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2000 PRPD Core Values™ Summit: Executive Summary

Copyright© 2000 by Public Radio Program Directors Inc. - Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

Part I: Vocabulary of Qualities

It is the fusion, the crosscutting of the following three sets of qualities that have created public radio's signature. Our best programs mix those qualities in a variety of ways, but all three categories of quality are present.

Qualities of Mind/Intellect
Love of lifelong learning
Substance
Expand understanding
Connect with the world
On the lookout for unique/excellent content
Curiosity: Asking why not just what
Trust, Credibility, Accuracy, Honesty
Non-manipulative
Non-sensational/No hype
Respect for listener
Purpose

Qualities of the Heart/Spirit
Humor
Idealism
Inspired about public life
Civility/Civil Discourse
Content holds center stage
Guest is the star

Qualities of Craft/Use of the Medium
Uniquely human voice
Conversational
Authentic
Intimate
Deliberate/thoughtful pace
Attention to detail

Part II: Filters that set and enforce high standards

The distinctive sound of public radio is created through the disciplined use of 3 rigorous filters that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary and draw the line between merely good and great.

A Filter for Content:

"Listeners trust us to respect their intelligence and curiosity, and make interesting choices on their behalf. Not to waste their time, but to enrich their time while they're listening. They depend on us to sift through all the "run of the mill" talk show possibilities. In other words, they depend on us to find the distinctive people ideas and stories, which distinguish public radio from most of the "drek" on the dial."
-Danny Miller, Executive Producer, Fresh Air

Constructing the Filter for Content
Determine Purpose
Cast the net widely
Use multiple perspectives
Winnow/debate/decide
Organize/structure
1st edit - OK
2nd edit - compelling
3rd edit - if possible

Goal: to present only the most intriguing ideas, clearest explanations, and most vivid descriptions

A Filter for Talent:

"Editing and filtering, in some form, is one of the things that creates great talent, that the talent does not simply exist on its own, that it has to be produced and created. I have yet to meet someone who's so interesting that we can just run whatever happens to come out their mouth for an hour and have it be great talent and great radio."
-Doug Berman, Executive Producer, Car Talk

Constructing the Filter for Talent
Talent doesn't exist on own
Must be edited, produced
Anyone on air is talent
Depth of personality
Lives/embodies the content
Interesting/authentic
Warm, human, idealistic
Writes/communicates well for self
Distinctive, memorable

Goal: To take this great talent, build a format that brings out their best and hides their weaknesses and edit the hell out of them.

A Filter for Craft/The Way we Use the Medium:

"We need to look at not only what we're putting on the air but how we're putting it on the air…to continually ask ourselves -how are we sounding? Are we sounding as good as we can?"
-Ellen Weiss, Executive Producer, All Things Considered

Constructing the Filter for Craft/The Way we Use the Medium
This filter is built and based on:
Listening to work
A focus on writing
Use of any sound has purpose
Music matches content

Goal: To focus not just on what goes on the air but on all aspects of how it's being put on the air-to build a consciousness, a common knowledge, a set of common questions.