From NCME with “thanks”

November 22, 2011 by kksparks under Public Radio, Television

This Thanksgiving we here at NCME are filled with gratitude for all the important work public media do everyday and the way this work has personally touched our lives. To express our appreciation, we’re sharing this Thanksgiving helping of stories and anecdotes about exactly why our NCME staff loves the wonderful world of public media. Click here to read more.. »

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Rocky Mountain Highs

November 21, 2011 by kksparks under Conferences, Engagement Trends, Journalism, Public Radio

Ann Alquist, NCME’s Director of Radio Engagement, recently attended the Rocky Mountain Community Radio conference and shared her experience on the group’s unique collaboration. 

Collaboration is hard work. But for a coalition of public radio stations in Colorado, it’s the best way to move forward collectively and to make an impact. That’s why the Rocky Mountain Community Radio coalition, a group of 16 stations, meets annually to share best practices, provide group input to their shared statehouse reporter in Denver, and, in 2011, determine how they can deepen existing relationships beyond just content sharing. Click here to read more.. »

American Education Week

November 16, 2011 by kksparks under Audience Engagement, Content, Education, Public Media System

This is American Education Week, a perfect time to shine the spotlight on some of the great work being done nationwide on the American Graduate initiative! Here’s what some public media stations are doing to address the dropout crisis.

Convening Town Halls

Last week The Nine Network kicked off its American Graduate work in St. Louis with a major town hall meeting. The gathering was a huge success with approximately 100 local teachers, an in-depth discussion among panelists and text message polling to gather insights straight from teachers in the audience. Among other press coverage, the PBS NewsHour covered the event and aired an informative segment on it.

This week, a number of stations are hosting or broadcasting their own town halls and summits, including: Detroit Public TVWMHT in Eastern New York, Mississippi Public BroadcastingWGTE in Ohio, and the partners KUVO and Colorado Public Television in Denver. Here is a preview of Colorado’s American Graduate special:

Working with Students

It’s rewarding to see stations making students’ voices a priority in this initiative. Some stations, such as KACV in Amarillo, TX, are working with students to create PSAs. In Chicago, WTTW11 is partnering with a local nonprofit, Free Spirit Media, to make PSAs with students. Here is an example from that project:

How can you find out more?

American Graduate is a public media initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to help local communities across America find solutions to address the dropout crisis. You can stay up-to-date on what’s happening by visiting and following the initiative on Facebook and Twitter, along with the hashtag #AmGrad.

Public radio and public television stations can also find information, tools and resources on how to get involved with American Graduate at

We are W.O.M.E.N: Women and Girls Lead Takes off

November 15, 2011 by kksparks under Education, Public Media System, Public Radio, Television, Uncategorized

The excitement around Women and Girls Lead continues to grow! Last week’s well-attended webinar was jam-packed with insights on how stations can get involved with this initiative that’s calling attention to important issues affecting women worldwide.

How to kick-start your station’s Women and Girls Lead initiative
Public media, with its unique storytelling power, is perfectly positioned to engage their local communities. During the webinar, our presenters shared numerous resources your station can access to get started:

Public Media Honors America’s Veterans

November 10, 2011 by kksparks under Audience Engagement, Content, Public Media System

Doug Bradley, NCME’s interim director of communications and Vietnam veteran.

This Friday, Nov. 11, the nation will observe Veterans Day with a federal holiday, a Presidential proclamation and ceremonies from coast to coast. We will pay tribute to our veterans, to the fallen, and to their families, and we will renew our commitment to supporting them for as long as they are proud veterans of the United States Armed Forces.

In other parts of the world, Nov. 11 is recognized as Armistice Day or Remembrance Day to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended World War I at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. The remembering part is especially significant for me, because I departed for, and returned home from, Vietnam on Veterans Day in 1970 and 1971 respectively.

Public media will be doing their part to help us remember as they join with their local communities to commemorate Veterans Day and honor those who have answered the country’s call. From national programs on PBS and NPR to oral histories, documentaries and veterans festivals at the local level, public radio and television stations will explore the ideals of service and sacrifice shared by generations of America’s veterans. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has an impressive summary of national programming listed here.

Included among the outstanding array of relevant content and events offered by scores of local stations are the oral histories of local soldiers who served in the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq by WEKU in Richmond, Kentucky; Connecticut Public Television’s airing of an original documentary on homeless female veterans; and a Veterans Parade and Veterans Day Festival in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that local station WGVU is supporting. Folks in my hometown of Madison, Wisconsin, will be able to watch a screening of the new Wisconsin Public Television documentary, “Wounded Warriors,” which tells the story of Wisconsin’s Menominee Nation’s veterans.

My 40 years back home from my war have shown me we need to continue doing more as a nation to welcome our servicemen and women home to their communities, to their families, and to their former selves. We can’t just pay them lip service. We need to help them to heal. That begins with listening. Public media can help you to do that too.

(NOTE: Madison-based Vietnam veteran Doug Bradley is NCME’s interim director of communications, He served as an information specialist at U. S. Army Republic of Vietnam headquarters at Long Binh from Nov. 1970 to Nov. 1971.)

Below, Doug Bradley reads aloud the names of fallen soldiers since 9/11 as part of a daylong Remembrance Day National Roll Call and Minute of Silence through Vets for Vets UW-Madison. 

Public Media Clips: American Graduate, Localore and WXXI’s Healthy Toolkit

November 7, 2011 by kksparks under Bloglette, Education, Public Media System, Uncategorized

One of our goals is to keep you involved and in the know about the public media world. Here are a few brief reminders:

American Graduate launches nationally
American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen is launching nationally on November 7 at Nine Network in St. Louis. Tune in for the station’s live broadcast of a teacher town hall hosted by Gwen Ifill from PBS NewsHour. Or, visit our site to find out more about the American Graduate Initiative.

Get involved with LocaLore
The deadline for Localore, a new initiative produced by AIR, is November 10, 2011. Don’t miss the opportunity to get involved with a project that’s pushing the boundaries of public media in new and innovative ways.

WXXI’s Toolkit: A healthy resource
Is your station starting a community initiative around health and wellness? After developing its own Healthy You and Working on Wellness projects, WXXI put together a toolkit to share tips and insights for public broadcasting stations. Download the Toolkit guide and other resources.

WTMD’s Great Baltimore Campaign “Checks-in” at ERPM

November 3, 2011 by kksparks under Conferences, New Media, Public Radio, Social Media

Can public media stations use Foursquare as a community engagement tool? Steve Yasko, General Manager of Baltimore’s WTMD, says yes. His station’s campaign started with a community need and with Steve’s belief that public media could make a difference.

Steve recently shared his station’s social media success story during a session with NCME’s Ann Alquist at the Eastern Region Public Media conference (ERPM).

The community checks in
Baltimore is facing a tough challenge. The technology sector is booming, but the city has a hard time holding on to its young, talented workforce. Steve saw an opportunity to help fight this by engaging young Baltimoreans with their city through the Great Baltimore Check-In, a Foursquare campaign that encouraged check-ins at 89 of Baltimore’s greatest spots. WTMD partnered with Urbanite magazine to create and promote the campaign while Steve went to every check-in spot to meet people in person. The results? There was a lot of buzz, over 1100 check-ins and 50 committed people who checked in to every location.

Watch these fun testimonials from people checking in with the Great Baltimore campaign:


Where social media meets engagement
The check-in campaign was designed to engage young people in Baltimore’s culture. During the ERPM session, Ann and Steve shared several great takeaways on social media as an engagement tool:

Forge local partnerships
WTMD’s partnership with Urbanite was critical to the campaign. Each organization brought its own audience to the table, including people who may not have listened to WTMD before. Plus, the partnership took advantage of WTMD’s role as a cultural connector, an organization positioned to connect people with the city’s culture in unique and eye-opening ways.

Explore new technology
Urbanite and WTMD had an authentic desire to shine light on Baltimore’s hidden gems. Foursquare – a location-based service that promotes exploration and sharing — turned out to be the perfect tool. “Social media is multi-directional, so as public broadcasters, we can listen to people to get a sense of their needs and aspirations. It gives us a chance to collaborate with communities,” Ann pointed out during the session.

Get out there
Don’t miss the opportunity to engage the public face-to-face. “I think some of the most powerful connections Steve made weren’t so much through social media but in-person connections,” Ann said. “We have research from the Facing the Mortgage Crisis that suggests that general managers who shift their mindset to be more outward, public facing, also shifted the station to be more engaged.”

Interested in doing a social media campaign of your own? See NCME’s Social Media Handbook for more tips and tools public media stations can use in their efforts. 

StoryCorps’ National Teachers Initiative

November 1, 2011 by kksparks under Education, Public Media System, Public Radio

StoryCorp’s National Teachers Initiative calls public attention to the invaluable contributions teachers have made to our nation. NPR  Weekend Edition Sunday looked at the initiative on October 30 with a story from Ayodegi Ogunniyi and a moving account of the events that led to him becoming a teacher.

The murder of his father had left Ogunniyi angry and confused. However, working at an after-school program, where Ogunniyi was tutoring young people with backgrounds similar to his father’s murderers, led to an encounter that changed his perspective on everything:

By me giving that [teaching] to him, I totally forgot about the pain of the murder, and I wanted to continue to give more of what I had — to heal … It just dawned on me: Everybody, at some point, sits in a classroom. That could be the foundation for everything else.

StoryCorps‘ National Teachers Initiative is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Find out more about what stations are doing for the initiative, such as Red River Radio’s “Dropout Dilemma” (which aired yesterday) or WSKG’s special episodes of “Community Conversations“ (airing today), by following the initiative on Facebook and Twitter. You can also learn about how to get your station involved at