Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Over the years I have attended 21 PRPD conferences and one “PD Bee,” the earliest incarnation of the PRPD.  This year PRPD has a new leader, Jody Evens and the gathering has a new name: the Public Radio Content Conference (“PRCC”). The PRCC will be held next week, Tuesday 9/29 through Thursday 10/1.  Complete information is here [link].

Unfortunately, I am unable to attend this year. I will miss it. The PRPD is one of the ways I mark the changes in my life and work, sort of like adding another ring to the tree of life. To me, the PRPD is the best annual gathering for folks working in public media, particularly public radio.

One of my yearly rituals is preparing a list of Must Attend sessions and events.  This year I will share my list with you.  Also, I bequeath to you my share of food and drink. Enjoy Pittsburgh.


 10:00am – 10:30am Seeing Change As An Opportunity


Former NPR News programming head Eric Nuzum returns home from his new gig as SVP of Original Content Development at Audible to tell us how things are going. Nuzum is an original thinker who sees the symmetry between media platforms, breakout talent, storytelling and a real sense pf purpose. According to the PRCC schedule, he will be talking about his personal mission and the need to connect creative media-makers to significant audiences.

PRPD has brought together public radio’s Crosby, Stills & Nash: Edison Research’s Larry Rosin, RRC’s Dave Sullivan and Jacobs Media’s Fred Jacobs for a super-session of audio usage trends, Nielsen Audio ratings and news about cultural and technical developments than are or will impact public media. Though not mentioned in the schedule, this is likely the time when Jacobs will present the excellent Public Radio Tech Survey 7 which we previewed yesterday. [Scroll down to read it.]


Fred Jacobs brings a first to the PRCC, a live focus group of listeners to Pittsburgh’s three public radio stations: WESA, WQED & WYEP. There is no word about how the event will be staged but I am expecting something very interesting. Kudos to Fred Jacobs for this very valuable event.

From the conference program: Andy was from Pittsburgh. His work ethic was so legendary that Lou Reed and John Cale wrote songs about it.  Andy was much, much more than 15 minutes and Marilyn screens.  This space will inspire, provoke and amuse you.


Streaming video is one of the fastest growing digital platforms. It also is a great companion with public radio music formats. CPB is providing funding for VuHaus, a public media video generator designed to enhance the appeal and usage of Triple A music.  We featured VuHaus in [link].  If I was there, I would ask about sustainability and this important initiative.


Compelling content requires new talent and talent development. No matter what platform, talent is the key variable.

 PRPD prez Jody Evans moderates a discussion featuring John Barth, Chief Content Officer at PRX; Ellen McDonnell, President of Ellen McDonnell Consulting and former NPR Executive Editor for News; Dean Cappello, WNYC’s Executive VP and Chief Content Officer; and, Mary Hockaday, Talent Controller for BBC World Service English.

At Music Discovery (aka Triple A) stations, music and the artists who create it are vital to listeners. Public radio doesn’t have the uber close relations between artists and stations such as those in noncom CCM [link]. Each station does it differently. Bruce Warren (WXPN), Gary Scott (KCRW) and Kyle Smith (WYEP) discuss the changing dynamics of artist relations between stations and the music biz who have separate agendas.

Adam Gopnik

From the conference program: The New Yorker’s Adam Gopnik will weave together stories of lies, confusion and general mischief. The Moth and PRX always pull out the stops for these events, so make it a point to show up and thank them for bringing us another year of authentic, original stories.


Step away from the hype and have a real conversation deconstructing lessons learned, missteps and struggles on the path to success.  Moderator Kerri Hoffman leads a discussion of what is real and what is hype concerning podcasts. Panelists include Iris Adler, Content Manager at WBUR; Catherine Burns, Artistic Director for The Moth; and Roxy Todd, producer of Inside Appalachia at West Virginia Public Radio.


Mike Henry deserves major kudos for this valuable session. Among the topics to be covered are staging a revenue-generating event and doing promotions such as local music compilations or concert tie-ins. He discusses best practices with Amy Miller, PD of KXT, Dallas and Ann Alquist, PD at KDHX, St. Louis.


What a shame these two sessions are concurrent. From the conference program: So you’ve decided that investigative reporting should be a part of what your station provides to your community. How do you do it? What do you need to know in order to build your team?  The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX, WAMU and NPR will provide guidance from developing talent, stories, editing capacity and audience building into your local newsroom.  


Be sure to take the time to walk through the exhibitors area.  These fine folks help make the PRPD conference possible. See you in '16!


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