Now Cough

Sunday, February 25, 2007

You Shoulda Been There

Like a lot of other people in public radio and TV I spent this Sunday recovering from two back-to-back conferences:

The Integrated Media Association and the Beyond Broadcast 2007 gatherings.

The IMA confab covered a lot of ground in five days: disturbing reports from the newspaper side about how it withered and failed to compete as digital moved faster than publishers did; examples of how the BBC is doing a lot of things public radio in the states is not; some excellent technical sessions and calls to action masked in 'do-it-our-way' marketing.

The really powerful moments, at least for me, happened over dinner and drinks. I wish everyone in public radio could have joined some of my colleagues from the Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD) board for a fascinating discussion about music, music programming and the forthcoming South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Austin. Bruce Warren of WXPN in Philadelphia, Hawk Mendenhall of Austin's KUT and Todd Mundt of Iowa Public Radio were among those who talked most about the challenges, thrill and satisfaction of music programming. And what you missed was the passion combined with experience and taste offered in a remarkable atmosphere of sharing.

No deals. No quid pro quo. No politics. No strategy. No budgets and five year plans. Just a table full of public radio veterans talking about what we love most and offering to share the wealth.

That open source spirit is what's missing from a lot of public broadcasting, but it sure was there that night. And, if you listen to those stations you can hear the open passion that comes from such a spirit.

The other meal I had was again with Todd (his excellent blog hits the high and low points of the IMA very well) and Graham Griffith, a producer working on a new national program. Graham has a superb record running NPR's and WBUR's On Point. We talked deeply and in detail about news, news on public radio, the challenges of launching new programs, and how to broaden the reach, the sound and the immediacy of what we SHOULD hear at the left end of the dial but too often don't. This was a valuable, memorable lunch full of laughter and wrinkled brows. It made me hopeful. But we all agreed public broadcasting is not changing quickly enough, not picking up the pace while the audience races forward. Or away.

And finally, I had enough extended coffee breaks and white wines with people from the big three...NPR, APM and PRI...and stations to remain convinced of a few observations:

  • Bigger is not better

  • Organizations more often than not kill creativity by burying it in process and 'being responsible'

  • No one owns 'good' or 'quality'

  • Paranoia, fear of change and internal competition are going to kill public broadcasting

  • Talk is cheap

  • It's clear that as a business we don't trust the audience enough...its tastes, its passions, and its quirkiness. We ask the audience to listen to US (and pledge dollars), but we don't listen to our listeners nearly enough. Nor are we paying attention to what they are doing.

    Over the next year, I hope we sit down with a lot of listeners and just listen to them. They're the experts.

    Thursday, February 22, 2007

    Social Media

    If you are not in Boston at a hotel in Copley Plaza, you are missing an intense couple of days picking up the latest buzz on social media.

    Here's a funny test link created in a session.

    And the BBC was here live.

    Monday, February 05, 2007


    Oh my. Mother of 3. NASA Mission Specialist. Space shuttle veteran. Diapers. Do you really want to know?

    Thursday, February 01, 2007


    The modified limited hangout of the Bush administration is now turning into a case of indecent public exposure.

    Or disclosure.

    And Scooter Libby, who was willing to do all sorts of law-skirting things for the Bushies is now being hung out to dry in the perjury case he faces in federal court of l'affaire Plame.

    Until now. Not one of the witnesses who has testified so far, all newsies, has backed up Libby's statements to the grand jury about when he claims to have first learned that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.

    Libby was leaking like crazy to anyone with a pen and notebook. Who told him to? Wellll...there's lots to suggest the Vice President did, or suggested as such. Did the President? Mr. Deniability?

    Hmmm.. some tasty new bits hint that maybe he did. Who would rat out the Prez? How about Mr. Shoot-Him-In-The-Face Cheney?

    It sounds like the battle of the aides. After all, the VP has been supporting Scooter. But the Prez didn't want Karl the Architect caught up in this mess, and to some it looks like Scooter is taking the cow pie in the face.

    Now, when does Cheney testify? Under oath?