Inside: Relax and recharge, an interview with News Director Carlos Morales, human-centric approaches to DEI, a new FCC chairman, and more.
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“Renewal is necessary for recharge.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita

It is somewhat counterintuitive for the coming of winter but this is the season of membership renewal. NFCB remains an independent force in the world of public media because community stations pool their resources to fund this nexus organization. We harness the same collective power among member stations across the country as our member stations do in the communities they serve. Without renewals, the batteries do not recharge. On the one hand, membership dues are a sacrifice that stations make in allocating their hard earned resources. On the other hand, paying the dues is an impactful investment in the collective health of our field - a field characterized by localism, inclusion, and grassroots community building.

Our team is fully engaged in meeting 2022 with dedication and a commitment to excellence. Rapid change and complex challenges have galvanized community radio stations like never before and that has translated to robust engagement with NFCB’s services. We take that very seriously and we are thrilled to be part of this essential movement that enriches civic life, lifts spirits, and values the participation of everyone who cares enough to be part of it.

Wishing you a season of renewal, recharge, good health, and mountains of merriment. No telling what 2022 will serve up, but together we will meet it eye to eye - and with a little luck - face to face!

Sally Kane, CEO
National Federation of Community Broadcasters

New Leadership at the FCC

This fall, we saw a change in leadership at the FCC. Jessica Rosenworcel is the first female chair in the FCC's history. She served as Senior Communications Council for the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and has a background in communications law.

Broadband internet access and net neutrality are two hot-button issues that Ms. Rosenworcel is expected to prioritize.

A lot has happened since the prior chairman, Ajit Pay, made headlines for his actions towards repealing net neutrality. Ms. Rosenworcel has been vocal about her commitment to net neutrality for years.

So, what does this all mean for public media? In the pandemic, a radical shift to internet dependence rocked our world. From educating our kids, to working from home, to buying toilet paper, we saw the necessity for the public to have accessible, affordable internet. The pivot to remote production and digital content is an example of how the pandemic has pushed public media to be innovative and to embrace digital and internet platforms. How the FCC chairman handles broadband internet and net neutrality is of utmost interest for public media, as changes could affect how and where we reach the public.

In the coming year, we'll be watching how the new chairman will navigate these, and many other important issues.

A Human-Centric Approach to DEI Work


Recently, the Harvard Business Review published a piece, How Sharing Our Stories Builds Inclusion by Selena Rezvani and Stacey A. Gordon, that discusses taking a "human-centric approach" to diversity, equity, and inclusion work.

The authors write "In our attempts to create more awake and aware environments, we’re forgetting that numbers typically don’t inspire us to change our behavior — people and stories do."

In public media, our work is centered on stories and people, yet when it comes to things like DEI work, measuring what matters can sometimes take center stage. The quote above reminds us that while metrics are important, real change can best be affected by a human-centric approach.

One example of this approach to DEI work done successfully is Southern California Public Radio. At SCPR (and by extension, KPCC and LAist), the staff led the charge by creating an independent DEI task force. The task force engaged with a lot of people, including 90% of the organization, former employees, board members, community advisory board members, and independent DEI consultants.

The objective was to make the process of change as inclusive as possible. As a result, SCPR and KPCC decided on 44 concrete actions that support five themes: mission, journalism, the employee experience, revenue and fundraising, and how SCPR embodies this work.

Was this work easy? No. But was it worthwhile? Yes. The DEI task force has begun real, ongoing change within the organization. This work is more than one project or mission statement - it's ongoing and touches all that we do in our organizations.

For an in-depth read about the DEI work at SCPR/KPCC/LAist, click here.

As we move into a new year, we have new opportunities to use our passion and skill for storytelling and programming to create more diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible stations for our listeners, volunteers, staff, and boards.

Interviewed by Lisa Kettyle, NFCB Program Director. Photo provided by Carlos Morales.

Lisa: How did you get into public media?

Carlos: I went to journalism school. I didn't grow up in a public radio household, so it wasn't part of my upbringing. Public media, and specifically public radio, wasn't really on my radar until I did an internship with KUT in Austin around 2010. My first full-time gig in public media was at a university licensee in Waco. The more I got involved with the core aspects of what it means to be involved in public media, I felt more and more geared to that.

Lisa: What brought you to Marfa Public Radio?

Carlos: I grew up in El Paso, Texas, not far from Marfa. I became more and more aware of the work that was coming out of the station in Marfa. Looking in from the other corners of Texas, it seemed like [MPR] was doing great work and was a great place to sharpen skills. I was completely blown away by the team at the time, and I'm still blown away by the team that we have here.

Lisa: And now you're the news director.

Carlos: When I first came on board, my job title was this kind of three-headed mythological beast: I was Morning Edition host, reporter and news director. I had conversations with station leadership and other folks in the first few years and it became abundantly clear that it was not sustainable. With support from station leadership, I was able to carve out a path to break off those extra titles into their own known positions and allow me to focus entirely on news direction, my first time in a managerial role. I'm lucky and very fortunate to be surrounded by the folks that we have here, because they're all such amazing, talented superstars and they make my job a lot easier.

Lisa: What advice do you have for stations that are considering creating a newsroom or a news program?

Carlos: I think the big thing to understand is to slowly and gently wade into the waters of building out the newsroom. What I mean is, bringing on one reporter to cover the news can sort of feel like turning on the fire hydrant at full blast, because the news doesn't stop. Have one person focus on a specific type of beat versus general news. The more direction that the radio station is able to carve out with the first position, the better. I think that sets up individual reporters for success. Take the time to carve out what the newsroom’s mission is and then write a mission statement.

Lisa:  Could you speak to how collaboration and partnerships have come into play for your station?

Carlos: Partnerships and collaborations are key to not just the success of rural small stations, but newsrooms at large. I think that there can be an old school mentality of hardcore competitiveness and individuality. I think we need to move away from that. It's an egotistical approach and it's not about your listeners, your readership or your communities. At that point, it's about you, which isn't the purpose of what we're here to do. Divesting ourselves of that kind of ego is crucial. Wherever you want to drop a pin on a map, collaboration is going to be key.

Lisa: One last question. What’s on your turntable right now?

Carlos: If you walked into my living room right now, you’d find one of two At the Drive In albums on my turntable - Hell Paso or ¡Alfaro Vive, Carajo!

This interview was edited for brevity. Lisa Kettyle worked with Carlos Morales at Marfa Public Radio before joining NFCB.

Job Spotlight

Here are some employment opportunities from around the system (NFCB members can access the full list of opportunities here):

Radio Journalist, Mountain West News Bureau - KUNM Albuquerque, NM 
Contract Station Engineer - KWLP, Peach Springs, AZ deadline to apply 12/10/21.
Membership Coordinator - KALW, San Francisco, CA deadline to apply 12/10/21.

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