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Enjoying a summer of local voices and ideas
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Nothing will tell you
where you are.
Each moment is a place
you’ve never been.
 
— Mark Strand, from "Black Maps"

 
This newsletter is full of highlights from NFCB’s Community Media Conference in San Diego. It was yet another powerful convening of people who devote themselves to handcrafted local media with a special sauce of being grounded in place and reflecting the lived experience of those who make it and those who tune in. Even though conferences are an enormous logistical and financial commitment, there is nothing like them to create moments which are places you have never been, as the poet Mark Strands describes in the quote above.
 
For everyone who traveled to get there and invested hard-earned dollars to be part of it… thank you! For a brief couple of days, where we were didn’t matter as much as the moments we created sparking off one another, sharing knowledge, catching up, and celebrating the work we do in the communities we serve.
 
May your cups of inspiration spill over, and may the spillage inspire any of our colleagues who couldn’t be there to pick up a contact buzz reading about it and exploring the bountiful resources that Ernesto always has to share. I can’t say I know exactly where I am in the aftermath of all the hustle and bustle of the conference, but I can say that the moments I experienced did make a place I’ve never been and it was a wonder to feel that. 
 
With respect and admiration,

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


#NFCB19 wrapup

Hundreds of community radio managers, staff and volunteers converged on San Diego, June 18-20, for NFCB’s 2019 Community Media Conference. It was the first national gathering since 2017’s conference in Denver, and it arrived at an important time. With new media channels on the rise and increased demand for local coverage, community radio is being asked to do more than ever. The 2019 Community Media Conference was intended to help stations respond.
 
The National Federation of Community Broadcasters’ signature event brought together many first-time conference-goers and those from around the United States and beyond. From large full-power stations to low-power FM and online stations, Native American outlets to Latino stations, Historically Black College and University radio to rural organizations, a broad spectrum of community radio was well represented.
 
The 2019 conference featured several days of events for stations to learn from.
 
Day One of the conference featured a full house for the Native Public Media morning session on Emergency Communications Preparedness. NPM CEO Loris Taylor led stations through a wide-ranging discussion on how community radio can most effectively respond when cities and towns are faced by wildfires and other nature-based disasters. Later in the day, three information-rich intensives covered audio production, human resources and major giving programs respectively. These three-hour presentations gave attendees practical guidance and the opportunity to explore solutions to important questions facing community radio stations.
 
The day concluded with a packed opening reception, which took place on the host hotel’s outdoor terrace.

Day Two began with a keynote by author Nina Simon. She spoke about her life experiences and inspirations, such as astronaut Sally Ride. She also advanced some of the ideas she covered in her book The Art of Relevance, which explores how organizations can be more indispensable to people in their communities. A lively question-and-answer segment followed Simon’s speech, and planted the seeds for the start of conference sessions.
 
June 19 was the first complete day of panels, which began shortly after the keynote and continued late into the day. Among the highlights of the day’s agenda included a capacity session on managing stations through conflict; an on-air fundraising primer led by veteran media leader Melanie Coulson; and a spirited legal roundtable featuring some of noncommercial radio’s smartest attorneys. The Community Media Makeovers round of conference panels offered attendees a glimpse at case studies from stations participating in the Community Counts Initiative. Solution Center talks brought together station program directors, general managers, development staff and all-volunteer station organizers to cover common struggles and uncommon workarounds, as well as an exchange of ideas to do the best work possible. The day ended with unconference sessions that featured topics as diverse as consensus decision-making and audience metrics.
 
Attendees spent time late into the evening exploring San Diego as well as visiting with each other about what was learned during the Community Media Conference’s busy day.
The conference’s final day opened with a keynote by legendary community radio lawyer John Crigler. The Tennessee native retired from Garvey Schubert Barer last year after a long career that included representing stations before the Federal Communications Commission and many judicial and legislative bodies. Crigler peppered his talk on community media’s past, present and future with humorous anecdotes and references to the nearly mythical community radio figures he’s known.
 
Following Crigler’s speech, NFCB celebrated community radio volunteerism with a special video featuring a host of stations from Alaska to Puerto Rico. All spoke on the volunteer experience and the necessity of volunteers to stations everywhere.
 
June 20 featured another full day of conference gatherings. Among the most noteworthy workshops included Ken Freedman of WFMU explaining how the station had crafted a dynamic morning drive-time program; a community radio podcasting roundtable presented by media outlets that have found new audiences via podcasting; an interactive session on building your station’s budget; and instruction aimed at helping stations to create strong underwriting and in-kind underwriting programs.
Initial feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. Evaluations reflected stations’ interest in innovative speakers and topics. Many attendees said how much connecting with colleagues was a game changer. Where stations may work in isolation on a day-to-day basis, the NFCB conference gave many attendees an opportunity to learn from others, hear what peers were up to, and get fresh ideas for work that could be done. You can check the hashtag #NFCB19 on social media for many more insights and attendee testimonials.
 
NFCB wishes to thank everyone who came to the conference, as well as event exhibitors and conference sponsors including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Wyncote Foundation, Comrex, Fletcher Heald & Hildreth, Radio Research Consortium and Garvey Schubert Barer. We look forward to welcoming everyone to a future event, to be determined.
 
 

Kate Ingram, KPTZ

Station Manager Kate Ingram of KPTZ recently led the Port Townsend, Wash. radio station through a successful capital campaign that featured an anonymous $100,000 donation and the station reaching its million-dollar goal. From 1990-1999, Ingram was program director of the University of San Francisco’s KUSF, but she has a lifetime of radio experience, including at stints as music director at KFRC, San Francisco (1982); WCOZ, Boston (1981); WBCN, Boston (1979 - 1980); and KSAN, San Francisco (1978 - 1979); as well as assistant music director at KSJO, San Jose (1977).
 
What’s your first memory of community radio?
 
Since FM began, as a listener I always knew of the “left end of the dial” and it became more familiar when I was music director at WBCN Boston, because the 3 college stations in Beantown had become the home signal for BCN’s air staff during the strike in January 1978, when new owners fired all of the support staff in the middle of a big winter storm, and everyone who worked there walked. The listenership of college radio NCEs WERS, WMBR and WZBC grew so much that soon BCN’s owners hired everyone back, and the station shot to #1 in the ratings. At that time the local, national and international music scenes were super dynamic and those stations became feeding grounds for both WBCN and WCOZ ’s (the dominant FMs) playlists.
 
Later, in 1982, I’d moved back to San Francisco and was music director at KFRC. College / community station KUSF at the University of San Francisco asked me to be their professional advisor, at a time when lots of good radio was being made and played at 90.3FM ~ winning numerous awards and with many student staff moving into music industry positions.
 
Eventually, after working most of the 1980s in video production and music licensing, I circled back to become program director of KUSF for the 1990s. Both the early 80s and the 90s were prominent years for that station's listenership and influence. During that decade I was happy to attend two NFCB conferences, both in Seattle. A foreboding of my later move to the Pacific Northwest!
 
How did you get involved with KPTZ?
 
I left northern California by way of a detour to roots in Raleigh, NC and moved to Port Townsend in June, 2016. Coincidentally, at that exact time the station was seeking a general manager. The Board ended up not hiring anyone then, so I started volunteering and gradually worked into my current position as manager.
 
When did you know you were hooked?
 
Hooked on radio as a teenager, the old 1960s transistor radio / earplug under the covers to listen as many hours of the day as possible. Hooked on commercial radio beginning in 1974, right out of college starting in Raleigh, NC as an AM megastation copywriter, leading to life as a radio gypsy to work in music programming at many stations nationwide, until the demise of free form on the FM dial, around 1980. Then once I landed at KUSF, the appeal of community radio won my heart for its responsiveness to the otherwise underrepresented population.
 
I love the radio station setting and the challenge of managing by consensus, in order to be a reflection of the local community that leads through entertainment and information. The other appealing aspect is to develop and maintain a positive creative working environment that includes and serves the broad spectrum of volunteers who are inspired to participate in this worthwhile community service. It's a calling for me.
 
Why is the station (KPTZ) so special to you?
 
KPTZ is widely considered to be a gem of the local community. One of the outstanding attributes of the Port Townsend area is its culture of volunteerism, so that there is an active base of good, conscientious people truly invested in community enrichment through their service contributions.
 
Thanks to this volunteer spirit, KPTZ is able to staff its functional requirements for quality programming 24/7 with high calibre individuals. As a reflection of Jefferson County’s makeup, wherein a third of the population is age 65 and over, station staff includes many recent retirees who bring professional standards to KPTZ’s volunteer environment ~ including a number of broadcasting veterans. The area population is highly self aware and thus the service of its local radio station provides a constructive forum for residents to explore creative solutions to issues ranging from climate change, educational quality, and fulfilling the needs of low income families and individuals.
 
Local area schools have an outlet for student participation through KPTZ’s programming, and station operations model a professional workplace engendered on behalf of mentors and trainees alike.
 
KPTZ has the most amazing staff, people who are super committed to excellence. This is certainly a reflection of the local community, itself highly committed to volunteerism and high quality of life.

Larry Stein, KPTZ's current and founding program director, and Kate Ingram.
KPTZ recently organized a wildly successful capital campaign. How was it organized and why was it so effective?
 
Since KPTZ originally went on the air in May 2011, the station has long since outgrown the 800-square foot repurposed school portable that houses the entire station, including the office, engineering stack, and 3 small studio rooms for production, performance and broadcast. So the need to move has been increasingly pressing.
 
After looking into a couple of other alternatives, KPTZ’s Board chose the option to move to the growing cultural mecca at Fort Worden, both a Washington state park and a rich organization of partners ranging from Centrum and Peninsula College to the Port Townsend School of Woodworking and PT School of the Arts. At the same time, Fort Worden is developing a new center for the arts. totally remodeling and refurbishing the set of buildings that were originally built as part of the U.S. Army fort stages of the campus.
 
Our Board President Robert Ambrose moved to Port Townsend from Talkeetna AK, where he had spearheaded successful campaigns for both KTNA, his former station, and establishing the local hospital facility. Robert, who hosts KPTZ’s “Rhythm Connection” program (which he has continually produced for 25 years), was not shy to lead the Board as numbers exponential to any prior station fundraising goals began to be floated, as projected construction costs.
 
As it turns out, now that we have accumulated all but 10% of the latest $1.2M projection, the original number being tossed out was less than a third of the total we have just accepted as the final bid for the construction project. (This includes not only the new studio and office space, but also the cost of purchasing the current transmitter site.) All the while, Robert has remained unwavering in his belief in our ability to bring in the needed funding. I'd venture that this steady approach brought the needed mojo.
 
Indeed, much of the success, in retrospect, has come from asking sincerely. The first breakthrough came last fall, when an altruistic funder who has also been supportive of other Fort Worden developments, offered $500K to help us reach our goal. Robert asked the head of Sage Foundation to make this contribution a two-for-one match, so that by raising $250K this would yield a total of $750K raised.
 
Subsequently, in a very well-directed year end appeal request sent to KPTZ’s email list (an adaptation of this letter can be read here), a number of donors responded, including one of our volunteer DJs, who amazingly pledged $100K. While our heads were spinning to re-organize the campaign and go public earlier than expected, the momentum was palpable. We redirected our 1-Day popup fundraiser on Valentine’s Day from feeding operations instead to ask for tripled match donations, bringing in an astounding $22K for that event.
 
What important lessons did you take from the campaign experience?
 
The importance of donor relations! Truly a key to fundraising success, especially continued sustainers who otherwise can become overlooked.
 
The station took on the mantle of and embraced being the “little station that can.” One factor that we had not incorporated into prior fundraising is that of receiving donations of low basis stock. By opening a brokerage account, we were able to receive contributions of shares that would have otherwise, if sold, meant the donors incurred large capital gains taxes. Instead, they received the tax write-off of the gross stock value the day of the transfer, and as a nonprofit, selling the shares brought cash (being tripled by the Sage Foundation match!) towards the campaign goal.
 
What was the biggest challenge you faced with the campaign?
 
Probably lack of time, and lack of prior experience with larger, capital campaign fundraising.
 
How did you overcome the challenge?
 
We just did it! Robert carried on effectively by making contacts, and had help with writing and submitting three pivotal grants. He also was advised by the previous Board president, who had led the station as a founder. And we capitalized on the momentum, beginning with an early on grant success from a local financial institution, then buoyed by the large match challenge and resulting donations.
 
Any tips to offer stations considering such a campaign?
 
Just do it! Don’t be afraid to ask! Just as we discovered, there may be donors wanting to take advantage of the stock donations who are keen to support the local station that then supports so many other worthwhile causes in the community.
 
What’s the secret for staying excited about community radio?
 
Listening to KPTZ is one of the pleasures that comes from running the station. It’s an inspiring joy to hear and see such dedication as our awesome staff leads consistently exemplify the strong spirit of connection and interdependence. These qualities continually compel and uplift.
 
Also the amazing work of NFCB being available to each of us kindred spirits, makes a huge difference. Seeing people at the conference and following the informative listserve postings demonstrates what to do to better at effective leadership, and for broadcasting to contribute to the world around us.
 

Go big with IG

Many took notice when the Reynolds Journalism Institute partnered with Instagram in May for a Local News Fellowship focused on supporting news organizations’ use of Instagram as a conduit for news reporting. However, Instagram’s emergence is the world’s worst kept secret. The social photography platform passed one billion users last year, and overwhelmingly appeals to users under 35. Instagram also has a strong appeal to communities of color.

Chances are, if you have a mobile device, you’ve liked friends’ and celebrities’ photos, videos and vignettes on the service. Its ubiquity should tell you something about how we interact today. Influencers are able to create conversation and draw attention in all-new ways. Instagram’s surge should prompt your community radio station to consider how it uses the platform for its outreach and donor cultivation.

Many stations have a Facebook page, and do just fine with it. So why expand? First, there are different audiences for each platform, representing potential memberships, underwriting audiences and presence. Instagram boasts stunning statistics: people spend a half-hour on average on Instagram and 60 percent make discoveries of products, music and more primarily through Instagram, among other findings. Second, because Facebook owns Instagram, there are options to cross-post across each, making your work possibly a bit less. Finally, there are dozens of apps and add-ons to do even more with Instagram, from the re-sharing Regrann to social media scheduler Buffer. Even if you find Instagram a tiny bit intimidating, the sheer number of gizmos aimed at making it better will most assuredly do just that for you.

Add to this, with Instagram’s mix of photo and video, as well as addition of music, there is some natural crossover for community radio.

Here are just a few ways you can leverage your station’s Instagram account to reach more users:
  • Sprout Social’s 7 Instagram Best Practices to Build Your Audience may be a good start if you’re new to Instagram strategy. “Understanding your audience and brand are essential to promoting, advertising and even engaging on Instagram. Again, you can’t walk into your strategy blindly, so first try to ask questions that define you and your audience. These questions can include: What does our audience like most about our brand? Who are we trying to ultimately reach? Are our competitors successful on Instagram? What marketing strategies have worked in the past? What do customers expect with our brand? Is that good enough?”
  • Poynter.org’s How do you reach young audiences? These local newsrooms and Mizzou grads will experiment on Instagram explores just that, including how three media organizations are experimenting on the platform to discover nontraditional audiences. “'If newsrooms want to reach younger audiences, they have to include them in the process, said Lila King, with News and Publishing Partnerships at Instagram. In pairing young visual journalists with veterans, she said, ‘together we can really spark something new.’”
  • How a fact-checker went from zero to 84,000 Instagram followers in 8 months is Poynter’s case study of Teyit’s Instagram strategy. Speed on top of basic journalism values proved immensely beneficial. “Teyit started creating content specifically for its growing Instagram following. Here’s what it’s doing: Publishing videos with in-depth analyses of misinformation and false claims; Offering fact-checking tips for news consumers in the feed, stories and highlights; Producing charts and quote cards for visual variety.”
  • The News Media Alliance has a few recommendations to optimize your Instagram account. Along with the basics – no links with images, for example – are suggestions for using Instagram Stories and other resources on the platform. You will also see how other media organizations are using Instagram successfully.
  • Speaking of successes, here are five ways your organization can use Instagram to reach new audiences.
  • How Bleacher Report is using Instagram Stories for app downloads is Digiday’s look at one media organization’s attempts to get more people to use its app by appealing to them on Instagram. If your community radio station is seeking to coax audiences to try its own app, its insights might prove illuminating. You may also better understand people’s motivations for trying an app. “When people share a post from Bleacher Report’s app to Instagram Stories, a thumbnail of the post will appear in the story, including its title, main image, how long ago it was published, how many comments it has received and how many people have liked the post in the app. Atop the post will appear the caption “Open in Bleacher Report” that people can tap on to install or open the app.”
Above all, as with anything on social media, community radio stations are encouraged to experiment. If something is not initially successful, it’s best to try it a different way, or to change one’s approach completely.
 
NFCB offers member stations a variety of resources in the Solution Center, an on-demand knowledgebase of radio tools, regulatory guidance and more. Member stations can access the Solution Center anytime here.
 
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