Two pubmedia leaders honored at Public Radio Super Regional conference

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SAN ANTONIO — Two leaders in public media were recognized at the Public Radio Super Regional conference Wednesday for their innovation and service to the field.

Consultant Mark Fuerst was given the annual PRRO Award from the Public Radio Regional Organizations. The award recognizes those who make significant behind-the-scenes contributions to help grow public media.

“This year’s winner has most definitely made significant contributions that have championed the growth of public media,” said Frank Lanzone, g.m. of KCBX in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and president of California Public Radio. “His work has furthered stations as we transitioned into the digital age.”

“His work, research, and analysis . . . has touched hundreds of broadcasting professionals and has added immensely to our understanding of emerging media,” he added.

Fuerst worked as g.m. at WXPN in Philadelphia for more than a decade before founding the consultancy groups Integrated Media Association and Innovation4Media.

“Almost all the work that I’ve done, I did because of you,” Fuerst said to the gathered public media execs. “I did it because you shared your audience information and your web analytics. I did over 200 interviews over the last three years with people in this room. Those interviews led me to believe that today we have the very strongest crop of managers of public radio stations in my lifetime, which is good, because the challenges we face are the hardest ever.”

Randy Wright, executive director of WUFT/WJUF and the Florida Public Radio Emergency Network in Gainesville, Fla., received the 2015 University Station Alliance Madison Hodges Innovator Award for Public Media Advancement. The nonprofit University Station Alliance assists university-licensed stations.

Wright was presented with the award for his work in developing Florida Storms, a mobile app that provides Floridians with up-to-date weather information from their nearest public radio station.

“When we put this project together — and this is truly a collaborative project of 13 very individual public radio stations in the state of Florida — we looked at it wanting to find a forward-thinking collaborative partnership that would focus on everything that’s great about public radio, our free over-the-air product, but also something that was forward-thinking, to make sure we had an online platform, to make sure we had a mobile platform, that was very cutting-edge,” Wright said. “. . . We’re especially proud that we’re doing this in coordination with local, state, and federal agencies.”

“The USA is very proud to present Randy Wright with the Innovator Award,” said Craig Beeby, USA executive director, in a statement. “Randy’s pioneering work with Florida public media outlets typifies the type of work our USA members accomplish each day,”

The award is named for Madison Hodges, who worked at NPR and public radio stations and served as the University Station Alliance’s executive director. Hodges died in 2014.

Wright also received $1,500.