Friday, May 27, 2016


One of public media’s lesser-known but highly influential organizations – PBMA – is holding their annual conference Tuesday May 31 – Friday June 3 in New Orleans [link].  The theme of the conference is Shaping the Future of Public Media. The PBMA is meeting at the JW Marriott on Canal Street near the heart of the French Quarter.

JW Marriott, New Orleans
PBMA has been taking a larger and more visible role in the development of public media. Since the Public Radio Conference (PRC) was discontinued in the early 2000s public broadcasting has needed a conference devoted to financial, governance, internal station operations and “big-picture” issues. 

PBMA is a unique amalgamation that brings together public radio and public television broadcasters, two distinct groups that probably should have met jointly in the past. Of course, what brings public radio and television together is the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) aka “the folks with the money.”

Many of the conference sessions deal with CPB compliance and policy. For example CPB is holding a workshop to assist grantees complete their annual Station Activities Survey (for radio stations) and the Station Activities Benchmarking Study (for PBS stations).  Though this sounds mundane, it is important for continued CPB funding.
Jim Taszarek, Jr

PMBA Board chair Mark Leonard, GM & CEO of Nebraska ETV and consultant Jim Taszarek, Jr, Chair, Content & Knowledge Committee have organized a comprehensive agenda for the expected 200 attendees. Here are some session I recommend:

Wednesday 6/1 1:00pm – 2:15pm
Nick Spitzer, Host & Executive Producer American Routes

Nick Spitzer
Spitzer will discuss the incredible story of New Orleans’ cultural growth and transformation since Katrina flooding. He will also share songs and stories about NOLA music and cultures — the “roots”— of American Routes. Spitzer will talk about the mingling of French and African/Caribbean influences in the city and will take attendees on a sonic journey through NOLA past and present. Expect site-seeing tips. [Disclosure: I am a paid consultant for American Routes.]

Wednesday 6/1 4:00pm – 5:15pm
Craig Beeby, Executive Director – University Station Alliance
Ernest Sanchez, Communications Attorney – The Sanchez Law Firm
Wally Smith, President – Peconic Public Broadcasting

These dudes know their stuff from personal experience. An increasing number of long-time public broadcasting licensees are spinning off their public stations – sometimes with shockingly little advance notice. Learn about the dynamics and motivations of these spinoffs. Attendees will hear key survival strategies for planned and unforeseen licensee changes.

Friday 6/3 8:45am – 10:00am
Vibha Jain Miller, Vice President, Human Resources – WETA
Carol Sober, Director, Professional Development – PBS

Vibha Jain Miller

The next generation of public media leaders may be already working at your station. Who are they and how can you identify them? How do you keep them at your station, engaged in the work and mission and prepare them for the next steps in their career? How to create and support a talent pipeline.

Friday 6/3 10:15am – 11:30am
Jake Shapiro, New CEO, RadioPublic & Former CEO, Public Radio Exchange 



As you may recall, when we last reported on KUSP, Santa Cruz [link] the station fired almost its entire staff after failing to meet its pledge drive goal for their new Triple A format. The station’s governing Board is now exploring its options including selling the license.

Meanwhile, life goes on.  According to an excellent post on Radio Survivor by Matthew Lasar, KUSP is still on the air playing Triple A music. Two paid employees remain and the programming comes from an iPad on “shuffle.” Please read Lasar’s essay at [link]. 

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