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.
Back in the day when young writers were pitching magazines to publish their work, there used to be a common complaint by magazine editors: “Some of the writers have never even seen our magazine! Don’t they realize how rude and disrespectful it is to pitch us stories that we would never publish, because they’re just not us!”
I have been working on recruiting a journalism staffer for a major public radio station. And, frankly, after sitting through a bunch of interviews and reading even more applications, I am stunned that almost none of the applicants have taken the time to do basic homework. This would include:
Familiarity with the station. Knowledge of the job they’re applying for.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF BLACK JOURNALISTS
Public broadcasters received 17 Salute to Excellence Awards from NABJ with NPR, Chicago’s WBEZ and Milwaukee Public Television taking home multiple awards. NPR won two awards in the network radio category and one in digital media. NPR’s coverage of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington won best long form news, while the article “USC Students Allege Racial Profiling by LAPD” won best short form news. The story “Science Rap B.A.T.T.L.E.S. Bring Hip-Hop Into the Classroom” was recognized for best digital media feature story. Two other radio programs won awards among network radio.
The broadcast signal for WQPT-TV in Moline, Ill., is now originating from WTVP-TV in Peoria, about 90 miles to the southeast. WQPT previously outsourced its master control operations to Westar Master Control Services in Cedar Hill, Texas. The station’s signal now travels across fiber from WTVP to WQPT’s transmitter in Orion, Ill. The change “provides financial savings for WQPT, a new source of revenue for WTVP, valuable technological advances for both stations and an invaluable chance for the sister stations to work together,” said WTVP President Chet Tomczyk in an Aug. 8 announcement.
Pubcasters who own broadcast towers are about to get regulatory relief thanks to a FCC decision that closes the books on a lengthy effort to revise rules governing tower safety and maintenance. At an open meeting Friday, FCC commissioners approved the changes while decrying the long road their predecessors took to get there. “This issue was first raised in 2005 during the Commission’s 2004 biennial rule review,” said commissioner Michael O’Rielly. The question that has to be asked is, why did it take the commission nine years?”
Though the Part 17 rules apply to all owners of “antenna structures” (FCC-speak for towers), the Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau promoted the changes as a boon to cellular and data services, which depend on hundreds of thousands of smaller towers across the country to meet ever-growing demand from consumers. By eliminating a requirement that tower owners conduct quarterly physical checks of the monitoring systems at all of their towers, the FCC “will save antenna structure owners millions of dollars annually,” said WTB representative Michael Smith.
• The Public Media Platform is showing more signs of life. A blog post last week on PMP’s site describes how American Public Media has been testing the platform’s features with its regional stations, uploading content into the PMP for stations to pull. But APM’s content partners, including Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and Classical South Florida, each use a different content management system, so APM built a centralized data hub called “The Barn” to funnel content through before it reaches the PMP. • Garrison Keillor talked to the New York Times Book Review about his literary adventures, favorite authors and the worst thing about running his own bookstore, Common Good Books. (He doesn’t get a 10 percent discount.)
• The Princeton Review is out with its annual Most Popular College Radio Stations list, notes Radio Survivor.
WNED in Buffalo, N.Y., is tweaking its management of programming, resulting in one layoff. Gabe DiMaio, who programmed classical WNED-FM, confirmed to Current Thursday that his position was eliminated. He previously served as assistant program director at WBFO-FM, the broadcaster’s NPR News station, as well as producer and local host for All Things Considered. He’s also secretary for the board of the Public Radio Programming Directors Association. Ron Santora, WNED’s v.p. of broadcasting, is adding radio programming to his portfolio.
NPR will postpone implementing new clocks for its flagship newsmagazines until at least November after hearing concerns that an earlier transition could interfere with stations’ fund drives and coverage of midterm elections. The network initially proposed starting the new schedules for Morning Edition and All Things Considered Sept. 22. But stations and the board of the Public Radio Program Directors Association asked for more time. When setting the initial date for implementation, NPR “did a good job of trying to find a time not in the middle of fundraising,” said PRPD President Arthur Cohen.
A documentary series produced by Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, Calif., focuses solely on issues in the station’s home state yet has attracted attention from NPR and a national audience by creating digital content to accompany hourlong radio documentaries. Launched in 2011, The View From Here comprises two in-depth multimedia documentaries a year. Though the focus is local, the show’s producers choose topics that often transcend California’s borders, such as high-school dropout rates and autism among adults. The most recent documentary, “Who Cares,” examined the physical and emotional toll of caring for parents, spouses and children with disabilities. In addition to a radio documentary, “Who Cares” included photos, videos and a blog, Caregivers Speak, which collects stories about family caregivers.
A supplier of pledge-drive premiums to public broadcasters is offering an upgrade to traditional CD giveaways, providing a new program of monthly music downloads delivered via email. The program from Forest Incentives, Forest Music Express, has blanket agreements with several record labels, including all three majors, allowing stations to send virtually any album to their donors. Forest Music Express is billed as an update to the concept of the “CD of the Month” club, allowing stations to curate gifts to donors while avoiding the logistics of mailing physical recordings. The distribution system integrates with membership databases at stations to deliver download links to donors. “The beauty behind this is that the stations can do their own work, and we can distribute the albums in really short order,” said John Vernile, who created Forest Music Express.
Steve Post, legendary New York radio personality for more than 50 years, died Sunday. He was 70 years old. Steve was the acerbic host of Morning Music, heard on WNYC-FM for 25 years. Every morning Steve read his version of the news. When Mayor Ed Koch had a stroke, his doctors announced that he had “the brain of a 12-year-old.” Ever after Steve referred to His Honor as “him with the 12-year-old brain.”
Weather reports were called “the weather lies.” Steve delivered news of leaks from nuclear reactors, always ending with the line, “No significant amount of radiation was released,” whether in the wire copy or not, read absolutely straight with an incredulous voice.