Foy story: Broadcaster joins new regional polling project

Jane Foy’s new job is to set up a regional survey pool that she hopes will be a national model to measure community opinion.
Virginia Hamrick Jane Foy’s new job is to set up a regional survey pool that she hopes will be a national model to measure community opinion. Virginia Hamrick

Last fall, longtime WINA morning co-host and producer Jane Foy was unceremoniously dumped by the station where she’d worked for almost 20 years. WINA’s loss became the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service’s gain when it recruited Foy to help launch a new regional survey service called BeHeardCVA.

The “Morning News” show was known for Plug Away Monday, in which nonprofits could call in to tout their events. “One of [Foy’s] main things was to give voice to nonprofits,” says Tom Guterbock, director of the UVA Center for Survey Research. “Her network includes a lot of groups that can benefit from BeHeardCVA.”

“The folks from Weldon Cooper Center had been on the radio show quite a bit,” says Foy. And when they wanted a community outreach person with deep ties in the area, Foy was an obvious choice.

She will help recruit people who will become the survey pool, which will encompass the Thomas Jefferson Planning District: Charlottesville, and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties.

Guterbock sees a big demand for a regional survey pool. “National panels don’t have enough people in the region to do a good sample,” he says. And cold-calling landlines—or cellphones—makes it more difficult and more expensive to get responses. “The rates of answering phones has changed greatly,” he says.

Instead, by recruiting an initial survey panel of 800 participants, which Guterbock and Foy would like to see ultimately grow to around 3,000, “We’re likely to get a broader sample,” Guterbock says.

BeHeardCVA is recruiting by mail, by randomly dialing cellphone numbers, and by reaching out to leaders and organizations, says Guterbock.  And because people who sign up will provide information such as race and gender, that also allows a balance of survey participants, he says.

Foy has been meeting with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, neighborhood associations, and PVCC.

And the nonprofits Foy has worked with are BeHeardCVA’s target market. “There’s a need for local nonprofits to have a survey sample if they’re considering a policy change,” says Guterbock. There are hundreds of nonprofits, and “people who can’t get the information they need.”

One thing BeHeardCVA will not be: a tool for partisan political polling, say Guterbock.

Since leaving the radio station, Foy hasn’t just been sleeping in past 4am. She’s also written a book: The A to Z Guide for Primary Caregivers of Dementia Patients, and it will launch at New Dominion Bookshop at 7pm March 29.

Foy, who takes care of her husband, started the book 14 months ago, and she readily answers what “L” is. “L is laughing,” she says. “You and your loved one should have a good one every day.”

And she’s really jazzed about her new gig, which she says will help smaller counties like Fluvanna and Louisa have their voices heard.

Says Foy, “I want this to be an example for a regional survey whose goal is community service.”

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