The Public Radio Program Directors Association will start 2024 with a new name, a change stemming from a strategic plan that identified a need to broaden the organization’s membership.
The organization will shed its name of 38 years to become the Public Media Content Collective. It will also forego holding its annual conference next year as it recovers from a drop in sponsorship for this year’s event.
PRPD President Abby Goldstein and Jeff Ramirez, chair of the organization’s board, announced the changes during the opening session of the PRPD conference Tuesday in Philadelphia.
“We need to broaden our sphere,” Goldstein told Current in an interview. “We need to be able to support lots of people within organizations who touch and influence content.”
PRPD’s strategic plan, finalized in August 2022, called for a review of its mission statement and a push to engage new members. A survey of its membership found that respondents “agreed that PRPD’s name should be less about the position (Program Director) and more about the role/purpose within an organization (content creation).”
PRPD’s mission and name had “created uncertainly and confusion about who the organization serves,” the plan said.
The title of program director “isn’t as ubiquitous as it once was,” Goldstein said, and the job’s definition has changed significantly over the past decade. During the pandemic, it became clear to Goldstein that more people in public media needed PRPD’s support.
Goldstein said the use of “collective” in the name was inspired in part by the Emerson Collective, the California-based advocacy and philanthropic organization. Its focus on “bringing together the best thinkers, the best research, the best ideas, the best practices in order to lift up an entire sector” resonated with PRPD’s board, she said.
As PRPD shifts to its new identity, it will take 2024 to reconsider how it approaches staging its annual conference. This year, the uncertain economy forced the conference’s biggest sponsors to decrease their support, Goldstein said. PRPD expects to take a loss of between $50,000 and $70,000 on the event, she said.
“The reality is, is when your biggest sponsors lay people off, they can’t turn around three months later and write you a big check,” Goldstein said. “It’s just not possible.”
PRPD will consider holding smaller regional gatherings and in-person trainings next year in place of the conference, which Goldstein expects will return in 2025. Meanwhile, the hiatus will allow the organization to focus on relaunching its website and expanding resources for members.
“People do see themselves reflected in this name, in this brand and this concept,” Goldstein said. “So it’s an exciting time to be us.”