Thursday, September 8, 2016


Public media folks will gather in Phoenix Tuesday (9/20) through Thursday (9/22) for the annual Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD) Content Conference [link]. The conference technically begins on Monday (9/19) with an opening reception. 

I have attended 21 previous “PRPD’s” but I will not be attending this one. Since I’ve become a blogger I am living on a paltry journalist’s budget. I’m not complaining but this is my reality. I asked Jody Evans for a press pass and she told me PRPD does not provide them.  Then I looked at the cost: $999.00 even as a longtime PRPD member. Yikes! The PRPD Content Conference is an important learning event but it might be becoming too expensive for folks without corporate employment.

If you are attending, there is some cool stuff happening! Have fun. You can have my share of the food and drink!


• 8:30am – 11:00am – ITS NUMBERS-PALOOZA!

PRPD puts the good stuff right up front. The conference starts with a triple-header of research.

First, Warren Kurtzman, President of Coleman Insights, presents the results of exclusive research commissioned by PRPD about awareness and perceptions of public radio. PRPD asked Coleman to find answers to questions like Do non-users have negative perceptions of public radio or is there merely an awareness gap?

Then Dave Sullivan, the Manager of PPM Client Services for Radio Research Consortium (RRC) talks about the State of the Public Radio Audience. Sullivan will go far beyond top-line data to show trends in listener usage of public radio programming.

Fred Jacobs

Finally, Fred Jacobs from Jacobs Media Strategies presents Public Radio Tech Survey 8 (PRTS-8).  We gave a preview of PRTS-8 on August 22 [link]. 

Jacobs examines usage patterns of various media platforms and devices by listeners annually. He flags early trends and discusses strategies to make the most of the changing media landscape. 

• 11:15am – 12:15pm - Growing, Growing, Keep Going – The Practice of Audience Building

Izzi Smith

Izzi Smith and Alan Feldenkris, both from NPR, talk about the recent growth in listening to NPR News stations. They will discuss what was learned during the Spark project (no relationship to this blog), best practices for promotion on-air and across platforms and creating a new culture of optimism.

• 3:30pm – 4:30pm - Team #pubmedia Millennial

Tayla Burney

Tayla Burney, a producer for WAMU’s The Kojo Nnamdi Show actually is a millennial! She and other similar folks discuss how they and their peers consume news and implications for noncommercial public media.

• 5:30pm – 7:30pm – Live performance of A Prairie 
 Home Companion

Expect something really, really excellent. This is Chris Thile’s first major industry appearance as the new host of A Prairie Home Companion (APHC). American Public Media (APM) has a lot riding on APHC’s new host, cast and crew. Conference attendees are invited to stop by the Herberger Theater Center in downtown Phoenix for hors d'oeuvres and drinks with the hosts of The Dinner Party Download. Stick around for an exclusive preview of the new APHC.


• 10:45am – 11:45am - Growing the Next Generation of Editors

Andi McDaniel
In many ways we are all becoming editors and curators of our own media. The panel will discuss the role the editor plays in the future of public media. Key questions include How can we find, cultivate and retain editors who can shape not only daily coverage but public radio’s future sound(s)?

The panel includes Alison MacAdam, Senior Editorial Specialist on the NPR Training Team; Andi McDaniel, Senior Director of Content & News at WAMU; Ben Calhoun, VP of Content and Programming at WBEZ; and Phyllis Fletcher, Managing Editor for Northwest News Network in Seattle.

• 10:45am – 11:45am - Classical Radio Marketing & Branding

Wende Persons

 Several folks working with SRG’s Classical Music Rising initiative discuss campaigns that are building audiences and boosting ratings. The session will provide examples of what’s working and the power of clear branding and positioning.

The panel moderator is Wende Persons, Managing Director of Classical Music Rising. Panels include Frank Dominguez from WDAv in Charlotte; Bill Lueth, manager of KDFC in San Francisco; Jack Allen from All Classical Portland; Daniel Gilliam from WUOL in Louisville; and Scott Williams from KBAQ IN Phoenix.

• Noon – 1:30pm - Lunch With APM

APM often has the best lunch at the PRPD conference.  Plus, it is free for conference attendees.

• 2:00pm – 3:45pm - KEYNOTE: IRA GLASS

• 4:00pm – 5:30pm - FORMAT GROUP MEETINGS

Todd Mundt

It is good to see Todd Mundt step in for Jeff Hansen who retired this past year from KUOW in Seattle. Mundt is a terrific host and moderator who had an exceptional nationally syndicated talk show on NPR a couple of decades ago.


• 10:00am – 11:15am - Podcasting by the Numbers

Larry Rosin from Edison Research brings the latest info about podcasting and the affinity between podcasts and public radio programming from the listener’s point of view.

Don’t you hate it when two conference sessions worth attending happen at the same time? If I was attending, I’d get the podcasting handouts and attend this simultaneous session:

• 10:00am – 11:15am - KPLU: Lessons Learned From An Existential Crisis

Matt Martinez
This could be the breakout session of the conference. We’ve all seen the headlines about KPLU’s struggle for independent existence after it was scheduled to be purchased by KUOW in Seattle. KPLU’s staff, listeners and supporters had another scenario in mind. 

They rose up and demanded a chance to raise the money to buy the station and create a new community licensee. It worked! They raised $8.5 million in four and half months. KPLU is now independent KNKX. Matt Martinez and other folks from KNKX tell the inside story of how it happened.

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