I was talking to Patty Cahill yesterday who is just joining the Board of CPB. We were talking about the future and of course about support and broadening the audience. Until now public radio and TV's support was directly and exclusively tied to listeners and viewers. Tied to the connection to our on air content. For a generation, Radio and TV has tried to expand this audience without weakening the quality of what we produced. This approach does not seem to have worked. Our audience is still locked into the same metrics. Our attempts to reach other segments have not given us the results that we had hoped for.
Patty and I dug deeper into what may be happening to our support now that we are doing this project that focuses so much not only on content but on helping everyone. Might this be the more legitimate way of building a broader base of support? Have a look at KNPR's situation here. My bet is that the secret is here. That the more we support all the public, the more that ALL the public will support us. That it is not all about "audience" or content.
As is always the case, the more we’ve communicated about our activities to our Board of Directors, Community Advisory Board and external groups such as the local Women in Communications chapter, the more positive feedback we get over and above the urgency of the topic. There is a profound resonance that what we are doing is what public media can do as no commercial media can: dedicating our resources to focused on air messaging, providing online resources and getting appropriate messages out to audiences who don’t listen to us. (In particular the Hispanic audience, African American and those demographics not associated with public radio use.)
This project answers the question “what do you mean exactly by community engagement”? we hear this from time to time from our board members. They are overwhelmingly supportive of the use of time and resources in this project and understand that this is not related to building audience for broadcast.
We have reported the specific email traffic in previous questions of the week and we have not received a lot of spontaneous recognition for our project from listeners about how they are using the information. Comments such as “please continue your coverage” are commonplace in regards listening.
However: Spring Arbitron numbers just came in for News 88.9 KNPR and looking at the regular Thursday coverage in 10am hour we can see a significant jump in audience year over year – 30% more listening to the 10am hour. We have covered and branded the foreclosure content in this hour every week since the start of April.
We recently received information from the Mexican Patriotic Committee, a non-profit organization that has been in our community for over 29 years. They wanted us to list a community event they are promoting. We have never received such a request from the Hispanic community. The board member who submitted the request said she respected the way Nevada Public Radio is doing outreach to the Hispanic community. She appreciated the fact we are trying to communicate with them about the foreclosure project.
This is an email I received from our local HUD office contact:
“I wanted to thank you again for all of your help. Since partnering with you & KNPR our call volume has increased dramatically. We have also seen an increase in our “walk in traffic”. I have spoken to people who have heard about our programs on your station. You have helped us reach people we may never have reached, were it not for this partnership. I look forward working with you all for a very long time. Thanks.”
Phyllis Hargrove, Operations Specialist U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Field Policy Management.
We partnered with our local volunteer center to hold a volunteer-a-thon as a way of helping the center receive much needed exposure. We also wanted to give people who had recently lost jobs or hours from their jobs an opportunity to do something meaningful for the community, to have a place to go to during the day, to learn new skills, to share their skills and make valuable contacts.
This is an email we received from the Volunteer Center:
“United Way of Southern Nevada’s Volunteer Center had the opportunity to partner with Nevada Public Radio during National Volunteer Week in April 2009. Our ‘bright idea’ was to partner our request for volunteers with Nevada Public Radio’s expertise with pledge drives and their breadth of loyal listeners. Imagine our surprise when 460 new volunteers signed up on our website and pledged 11,655 hours of service to the community over the next 12 months! These 460 volunteers were from a sector in the community that we might not ever have reached without this partnership. We are indebted to Nevada Public Radio and value our collaboration. It is our hope that this partnership endures for many years to come.”
Robin Kelley, Volunteer Center Director