Friday, August 01, 2014


Communications / Off Mic

RFE/RL Finds A Kindred Spirit In The Lone Star State

Student interns from Radio Free Liberty Hill. Photo Courtesy Shelly Wilkison/Radio Free Liberty Hill.Student interns from Radio Free Liberty Hill. Photo Courtesy Shelly Wilkison/Radio Free Liberty Hill.
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Student interns from Radio Free Liberty Hill. Photo Courtesy Shelly Wilkison/Radio Free Liberty Hill.
Student interns from Radio Free Liberty Hill. Photo Courtesy Shelly Wilkison/Radio Free Liberty Hill.
(Liberty Hill, Texas) There blooms in Texas a news website inspired by the ideals of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and manned by a dedicated group of young journalists.

RadioFreeLibertyHill.com publishes weekly in the small town of Liberty Hill, just outside the state capital of Austin. With the help of about a dozen local high school students and a civic-minded couple, the site aims to inform residents while teaching the basics of journalism.

Charley Wilkison and his wife Shelly co-founded the Radio Free Liberty Hill website in 2008 with the legacy of RFE/RL in mind. "Radio Free Europe was the truth teller and they were the people that got the real facts to the story," Wilkison said of RFE's and RL's broadcasts to countries of the Warsaw pact and former Soviet Union.  

Wilkison said the student interns "experience first-hand the consequences of truth telling." He explained that students "have been in the newspaper office when elected officials have burst through the door screaming and hollering and waving the paper" in protest. But interns, "have also been thanked for stories that sensitively covered someone's death or reported an emotional story in the community.

Shelly, who has a degree in journalism, and Charley, who studied political science, had both been high school newspaper editors and worked for their college newspapers. When they discovered that Liberty Hill students didn't have access to a journalism program, Charley said they created the website with "the idea of getting real information, real news behind enemy lines."

Wilkison puts the credit for Radio Free Liberty Hill "to whomever it was in 1951, those forward thinkers that designed this thing called Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty and put that idea of the importance of a free press out there." 

He adds they borrowed heavily from that idea, "in a humble way, to bring the news to a little central Texas farming community."

-- Sarah Adler
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by: Meg Garland from: Waco, Texas
July 07, 2011 22:11
There would be no better choice to teach journalistic integrity and responsibility than Shelly Williamson Wilkison! She has worked hard and has never - as far as I know - sold out the truth. She and Charley deserve every bit of credit and success available to them! Glad to see their efforts recognized!

by: Mrs. S. Johnson from: Liberty Hill, TX
July 08, 2011 06:02
Because the timeliness, quality, and accuracy of this news website rivals that of the corporate news sources in the area, I was very surprised to learn that it was these young journalists at work! You are giving journalism a good name as well as making your community very proud! The importance of the service you provide should not be underestimated!! Thanks for all of your hard work and for making a real difference in the world. Can't wait to see what you do next...

by: Jennifer Pollastro from: Liberty Hill
July 09, 2011 14:24
Shelly and Charlie are a terrific additions to our community with their organizational skills as seen in the Youth Soccer League, and Radio Free Liberty Hill, Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce, etc. Their concern for people including children and their education. Liberty Hill is lucky to attract some of the best people in the world!

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