When I talk to executives in public television, they often tell me that Current is too focused on public radio. Meanwhile, across the street, public radio execs complain that we cover too much public TV. Can’t we all just get along?
If you’ve received any emails from me, or have read this occasional column, you may have noticed that I usually sign off the declaration, “We’re in this together!” But sometimes it seems as if we aren’t.
With few exceptions, public radio and public TV depend on federal funding. And even though there’s a big difference in how CPB’s appropriation is split between the two — and between their operating costs and business models — the fundamental mission is the same.
So, reach and read across the aisle. Get out of your silos and your comfort zones. Public TV and radio can learn from one another and could be collaborating more on the local, regional and national levels. For example, public TV stations might tap into the news expertise of the radio station in their market to develop regular and special programming. Stations in the same market can work together on live broadcasts of local events. Public radio might ask their public TV colleagues how they work with schools and teachers on engagement initiatives around their educational content. Some of this is happening, but there’s room for more.
Current is surveying our readers to find out what you want from us. If you haven’t yet, please take it. Preliminary results show 95 percent of our readers report they are satisfied with Current, and of that group, a third say “very satisfied” and two-thirds say “fairly satisfied.”
How nice! But this is not intended as a feel-good exercise. We are looking closely at your feedback because we want more of you to be “very satisfied.” We hear all the time that Current is essential to the public media system. But that sentiment is not matched by public media’s investment toward what it costs takes for us to deliver the service we currently provide.
So we must learn from you about how we must evolve to deliver the kind of service you or your organization is willing to pay for. That could mean a bigger, bolder Current or a leaner, narrower service.
We appreciate our subscribers, advertisers, donors and the Wyncote Foundation for its visionary support of Current. In the past year, we launched a digital subscription, and many station leaders have embraced our call to increase their investments in Current. But too many have not. At least not yet. So it’s time to change my email sign-off and start to ask: “Are we in this together?”
I hope your answer is: “Yes!”