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Community media expands in the new year.
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Epiphany: (Noun) a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand,
or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you.

Cambridge Dictionary
 
There are many religious connotations for the word Epiphany, but it’s a word like many others that has come to be used in a common vernacular often. I admit that it’s a favorite of mine and, within my ancestral religion of Catholicism, the Feast of Epiphany on January 6 was one I enjoyed a lot.

My New Year’s epiphany, upon reflecting on 2017, is that progress is made by ordinary people taking small steps every day to live the values they cherish, more than loud action taken by powerful figures for the glory of public attention. For every soul-crushing story that we heard in 2017, there were at least a dozen in your own communities that illustrate the magic of ordinary human beings making important contributions on a local level. That’s where community media comes in; you get to shine a light on what happens where you live. You get to call out the ugly, but you also get to celebrate the beautiful. I submit to you that the role you play changes the world in positive ways and you are needed desperately in the sea of information overload and “fake news” manipulation that saturates our daily lives now.
 
My daughter excavated the following quote as she perused her journals on New Year’s Day (in search of hidden epiphanies) from the writer Alice Walker.
 
“What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places - and there are so many - when people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act in however small a way. We don't have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents. And to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” 
 
As you peruse the January newsletter, we hope you will delight in the many accomplishments of your colleagues and their uplifting stories that Ernesto has collected for the Sowing the Seeds feature. In the Food for Thought feature, Ernesto explores smart speakers and how people are responding to them. Our aim is always to inform, inspire, and serve you.  Why? Because you are magnificent and you seed epiphanies that feed people’s hearts, souls, and minds.
 
Looking forward to the year ahead,

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


Your station on smart audio

Smart speakers such as the Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple HomePod, and Echo Dot are growing in popularity. They were one of the most popular holiday gifts. And they're getting a ton of interest from radio.

Why are major public media organizations pivoting to these devices, and why are stations jumping to create listener experiences there?
 
If you are not familiar, smart speakers emerged around 2016 as a voice controlled virtual assistant. You can ask things like, "?hat's the weather?" "Did the Mets win last night?" Or "How many kinds of whales exist?" and get answers. These devices also can play games, read books out loud, and control your lights and other enabled home appliances when asked.

Although only two years old, these gadgets are owned by about eight percent of the population, far ahead of adoption of smartphones and tablets in the same arc. Interest in interactive tools like smart speakers is still growing. A Jan. 4 report projects 50 million smart speakers will ship in 2018. By 2020, it is estimated that 50 percent of search will be by voice.

What does your community radio station need to know about these devices?

Smart speakers are a tantalizing option for your audience. For news junkies, there are dozens of news services and content deliveries from the likes of BBC, NPR, Bloomberg, and the New York Times that can be activated by customized voice controls like "news." Music fans can tell smart speakers "play Christmas music," "play rock music for work," or "play Solange" and get a stream of music to suit your interests.

Being so new, these devices are still a work in progress – asking for a musician like M.I.A. may get you someone else, depending on voice recognition, for instance – but they have emerged rapidly as consumer technology to watch.

Though smart speakers may be considered competition, the potential for community radio to find new audiences is tremendous. In the fall, NPR and Edison Research issued a report on smart audio. Among the findings:
  • 90 percent of smart speaker owners wanted a smart speaker to listen to music
  • 77 percent of owners wanted a smart speaker to get news and information
  • 65 percent of owners would not want to go back to their lives before getting one of these devices
  • 62 percent believe music they found on smart speakers would be better than radio
  • 38 percent use smart speakers to listen to music radio
  • 32 percent use smart speakers to listen to talk radio
A whopping 70 percent of respondents to the NPR/Edison Research survey are consuming more audio due to their smart speakers. Of those who listen more, they're hearing 65 percent more music, 28 percent more news/talk, and 20 percent more podcasts.
 
The study notes how smart speakers are one of the first major shifts for audio in years. Where the focus for a long time has been on the very personal experience of earbuds and individual, private listening, smart speakers are ushering in more household and family listening. 57 percent of respondents with children said entertaining kids was part of the reason for their purchase. (And 88 percent said the children enjoyed the smart speaker.)
 
NFCB has been upfront, prepping community radio on how the technology can be understood and utilized to best benefit stations. For Amazon devices, for example, if your station is already on TuneIn, you just have to say, “Alexa, play (station) on TuneIn.” Or "Alexa, play [station]." Once you've determined how you're placed in smart speakers, then it's just a matter of educating audiences.
 
NFCB has offered more guidance for organizations seeking to make more inroads on smart speakers, such as using the Echo's Flash Briefing component to deliver content to audiences.
 
Membership in NFCB ensures your station stays up to date. Whether it is this increasingly popular tool or something else, NFCB shows you how to engage and grow your listenership. Other benefits of NFCB membership include:
  • NFCB's Solution Center, a knowledgebase filled with templates, regulatory guidance and advice vetted by professionals in the field.
  • Educational webinars to empower you to do your best work and be more successful, such as our upcoming January session on fundraising and pledge drives with KEXP.
  • Peer and NFCB staff support for all your complicated and practical station dilemmas.
  • Plus more.
If your station is not a member, you are encouraged to join today.
 
Sowing the Seeds


Community media's happy new year

In cities and towns across America, community radio offers hope and a vision that every volunteer, staffer, and supporter seeks to infuse into their neighborhoods, friends, and acquaintances. Community radio reminds us what our idealism and commitment represents, the kind of cities and towns we want to live in, and the values we hope to see flourish.
 
Through these efforts, community radio prospers. Change is a constant in our medium, as are anniversaries and growth. A few of the many remarkable stories in community media worth your time include:

  • Portland's legendary member station KBOO celebrates its 50th anniversary with a new exhibit honoring its history. Showing at the Oregon Historical Society from January through July, the curators note, "KBOO started as a relief to Portland’s bleak FM desert and became a community effort to build a more accessible media."
  • Speaking of big birthdays, Lincoln member station KZUM celebrates 40 years and Kansas City member station KKFI celebrates 30 years in 2018.
  • The close of 2017 saw a grant for member station Coast Community Radio, which will use the funds to upgrade its facilities. In addition, Coast Community Radio has received several profiles in the local newspaper, the Daily Astorian, of its building and participants, including this one.
  • Also on grants, AshevilleFM, North Carolina's low-power FM giant, has won funding to develop a youth and community podcasting curriculum. The station will be unveiling a new studio shortly as well.
  • Massachusetts member station WOMR has launched a $250,000 capital campaign to upgrade its facilities. John Braden, executive director of the community radio station, said in a statement, “The new equipment is essential for the station to broadcast and the new studio-to-transmitter link will allow us to keep in touch with our transmitter in a way we’ve never been able to do before.”
  • The American Archive of Public Broadcasting has announced its Public Broadcasting Preservation Fellowship Spring 2018 Cohort, and several fellows mentored by community radio leaders are on the list. NFCB covered the AAPB's radio preservation efforts last year in a Radio World column. The students will pursue efforts to preserve radio history around the nation.
Tristin Tabish. Photo Credit: Austen Diamond Photography
  • Utah member station KRCL has introduced public media veteran Tristin Tabish as its new general manager. “I’ve been with KUER for 20 years … but I’ve always had this attraction to KRCL and to its music.,” Tabish told the Salt Lake Tribune. “When this opportunity arose, I knew that if I didn’t at least apply, I would regret it. So I was beyond thrilled to actually get the job.”
  • New York member station WJFF has selected Dan Rigney as its new general manager/development director. In an announcement, Rigney said, “I am overjoyed to be returning to my radio roots at a station that is like no other. I look forward to working with the very capable staff and dedicated volunteers of WJFF Radio Catskill to continue to move the station forward."
  • Member station KAOS in Olympia has a new general manager, after Ruth Brownstein announced her switch to a new role in the organization. "We have evolved into one of the most productive and innovative community radio stations around," she wrote. "It has been a tremendous privilege and a huge learning experience to be part of this station during this incredible time." Jon Hamilton takes the reigns at the Evergreen College outpost.
  • Seattle member station KVRU-LP has added arts professional Maurice Jones, Jr. as its program manager. In a press release, KVRU station manager Sharon Maeda said, “We know that KVRU’s future and that of the diverse communities of Southeast Seattle depend on telling our stories. Maurice is the perfect person to help KVRU achieve that.” Jones' selection comes just after the station received a $5,000 grant from the Seattle Foundation Neighbor to Neighbor program to work with immigrant communities to broadcast important civic information in their respective languages.
  • Maryland member station and 2017 Golden Torchlight recipient WOWD-LP has named Steve Hoffman as its new program director, succeeding Desiree Bayonet. In an announcement, Hoffman said, “I love everything about Takoma Radio. The quality and diversity of our programs, and the positive vibe among programmers and listeners."
  • The longtime leader of member station KSJD, Jeff Pope, is moving on to a new adventure. Among his many accomplishments over 14 years include the creation of the Sunflower Theater. He'll stay around during the station's transition.
  • Matt Martin of San Francisco member station KALW gave an emotional farewell to listeners this fall, as he moves on to his next chapter. His credits are long, including the launch of 99 Percent Invisible and many other programs. The community radio powerhouse is expected to choose a new general manager soon.
  • He was awarded NFCB's Volunteer of the Year in 2011. Felix Belmont of member station KVNF is now 100. Enjoy this wonderful look at his life and his place in this Colorado town.

By the way, if you are looking for a new adventure of your own in community radio, NFCB lists community media job openings for your perusal.
 

One Last Thing


In a city near you

NFCB has unveiled the dates for its upcoming Regional Leadership Summits. These events are intended to be learning intensives for community radio makers to get training and support in areas critical to our future. Engagement, content, and revenue are key areas of teaching and conversation.

For community radio on the East and West Coasts, as well as the Midwest, this is a special chance to gain insight and support in person. NFCB will bring together its unparalleled mix of thinkers, leaders, and doers to meet with your station's staff and volunteers. Information-packed sessions are geared to helping you to be more successful in what you do.
 
The 2018 Regional Leadership Summits are exclusive events for NFCB member stations. If you are not a member, please consider joining NFCB now to be in attendance for this rare opportunity to accelerate community media in 2018. See you soon!
 

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