PORTLAND, Ore. — This week’s Public Radio Programming Conference is giving attendees a chance to prepare for Nov. 17, the day when new clocks for NPR’s newsmagazines take effect and both stations and the network’s news staffers will need to adjust to the revised formatting. Wednesday’s proceedings featured two opportunities for discussion. At the first, NPR representatives fielded questions from station programmers, with Chris Turpin, acting senior v.p. of news, laying out changes in store.
PORTLAND, Ore. — Addressing the nearly 500 attendees of the Public Radio Program Directors conference, NPR CEO Jarl Mohn reassured attendees Tuesday that he would renew the network's focus on radio programming and challenged them to take part in a systemwide experiment to boost listening to NPR's newsmagazines. "If we don't get the radio part right, if we don't get the terrestrial part right, if we don't get broadcasting right, the rest of it isn't going to make a difference," Mohn told the crowd. "So you're going to see from us, and from me, a renewed focus on the broadcasting side of the business." Closing the conference's first day, Mohn used his keynote speech to give thumbnail grades of public radio's performance in areas including news, promotion, programming and positioning.
With the death of Joan Rivers, Jay Kernis, former senior v.p. for programming at NPR, shared this remembrance of Rivers on his Facebook page yesterday. It's reproduced here with his permission. Between 2001-08, I was SVP for Programming at NPR and someone told Joan that she would be perfect to host a public radio show. I had interviewed her many years ago for NPR and I knew from producers like Amy Rosenblum just how smart Joan was. I was thrilled to be invited for lunch at her remarkable home on the East Side of NYC.
NPR's news division is seeing the exit of another longtime executive with today's announcement that Executive Editor for News Programming Ellen McDonnell will retire. McDonnell oversees NPR news programs including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. She started at NPR in 1979 and worked for nine years as executive producer of Morning Edition. "Ellen is as much a part of NPR's DNA as she is a presence in our daily lives," NPR's Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson wrote in a memo quoted on the network's breaking news blog. "She has touched and transformed nearly every aspect of NPR News, her creativity and zeal surpassed only by her generosity of spirit.
NPR has released the final versions of the new clocks for its newsmagazines and set a date of Nov. 17 for their implementation. The network unveiled proposed clocks in July after more than a year of work that involved staff and representatives from member stations. The clocks are the second-by-second scheduling of what happens when during the newsmagazines, including newscasts, music beds and funding credits. They also affect when stations can insert their own local content.
The month-long election for NPR's Board of Directors closed Monday, with two incumbents and two new faces joining the board. NPR announced Tuesday that Mike Crane, director of Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, and Mike Savage, g.m. of WBAA in West Lafayette, Ind., will join the board. For what is believed to be the first time, Savage got on the ballot with a written petition signed by at least 15 authorized representatives. Candidates are usually picked by a selection committee headed by the NPR board chair. Incumbents Caryn Mathes, g.m. of KUOW in Seattle, and Flo Rogers, c.e.o. of KNPR in Las Vegas, were re-elected to second terms, and Patricia Diaz Dennis and former NPR interim CEO Paul G. Haaga Jr. were re-elected as public directors.
The public radio economy is built on $432 million in annual listener contributions to local public radio stations. Each year nearly 3 million listeners and their families recognize the value of a station brand in their lives, and they voluntarily give that station money. We’ve known since the 1980s that listeners give out of enlightened self-interest, not altruism. The primary motivation for donating to a public radio station is nearly universal — they recognize that the programming they hear via the station brand is personally important and that they would miss it if it were to go away. This finding has been confirmed through multiple studies over decades and more than 1,000 donor surveys conducted over the past nine months by Emodus Research, which I founded last year to learn more about the emotional connections that motivate audiences to listen and donate to public stations.