Public radio listeners want to be informed, but they also want to be lifted away from the noise of the day-to-day and to have their imaginations sparked. Good storytelling can do all of that—with as little as 60 seconds.
Over the past year, Colorado Public Radio’s Colorado Postcards project has become a staple of our programming on our statewide network. A new program director for CPR recognized the need for more moments of joy, reflection and discovery in the midst of all of the difficult news raining down, as well as a more regular reinforcement of sense of place. The answer was as close as stepping outside, and the result is a daily feature that listeners and donors have reacted to with enthusiasm.
Each Postcard starts with a good nugget—something so mundane we don’t see the mystery in it (for instance, did you know Colorado’s shape is more complex than a rectangle?), or something long forgotten that’s worth remembering (once upon a time, a tiny baby was left behind at the state capitol, and they named her Capitola). Turn that factoid into a concisely told tale, with a dose of humor or honest wonderment. Next, add the right music and other sound to make it sing. Put it on the air. Then do it again….
Radio has a unique ability to open people’s eyes, and interest in the 100+ Postcards we’ve produced so far proves this project is doing that. Our intent was to simply reward listeners’ curiosity, but there’s been an added benefit; the effort has also become a revenue source.
As a statewide network, our definition of “local” is wide, and our subject matter options are nearly endless. We’ve also realized the real secret behind this effort is that every place has magic in it and stories waiting to be told. It’s a programming component that could easily be duplicated by any station, anywhere. There’s only one question: do you have a minute?