PRPD 2010 Year In Review (pdf version)
PRPD President’s Annual Report
September 15, 2010
The news this year is very encouraging, with a lot of projects underway and PRPD’s financial health strong. Here is a recap of the highlight of the past year.
Each year the PRPD board holds a retreat in January to set the organization’s program for the year ahead. This year we re-examined the organization’s mission in light of the rapidly changing media environment and revised that document, for the first time in over 10 years and only the second time in PRPD’s 23 year history. We also added a “Vision Statement”. A copy of the new mission statement can be found here.
Our annual review of PRPD’s Strategic Plan resulted in a new set of goals.
After some erosion of membership due to the economic stresses of 2009, many stations have rejoined PRPD and in recent months we have seen more new memberships than last year. As a result, membership revenue is expected to surpass our budget target by year’s end.
New members and returning members since the last conference:
- Chicago Public Radio, Chicago, IL
- KDB, Santa Barbara, CA
- Colorado Public Radio, Denver, CO
- WSMC, Collegedale, TN
- WICN, Worcester
- KING, Seattle
- High Plains Public Radio
- KETR, Commerce, TX
- WRKF, Baton Rouge
- WCNY, Syracuse
- WRNI, Providence
- WWOZ, New Orleans
- KUNM, Albuquerque
- Bird Note!, Clinton, WA
- Mark Siegel, Seattle
- KHSU, Arcata, CA
Our financial situation remains very positive, with our balance sheet up 13% from the same time last year. Some of that is due to quicker payment of dues and conference fees, but even without that we continue to build our reserve. Our policy is to have at least 1 year’s budget amount set aside at year’s end for unanticipated emergencies (such as the 2001 conference cancelation) and we are well above that.
In a challenging fiscal 2009 (calendar), we actually managed to be $77,000 in the black, so the board authorized a portion of that surplus for special projects this year. Fortunately, to this point our revenue has been strong enough and we have managed to develop projects through collaboration that minimize the cost to PRPD so we are unlikely to spend any of that amount. Indeed, if projections hold, we will likely see a small surplus this year.
The findings of the 2nd Annual Public Radio Technology Survey (PRTS) were presented to participating stations, at the 2009 conference and in a webinar for all members. Designed and conducted by Jacobs Media, even with a bad economy nearly 600 stations participated with more than 27,000 listeners surveyed.
In 2010 (PRTS3), PRPD will be the primary sponsoring organization. We are currently preparing to recruit station participation for a survey that will be in the field in November. NPR has enough members for their panel, so they are no longer providing a rebate for stations, but Jacobs has agreed to cut the “retail” price to $500 for stations that have participated in past years and hold the full price at $600 for new participant stations. With two year’s data behind us, PRTS3 will allow us to see some real trends in technology use among public radio listeners.
Midday Research Project
Earlier this year, PRPD aided in the design and analysis of an NPR Research midday listening study, and hosted the webinar that presented the findings. Stations involved in the initial study were KPCC, WBUR, KJZZ, KWMU, KUOW and WAMU. Based on that experience, we are currently working together on a an experimental year-long study involving two stations, selected through an application process – WBUR and WOSU.
Using the NPR Panel we are already working with the stations to design a series of research efforts on a locally produced midday show, evaluate the shows, make adjustments, testing audience reaction to the results and readjusting through the year. NPR’s Sue Goodwin and PRPD/MEGS trainer Scott Williams will also be involved, particularly in the program adjustments. The inclusion of Scott will help fulfill some of the abovementioned extension of the MEGS principles to middays. NPR and PRPD will jointly present findings to our members periodically during the year. Diversity: The Next Steps
To help make some real progress on this important issue, PRPD worked with NPR’s new VP for Diversity, Keith Woods, to develop opportunities to help our members look at what they can do to increase the diversity of their staff and content. Starting with a core group of stations who helped define the on-the-ground issues and challenges faced by programmers, we presented a PRPD webinar focusing on:
• Ideas for tapping into a much more diverse talent pool
• Using outreach strategies to connect with audiences being sought
• Points of entry for including diversity in all programming
• Ways to weave diversity into the fabric of news and operations decision making
This conversation continued in a General Session at the upcoming PRPD Public Radio Programming Conference in Denver. PRPD has also paid special attention to diversifying the range of speakers at that conference. We also plan to follow up with NPR after the conference to keep this effort active going forward. Other organizations who are interested in participating are invited to let us know. Network Researcher Convening
Some of PRPD’s efforts are behind the scenes, intended to explore new possibilities and facilitate the sharing of knowledge across the system. One such activity was a convening of the researchers from NPR, APM and PRI in Minneapolis this past April. This was designed as a way to start sharing the sometimes overlapping or complementary efforts that often go unshared in the press of daily efforts and in light of proprietary considerations.
While there were no concrete actions resulting from this first gathering, all participants were enthusiastic about the experience and interested in taking it further with regular follow-up meetings. We plan to organize another meeting this Fall. Our goal is to maximize information sharing so future research efforts unnecessarily duplicative and can better build on each other. Once these relationships are more firmly established, we hope to bring other research players into our conversations as well. Website Update – Digital Media
Recognizing the need for a more robust and up to date Digital Media section in our Knowledge Base, we issued an RFP for the development of this resource. We recently contracted with Paragon Media Strategies for this project. They have developed an outline of the likely structure and will be around the conference to become more acquainted with the needs of our members. We plan to launch the new resource in early Spring 2011.
All bidders made note of the need to continually update the material in a rapidly changing environment and we are eager to apply the same rigor and dynamism to the rest of the Knowledge Base and website going forward. One part of the project is understanding the appropriate mix of digital offerings for PRPD services – how best to optimize knowledge delivery across current platforms (website, Facebook, blog, webinar) and other currently available and newly emerging tools. Webinars
Attendance at our webinars has continued to increase as has the access of recordings and materials after the fact. Topics covered this year included:
• Lessons From MEGS to Mid-Days and ATC
• Promoting New Media Services : Lessons from MEGS
• Moving Forward on Diversity with NPR's Keith Woods
• Midday Audience Study - NPR News Listeners
• Spreading the Zing: Re-imagining Public Media through Makers Quest 2.0
• Crowdsourcing (WNYC)
• Talk Shows: Globalizing Topics and Sense of Place
• Building the Machine: Talk Show Systems and Tools
• Social Media: What Was & What Will Be
• Public Radio Technology Survey 2 - Trends
Thanks to Bruce Warren who helped organize many webinars for nearly 2 years after cycling off the board, before stepping back to attend to his many other obligations earlier this year! Workshops
After the challenging economy took its toll on last pre-conference training activities, this year’s registrations are back up. The 17th annual PD Workshop is just one short of the maximum. We also decided to try again for an interviewing workshop with David Candow and this year received enough registration to make a go of it. We look forward to a very fulfilling 2 days for those who signed up. Also, in the final year of Arbitron’s roll-out of PPM we are offering one more RRC workshop to help stations with the transition.
The PRPD Training Committee is looking for in ideas for workshop topics going forward. We did make some attempt to develop something for new media/ technology staff, in cooperation with some other organizations, but were not able to work that out this year. Our conference agenda is very rich in this area, but we will continue to pursue the possibility of a pre-conference intensive next year. Advocacy/Representation
We maintain our dedication to keeping content and the role of programmers at the fore in all public radio conversations. At the beginning of 2010 we noticed that our database and, hence, ongoing communications, had always been focused mainly on the PD level. To make sure that PRPD’s efforts and benefits to members are more widely used and understood among top management, we added our members’ GMs, CEOs and the like to our list and to most communications. This extends our continuing effort to expand the use of PRPD services to the wide range of staff at member stations and organizations, rather than just the “designated rep”.
Our public work included presentations at PRIMA, moderating a session at ERPM, and a session on programming at the upcoming WSPR conference. We continue to be part of various conversations with Arbitron about the needs of the public radio system and are part of the Arbitron Public Radio Team.
As indicated in our Goals, collaboration remains a top priority for PRPD. We are exploring all avenues for creating new knowledge and delivery of tools and best practices to our members. We continue our contact with AIR, DEI, RRC, iMA, Third Coast, PRNDI, SRG, AMPPR, NPR, PRI, APM and CPB, always looking for creative new ways to collaborate and most efficiently move the system forward.
A guiding force in all of our work is feedback from our members, especially the annual Members’ Survey. Look for the 2011 version of that survey at the end of the year and feel free to contact us as issues arise at your station or organization. Your input keeps us current and helps us anticipate needs to be ready when new opportunities arise. Conference
Registration for the 2010 conference has been much stronger than anticipated – about 450 at this writing – with many fewer of the comps and deep discounts that helped keep our numbers up in 2009. The number of paid registrants will be back to the levels we had been attracting in the prior three years, and possibly higher.
We expect to exceed our conservative budget estimate for conference revenues this year and will have a good increase in paid attendees. We are spending a little more this year to bring a wider range of speakers to the conference. This is a result of very clear attendee preferences over the years for people with strongly developed knowledge and expertise rather than just panels. The board felt that the conference is such an important member service that we should invest a little more to make sure that the content of the conference is as strong as possible.
As usual, the final determination of net revenue will have to wait until after the conference and associated bills clear later in the year. But we do expect to be in our projected range overall.
Arthur Cohen, President, PRPD