Why PBS’ Use of Gowalla Matters

In late February, PBS entered the world of location-based social networking by joining Gowalla—a mobile platform that allows users to “check-in” at physical locations they visit and share photos, highlights and tips. The application boasts more than 1 million active users and walked away with the coveted “Mobile Award” at last year’s South by Southwest Interactive Festival. It hopes to garner 5 million users by summer.

While an early innovator, Gowalla is far from alone in the mobile social networking market. FourSquare, The Hotlist, Gbanga and Facebook Places are just a few on a growing list of location-based applications that seek to attract users by blending physical and digital spaces.

And attracting users they are.

FourSquare has 7.5 million users, with roughly 35,000 people joining each day. The growth is not surprising considering last year nearly 39 million Americans participated in social networks on a mobile device. By 2015, that number is expected to reach more than 79 million.

What are the opportunities for public media?

The growing popularity of geo-location services offers public media opportunities to interact with new communities in new ways. Pew Internet & American Life Project reports that young adults, African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to go online wirelessly than other groups (more than a quarter of U.S. teens access the Internet from a mobile phone). Overall, African Americans are the most active users of mobile Internet—and their use is growing at a faster pace than other groups.

Additionally, trends suggest that media content will be increasingly tied to physical spaces. FourSquare allows users to submit photos with check-ins, YouTube has been tying content to location for years and, just last week, NCME’s Ann Alquist discussed how Broadcastr maps audio content based on where it was created or what it references.

Imagine: A mobile user checks into your city’s art museum on Gowalla and they’re offered a clip your station produced about the institution’s Picasso exhibit. Or, a high school student visits Washington D.C.’s Vietnam War Memorial and is prompted to stream a preview of a Ken Burns film. Both are potential parts of public media’s future.

Beyond providing another platform for distributing content or reaching new audiences, location-based social networking helps public media build relationships—a paramount priority for any organization seeking to engage the people it serves. Participating in geo social networks creates opportunities for stations and producers to connect with communities in new ways; it pushes conventional boundaries for what public media “is” and creates new relevance for quality content and the indispensable value stations offer to local communities.

How to get started:

Inspired by PBS’ foray into Gowalla? Join the site (you can opt to connect via Facebook). Need a quick overview of location apps? We found a Location Apps for Dummies article (see both part one and part two) that offers quick differentiation among 12 popular tools.

When you’re ready to dive in, consider friending NCME on FourSquare.

 

Toward an Engagement Ethos

I once had a professor who used a handful of favorite mantras.  One that he repeated most often went something like this:

“The things that made you successful up until now are not the things that will make you successful in the future.”

While that sounds counter-intuitive, it encompasses the notion that we have to change and evolve with the times and the contexts we’re in.

A similar theme recurred at the recent iMA conference. Sometimes the conversation focused on adapting to emerging tools, such as Amy Webb’s presentation about technology trends. Other times, the conversation focused on getting better at everything from innovation to collaboration to social media, leveraging networks, and creating multi-platform content.

It can all be a bit overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. These conversations have one thing in common: the challenge to change and evolve with the times and contexts we’re in without compromising the things that made us successful in the first place.

More specifically, how do we maintain and reaffirm the skills and standards that help us successfully curate and distribute content of the highest standard while simultaneously developing the skills to successfully engage our communities and strengthen civic life?

With your help and CPB’s support, we’ve discovered that deeply engaged stations tend to behave in certain ways. They put the community first. They cultivate an engagement ethos–a mindset and internal culture for engagement. Some have always behaved this way–it’s in their organizational DNA. Others realized that future success required something different than past success. They changed who they are as an organization and their way of being a part of the community.

Making this change is hard work. Like change in our personal lives, changing organizational culture requires vigilance and a commitment to a core set of key behaviors. To learn more, watch this brief video. Then adopt an engagement ethos as the first step toward building even stronger stations, stronger local service, and stronger communities.

And that professor I had? He probably followed his own advice, which is what made him a good teacher and why I still remember his mantras.

 

POV Awards Grants for ‘Most Dangerous Man’

American Documentary | POV has awarded seven grants totaling $50,000 to public television stations to support local programming and community activities around the Oscar®-nominated film The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers. The grants are part of the second phase of POV’s national campaign to engage communities in dialogues about issues the film addresses. Funding for the campaign is provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

KNME – Albuquerque, N.M.
KNME will collaborate with the University of New Mexico and Albuquerque Public Schools. The station will broadcast a panel discussion on ethics and freedom of the press, and promote the documentary’s April broadcast on the public affairs program New Mexico in Focus. Host Gene Grant will interview Daniel Ellsberg via satellite uplink from KQED, using questions submitted by University of New Mexico Ethics in Journalism students and History of Media students, who will be in the audience. A panel of working journalists will discuss the issues.

KQED – San Francisco, Calif.
KQED is partnering with University of California Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law and the Northern California chapter of the ACLU to hold an afternoon of discussion and debate about WikiLeaks, the legacy of the Pentagon Papers, national security, personal freedom and the rule of law. Ellsberg will talk about these issues on a panel that will also include university professors, government officials, reporters and other experts from across the country. The Most Dangerous Man in America also will be screened as part of the event.

Maryland Public Television – Owings Mills, Md.
MPT will engage journalism students at the University of Maryland’s Philip Merril College of Journalism with a screening and panel discussion on the station’s Direct Connection program. Audience members will participate in a live “Tweetup” with a hashtag to track the discussion. Prior to the event, the dean of the college will assign related projects to students.

WFYI – Indianapolis, Ind.
WFYI, along with the Pulliam School of Journalism at Franklin College, will host a community screening and discussion focusing on issues of transparency and freedom of information; Ellsberg will Skype into the event. WFYI will also reach Central Indiana listeners through the production of an episode of the local public affairs radio show No Limits.

WGVU – Grand Rapids, Mich.
WGVU is partnering with the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies at Grand Valley State University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School, journalism and political science classes at Grand Valley State University, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, where a public screening and panel discussion will be held. Ellsberg will participate via Skype, and the event will serve as a “Tweetup” for some of the attendees. WGVU will also produce special editions of its local public affairs television program, Newsmakers, and radio call-in show, the WGVU Morning Show.

WVIZ – Cleveland, Ohio
WVIZ has forged a partnership with Case Western Reserve University and Cleveland State, as well as five local libraries and the Lakewood Public School District, to present a screening and panel discussion. The event will be accessible to viewers across the nation through real-time videoconferencing, posted on the WVIZ/PBS ideastream® website.

WXXI – Rochester, N.Y.
WXXI will collaborate with New York State universities Geneseo and Brockport, along with Rochester-area colleges, to hold a public screening followed by a Q&A with one of the film’s directors in-person, and Ellsberg via Skype. WXXI will also broadcast a radio interview with Ellsberg and use the encore broadcast of The Most Dangerous Man in America for its spring pledge drive.

Questions about the grant program? Contact Eliza Licht at POV.

 

Q&A with WQXR’s Terrance McKnight

While attending the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio conference in New York, NCME took advantage of nabbing a few minutes with Terrance McKnight, host of WQXR’s All Ears.

Having on-air talent interacting and listening to people in real space in real time is an important part of WQXR’s strategy to develop new audiences for its classical music serv ice. McKnight has a reputation for being particularly engaged in the communities WQXR serves—especially Harlem, where he lives.

In the following Q&A, McKnight describes why community engagement is an essential part of his work and explains how WQXR is a cultural convener in New York City through its Battle of the Boroughs music competition.

Is it important for hosts to be visible in the communities their stations serve?

It’s part of living in the neighborhood [Harlem]. I didn’t just want to explore it from a book. But it’s also about getting out and seeing the voices that don’t listen to us—it’s critical. There are so many media choices. But when you put a face on it, it’s different. I expose people to something they don’t think they have access to or know about. I see myself as connective tissue between the station and the community. It’s a two-way process.

Has the two-way interactions informed your work on-the-air?

Absolutely.  I did a piece on Hazel Scott [wife of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. who was a music prodigy and Harlem Renaissance contributor]. No one knows about this woman. Her story needed telling. A way for me to serve the community is to bring out the highlights of the Harlem Renaissance. And she broke so much ground. To a young person [who doesn’t know she is], it shows “I can do something different.”

Why is classical music still relevant?

Because human emotions don’t change. And the music they wrote—Bach, Mozart, Beethoven—speaks to that. When you listen to it, it crosses centuries and cultures. 

How do you show people classical music is still relevant?

We do Battle of the Boroughs [a band competition]. The beauty of it, it doesn’t feel like a competition. Many of them know about each other, but never talk to each other.

So you’re able to act as a cultural convener?

Yeah. Like a guy who played in Battle of the Boroughs emailed me and said, “I need a violin player—the one who was from the Battle of the Boroughs.” And I can connect them. And by connecting musicians with each other, we hope the music will grow. We’re able to create a different experience of music where nobody feels like an outsider. It’s inclusive.

 

Inspire Literacy with “SUPER WHY!”

Join us on Wednesday, March 23 at 1 p.m. ET to learn more about Super Why Reading Camps from the PBS KIDS series SUPER WHY!

Read more and register to attend.

During the one-hour webinar we’ll be joined by representatives from WGBH, WNED, Iowa Public Television and the series’ producers, who will share new resources and advice for how to inspire young readers in your community.

Also, SUPER WHY! will have two life-size character standees to give away as part of drawings during the webinar.

Presenters include:

John Craig
Vice President of Education & Outreach
WNED

Mary Haggerty
Manager, Educational Outreach
WGBH

Trista Peitzman
PK-12 Coordinator
Iowa Public Television

Karen Samnick
Vice President of Marketing
Out of the Blue

 

 

Broadcastr: Knowing Where You’ve Been to See Where You Need to Be

Imagine a tool that shows radio stations the areas in communities they’ve visited, and distributes content from places they’ve reported on or from.

Enter Broadcastr, a new social media platform for location-based stories. It enables the recording, indexing, listening and sharing of audio content. The tool is guided by the belief that, just like in human memory, all stories are bound to a place. Broadcastr strives to amplify our collective voice by allowing users to take GPS-enabled walks, during which stories about physical surroundings are available for on-demand streaming.

What are the opportunities for public media?

Radio Milwaukee’s Digital Content Manager Tarik Moody BETA-tested submitting stories for his station’s Make Milwaukee campaign. The process allowed Radio Milwaukee’s producers to post stories from the field and also encouraged engagement with community members by allowing users and audience members to create and upload their own content.

Beyond storytelling, imagine the value of being able to visually map the places to which your news coverage connects. Which neighborhoods are frequently visited? What are the places that rarely receive coverage?

Although still in BETA, Broadcastr offers a robust, searchable site. Give it a visit and explore its features; browse content by categories, or specific locations.

Already using Broadcastr? Let us know! We’d like to highlight your experience to colleagues in the public media system.

Update: On March 10, Broadcastr released an app in iTunes.

 

Goodbye Public Interactive, Hello NPR Digital Services

This morning NPR announced a re-imagination of its Public Interactive division at the Integrated Media Association Conference in Austin, Tex. The group will now be known as NPR Digital Services.

The change in name comes with an expanded mission to work with stations to “…grow and engage audiences across platforms.” NPR Digital Services will offer content, technology and resources so stations may provide more value to their communities by engaging thought leaders and focusing on mission-driven local content.

Read the full announcement.