Jennie McKeon

Digital Content Producer/Reporter

Jennie joined WUWF in 2018 as digital content producer and reporter.

After graduating from University of West Florida in 2009 with a B.A. in Communication Arts/Journalism, she worked for print publications across Northwest Florida including InWeekly, The Destin Log and Northwest Florida Daily News. In 2016, she was named Features Writer of the Year by Gatehouse Media.

Born in Pennsylvania, she admits to being a "Yankee who drinks sweet tea." She dislikes cold weather and is happy to trade a white Christmas for 75-degree weather anytime.

Jennie is a proud volunteer of Gulf Coast Kid's House and Save our Kittens and Cats (SOCKS) in Fort Walton Beach. When she's not reading or listening to podcasts, she enjoys photography, 80s movies, re-watching "The Office" and looking at pictures of your cats.  

Ways to Connect

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

Mourners paid their respects to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bade Ginsburg Friday as she lied in state at the U.S. Capitol. 

And in Fort Walton Beach, at the Okaloosa County court annex, about 80 people gathered for an informal vigil where people shared what “RBG” meant to them. 

“We’re just four women who admired her and mourned her loss and just needed to get together and be with our sisters and brothers and remember her,” said Judy Byne Riley, one of the organizers of Friday’s event. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

No mother is prepared to make final arrangements for her 21-year-old son. 

But Wednesday afternoon, that’s what Raquel Zavala was doing. Just last weekend, she said goodbye to her son, Hugo, for the last time although she didn’t know it. Hugo sometimes stayed with friends for a few nights at a time. That last thing she said to him was “I’ll see you Monday.”

But that didn’t happen. 

Okaloosa County

As Tropical Storm Beta is expected to bring an extra inch or two of rain to Northwest Florida later this week, Okaloosa County is preparing residents with two points of distribution for supplies.

The PODS, as they’re called, will be located at Northwest Florida Fairgrounds on Lewis Turner Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach, and the Old Spanish Trail Park in Crestview. Operating hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

More than 300 people waited in line Monday morning at the Gulf Breeze Lowe’s for a bucket of free supplies for Hurricane Sally recovery. For many of the South Santa Rosa residents, the giveaway was a lifeline toward recovery. 

“It’s great, because everybody’s out of the cleaning supplies," said Rita McGartland after she picked up her blue bucket of supplies which included gloves, trash bags, and batteries. She said she was largely spared from the storm, with the exception of downed trees. "I have friends; we’re all sharing (supplies).”

Alaqua Animal Refuge

When disaster strikes, Laurie Hood, founder of Alaqua Animal Refuge, is usually one of the first people to hitch her trailer and rescue domestic, farm or even exotic animals. 

But after the refuge took in over 30 inches of rain from Hurricane Sally, Hood is on the receiving end of assistance to ensure the safety for the hundreds of animals that call Alaqua home. 

Okaloosa Democrats

After fixing and replacing damaged Biden/Harris campaign signs, Okaloosa Democrats have raised $3,740 in just a few days for billboard advertisements for the Democratic presidential ticket. 

“It’s been fantastic,” said Okaloosa County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Tracey Tapp. “We had 85 people — some of them have never donated before. Democrats are coming out of the woodwork to support Democrats.” 

Adobe Stock

As Florida’s number of coronavirus cases started to rise this summer, local governments held marathon emergency meetings about mask mandates, taking hours of public comments and fielding passionate arguments on the issue. 

But only three cities in the local area made the decision to pass an ordinance. In the city limits of Pensacola, Gulf Breeze and Mary Esther, masks are required inside businesses. And businesses owners and city staff say there’s been little to no trouble. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

While most of the community was still asleep today, students with Navarre High School NJROTC quietly set up for their annual 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony.

Guided by lights from smart phones, the cadets placed 2,977 American flags around the front of the school Friday morning — representing the number of people killed in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvaina, on Sept. 11, 2001. 

Adobe Stock

The big question in a presidential election year is typically “who are you going to vote for?” But in 2020 — during a pandemic — the big question might be “how are you going to vote?”

During last month’s primary, more than 2.3 million Florida voters chose to vote by mail compared to 558,430 voting in-person. In Northwest Florida, there was an uptick in mail-in ballots.

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

The restaurant industry has arguably suffered the most economic losses since the COVID-19 outbreak began. 

And as the state and country reopen, restaurant operations can be dramatically different. To help navigate new challenges, the Small Business Development Center at the University of West Florida will host a three-part webinar “The Restaurant COVID-19 Playbook,” which begins Sept. 9. 

Screenshot by WUWF Public Media

The Okaloosa County School Board voted 4-1 to adopt a policy that strongly recommends masks for students and employees when social distancing is not possible.

The recommendation was made during a nearly seven-hour emergency meeting Wednesday night. 

The issue was brought up at last week’s workshop at the request of Superintendent Marcus Chambers who asked the board what they would like to see in a mask policy for the district. School begins in Okaloosa County on Monday. 

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

The virtual Republican National Convention is showcasing support for President Donald Trump from across the country. 

He has an 87% approval rating among Republicans, according to the latest PEW data (and a 38% approval rating among overall Americans). But in the traditionally conservative region of Northwest Florida, his support is unwavering.  

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

For the past month, Fort Walton Beach resident Taylor Kennedy has been on a mission to make sure people are wearing masks. 

She’s been a regular at Okaloosa County Commissioner meetings advocating for mask mandates, writing letters and sharing information to nearly 400 members in her community action Facebook group

Jennie McKeon/WUWF Public Media

If you’ve visited Destin’s beaches recently, the city wants to hear about it. 

Earlier this week, the city of Destin launched its visitor survey to gain insight on the city’s public beach access and overall experience at beaches. The survey is done in partnership with the Haas Center at the University of West Florida. 

In Okaloosa County, incumbent Marcus Chambers and former state Rep. Ray Sansom are running in the superintendent’s race. Since both are Republicans, the winner will be decided in the Aug. 18 primary.

Both have a background working with the Okaloosa County School District. 

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