PRPD/LNI Talk Show Meet Convening
June 9, 10 – Denver, CO
June 30, 2008
More than a dozen talk show producers, hosts and station PDs met
recently to help PRPD and the Local News Initiative identify and
develop “next steps” for our joint Talk Show “Best Practices” Project. The title for the meeting was taken from one of the key listener findings of the 2006 PRPD/LNI Sense of Place: The Value and Values of Localism research project.
The four main goals of the meeting were to:
- Refine and advance the “best practices” identified in the PRPD/LNI Talk Show “Best Practices” Matrix.
developing a common language that can be used to discuss the broad
range of programs currently called "local talk." Even this relatively
small group of stations represent an enormous range of presentation;
from what we called an “Uber-Produced” program (entirely pre-edited and
pre-produced) to “Radio Verite” – all live with very few filters in
place including little or no pre-screening of callers on whom these
programs rely heavily.
- Determine if there is a need and
constituency for new training programs and/or conferences targeted to
public radio’s talk programmers.
- Develop specific ideas for the type of training/conferences that might be desired
Who was There
Stations participating in the discussion included Colorado
Public Radio, KNPR, KQED, Oregon Public Broadcasting, KUOW, KXJZ, North
Country Public Radio, Vermont Public Radio, WCPN, Wisconsin Public
Radio, WNPR, WNYC and WUNC.
The meeting was planned and facilitated by PRPD President Arthur
Cohen, as well as KUOW Program Director Jeff Hansen and LNI Project
Manager Marcia Alvar who developed the Talk Show Matrix.
Getting Ready for the Discussion
To prepare for the meeting, attendees were asked to;
- Review and critique the Matrix
- Prepare a self-assessment of their programs
- Provide brief audio excerpts from their programs to illustrate both successes and shortcomings.
These materials provided the focus for the meeting agenda.
We want to thank the participants for the hard work they did to
prepare for the discussion, and their willingness to share both their
aspirations and assessments of their programs.
A list of attendee goals points to a number of actions that PRPD and
LNI can take to help strengthen public radio talk programs.
- Issue a broader “call” to stations throughout public
radio for examples of current talk show practices and tools that may
serve as models for others.
- Explore the creation of
regional training sessions. These would be hosted by a station doing a
talk show. Observation of the planning, production and critique of the
show would be incorporated into the training agenda.
training that helps people become trainers themselves – a “Train the
Trainers” approach that can strengthen full station staffs rather than
just the one person who can attend a workshop.
- Use the web to provide ongoing listening sessions and critiques as well as topic-focused webinars.
- Refine the Matrix and reversion into other forms such as handbooks that could be focused in a variety of ways:
- A handbook for those stations thinking of starting a talk show. This would include more detail about points outlined in the Checklist for Starting a Talk Show.
handbook for those already doing a show that provides “how to”
information and guidelines. An early draft for this handbook recaps
what we know about our listeners and outlines the key tasks of
producers, hosts, Program Directors and News Directors; all play
critical roles in the success of these programs.
a broader “call” to stations throughout public radio for examples of
training activities they feel could strengthen the listener service of
public radio talk programs.
What Comes Next
PRPD and LNI have already begun work to develop as many of these worthy
projects as possible. We also plan to reach out to other potential
partners who want to support and participate in this important work.