Transforming lives with community media.
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 “Light tomorrow with today.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

In the newsletter this month we profile the transition of KZMU’s leadership from one generation to another. Marti Durlin has been in public radio for decades and Serah Mead is taking the torch and lighting the way for a new generation of leadership. There is so much promise and potential and we want to celebrate that.
Ernesto works his magic by offering you tools, tips, and trends for how to collaborate more and he shares highlights of our stellar Charlottesville summit.
We know that the summer is winding down but your busyness isn’t, so we are throwing some relief your way in the form of good news, and helpful information. We’ve got your back community radio lovers….hang in there through the dog days of August and keep filling up those airwaves with sonic sweet meats and treats! The community radio leaders of tomorrow will thank you and so will the millions of listeners who continue to rely on you.

Sally Kane, CEO
National Federation of Community Broadcasters


3 takeaways from Charlottesville

In July, attendees from nearly two dozen community radio stations descended on Charlottesville, Virginia for the second of NFCB's Regional Summits in 2018. Host station WTJU and General Manager Nathan Moore opened the event with a live DJ and inspiring words for attendees. And our agenda of speakers provided smart strategies and fresh imagination to our community media family.
While there were many insights over the Regional Summit's days, three trends emerged
1.) Big demand for digital
The Palm Beach Post's Samatha Ragland hosted a packed session on helping community radio break through on social media. The biggest relief? First and foremost: you don’t have to know everything in order to have a successful digital media strategy and team.
Ragland examined a range of social platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as newsletters, Google Trends and push alerts. She also gave stations tools to identify the greatest need, best practices for content selection and creation, and the foundational elements of a digital strategy. For stations seeking guidance in making their strategies better, Ragland offered plenty of recommendations.

We deepened the conversation as the day went on.

A slide from Samantha Ragland's presentation on community media digital strategies
In the afternoon, Juleyka Lantigua-Williams, founder/CEO of Lantigua Williams & Co. and formerly of NPR's Code Switch, helped attendees apply the technology principle of design thinking to content development, podcasting and programming.
What made this conversation so engaging was how it moved beyond the technical and instead focused on workflows and ways to help get the station's job done. Attendees were given resources for defining their audiences, creating content and cultivating a station and team culture to accomplish digital media goals.

New research, though, reminds us that podcasting and digital are but a tiny part of our audiences. So, Regional Summit attendees were keen on keeping their eye on the ball of terrestrial broadcasts and relationships with their local constituents.
Regional Summit attendees gathered at Charlottesville's creative space IX Art Park.
2.) Fundraising is evolving
In community radio, we know we wear many hats. Programming, development, technical and outreach are a part of the daily routine. And, unfortunately, the big membership ideas can sometimes get shelved due to perceived lack of time and people.
Before a full house, Greater Public's Melanie Coulson facilitated a lively talk with community media leaders like you about raising more revenue, connecting in meaningful ways with existing donors, and reaching out to new contributors. What became apparent was the fact that many stations are experiencing problems with long-held solutions, but are seeing potential with technology that is new to the space, from online fundraising trends to giving by text.
Some of the most animated parts of the session focused on making the most of on-air campaigns and the experience with direct mail. In addition, Coulson and attendees talked about tips for finding success with online gifts and sustaining memberships. Another critical point was zeroed in on acknowledging members and all those non-revenue related touchpoints. Those connections, attendees shared, can keep donors engaged.
3.) There is a hunger of leadership skills training
In 2017 NFCB’s CEO Sally Kane joined a cohort of arts and culture organization executives for an intensive year long training to understand better the dynamics and variables that allow nonprofits to thrive and not just survive. This year’s Regional Summits have featured a three hour Saturday Leadership Seminar to explore the tools, ideas, practices, and insights that Sally gained and has been highly motivated to share.
“The National Arts Strategies program was a watershed experience in my life. The tools, theory, information, and group discussion I absorbed changed the way I work and the way I see the work I do," Sally said. "I can think of no better way to give something valuable back to NFCB member stations than offering this seminar. Stations give so much to their communities every day. This is a chance to recognize that and help pay it forward.”
NFCB's Saturday morning Leadership Seminar in Charlottesville saw virtually every attendee stick around for the discussions about station management. This seminar is organized for community radio leaders who are interested in optimizing their own leadership skills and the overall capacity of the organization. Attendees were guided through facilitated discussion, activities, and formal presentations. In addition, templates, handouts, and source materials were offered to attendees to take back to stations to use.

Did you miss the Regional Summit in Charlottesville? Our final Regional Summit is coming up in September. Get information and register here.

Serah Mead, KZMU

In June, KZMU Music Director Serah Mead was named manager of the Utah community radio powerhouse. Mead came to KZMU after endeavors like Third Space Moab, a collaborative studio that supports low-cost and DIY arts, and interning at KCSM, a Bay Area jazz station. She takes on the job with big shoes to fill. Legendary community media leader Marty Durlin steered KZMU through challenges before her retirement, and had served at KGNU and many other stations before.
Community media is seeing a major transition movement, with stations coast to coast welcoming new managers as veteran organizers pass the mic. Durlin's retirement and Mead's selection have meant a major change for the station. Serah Mead answered a few questions about her new role, and community radio today.
Your station is a snapshot of many community radio stations, with longtime leaders transitioning and new managers like yourself coming in. What have you learned in your short tenure thus far?
Oh so much. Since I'm so green, everyday is a lesson in patience, confidence, tenacity, and humorous resolve. Here are my two favorite lessons so far, though: Always be listening. Not just to our air, but to our programmers, our fellow staff, our board of trustees, and especially our community. I have found that when I stop talking and just listen, solutions abound. The other big lesson that I come back to every day is that there is no universal hard and fast rule book about community radio stations. Every action, every strategy, every innovation needs to be uniquely of that station while also incorporating lessons learned from being part of a bigger sisterhood of community radio stations around the country. We are at our best when we are able to easily adapt and synthesize those lessons into the "KZMU Way." 
What's the best advice you have gotten to this point?
I've spent the last three years as the Music Director at KZMU. The best advice came from Marty Durlin in response to the growing mountain of music on my desk. "It's a black hole, Dahling. You need to know when to walk away." I've since applied the Black Hole analogy to other challenges at the station and learned that everything gets easier from a little time away, even if it's only five minutes.

What skills would you recommend be developed by someone who aspires to become a manager?
Oooohh... thick skin and the ability to keep the big picture in view at all times. Always be able to articulate "why we're here," in a way that inspires others and yourself.

And what things should someone unlearn to be a good manager?
Unlearn status quo. Unlearn unilateral thinking. Unlearn reaction and learn response.
What excites you most about community radio right now?
Again, so much. It's independent journalism in an era of corporate influence; it's art of art's sake; it's human; it's the ultimate intangible: providing a sense of place for our community of local listeners and visitors from afar, a sort of invisible anchor to a place and time, which we all need sometimes. 
What are the things that keep you going when days get long?
Our programmers. Amateurs and seasoned DJs alike. Their dedication, enthusiasm, and rawness inspire my heart and ears. Yeah, programmers and chocolate. 
And finally how do you think community radio can have its best future?
I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I don't really know the answer yet, but I do know that whatever happens it will have to be innovative. We who work in community radio will need to be able to access our inner geniuses, feel free to Think Wrong, and work in tandem with our communities to be able to keep this thing we all love relevant and accessible.

Collaborating with ethnic media near you

A new fact sheet issued July 30 by the Pew Research Center indicates that news organizations aimed at serving African-Americans and Latinos are in decline. How can your community radio station connect with these established media groups and grow together?

Throughout American history, ethnic media has served a vital role in communities of color. The Black press, South Asian radio and other institutions have been part reporter, part advocate and part storyteller. Where mainstream media oftentimes failed to reflect the diversity and experiences in local enclaves, ethnic media was there to show the character of these neighborhoods, as well as the commerce, history and social life that went underreported elsewhere. Audience losses, as in every sector, have prompted discussion on where these organizations go next, and how they ensure their futures.
The latest Pew findings show declines in newspapers, television and radio focused on communities of color. These are not inconsistent with pains being felt across all legacy media. Still, in many communities, ethnic media are a vital link to culture for area residents. With community radio, there may be possibilities for everyone to prosper.
Community radio stations like WRFI-LP are among many that have collaborated with local organizations to produce unique journalism. As community media endeavors to serve their cities or towns, how do strong collaborations with ethnic media work?

There are a number of examples and investigations into intelligent and incisive collaboration with ethnic media:
  • Not sure partnering with a local media group is for you? Consider audience engagement trends that are being led by social media. Among them is the emergence of shares and other content shared less on Facebook, Twitter, etc. and more through personal networks. Investigators are finding more communities are relying on trusted relationships than just a link they see elsewhere. Collaboration is a means of fostering new bonds with audiences in your town.
  • The Center for Cooperative Media explored terminology and more at a recent summit, and it's good to review to get a sense of your own work going forward. Respect is central. “They treated us like competitors, but at the same time, they wanted our help,” said a reporter of one attempted collaboration. “They were trying to get information from us, but they just guarded their own sources. … So the whole thing just collapsed.” (You can also see a video of this summit.)
  • Journalist Daniela Gerson also laid out in a presentation some of the basics of ethnic media: what it is, who is served and how non-ethnic media should connect and approach.
  • American Press Institute just completed its four-part series on ways media outlets can partner with ethnic media in their communities. Among the keys to collaboration include understanding collaborations can take many forms, as long as both sides benefit; appreciating your separate and beneficial interests; and being ready to be teacher and student.
  • Local News Lab has offered four steps for news organizations to start collaborating with ethnic media. "As you search for ethnic media outlets, keep in mind no community is monolithic in beliefs or media outlets… Recognize that while there may be a critical outlet to connect with, there may also be multiple, which are as diverse as the community you represent. [And] always treat the ethnic and immigrant media with respect and make sure that everyone is benefiting from the collaboration. In the long run, that is going to ensure you can create long lasting relationships that improve your coverage, and that of your local news ecosystem as a whole."
  • Journalist Rong Xiaoqing remarks that some of the benefits of collaborating with ethnic media. "Ethnic media journalists don't have big resources and usually have to write a daily quota of stories… Meanwhile, journalists in the mainstream media work hard to produce reports from diverse communities but often lack the ability to get the full story because of language or cultural gaps. Their misunderstandings and lack of sensibilities about ethnic cultures are noticeable, from mixed last and first names of the interviewees to bias and stereotypes that can tarnish the stories."
  • Not sure where to start? Poynter's tips include Facebook groups, texts and more. But most of all? “I recommend getting to know people you respect — early and often, even (and especially) when you have no agenda and nothing to promote. Coffees and lunches, offering friendly support to competitors in the field (sharing audio has long been a bonding gesture among radio reporters) — all those things can pay off in the fullness of time."
  • Better News also has a toolbox of resources for attracting audiences.
Content and collaboration are part of NFCB's Regional Summit coming to Santa Rosa, California in September. For more information, visit NFCB's Regional Summit page. We look forward to seeing you soon.
Copyright © 2018 NFCB, All rights reserved.

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