Middle Ground

The first national public radio show to focus only on Middle America, the states in-between California and the eastern seaboard. Who says it's flyover country?
Celeste Headlee
Derw, Maryland
United States
3 Team Members

The cable news networks have 24 hours to fill every day - how is it possible that they all cover the same four stories over and over? When there’s a drought in Texas, a battle over bus discrimination in Ohio, and software innovation in Phoenix, why would they cover Miley Cyrus’ appearance on Saturday Night Live as a news story? 

Did you know the White House created a map of America and forgot the top third of Michigan? If you think Americans have a good opinion of Middle America, take a look at this map: http://www.businessinsider.com/this-one-map-shows-what-americans-really-think-of-each-other-2013-8. Where are the smartest states? Where are the dumbest? The ugliest?

National reporters only seem to visit middle America when it's a presidential election year, there’s severe weather or a terrible crime. 

You can be part of the solution to the problem. We need you to do two things: donate and then share this page with your friends. 


We didn't pad the original goal. But we also didn't make that goal and yet we believe so strongly in the mission of this show and the need for it, that we're not willing to give up. So, until we get sponsors, our team will forego salaries. With $20,000, we can get the show launched and get it on to public radio stations immediately. We'll work out the rest of the funding from there. 


We all have a sense that most national coverage focuses on L.A., D.C., and New York, and the statistics bear that out. In a recent survey of stories on NPR between 2006 and 2011, New York had 331 stories per year, Oklahoma had 14. You could say that’s because of population size, but even with its large size and population, Texas got less than half the national average of stories. 

There was a presidential election in 2008, so states like Ohio and Iowa got special attention. If you take presidential politics out of the mix, the numbers are stark: the middle of the country doesn't get the coverage it deserves. 

This is more than a show. This is the beginning of a revolution in news coverage. 


We’re doing something that the big networks won’t. In order to do that, we need to launch this show independently, outside of the network system. If we want to maintain editorial control and stick to our core principles (stories only from middle America, partnerships with local stations), then we need to remain independent. 

And that means we need your donation. 

Listen to the pilots:



Celeste Headlee spent years reporting from Flagstaff, Arizona and then Detroit, Michigan before she became a national host on NPR and PRI. She knows from personal experience how hard it is to get stories from Middle America on the national shows and she’s heard the terrible coverage that results from sending D.C. reporters parachuting into a city to cover a story. Many people in this business automatically assume that stories from New York and L.A. are more important; Celeste does not. 


A basic studio setup with a mic, mixer, Telos unit for recording phone calls, acoustic foam for the walls and audio editing software. Those are all one-time investments. But we also need funds to pay local reporters for their stories, to pay commentators, and to pay local stations for studio time. 


Publish weekly updates for local stations to drop into existing programming. We will partner closely with stations in Middle America, give their reporters a platform and bring attention to the news of their communities. We’ll also publish longer podcasts regularly with the news, politics and culture of Middle America, bringing you the stories that national networks ignore and helping you understand the nation in a way you never have before. 

We will bring your countrymen and women a little closer, let you get to know the people that make this nation unique. This part is guaranteed. 

AND we will choose a home station for the show, a headquarters somewhere in the middle of the country. We will move our operations to that local public radio station and find a national distributor. This is the part we can’t guarantee, but there’s a lot of interest already from both stations and distributors. We just need a boost from you to get it off the ground.

It all starts with your donation.

Find This Campaign On
raised by 278 people in 10 days
100% funded
No time left
$20,000 USD goal
Flexible Funding This campaign has ended and will receive all funds raised.
Campaign Closed
This campaign ended on December 4, 2013
Select a Perk
  • $25USD
    Level 2

    Above, plus the extended, uncut interviews from our pilot shows. Including more than 40 minutes with Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips, bloopers with Ken Rudin, the unedited conversation with Mr. Midwest, Mike Draper.

    49 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $50USD
    Level 3

    Above, plus recognition on our website and Facebook page. And Celeste Headlee and Middle Ground will follow you on Twitter for a year -- that means you can send direct messages with comments.

    32 claimed
    Estimated delivery: January 2014
  • $100USD
    Level 4

    Above, plus any of the magnets designed by Mike Draper (featured in our second pilot) from the Raygun website: http://raygunsite.com/collections/other/magnets

    21 claimed
    Estimated delivery: June 2014
  • $150USD
    Limited Level

    EARLY BIRD SPECIAL - Only available before November 28th. All of the above, plus a 30 minute mentoring conversation by phone with Celeste Headlee, covering news, writing, business or just about anything else you want to talk about.

    6 claimed
    Estimated delivery: February 2014
  • $150USD
    Only 25 of these!!

    Celeste Headlee will do an NPR-style recording of your personal message (must be SFW) and send you the sound file to use as you like. No political or religious messages. Can be a birthday message or holiday message, or a ring tone! How about your own personal NPR-style wake-up call on your alarm?

    1 out of 25 claimed
    Estimated delivery: December 2013
  • $250USD
    Level 5

    All of the above (except the Early Bird special) plus a 30-minute mentoring conversation with veteran producer Sue Goodwin or editor Jacob Conrad. Both award-winners, both with decades of experience at National Public Radio.

    7 claimed
  • $500USD
    Level 6

    A 30-minute mentoring conversation by phone with Celeste Headlee, covering news, writing, business or just about anything else you want to talk about. Plus a signed copy of Midwest: God's Gift to Planet Earth: http://raygunsite.com/collections/other/products/themidwestgodsgifttoplanetearth

    1 claimed
  • $1,000USD
    Level 7

    Your custom 140-word message will be read by Celeste on the air during a podcast. Say happy birthday, happy anniversary, or whatever else you like as long as it's not an advertisement. Good for one year, dates to be worked out individually. We'll also send you a CD copy of the message.

    2 claimed
  • $4,000USD
    Executive Level

    CUSTOM PACKAGE - For schools, companies, organizations or individuals, this package can be designed to fit your needs. Can include a personal visit from Celeste or another member of the team, with training in broadcasting, writing, etc. Or Celeste can MC your event or lead your panel discussion. Email pjsands68@gmail.com to arrange this reward

    0 claimed
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