Inside: WTIP's Matthew Brown, George Floyd, radio diversity
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Community Radio News & Notes from NFCB

"We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread
than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die."
- W.H. Auden

The poet W.H. Auden wrote these words as part of a long poem in six parts in 1948. The full poem is called The Age of Anxiety; it won him a Pulitzer Prize and inspired Leonard Bernstein to write a symphony that was used in two different ballets.

As I think about the events of the last few weeks I have cycled Auden’s words through my mind often. We have found ourselves at the intersection of intractable challenges: a terrifying global pandemic, systemic racism and police brutality laid bare for all to see, and a warming climate that adds exponential impact and permeates our lives with new uncertainty.

Yet, these are the times when local media serves people the most and it helps suture our collective psyche back together. Our team at NFCB has witnessed this powerful service (and the remarkable resilience that comes with it) among our member stations on a daily basis these days. With the George Floyd tribute that Ernesto organized, the outpouring of fierce effort to keep the airwaves alive with the sounds of our voices, and the deep conversations we have had every week among peers, stations are climbing the cross of this moment. Without that kind of courage, nothing new can grow and nothing festering can heal. In short, our illusions cannot die. Change is all that saves us from ruin. I’ve never been more proud of this organization, our members, our partners, and public media as a whole.

It's been said that we make the path by walking it. What an honor it is to walk the path with you. Enjoy the newsletter and take good care of yourselves and each other.

Sally Kane, CEO
National Federation of Community Broadcasters

Remembering George Floyd

On Tuesday, June 9, radio stations around the nation came together to reflect on the day of George Floyd's funeral. His death at the hands of police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25 was captured on a now-viral video. The incident sparked global protests and wider discussions on racial justice.

In a nationwide effort initiated by NFCB, nearly 200 radio stations in unison played the Sam Cooke classic "A Change is Gonna Come" to remember Floyd and to acknowledge communities anguished by this and other cases that have received national attention.

From marquee public media organizations in America’s biggest cities to rural broadcasters; from religious to secular stations; and in many languages, radio stations came together in an historic moment for our medium.

NFCB is committed to continuing this conversation. NFCB is convening an all-member meeting on inclusion at local stations. Then, on July 8, NFCB welcomes you to a panel on diversity, equity and inclusion in noncommercial media, featuring some of our brightest minds in the space. Sign up here to attend and get reminders.


Matthew Brown, WTIP

Matthew assumed the duties of Executive Director of WTIP in June of 2018. He started with them as a volunteer music host in 2002, he then was hired part-time to take over the duties of the Monday through Friday music show, Sidetracks, in 2008 and then became full-time as he became Program Director in 2014.

Let’s start by telling people a little about your story?
In my previous profession I was an outdoor guide leading dogsled, whitewater rafting and canoeing trips but my main job was a sailboat captain and/or mate on the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean on boats from 38’ to 150’. I did this for around 20 years but due to medical issues, I had to put those livelihoods aside in 2005 and was hired by WTIP in 2008.

What about your life got you into radio?
I really got into radio while I was on sailboats, listening to different radio programs from around the world on my shortwave radio, learning many different perspectives and musical genres. I finally settled in Grand Marais in 1996 and when WTIP came on the air in 1998, I was happy to volunteer as music host in 2002.

What’s a problem you’re trying to solve right now?
With the COVID-19 and then racism coming front and center, I have been trying to place WTIP’s role in our community. What it is, what it should be and why WTIP is here. Our mission states that we ‘build community’ and ‘educate and inform’. As we have worked hard to strengthen our relationships with our partners, I look at our capacity and how to work with them to help us make changes in our community. Reporting on issues is very important but I want to do our part to help institute change. 

If you had to describe how you manage as a weather pattern, what's your forecast?
Mild temperatures and fair winds under partly sunny skies with a slight chance of snow.

What is the best advice you ever received?
You can be scared, but focus on what needs to be done. A friend told me this while sailing across the Atlantic Ocean on a forty-foot boat through twenty-five foot waves for days on end.

NFCB today announces the launch of its new podcast, Up for Air.
Join us for discussions of media, leadership, and community building with organizers, producers and many more.
Listen to our pilot here.

Focusing on inclusion

Worldwide protests over the killing of George Floyd and dialogues about Black Lives Matter are creating unprecedented discussions about diversity, equity and inclusion. And while these are issues to take seriously, rarely has the demand for action been stronger.

A wave of recognition at major nonprofits and media organizations have been prompted by failures at the top to deliver on inclusion, disrespect for employees of color, and systemic exclusion of diverse voices in boards, leadership and management roles. How should leaders in their current positions respond?

Here are a few reads for white managers who are looking to foster more diversity, equity and inclusion at their stations:

  • How do you win others over to take on diversity as a priority at stations? According to Harvard Business Review, a study suggests stakeholders may best be educated by talking about accountability – focusing on the opportunities, potential for litigation, and more.
  • At the Columbia Journalism Review, Vann R. Newkirk II, a Black journalist, pinpoints several practical points for white managers to work on by looking at diversity as a second job. Among the recommendations: creating viable pipelines to support new leaders of color; and looking at inclusion not simply as the 'right thing to do,' but a central strategy for solidifying its future.
  • Sisi Wei zeroes in on how our ideals of equity and inclusion can be sidelined during a crisis like COVID-19. How can you keep your station from being derailed by the conflict-of-the-day and stay the course? Here are a few foundational approaches.

You are encouraged to follow NFCB on social media for the latest on this and other topics.

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