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.

Natural fence rows are increasingly being cleared.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

When early settlers came to Ohio around two hundred years ago, they cleared the vast forests  - they wanted open land - to build houses,  to grow crops, and raise livestock.

As more people arrived, it became common practice to leave a narrow strip of uncultivated land between you and your neighbor. These natural fence rows were a way to designate property boundaries and help keep livestock from wandering away.

Krista and Jamie Arthur at Little Miami Farms in Spring Valley.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

When Europeans came to Ohio, one of the first crops they cultivated was hops; A small green flower that’s a main ingredients for brewing beer, which was a staple of their diet.

The Ohio Valley provided the perfect soil for the fast growing plant. But, in the early 21st century came Prohibition, plus plant diseases and harmful insects.  So Ohio farmers eventually quit growing hops. 

Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers perform at the DeWine Ice Cream Social.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Ice cream socials have been a summer staple for community gatherings and fundraisers since the invention of the creamy confection.  The first ice cream social documented in North America was in 1744 at a dinner party by Maryland Governor, Thomas Bladen. In 1802, Thomas Jefferson hosted the first Ice Cream Social in the White House.

Today on County Lines, Producer Renee Wilde goes to Cedarville, Ohio, Home of Attorney General Mike DeWine, to serve up a slice of rural Americana, a la mode.

Hickory Medical clinic in Bellefontaine is one of Ohio's first direct primary care offices.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Dr. Ryan Kauffman is a family physician working in Logan County. He started out in a traditional medical practice, working between 100 and 120 hours a week, week after week. 

Dr. Kauffman had reached the point where he was burned out. He didn’t have time to spend with his young family. He didn’t have time to spend with his patients. So this doctor decided it was time to make a bold change that would benefit both his family, and his community.

Ray Burns and puppy Razor
Renee Wilde / WYSO

As Ohio’s small family farms have disappeared over the past 50 years, the brushy fence rows, weedy ditches, pastures, and hay fields that are crucial habitat to pheasant have also disappeared.

In the 1940’s Ohio had an estimated 5 million wild pheasant, but now only small pockets of these colorful birds roam the countryside. Today on County Lines, Renee Wilde goes to a private hunting preserve in West Alexandria to learn more.

Paul, Denny, Mike, and Dean are regulars at the Cedarville Liar's Table
Renee Wilde / WYSO

The term Liar’s Club dates back to the late 1800’s. It describes small groups of friends, usually men, who get together at local pubs, coffee shops, and restaurants to hang out and gossip about the local community, and discuss world events.

Producer Renee Wilde met with a group of retired farmers at their local liars table at Beans-n-Cream in Cedarville, Ohio.

The sign above the table says, Hunters, fishermen and other liars frequent this table. Sit down and stay awhile, you might learn something.

 Since 1950 over 7 million acres of Ohio farmland have been lost to urban sprawl
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Although the term Urban Sprawl was coined in the 1930’s, by the ‘70’s, it was a hot topic, as increasingly more rural areas, and farmland, were divided up and paved over into strip malls and subdivisions.

This spreading ring around our cities where urban sprawl is happening is officially known as the Rural-Urban Fringe.  Today on County Lines, producer Renee Wilde takes us there.

Dr. Scott Hosket on farm call with pet goat Jackson and his owner Rich.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Across the U.S., a growing number of rural communities are facing a growing veterinarian shortage, that is expected to worsen in coming years. These regions are in need of veterinarians that specialize in livestock animals and public practice.

Ernie Knisley toured all over the world during the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s, as a member of the band SUN
Renee Wilde / WYSO

Dayton, Ohio – the birthplace of Funk Music will celebrate the opening of the Funk Center and Museum on Friday. Funk music started flowing out of Dayton in the 70s – and scores of hit records became part if the American soundtrack.  Groups like The Ohio Players, Heatwave and Parliament became household names.

Today on Culture Couch, Community Voices Producer Renee Wilde gets a private tour of the center with a local musician whose band, called SUN, was part of Dayton’s funky scene back in the day.

Community producer Renee Wilde investigates the holiday legend of animals talking on Christmas Eve.
Renee Wilde / WYSO

For many of us, the holiday season is a time for sharing stories and traditions. In keeping with the holiday spirit, Community Voices Producer Renee Wilde traces the roots of her own holiday tradition, celebrating the Christmas legend that on Christmas Eve animals can suddenly talk.

Curious how widely known this talking-animals holiday legend is, Wilde heads to Clark County. 

Renee writes:

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