NWPB and KUOW’s ‘Ghost Herd’ podcast wins regional Murrow Award

Ghost Herd podcast.

Ghost Herd, an investigative podcast produced by Northwest Public Broadcasting (NWPB) and KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, has been honored with a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in the podcast category. NWPB is licensed to Washington State University.

The podcast, born out of NWPB regional news reporter Anna King’s extensive reporting on the Easterday cattle swindle, has received widespread acclaim for its compelling storytelling and in-depth exploration of one of the most significant agricultural scandals in U.S. history. In its first year, the podcast garnered over 945,000 downloads.

Presented by the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), the Murrow Awards are named in honor of WSU alumnus Edward R. Murrow, a journalism pioneer who set the standards for the highest quality of broadcast journalism. Murrow Award-winning stories put public interest above all else, provide a catalyst for public discussion, and adhere to the RTDNA code of ethics. Of the awards given to journalists, the Murrow Awards are among the most respected journalism awards in the world.

“We are just thrilled! So many people helped make this story resonate across the Northwest and nation,” King said. “From our cultural editor helping us get all the Native American history and context just right, to cowpunch-songwriter James Dean Kindle who composed our theme song — this was deft teamwork on a snap deadline.”

The Easterday saga, once hailed as an American success story, unraveled into a tale of deception and betrayal. Ghost Herd delves into the intricacies of Cody Easterday’s creation of a fictitious “ghost herd” of 265,000 cattle, which existed only on paper, resulting in a staggering financial swindle amounting to $244 million. Through six episodes, Ghost Herd explores not only the mechanics of the scam but also the human stories behind it, offering a poignant reflection on family, fraud, and the shifting dynamics of power in the American West.

“It’s because of our generous supporters that we can carry out this in-depth, on-the-ground journalism and dynamic storytelling,” said NWPB General Manager Cara Williams Fry. “The world needs to hear from diverse, rural, Northwest voices. It’s an honor to be recognized for that service to our community with a 2024 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award.”

Ghost Herd, a joint production of NWPB and KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, is available for streaming on all major podcasting platforms. For more information about Ghost Herd and to listen to the podcast, visit ghostherd.org.

“Investigative reporting at its finest is on display in this podcast,” said NWPB Multimedia News Director Tracci Dial. “Ghost Herd is an experience. The way the team breaks down a complicated fraud case and contextualizes its local and global impacts, really brings the piece to life. There is no question this award is well-deserved for the whole Ghost Herd team.”

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