Local. Period. Full stop. Nuff said? Pass it on.
“Local” is the one-word mission, the mantra, the superpower you must cultivate and ace. But how to do that is another matter.
Which stations are killing it locally by taking risks, acting with intention, planning strategically and moving nimbly? Who is partnering with the unusual suspects, connecting with potential viewers and listeners in new places, creating new ways to meet the information needs of their diverse communities? Who is getting out of the office, into the neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, libraries, hospitals, cafes? Who is getting into the ears and screens, hearts and minds of their listeners and viewers with locally responsive and inclusive content? These are the secrets to sustainability.
Public radio and TV have many examples of excellence in creating local identity, engaging and serving local communities, and attracting local revenue. The Association of Independents in Radio’s Localore and its spawn Hearken have led the way. Larger stations in some major markets are having success — as well they should, given the resources many of them have to invest. Current wants to identify those stations that are making impressive progress through initiatives that can be adopted or adapted by small and midsize stations. The classical-music education program at WUOL in Louisville, Ky., is but one example.
We’re calling this initiative “Local that Works” and have been promoting the heck out of it but still find too many people in public media unaware. We’re inviting you to submit descriptions of local projects that are working well for your station and could take off for someone else. It could be a simple idea or a complex innovation, but the key is sharing your story, the mistakes made, the lessons learned, so that others in the system might take your best effort to another level.
Current staff is reading through your nominations and choosing some for feature coverage. Along with the Public Media Futures Forum, we’re highlighting a handful of projects submitted to Local that Works at public media conferences this year, including at this week’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in San Francisco. This fall we will present a $5,000 prize to one winner selected by a panel of judges.
Why are we doing this? Because we recognize that all of us in public media need to help each other succeed in a changing environment and volatile funding landscape. Because, increasingly, your audiences don’t have to tune in to your station to hear or watch the national shows you’ve carried for them. You know this and have been working to demonstrate the local value of your station. What are you doing, and what have you learned about what works?
Current wants to help nurture your local spirit by connecting you to best practices throughout the system. If you have examples to share, please nominate your station today (deadline is July 14). Look for the Local that Works logo as we tell your stories of success.