Spurred by the voice of a community member, Capital Public Radio created the region’s first Tiny Desk concert, showcasing multiple local entrants who entered this year’s national contest and highlighting numerous others with promotional and follow-up blog content at capradio.org. The free event in the CapRadio Garden drew incredible enthusiasm from the community, tripling normal event attendance. The reservation-only event allowed us to capture emails and deliver a special welcome series designed to turn fans into members over time.
Community engagement is in our DNA at CapRadio, driving our journalism as well as our arts and cultural offerings. We take seriously our audience’s expectation that we create a sense of place through our programming by listening to their concerns and ideas. When a local musician stepped forward and asked if he could support his favorite public radio station by encouraging a local Tiny Desk concert, we took note.
A huge benefit of our relationship with NPR is the annual Tiny Desk Contest, where unsigned artists submit an original song and video for a shot at a performance at NPR headquarters and a tour. While we had already planned to promote local Tiny Desk entrants into the national contest, the idea of an event captured our imagination. With minimal planning time, our community relations manager, Tashina Brito, and Nick Brunner, host of Hey Listen! took on the project.
We discovered an artist right in our back yard (Lillian Frances from Davis, CA) who pulled off one of the best sounding in-studio performances in the station’s history. That same artist began making connections and booking shows with other artists from the blog and led to her headlining the first Tiny Desk Sacramento summer concert – based on Tiny Desk contestants. Nearly 300 people packed into every corner of CapRadio’s Garden for beer, snacks and songs. Two other Tiny Desk entrants from across our listening area opened the show. It got so popular we started having conversations about whether we would have to turn people away.
The garden concert was a smashing success with nearly 200 people on the waitlist and a respectable amount of donations made during the event. Our talented musicians brought their friends and family and spread the word on their own social channels. Guests of every age wandered our garden, engaging each other and staff throughout the evening.