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North Country Public Radio, the National Public Radio station located on the St. Lawrence University campus, has won a prestigious broadcasting award.

An audio diary series featuring a New York Army National Guard Chaplain deployed to Iraq has won the Edward R. Murrow Award for Broadcast Excellence, as part of North Country Public Radio's continuing war coverage.

During his 10-month deployment to Iraq, Major Eric Olsen, chaplain with the 2-108th Infantry Battalion of the New York Army National Guard, contributed regular audio diaries from his base north of Baghdad. The diaries, broadcast by North Country Public Radio, were kept by Olsen and his wife Susan, who live in Saranac Lake with their two children, Garth and Evan."The diary was a chance to express the concerns of many of the soldiers that I served with," Chaplain Olsen said. "I could explore their emotions, their feelings and their thoughts about being in Iraq."

Co-produced by NCPR Adirondack Bureau Chief Brian Mann, the project brought the daily life of America’s soldiers and their families into vivid focus, capturing scenes of heroism, confusion, fear and homesickness. The award-winning audio diary series was the centerpiece of NCPR's continuing coverage of the Iraq war. "This was really a local story," Mann said. "Dozens of local families sent soldiers to Afghanistan and Iraq. Without Chaplain Olsen we wouldn't have been able to bring their experiences home."

Olsen is also being recognized by NCPR as the station's "Volunteer of the Year" for his thoughtful, difficult and sometimes dangerous contribution. Brigade Chaplain Olsen, who has since been promoted to Lt. Colonel, will be celebrated by the station at a special ceremony at The Wawbeek on Upper Saranac Lake on June 12.

To hear Chaplain Olsen's audio diary, visit the North Country Public Radio Web site.

Posted: May 26, 2005