard to find small country towns that were thriving fifty years ago but are now struggling to survive.

They’re all subject to similar economic forces – but each one has its own story.

In Greene county, the Village of Jamestown has just about 2,000 people today – slightly more than 50 years ago, - but what Jamestown has lost – is its vital downtown.

The first Madonna of the Trail monument along the National Road in Springfield was dedicated in 1928.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

In 1806, Congress authorized federal funding for a road that would connect Cumberland, Maryland west to the Ohio Territories, opening up westward expansion for the country. The National Road, as it was eventually called, became the first Federally funded, and paved, highway in the U.S.