Friday, September 22, 2017


Next week Tuesday (9/26) though Thursday (9/28) public radio station managers, programmers, network folks and others will gather at the Intercontinental Riverfront Hotel in St. Paul for a Super Regional conference. Super Regional conferences are held periodically for stations in specific regions of the country.

The St. Paul Super Regional [link] is sponsored by Eastern Regional Public Media (ERPM), one of four public radio regional organizations.  

ERPM [link] is the oldest of the regional organizations, pre-dating the creation of CPB and NPR. (Scroll down to read more about the history of ERPM.)

Super Regional’s are becoming a bigger factor the operation of public radio stations. They give station leaders the chance to talk with representatives of CPB, NPR and other public media stakeholders.

The public radio system had a national conference called the Public Radio Conference (PRC) until the late 1990s.  It was discontinued because of escalating costs and perceived conflicts of interest by    NPR who sponsored the PRC and controlled the agenda.

Around 250 people are expected to attend the St. Paul Super Regional.  One of the people attend will be me.

This is the first major public radio conference I have attended since I started this blog in 2014 and began loosing my sight.  I am looking forward to attending and am grateful to ERPN for the invitation. Here a few of the sessions I am looking forward to attending:


Jessica Shortall
• 8:15am  Keynote speech: Building Bridges in a Divided Time

Author and commentator Jessica Shortall will talk about the importance of finding common ground with critics of public broadcasting. Shortall is the head of Texas Competes, a coalition of 1,300 employers advocating against anti-LGBT laws. She will share her knowledge of societal trends and the need for objective data. Shortall recommends using facts, mixed with empathy, to build new bridges. 

• 2:30pm Breakout Session: Creating Sustainable Local News in Your Community

Readers if this blog know I have great interest in this topic. Public radio news is evolving and is a defining characteristic that resonates with listeners in markets of all sizes. The increased listening and impact of NPR News, Regional Journalism Collaborations, in-depth reporting and investigative focus is reinforcing the unique role public radio news plays in our society.

To continue this work, local news needs to be sustainable. Station folks will talk about curating the news and convening important community conversations.

• 3:45pm The NPR-Station Compact:  Building a Digital Network


Jon McTaggart

• 9:00am General Session: The Future of Public Media

American Public Media (APM) CEO Jon McTaggart discusses what his organization is doing now to increase the impact and value of public media. 

McTaggart will share ways to increase the importance of public media and reaching new listeners who might now find public media to be irrelevant.

• 11:00am  Small Station Success Stories: Moving Your Station from Good to Great

Stations in smaller markets are the heart and soul of public media. However, running a station will a smaller budget is increasingly challenging. Sometimes the public radio system seems like the have’s and have nots. A panel of small station managers will talk about their “secret sauce” that helps them outperform other stations.

Mike Oreskes

• 12:30pm  Ethics in Journalism

I can hardly wait for this session. NPR’s Senior VP News and Editorial Director Mike Oreskes shares the spotlight with NPR’s head of Standards and Practices Mark Memmott and NPR’s Ombudsman Elizabeth Jensen will discuss ethical standards and building trust with listeners.

• 2:30pm Metrics That Matter: Understanding Our Digital Audiences


• 10:00am NPR-Station Compact:  Building a Journalism Network

NPR and station folks will discuss the strategic and tactical steps the network is taking to work collaboratively to build a true news network that enhances news reporting on all levels.


ERPM debuted as Eastern Public Radio (EPR) in 1958. The organization brought together several “educational” stations more than a decade before CPB and NPR. 

EPR’s charter members were WGBH, WNYC, WFCR (then WEDK) and WAMC.  

EPR managers played a crucial role when Congress was writing Public Broadcasting Act legislation in the late 1960s. 

At that time, Congress thought public broadcasting should only include public television stations. Radio was left out because it seemed so much smaller than TV. Representatives of EPR lobbied successfully for the inclusion of radio in the new system.

EPR was an important player in the development of NPR and public radio’s satellite system. EPR pioneered the radio programming marketplace. 

EPR helped the system adjust when American Public Radio began competing with NPR and CPB funding formulas changed.

EPR nurtured the Public Radio Program Directors association (PRPD) beginning in the mid-1980s with the PD Bees.

EPR merged with another regional group, Southern Public Radio, to form Eastern Regional Public Media.

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