Thursday, November 12, 2015


Public station executives are being asked to participate in a survey now about best practices to assure sustainability for their organizations.  The survey is part of a workshop to be held next Wednesday and Thursday (11/18 & 19) at the Super Regional Meeting in San Antonio. You can see more about the Super Regional here [link].

The survey is intended for stations that have an annual budget of $3,000,0000 or less.  Stations reps can take the survey here [link]. Stations may participate regardless of whether they will be attending the Super Regional meetings.

The results of the survey will be presented at a workshop led by John Hess, GM & Executive Director of Boise State Public Radio; Scott Finn, Executive Director of West Virginia Public Broadcasting; Tom Michael, GM of KRTS, Marfa, Texas; and Mike Savage, GM of WBAA, West Lafayette, Indiana.

We asked John Hess, who is compiling the survey, several questions about the Small Station Survival initiative.
[KM] Why are you doing this now?
[HESS] We started to discuss this topic as part of our Public Radio Regional Organization conference calls. The PRRO group is comprised of the presidents of the four regional organizations that represent public radio stations across the country: Eastern Public Media, Western States Public Radio, Public Radio in Mid America and California Public Radio. Many of stations are small to mid-sized operations.
[KM] What is changing at small and mid-sized stations you hope to address with the survey and at the workshop?
[HESS] Smaller stations are really getting squeezed in our competitive media environment. Many medium and sized smaller stations compete head to head with larger stations in big media markets. They are just surviving in this environment. Plus it is tough for smaller stations in rural markets. Many of these stations are the only source of news and cultural programming in the area. Small and medium sized stations also are suffering from decreased funding from university, state and federal sources.
[KM Note] We reported on CPB’s termination of the smallest stations last Friday [link]. We will be publishing a comprehensive update soon.
[HESS] Overall, these stations are not striving or thriving, they are just surviving. We need to come up with system-wide viable solutions. These aren’t large station vs small issues. The survey was designed to start a dialogue with stations and to determine top priority issues to begin working on.
[KM] What outcomes and next steps do you foresee?
[HESS] That is the question we are asking of the participants. Part of the agenda at the Super Regional next week is to determine the next action steps.  My hope is to keep the workshop group together after the conference. We will be rolling this process out in our regional groups and with organizations such as the University-Station Alliance (USA). These topics are “tipping point” issues that are important to the entire public radio system.
At the session we'll look at the results of the survey and then form break-out groups to examine the following pressure points: staffing, fundraising, local news and strategic collaborations.
Thank you for producing this blog, it really helps advance the dialogue in the public radio community.
You are welcome!

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