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Culture

Journalist Ed Fillmer on Sharing His Past Stories, Documenting Today’s 'Ozark Life'

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History Museum on the Square
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As "Journalist in Residence," Ed Fillmer's collaboration between the History Museum and KY3 allows him to share his past Ozark Life stories and create new ones.

Emmy Award-winning reporter Ed Fillmer has a long history of telling stories about people, culture and issues in the Ozarks.

A video journalist for KY3 in the 1980s and 90s, “Ed Fillmer’s Ozark Life” series helped uncover unique and often untold stories throughout the region. Fillmer became a freelance video journalist in 1999.

Since September, he’s served as the “Journalist in Residence” at Springfield’s History Museum on the Square. As part of this non-profit collaboration, his new stories are being featured on KY3 and uploaded online. In addition, he’s able to upload to the Internet hundreds of his historic Ozark Life stories.

“All those people, those places, are treasures to me. Because I’m a part of the Ozarks – I grew up here – and those treasures of stories are what I have and what I’m trying to get out to the public,” Fillmer said in a recent interview with KSMU.

Most recently, Fillmer uploaded a 5-part series from 1981 on the country music business in Springfield and the Ozarks.

In our discussion, Fillmer recalls numerous stories he’s told over the years; from the documentation of KTTS and its early 1980's status of the number three county music radio station in the nation to reports on oddly named Ozarks’ towns. To date, there are roughly 60 old videos that have been uploaded, with roughly 600 to go, he says.

“Fortunately I digitize all of my reporting archive from most of my reporting career – which now spans 40 years. So I have it all digitized, which is a big step to get them off the analog tapes to the digital tapes. Once I got them digitized, I index them and can find a story fairly fast. It’s just that I have so many and whatever suits me that day I’ll look at it and upload it.”

The platform at KY3.com, called Ozarks Life Online, is an opportunity to share the stories Fillmer told years ago that, in those times, were unable to be seen beyond the nightly newscast.

“All the time I’m approached by people who come up to me and say, ‘You did a story about my grandmother who was in a quilting bee 20, 25 years ago. Where can I find that story?’ And I had to tell them before now, ‘You can’t see it. It’s on the shelf.’ I wanted to get those old stories out for people to see it again,” He said.

This weekend, KY3 plans to air Fillmer’s latest story on efforts to revitalize the former Fairbanks school in Springfield’s Grant Beach neighborhood.

Fillmer says in the coming months he’ll be exploring stories on outstanding citizens in their communities and new musicians, among other topics.

Fillmer is a four-time Emmy Award-winner. He’s also earned two Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and dozens of state and national awards.

Hear our entire interview with Ed Fillmer above.