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Preparing for a great community radio 2019.
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"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."
-Mahatma Gandhi

 
During this season of long nights and short days, my thoughts are filled with myriad ways we continue our efforts even when there is no light in sight. We endure through the current onslaught of vitriol against media. We endure through wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and human savagery that rock our communities and push us past anything we imagined we would ever experience. We endure through technological changes and economic challenges. We endure because we care enough to want to live in communities we can take pride in. We endure because we care about home and loved ones.
 
As you peruse this December newsletter that Ernesto has thoughtfully curated, I hope you find reasons to endure and stay the course. I don’t think Gandhi meant that service required abandoning yourself or your well-being. I think he meant that service to others connects us to the best part of ourselves and helps our sense of well-being thrive.
 
Community radio is designed to be a master course in service to others. My heartfelt wish to you all, in this season of dark nights, is that your service connects you to the transformational aspects of this work. I hope you find a moment to call to mind a time at your station when you knew that you were making a difference. When you have the time in mind -- and I know you all have them because I hear them from you all the time -- hold it a moment longer. Let the memory fill you up. This is the time of year to draw on those reserves, and arguably this is a time in our history to draw on those reserves so that you can courageously lose yourself in service to others in order to find yourself.
 
Best wishes,
 
Sally Kane, CEO
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
skane@nfcb.org

 

Stand together

The winter is here and, with it, comes the time for community radio stations to join or renew membership in the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.
 
This is a critical time for community radio. Across the country stations are navigating rapid and transformative change. While other media is losing audience, radio’s has grown. A new generation of leaders and media makers is taking the lead and revitalizing the space. An increase in emergency situations and climate events have highlighted local stations’ resilience and service. New business models, digital tools, and social movements are changing the way stations operate and what they respond to. Membership to NFCB helps stations optimize their capacity to respond to these tectonic shifts in media.
 
Why join or renew today? NFCB’s membership cycle runs January-December, so new members can take advantage of the full 12 months of services by joining now. Current members have received invoices to renew for 2019.
 
Membership provides many advantages to stations, including:

  • Access to NFCB’s Solution Center, community radio’s vetted and reliable knowledge base providing stations guidance on a range of regulatory and other issues facing radio
  • Superlative training opportunities for volunteers and staff, including in-person events, webinars, consultation and more
  • Discounted access to SoundExchange, which ensures your station is in legal compliance with its online streaming of copyrighted music
  • A seat at the table with community media’s most trusted peer network of emerging and veteran leaders and stations

If the highly regarded resources NFCB offers don’t convince you, some of community radio’s most respected voices have been sharing their reasons for involvement in NFCB.

Native Public Media President & CEO Loris Taylor says, “Much like a diamond, NFCB is multifaceted, spirited, and brilliant. NFCB is a community. A community where the voices of diversity can be heard at the table of broadcast public investment. NFCB is the home of universal access and public engagement for underserved communities. And, NFCB is a community square where our collective democracy can remain resilient, robust, strong, and healthy for all peoples. Native Public Media, appreciates the decades of partnership and service NFCB provides to community media, including Native radio." 

Jo Anne Wallace, former general manager of powerhouse KQED, offers, “As our national organization, NFCB represents stations on major issues with CPB, the FCC and other national institutions. NFCB inspires and encourages its member stations as we work hard to serve our local communities. And it introduces station best practices for us all to consider and learn from.”

And finally, AshevilleFM's General Manager K. P. Whaley says, “I stepped into the role of GM for our small LPFM station two years ago, and I really can't tell you how much I've relied upon NFCB and its staff. The Solution Center is a valuable resource full of templates, policy help and guidelines that I'm constantly referring to as we continue to develop new policies and guidelines here for our volunteer programmed station. Navigating the FCC can be challenging, but Ernesto, Sally, and Gretchen have always made themselves available to me to answer questions or help me navigate an opinion of any scenario that I think may be of concern. That alone is worth the annual membership fee."

"NFCB is a community of other like minded stations and people who have varying levels of experience, knowledge, and passion for community radio and being a member of that group is encouraging and supportive," Whaley adds. "It feels much like the family we have created here at our member station and the community we serve. The annual meeting is a must-attend for our station for those networking and learning opportunities, but also for the necessary encouragement it provides to go back home and continue to make an impact in our community.”

2018 was a strong year for NFCB. Some of our biggest accomplishments featured:
  • Regional summits in Grand Rapids, Charlottesville and Santa Rosa, bringing a dynamic mix of speakers on topics such as emergency preparedness, effective fundraising, digital strategy, creative content and much more
  • A Solution Center relaunch, offering even more tools to support community media
  • Webinars on remaking pledge drives, creating safe/harassment-free stations for volunteers, music licensing, innovative fundraising efforts, emergency preparedness, and deep balance in journalism, among other topics
  • A comprehensive community radio survey demonstrating where stations are succeeding and where greater attention is needed to realize their full potential
  • Advocacy and representation coast-to-coast in support of community radio needs and experiences
2019 is already shaping up to be dynamite, with the national conference coming in June, and webinars on donor relationships as well as underwriting already announced.

NFCB helps fuel your station for the road ahead. No matter what challenges you face, membership helps you do your best work and serve your community with confidence and purpose. Your investment in NFCB membership today returns knowledge and support dividends all year long. Not a member yet? Click here to inquire about membership. If you're already a member, please ensure you return your membership renewal today.
 
 

Julie Chiarelli, KVMR

Born in California, Julie was carted off to Texas at a pre-verbal age, unable to offer any persuasive arguments against this drastic migration. For the next 30 years, she bided her time trying to be a hippie in the monochromatic suburbs of Dallas, collecting various 3-letter acronyms to follow her name (BBA, MBA, CPA, MOM) and yearning for her home turf.
 
Career-wise, Julie started out by shedding her fringed leather handbag and peace choker, donning a suit, auditing company financial statements, consulting on the economic impact of litigation matters, performing fraud investigations and managing the finances of various organizations, including a commercial radio station located in a cow pasture in Fort Worth (the suit went in the closet for that venture).
 
After a transfer to Arizona, Julie took a sabbatical from the corporate life to pursue earthier realms – meditation, herbs (the legal kind), yoga, conga drumming, hospice volunteering – and went back to work in the non-profit world at Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, where she served as Finance Director for 8 years (and, for the record, referred listeners to KVMR when they called in and complained about the “conservative” nature of NPR).
 
Julie discovered Nevada County shortly after moving to Sacramento in the mid-90’s and would frequently say, “When my kids are grown, I’m moving to Nevada City.”  Fortuitously, an opportunity presented itself 6 months after Julie’s daughter graduated from high school.  One synchronistic dark night Google session and a few hoops later, she was on her way up the hill. In early 2015, Julie was honored to become KVMR's general manager.
 
Continually impressed by the creativity, dedication and wide bandwidth of KVMR’s volunteers and staff, Julie considers herself blessed to have landed in this amazing place. When not playing at work, she can be found playing congas at spiritual centers in Grass Valley and Auburn, sticking her face in a book, enjoying local music and theater, watching her breath at Mountain Stream Meditation Center (where she serves on the Board) or hanging out with her infinitely patient KVMR broadcaster partner, Jeff.
 
As you wrap up your duties as a general manager, what are some of your favorite memories of community radio?
 
Without a doubt, my favorite memories revolve around people, community and connection.  KVMR plays a critical role in providing our local community a place to come together to share joys, fears, concerns, a love of music and passion for our fellow humans and the place we call home.  I remember the levity and thrill while passing the mic across the street as we moved to our new building, the teary-eyed joy of watching our engineer dance to the music of our first community room house concert, the annual amazement of watching hundreds of volunteers transform the local fairground into a magical Celtic weekend, the joy of replacing dead CD players late one Saturday night and winning the heart of a certified curmudgeon broadcaster, the sadness of losing our friends who passed away, the satisfaction of bringing community members together at town hall meetings to discuss fire safety, dementia, food insecurity, and other timely topics. I loved the constant buzz of activity, with studios full of guests, and meeting rooms hosting community collaborations and innumerable staff, board and broadcaster committees all working in pursuit of KVMR's mission.
 
How has community radio changed, and stayed the same, to you?
 
It seems to me that there is an increased appreciation of the deep need our country has for independent media. Of course, I've been on the inside looking out, but I believe our community truly embraces the mission of community radio in bringing people together for civilized discourse to work towards solutions and to celebrate creativity and joyful aspects of living that we can share together.

Your community has faced some of the wildfires the nation has heard about. What role has the station played in responding?
 
When the fires broke out around 1:00am, our broadcaster Mark was likely one of the very few people awake and on the job in our local community, other than law enforcement, healthcare workers and other first responders. People were confused and wanted details. They called Mark. As he scrambled to find timely information, an evacuee broadcaster came to the station (thank you Joyce!) to help juggle information gathering, broadcasting and phone answering until others began to arrive. Throughout the ensuing week, we provided a voice for local agencies dealing with the fires and evacuations, a connection between people needing and offering help and a friendly ear in the midst of frightening chaos.

Is there a role the station played that you did not expect?
 
I was surprised that so many people called the station for critical evacuation-related information. I assumed they would call County OES or 911 or the sheriff, but there were so many people in evacuation advisory areas who had no electricity, no transport, were elderly or disabled and had very little in terms of timely information. And no one wants to "be a bother" (!!) to the busy "authorities."  So, they called KVMR, in droves, all day long. When I got called early morning, I stopped off to pick up some snacks for everyone and grabbed an old-fashioned street map. What a stroke of luck that was, as we spent the rest of the day plotting the fire's progress and evacuation boundaries and being the sounding board for fellow community members as they waited and worried.
 
How can other stations be better prepared for situations like this?
 
As we can see from not only last year's fires, but also from the devastating fires of 2018, there is so much preparation needed and it requires the involvement of people throughout the community. KVMR's first move this past year was to broadcast a town hall on fire danger, sponsored by a local website that focuses on fire information and other local news. We then arranged a meeting with County OES to gain a better understanding of roles during an emergency and to exchange contact information and plan for the upcoming fire season.

KVMR was represented by broadcasters who agreed to be available to come to the station in the event of an emergency as well as staff. Now, it's time to turn to prevention and preparation and KVMR intends to play an integral role in hosting/broadcasting community forums and focusing on critical issues that need collaboration and serious thought and planning. After the Camp Fire in Paradise, we are well aware of the parallel dangers that exist in Nevada County - narrow, limited roads leading away from the area, trees lining all major highways and most surface streets, abundant fuel, drought conditions late each year, exposed power lines that weave their way through the forest of our community. KVMR has an obligation to promote and support the work that is necessary to decrease the risk of disaster in our area. We are also looking into the possibility of obtaining a mobile broadcast vehicle that could provide continuing information to the local area should our studios or transmitter site be damaged.
 
What is one issue you hope the next leaders of community radio can solve?
 
We have to be planning to pass the community radio torch to younger generations. We need to find ways to inspire the upcoming leaders of our communities to get involved in this incredible public resource and to transform it to be a place of collaboration that reflects their lives and interests.
 
Based on your experience, what advice would you give those leading or wanting to lead stations?
 
Listen. Be present. Breathe. Respond. And, take a vacation every now and then - it'll be there when you get back.
 
When the days have gotten longest at the station, what has picked up your spirits most?
 
Someone dropping by on a Saturday afternoon and making their way upstairs to my furthest-from-the-front-door office to deliver a fresh avocado from their tree or a few of their favorite tea bags or to tell me about a really cool show they went to the night before. The idea that they thought I might be there, churning out emails, grinding out financial statements, and they brought by a smile.
 
How might you do things differently, if you knew then what you know now?
 
That's hard to say. I feel like I did the best I could. I worked hard. I loved them. I wore myself out and was self-reflective enough to know when it was time to find a fresh leader to carry forth the legend of KVMR. I've been so proud to be a part of it, to be trusted with this precious community jewel built by so many creative and thoughtful people over the last 40 years. What a ride it's been.
 
 

Year-end giving

More and more Americans each year say giving back to their communities is a value they believe in. Millennials are leading this charge, according to Forbes. For community radio, this time of year is a perfect moment to tap into that spirit with all your great work.

Many community radio stations saw success on Giving Tuesday, the day following Black Friday and Cyber Monday following Thanksgiving. If you're involved with one of those stations, congratulations. Your thank you notes and emails should already be out the door by now. If not, consider doing so. This is a smart idea, no matter the time of year, for fostering trust with first-time givers. You can show how much you appreciate them with a thank you, and encourage them to deepen their relationship with your station.

Your year-end giving may be influenced by many factors. First and foremost is your own efforts to generate support during this period. Are you on social media with your appeal? Can you make videos that represent to your community the real-world impact you have locally? How is your year-end giving page and language special? 2018 has been a raucous year; what has your station meant to donors this year, and how can they help you make their 2019 even more informed, entertaining and invigorating?

Changes by way of Washington, DC may affect your work this time around. In 2018, Congress doubled the standard deduction, which means fewer Americans may have the financial incentive to give as they did in the past. New limits on deducting state and local income taxes and property taxes may also have impact here too. Some projections suggest donations this year could dip by $20 billion. Such gloomy projections have not slowed down nonprofits, though.

There is still time to do excellent fundraising, but now is the time to put a plan into action. A few insights to help you get started:
  • Anyone on your team unsure this year-end business helps? From one study of nonprofit organizations, “28 percent said that they raised between 26 and 50 percent of their total annual income from the year-end ask alone.” This, and many more statistics on year-end fundraising come courtesy of Nonprofit Hub.
  • NFCB’s Solution Center offers many fundraising resources for member stations, including 2018 year-end social media graphics. You can access the Solution Center here if you’re a member.
  • The Chronicle of Philanthropy suggests nine ways to reap year-end rewards. Promoting matching gifts and digital holiday cards are among your tools. Recognition before the ask also matters. “In an experiment with one nonprofit, the researchers found that annual donors who received a thank-you message one month before a gift request gave around $45 more on average, which represented a 67 percent increase compared with those who were not thanked first.”
  • Classy collects case studies of nonprofit year-end messages. They include one that pitches monthly/sustaining gifts as part of year-end to make bigger projects possible; a ‘fundraising catalog’ where levels ‘buy’ particular efforts for the nonprofit and a year-end giving website within a nonprofit’s website. The big takeaway? Be creative and tell your story.
  • Don’t overlook the data you already have on hand to get insights on your ask. That’s advice from GuideStar, which presents ten recommendations for nonprofits doing year-end campaigns. “The beauty of your nonprofit data is that it can tell you everything you need to know to make the rest of the year a success. If you want to choose a story that is going to get the most results for your nonprofit, for example, you can look at your monthly donation amounts and align those campaign records to see which one brought in the most money. Or look at social media to see which posts get the most engagement, and build your story with more of that in the mix. You can then use these specific campaign messages or programs to advise your end-of-year campaign, one that uses data and proven results to build momentum for your organization.”
  • A well-written and targeted email or letter can help your donations soar. Communications that focus on impact of a donor’s gift and the difference s/he makes can be powerful. A few examples of donor-focused messaging include ‘thanks to your generous gift of $250 last year, 5 underprivileged children received school supplies” and “because of your ongoing financial support, we’ve raised $100,000 for families in need.”
  • Curious about fundraising via text message. Researchers say text subscribers to organization’s contact lists are more likely to give. “The key to a successful multi-channel fundraising campaign is creating a cohesive story across your different marketing messages. Text messaging can help you tie your narrative together by reaching your supporters at exactly the right moment.”
Polls say public trust in nonprofits is waning, but community radio -- as a valued local media source with connections to divergent subcultures in town -- could be situated to buck the trend. You're invited to NFCB's 2019 national conference to learn more about effective fundraising, community engagement, illuminating content tips and more. We hope to see you in San Diego.
 
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