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On the road to 2018 Regional Summits
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“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” ~Lao Tzu

 
Nothing debatable about Spring’s arrival once April is here! I thought of Lao Tzu on my daily walk to work as I watched the crocuses and hyacinths begin the new season…taking that first step into a new time of year and inspiring all who take the time to witness their intrepid dedication.
 
Intrepid is the operating theme for the newsletter this month. We recognize the tenacity of award winning journalist, and retiring NFCB board member, Jenni Monet. Jenni is on a thousand-mile journey and her courageous steps are an inspiration for all of us in community media. We recognize member station KVNF for its recent award from the Colorado Broadcaster’s Association. Program Director Ali Lightfoot’s weekly show called Local Motion is yet another reminder of the intrepid pursuit of excellence that makes a local station shine. Ernesto has put together helpful tips for how to take steps to create effective newsletters. Beneath the carefully curated content Ernesto offers every day is the same quality of taking that first step on his thousand-mile journey to encourage people to keep building community and keep caring about one another.
 
In the flurry of spring busyness we hope you can take a moment to sip from the well of inspiration, and with a big exhale, take that first step into a new season and begin again. Each of us engaging one step at a time…that’s what truly makes the world go around.
 
Here’s to breaking trail and making tracks!

Sally Kane, CEO
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
skane@nfcb.org
 


Creating great local content

Award-winning program Local Motion provides a look at Colorado from the studios of NFCB member station KVNF. It is a program not unlike many in community radio. It profiles local newsmakers and performers. It also serves as a forum for topics and news from its Paonia hometown as well as its region. Yet, unlike many other similar community radio shows, Local Motion has scored statewide accolades. How?
 
Local Motion was recently recognized for its journalism tackling the subject of racism in Western Colorado. After the events in Charlottesville, Va., the program grappled with what diversity and inclusion mean for a region that is 93 percent white. Local Motion has also featured talks with neighbors about firearms, low-cost insurance and emergency management. Its storytelling is rich as it is nuanced.
 
As NFCB prepares for its 2018 Regional Summits, content will be one of the tracks for these immersive community media experiences. In Michigan, Virginia and California, we'll investigate how powerful programming is made. In the case of Local Mortion, what can community radio stations learn from KVNF? Host Ali Lightfoot shares some insights.

Lots of stations are doing a local public-affairs program. What about this show makes it so distinctive?
 
I believe public affairs programs should be the place where we humanize the national headlines in a way that has not been done before and lead audiences to understand better who we are when we are forced to live side by side, as we all are to some extent.
 
Multiple viewpoints are key. I recently produced a program on guns that included a school shooting survivor, a gun enthusiast, a dad who wants to patrol the hallways of his daughter's high school, a gun control activist, legislators and a school superintendent. The more stakeholders you can include, the better.
 
I also learned, from watching children interview people in our youth radio camps, how to approach each subject. I go in with curiosity, as opposed to judgment or skepticism. I find that you get to the heart of the matter much easier that way.
 
What has been the approach to selecting content for this program?
 
I am drawn to issues that have some element of cultural division to explore. What happens when you put a retired Republican sheriff in the same room with a 19-year-old pot dealer and they discuss politics? A coal miner with an off-the-gridder? A Christian evangelist sex education teacher with a politically active pro-choice high school student?
 
I try not to include people who are going to express the most polarizing viewpoints possible, because that is boring to me and does not lead to better understanding. I look for people who can really give rational insight into their point of view and also give them the opportunity to talk about how they feel they have been misunderstood.
 
I take national issues to the local level as often as possible. There was national discussion about racism after the events in Charlottesville, so I convened a local discussion that looks at how those same issues play out in our own communities.
 
Many community stations do this in their public affairs programs already and it's where I got the idea. It's what we do best. I encourage you to submit these programs for awards every year so you can be recognized for the important work you are doing!
 


Jenni Monet

Journalist and media visionary Jenni Monet has announced her retirement from the board of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters.
 
A former Community Media Conference keynote and presenter, Jenni Monet is one of the nation's foremost champions of reporting by and for Native American communities. Her boundless energy, unwavering commitment and heartfelt generosity are among her calling cards.

Jenni Monet / Photo by Lauren Colchamiro
 
Jenni Monet grew up in indigenous communities across Indian Country. The daughter of a driven single-mother who worked as a nurse for the Indian Health Services, Jenni moved frequently as a child, experiencing the differences, but also the similarities of many of the country's tribal nations.
 
Today, you may have seen Jenni Monet's works published by the Center for Investigative Reporting and its news platform, Reveal, the PBS NewsHour, Columbia Journalism Review, Public Radio International, High County News, Yes! Magazine and Indian Country Today.

In 2017, Jenni received top honors for her Standing Rock coverage, including the Paul Tobenkin Memorial Award from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award and Journalist of the Year from the Newswomen's Club of New York.   

In 2018, Jenni Monet was selected as part of NPR's StoryLab Workshop, an intensive training designed to support teams in audio storytelling. Monet's group will investigate the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
 
If you missed her keynote at NFCB's 2017 Community Media Conference, you can watch it in full here:
In December 2016, Jenni embedded herself on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to chronicle the ongoing battle against the Dakota Access pipeline where she was arrested in February while on assignment. In response to her charges of "criminal trespassing" and "rioting," Jenni Monet joined a renewed call for protecting our civil liberties, and more directly our First Amendment right to free speech under the U.S. Constitution. The movement her case sparked went viral.
 
Jenni's journalism career began as a TV newscaster and reporter for medium-market CBS affiliates. She's also worked in public radio and documentary filmmaking. Jenni Monet holds an MA in International Politics with a concentration in Indigenous Human Rights Policy from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism

In addition, Jenni Monet is executive producer and host of the podcast, Still Here: Modern Stories of Resilience, Indigenously Told. You can also find her continuing work on Medium.
 
NFCB thanks Jenni Monet for her outstanding service to the organization and community radio member stations across America. We look forward to working together in the public interest.
 


Making the most of newsletters

Newsletters are one of media's most enduring communication tools. From the photocopied glory days of fanzines and sports memorabilia sheets to the two dozen-plus email communiqués of the New York Times, something about newsletters has always felt exclusive, niche and fun.
 
As participants from member stations will learn at NFCB's 2018 Regional Summits, engaging new and core audiences is essential. So is an understanding of what makes your communications plan special.
 
For community radio, the email newsletter is an indispensible way of keeping in touch with donors, as well as to cultivate relationships with listeners who might give in the future. You can talk about the newest programming in your newsletter, or share upcoming events. NFCB shares many newsletter case studies and tips on Facebook and Twitter to discover fresh uses of your newsletter.

Perhaps your station uses its newsletter to solicit opinions. Your station could use your newsletter to go behind-the-mics and give your audience a closer look at the making of radio they enjoy and to which they donate to help keep on the air. Or maybe your community radio station does not do a newsletter yet, and you wish to gather some intelligence before committing.

Station newsletters are a wonderful way to give your listeners a sense of ownership in the station. A newsletter can also serve to remind them about how you line up with their values, and are a good place to donate. In addition, newsletters give you a longform place to explain what station membership means and to emphasize the costs associated with quality programming. Although you can use a newsletter to promote your programming and events, this is a chance to enrich your relationships, too.

With the advent of analytics, organizations have more data than ever about the success of a newsletter. You can learn everything from open rates (how often people open your email) to what readers are responding to. The knowledge you glean from your newsletter's metrics can help you know what your fans enjoy. Understanding their habits means you'll cater better to them and, in turn, have a stronger connection.

Select case studies and newsletter experiments may help your community radio station newsletter strategy to become more compelling. A few vivid reads on newsletters include:

  • Six Lessons about Email and Audience Growth for Nonprofit News. Not collecting email addresses? Email is an effective, affordable way to communicate. "Make email acquisition — and source tracking — a priority, and orient your org chart, web design, and partner strategy around this priority. This will require willingness to experiment, patience, and analysis of your performance."
  • Inside the Seattle Times' newsletter strategy. "[W]ith an increasing amount of news consumption occurring on mobile devices through social platforms such as Facebook, publishers have been looking for ways to directly reach readers without having to deal with the platforms’ algorithmic whims." Frequency and links back to your website are among the most interesting things the newspaper learned.
  • Lessons Learned from the Quartz Email Team. A clean visual design, a focus on content and balancing design and editorial concerns are key. "Newsletters have an opportunity to grow a deeply loyal readership, which is great for retention."
  • 4 Ways Newsletter Publishers Can Hit Open Rates Between 50 and 60 Percent. Good fundamentals include original content and keeping a personal touch in your newsletter. You'll also catch some stats on the growth of newsletters, then faltering, then ascendance, in our media space.
  • On-air, online and on demand. A look at how non-commercial radio stations are presenting membership to readers and listeners.
  • GroundSource switched from an email newsletter to a SMS newsletter and actually got responses. Most of us would not dream of ditching our newsletter for texts to members, for many reasons, but this experiment may be of interest. The radio show 1A tried it, and GroundSource shares its lessons. "It’s been a thing on the to-do list to restart the email newsletter, and we wanted to make sure it wasn’t just another marketing ploy… We thought ‘how can we be useful to folks, let’s take what we do and put it in email form’…. We talked with some folks and sensed it was the right approach, but we weren’t getting the right feedback to maintain.”
  • The Locally Engaged subscribe because they care about the community. How a newsletter chose a topic and built a community around its interests. "Locally Engaged subscribers all cite access to local news as important to their decision to subscribe. Four in 10 also say a number of interesting articles, topic coverage, and wanting to support local journalism were important."

Stations take seriously their commitment to education and inquiry. NFCB is here to help enhance those aspirations. With our Solution Center, webinars, peer network and more, NFCB assists stations in doing more in every area. We hope to explore many of the ideas you read in this newsletter at our Regional Summits. Please see us in California, Michigan and Virginia. And if your community radio station is not yet a member, you can join NFCB today.

Thanks for reading. Check NFCB.org for more on community media.
 

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