What space should Public Broadcasting occupy in the community?

Guest Blogger, Brenda Barnes, President, KUSC, Los Angeles, CA There are foundational documents which include statements of aspiration for public broadcasting (the first Carnegie Commission report for example) that are still relevant today, but which we do not yet meet because the initial aspirations were so high. The large, decentralized network of radio and television stations we have created is much better positioned now than in the 1960s to meet the aspirations of our founding mothers and fathers. Therefore, I think we need to review those aspirations and evaluate our own communities and stations and determine how best to chart a course for the present and future. We also need to be mindful that part of our agenda is local and distinct and part is common and national. We will work most efficiently and effectively if we know the difference between the local and the universal parts of the agenda and operate accordingly.


Guest Blogger, Florence Rodgers, General Manager, KNPR Las Vegas

Public broadcasters are licensed to operate a national asset, the public airwaves, protected from commercial pressures. This gives us a particular obligation to serve the communities to which we are licensed. Faced with a proliferation of media choices the role of providing "alternative" or "not commercially viable" media content is diminished. The role that emerges is one that commercial broadcasters will not or cannot meet: that of reflecting the identity and issues of concern to the communities they serve.

The one renewable resource we have generated (particularly in the last two decades) is trust. We are the curators of: thoughtful news and discussion, fine arts programming and resources for children and for print-impaired with our radio reading sub channel services.

The trust our audience has in our organizations and our content provides us with an opportunity to orient ourselves more centrally in the role of community builder.

We can provide air-time and online resources to create content that reflects our community and its challenges. We can provide broadcast resources to others to raise awareness for the work they do in the community. We can partner with other organizations in awareness campaigns, host online discussions and resources and use the power of our broadcast signals to drive interested citizens to the web for interaction with each other. We can bring to the table our network of news resources, our listeners, donors and governing boards to convene and connect people together in the work of community building.

Public Broadcasting is uniquely placed for this role since we are trusted and we have a means to disseminate information. We have a culture of collaboration through our associations with educational licensees, volunteer activities and the model of listeners who voluntarily financially contribute to the success of the organizations.

In return for this trust we need to be transparent in our operations at every level. Be beyond reproach in our actions and expect the same from those with whom we partner.

This opportunity has the potential to successfully position public broadcasting in a new media environment. It also has the potential to positively impact the health of communities. The combination of our network collaborations in providing a independent news service and cultural expressions AND a role as community convener may prove to be the most accurate expression of the intent of public broadcasting in its history.

Let us begin!!!


Guest Blogger, Elizabeth Ottinger, Vermont Public Television

Public broadcasting is in a unique position to strengthen communities by virtue of the fact that it is an already established and trusted and source of information. With trust already under the belt, I believe the space public broadcasting should occupy in communities is that of a convener. Already known as and relied upon for a balanced and full story, public broadcasting has the reputation and ability to bring communities and community members together to create positive change/impact.