PITTSBURGH — A public radio veteran and one of the youngest general managers in public radio received awards Thursday here at the Public Radio Super Regional conference.
Bruce Theriault, former senior v.p. for journalism and radio at CPB and founder and president of consultancy Bolder Strategies, received the annual PRRO Award from the Public Radio Regional Organizations.
“Bruce’s fingerprints are all over the system as we know it today,” said Chuck Singleton, g.m. of WFUV in New York City and chair of Eastern Region Public Media, as he presented the award. “Bruce has enabled us to accomplish things we couldn’t envision 20 or 30 years ago. He’s worked to strengthen the power of our service and pushed us to open the doors to diversity.”
Accepting the award, Theriault said public radio still has room for improvement.
“We need to build greater and sustainable local journalism capacity to do original enterprise and investigative reporting,” he said. “We need to embrace digital innovation, take more risks and fail faster. We need to retain and attract talent, especially young, more diverse talent. We need to develop new production partnership and collaboration models. And we need to reflect the diversity of our local communities … as well as engage, interact with our communities through convening and listening.”
“I know there’s a lot of work going on and there’s a lot of you doing these very things,” he said. “We just need to make it faster and more universal.”
Michelle Srbinovich, general manager at WDET in Detroit, won the University Station Alliance Madison Hodges Innovator Award for Public Media Advancement.
“She’s earned national respect for her work and her commitment to bringing new audiences to public service media,” said John Hess, president of Western States Public Radio and the University Station Alliance, as he presented the award. “… [S]he represents the future of public media. And if that’s where we’re going, we’re going in a great direction.”
Srbinovich said that when trying to solve problems at WDET, she likes to bring together a diverse group of people to think through questions. “Are we thinking about the listener?” she said. “Are we thinking about the people we’re trying to reach? What do they actually need?”
She added that at WDET, “we’re making programming, we’re having fun. This is how public radio started. I encourage you to create that space with your teams and take a risk on people and bring them into your organization.”