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.

 

Going the 8 Mile: Community Engagement in Detroit

WDET-FM has a lot to show for its efforts to engage the Detroit metro community. “Truck Stop”—a project that empowers citizens to use anonymous text messaging to report illegal truck driving in low income and historically marginalized communities—is just one way WDET demonstrates its commitment to serve and strengthen Detroit.

The station is also part of an initiative for PRI’s The Takeaway that integrates regionally focused engagement to inform the program’s national content. WDET’s participation helps the series but, perhaps more importantly, it helps the station build local relationships that strengthen its local reporting.

“We’ve been working the last couple of years to make ties in different communities, showing up and acknowledging them,” says Jerome Vaughn, WDET’s news program director. “If you only show up when there’s a shooting, there’s not going to be any trust. So we show up because it shows we do care.”

The station is now finding opportunities for community connection along Detroit’s notorious “8 Mile Road”—a stretch of Michigan highway that starkly divides the city along racial and economic lines. Partnering with a community organization named “Blight Busters,” WDET is structuring a series of community conversations using questions crafted for the purpose of discovering needs and aspirations. It’s a chance for the station to listen (which is a crucial first step of a community engagement strategy) and learn about Detroit communities that are not regular public radio listeners. According to WDET Program Director Ron Jones, building in-person relationships is necessary to fulfill public media’s mission of serving communities:

“They begin to know who we are and we see who they are, and begin to understand what’s important to them.”

Explore other stories of public media’s impact on publicmediamaps.org. Is your station doing great work? Share it with us.

 

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.

 

Engage NCME in a Community Near You in March

Don’t look now, but staff members of the National Center for Media Engagement (NCME) are coming to a conference near you during a flurry of activity in March 2011.

Charles Meyer, Cristina Hanson and I (Bryce Kirchoff) will be at the Integrated Media Association (iMA) Conference in Austin, Texas, March 10-12. The iMA gathering is part of the prestigious South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. It will feature sessions that explore the latest innovation in public media. For more, click here.

Also on March 10-12, Ann Alquist, NCME’s Director of Radio Engagement, will be giving a  presentation at the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio (AMPPR) conference in New York City. She will facilitate, and present, as part of the Going Local: The Community Session where she will be joined by representatives from the Houston Grand Opera and WQXR, WNYC’s classical music channel. The AMPPR conference runs from March 9-11. More info here.

Jennifer MacArthur, NCME’s Director of TV and Digital Media Engagement, will participate in a special panel discussion as part of the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival sponsored by the Center for Asian American Media. On Sunday, March 13, Jennifer will discuss Mastering the Art of Engagement and Crowdsourcing alongside panelists John Lightfoot (California Council for the Humanities), Alicia Dwyer and Tom Xia (Xmas Without China), Ellen Schneider (Active Voice), Pete Nicks (The Waiting Room) and Dien S. Yuen (Give2asia). The panel will explore the dynamics of crowdsourcing through case studies, offer new strategies for media makers, and even reveal funding opportunities. Learn more.

Finally, NCME’s engagement manager Jess Main will be attending the Nonprofit Technology Conference in Washington, D.C., March 17-19. Sponsored by the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), the  conference brings together nonprofit professionals from around the world to collaborate, innovate, and maximize technology in the nonprofit space.

Headed to any of the gatherings mentioned above? Drop us a note. We’d be delighted to connect.

“My Source” Highlight: KKCR

George Costa, director of the office of economic development for the county of Kaua’i, explains how KKCR is his source for getting information about important local issues  during a town hall meeting KKCR hosted to help enhance economic sustainability on the island.

“I feel it is my responsibility to be out in the community to hear what our residents have to say…and listen to the ideas they have in helping solve our economic woes.”

KKCR’s project was part of the CPB-funded Engaging Communities on the Economy grant initiative, which funded 37 stations to connect with their communities and develop innovative solutions to local economic issues.

View other testimonials and submit your own at mysourcefor.org.

Did you catch last month’s My Source highlight: WHUT?


Web Analytics Webinars a Huge Hit

As part of our continuing partnership with the Integrated Media Association (iMA), we held two webinars this month to provide info specific to public media on utilizing web analytics to drive decisionmaking. Response was huge: we had great turnout, and lively discussions. We’ve got both webinars posted in the Archived Events section of our site – if you couldn’t attend live, check them out!

The first featured Eric T. Peterson of Web Analytics Demystified, who did a great overview of what it takes for an organization to get started using web analytics for business decisions. Peterson pointed out that an investment of time and talent (not just the technology, which can cost nothing) is essential to in order to get the most out of this valuable data. Get the full story here.

The enthusiasm was strong for the second webinar, which featured Sondra Russell from NPR and Amy Sample from PBS to share their experiences utilizing web analytics for goal setting and audience engagement. They served up succinct, practical tips and great advice for people getting started. We were thrilled to have Wendy Greco from the Analysis Exchange join us as well, to share how her organization can be utilized by public media to gain web analytics insights – for free! Amy Sample reported on Twitter today that three public media projects have already been created in the Exchange in the 24 hours following the webinar. Want all the details? Check out the archived webinar.

More info coming soon on our next webinar collaboration with iMA!