Thursday, October 2, 2014


I discovered a great post today via Radio Survivor  RadioAnnGal discusses The Problem(s) of Community Radio.

Ann writes: A station I used to work at is in a financial crisis. I don't use that phrase capriciously. Membership has plummeted, the [ratings] indicate that statistically, no one is listening and the… programmers [are] caught up in petty discourse defending the value of their shows and lamenting the lack of a marketing budget to promote the programming.

Sound familiar? What she says applies to many community stations. She continues:

A volunteer comes in to do his or her show playing bluegrass music, then another volunteer comes in to host a half hour public affairs show about Central America, and then another, and another. Each program is its own universe, but unlike the real universe there is no unifying stardust to make sense of the program schedule as a whole. In short, they cannibalize a station's mission by putting their show first.

To me one of the biggest problems is that many community stations use the *toxic* Pacifica governance model, particularly when determining programming.  If you follow Pacifica’s programming system your station may be doomed to Pacifica’s fate: an embarrassment to all of us working in public media.


Let the programmer focus on serving listeners, not on mediating internal turf wars and political purity.  Give the programmer the time and ability to make changes unhindered by committee approval.  Measure the progress over two or three years. Hold the programmer accountable.

1 comment:

  1. Our volunteers are much like Ann's in that they too are strangers passing in the night, but the difference in our case is that they suffer from benign neglect. Board and staff have their own conceptions of what the station is or should be, regardless of mission. So I'm intent on doing the opposite of the advice proposed here, that is, reinstituting a meaningful programming committee in keeping with both mission and bylaw and with that, re-empowering volunteers to set the course. Only then can they be held accountable. As things stand, nobody is.