As the Public Radio News Directors (PRNDI) prepares for its annual conference next week, Wednesday 6/20 through Saturday 6/23 in Philadelphia [link], the organization has named current PRNDI President Terry Gildea to be its first full-time Executive Director.
PRNDI also promoted Christine Diers to full-time Business Manager. Diers has been handling PRNDI’s business affairs part-time for more than 20 years.
Gildea will also leave his current job – Program Director at KLCC, Eugene – to devote his full attention to the Executive Director gig.
He said in a press release:
"I want PRNDI to become an organization that serves all journalists in public media. As executive director, I plan to put all of my time and energy into developing PRNDI's future.”
The moves, which some observers say are long overdue, are part of PRNDI’s plans to expand its member base, become more entrepreneurial and be a bigger player in the expanding public radio news infrastructure.
[Scroll down to see more about the 2018 PRNDI conference.]
In a related development, the leaders of PRNDI are also creating a new 501c3 corporation – the Public Media Journalists Foundation – to make fundraising easier.
PRNDI was chartered as a 501c6 organization – a business association – and as such is not able to take tax deductible donations including most grant funding. A 501c3 can do these activities. Pubic Radio Program Directors (PRPD), which is also currently a 501c6 organization, is considering a similar change.
According to Business Manager Christine Diers, the creation of the new Foundation does not mean the name of the organization – PRNDI – is changing. Diers also told Spark News that the Foundation is now incorporated in South Dakota and its IRS tax-exemption is pending.
THE CHANGES MEAN MORE FUNDING WILL BE NEEDED
PRNDI, now in its 33rd year, started as a small organization and its role was to serve as an interface between station News Directors and NPR’s newsroom. As time has gone by, PRNDI expanded into training services, relationships with other news providers and forums with the Poynter Institute.
Financially, PRNDI has remained small compared to other public radio organizations. PRNDI’s annual budget in recent years has been around $90,000. According to tax information on file with the IRS, Greater Public had annual revenue of $4.5million, AIR had $2.1 million, PRPD had $800,000 and the National Federation of Community Broadcasts (NFCB) had $428,000. All of these four organizations are 501c3’s and have a full-time Executive Directors plus other paid staff.
Because of PRNDI’s limited revenue, the hiring of two full-time employees appears to be a gamble.
But, according to Diers PRNDI has enough accumulated cash on hand to subsidize the two employees for two years.
She told Spark News:
One of the primary jobs of the Executive Director will be creating new revenue streams for the organization through grants, sponsorships and other opportunities. PRNDI will also continue to review its existing revenue streams and will look for additional ways to grow income in the future.
BEHIND THE SCENES, GEORGE BOKARY PLAYS A MAJOR ROLE
A major supporter of PRNDI’s changes is George Bodarky, a returning member of the Board who proposed similar changes in 2015 and 2016.
At that time Bodarky was President of PRNDI. His plan championed a new name – the Association of Public Media Journalists (APMJ) – and a broader membership vision that included adding independents and digital journalists.
At the 2016 PRNDI conference, the voting members said “no way”to Bodarky's proposal.
The reasons Bodarky’s plan failed included proposed changes to widen voting privileges and resistance to eliminating the word “radio” from the name of the organization. You can see our coverage of Bodaky's pan and the 2016 member meeting here.
MORE ABOUT THE 2018 PRNDI CONFERENCE
DATES: Wednesday 6/20 through Saturday 6/23
LOCATION: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel City Center
MORE INFORMATION & CONFERENCE AGENDA: Here
SEE OUR CONFERENCE PREVIEW: Here
This year’s PRNDI conference is actually two gatherings in one. The opening two days, Wednesday (6/20) and Thursday (6/21), are dedicated to training for news managers and editors. The fundamentals of fact-based reporting are stressed. Public media news consultants Michael Marcotte and Judith Smelser are in charge of the training.
The annual PRNDI Awards and presentation of the Leo Lee Award will be on Saturday evening. This year Keith Woods will be honored.