STORY UPDATE IN PROGRESS
One of public media’s most innovative organizations, the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) is holding its annual open meeting today, Monday 10/5. The teleconference is for AIR members and those folks who are interested in learning more about AIR. [link]
Executive Director Sue Schardt and her staff have distributed fascinating information about AIR’s members and their professional priorities. Bottom line: Podcasts are important now and will become an even bigger platform for audio freelancers.
SNAPSHOT OF AIR
AIR began in 1988 when CPB funding was discontinued for the Satellite Program Development Fund which had provided support to independent producers. Today there are 1,100 members. This chart from AIR shows the growth in the number of members since 2008:
CHART SOURCE: AIR REPORT DATED 8/20/15
AIR’s member retention rate is currently 81%, meaning members find significant value in the services provided by the organization.
According to AIR’s 2015 survey, around 46% of members describe their professional work as “journalist.” “Sound artists,” “documentarian,” and “engineer/technician” together comprise 35% of members.
At today’s meeting, members will be asked to approve a $1.265 annual budget. This makes AIR one of public media’s largest organizations. The story of how this came to be is inspiring.
According to AIR’s most recent IRS filings for tax year 2013, only around 11% of AIR’s income came from memberships. AIR doesn’t hold an annual conference. Most of the revenue for 2013 came from entrepreneurial initiatives such as Localore, Storytelling Intensive workshops, Coaching Fellowships and New Voices programs.
Per AIR's 2013 990, about half of AIR’s expenditures go to support staff, contractors and projects. Though it is not listed as a line item in the 2013 tax filing, Executive Director Sue Schardt is paid around $120,000 plus benefits. This is very fair compensation.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PODCASTING FOR AIR MEMBERS
AIR’s survey asked members to describe their primary platform/outlet for their work. Podcasting was chosen by 28% of the respondents, way up from 8% in the previous year:
When members were asked what primary media skill they want to cultivate, 40% of the respondents said Podcasts. Video skills were mention by 17% of respondents: