Wrapping 2019 in style. Starting 2020 strong.
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You have a responsibility to make inclusion a daily thought,
so we can get rid of the word ‘inclusion’.
- Theodore Melfi

 
Theodore Melfi is an American screenwriter, film director, and producer. As it turns out, we were born one day apart in late October (minus a few years). I have a post-it note on my computer screen that reads “radical inclusion includes you.” It’s just a thought I had that I wanted to be reminded of and Melfi’s quote illustrates why. I want to live in a world where we don’t need a word like inclusion. I want community radio to be the change. Every month we write about the wonderful work you all do. It’s all true and inspiring, but there are more rivers to cross if we want to rise above the undertow of preaching to the choir with our programming and becoming our own kind of elitists in the assumptions we make about who and what the communities we serve are.
 
Community radio is a chronicler of civic life, but we’re repeating a tired conversation. Polarization, alienation, and apathy often rule the roost. We have an opportunity to amplify other voices and not drown in the amplification of an elite narrative that increasingly does not reflect our changing demographics and our expanding consciousness as a species.
 
As this year begins to wind down, I am hoping for a new one that heralds a shift from all the chatter about diversity to a deep awareness about equity, justice, and dignity. Let’s shift our aspirational goals from mere sustainability to quantum leaps for human community and the total reinvention of our civic life.
 
Community radio is a portal to a world of understanding. Shifting our daily thoughts about what we are communicating has power.

Sally Kane, CEO
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
skane@nfcb.org

 

NFCB's 2020 webinar series

2020 is right around the corner and, with it, a new slate of NFCB training opportunities for community radio.
 
NFCB’s bimonthly webinars provide expertise, crucial training, and professional development opportunities for your station on a variety of content, revenue, engagement, and organizational capacity topics. 2020’s webinars promise to help stations amplify their efforts.
 
Our 2020 webinars will be:

The 2020 election season promises to spark spirited conversations in your community. Learn how your community radio station can safely navigate the broadcast and underwriting rules for candidates, interest groups, volunteers and debates in a lively training, featuring your questions and answers from experienced attorneys.
There is a fine line between a well-crafted underwriting announcement and a potential FCC violation. Can you spot the difference? Get advanced tips for underwriting language and how your station can best serve its underwriters while respecting listener sensibilities and federal guidelines governing your noncommercial license.
Volunteers come to your station to share their love of your station. How can you help them do even better? Program assessments help stations’ volunteer programmers get feedback on what they do. This webinar explores benchmarks in program evaluation and how to make evaluating your schedule and volunteer programmers as efficient and helpful as possible.
Board members help chart your community media organization’s strategic vision. This webinar is intended to give new and veteran board members an overview of the responsibilities of governance and how to effectively serve their stations and communities. This training is perfect for stations needing to orient their directors on creating dynamic, intelligent boards.
It is one of the hottest subjects in noncommercial radio, and more community radio stations are exploring whether podcasts are right for them. Learn about formats, listener trends, monetization options and how to organize a community podcasting program, among other subjects, at our upcoming webinar on podcasting for community radio stations.
Streaming is a priority for all stations. For community radio, online availability increases your audience and donor base. This webinar examines the ins and outs of licensing music and appropriate reporting of your stream to ensure your station is compliant with the law. We’ll also address your questions on music, streaming and reporting.
Throughout the year, NFCB will be hosting webinars on emerging topics of interest to community radio. Our past pop-ups have included subjects like building an underwriting program at an all-volunteer station. This year, multilingual programming and more are on the agenda for member stations.
 
Webinars are one of the many benefits of NFCB membership. Your community radio station is encouraged to join today.
 
 

Lauree McArdle, WERA

Lauree McArdle joined Arlington Independent Media (AIM) in August 2004. Her promotion to Director of Operations includes the primary functions of coordinating the scheduling of the facility and staff as well as overall operations. Lauree has also been a major driving force behind WERA 96.7 FM, Radio Arlington.
 
She graduated from Stockton University with a BA in Communications. Previous experience includes Montgomery Community Media, Sesame Street, Nickelodeon and WLFR, the radio station of Stockton University.  Lauree spends as much time as possible supporting independent music through her weekly radio show, Spin Cycle, every Tuesday morning on WERA.
 
How did you get into community media?
 
It was my nearly insatiable lifelong love of music that brought me my first experience with community media. It was in the early 1990s at my college radio station at Stockton University in Pomona, NJ at WLFR-Lake Fred Radio 91.7 FM. It truly was like finding the “mother ship” of my people! I was a painfully shy introvert who “just wanted to work behind the scenes” until I was bursting to share all my favorite music!  A full power station in the pine barrens of southern New Jersey, WLFR was and still is a mostly freeform noncommercial radio station. I’m pleased to say WLFR is celebrating 35 years on air this year! I started as an intern DJ and eventually had my own radio show. I was then asked to be Business Manager and eventually became the General Manager. At the time, I was only the 3rd female GM of the station. Since that time, I’ve worked with Montgomery Community Media before joining Arlington Independent Media (AIM) in 2004. I started at AIM as the Programming Coordinator, scheduling programs on our public access television station and worked my way up to Director of Operations. In late 2011, when I learned of the possibility of a new LPFM window opening up in urban areas, I immediately signed up on the Prometheus Radio Project email list to stay informed of what was happening. While there were certainly many highs and lows of the process, from early 2012 until WERA launched in December 2015, I was determined to find a way for LPFM to happen in Arlington.
 
What skills have been most helpful to you in your work at Arlington Independent Media?
 
I feel the managerial and people skills I learned between my time directing a rotating group of volunteers at WLFR and my time as a manager for a major retail café, music and bookstore are highly beneficial to my work. I learned how to adapt to a variety of personalities and match employees and volunteers to their skill assets in order to keep a harmonious workspace. I continue to utilize those skills every day! I believe my organizational management and communication skills truly play a large role as well. Volunteers and employees feel empowered and engaged when they have information and are part of the process. I’m skilled at being able to put myself in another’s perspective and utilize that as often as possible. I feel I’m especially talented at assessing a given situation by looking and listening before speaking.
 
 
What have you learned about yourself that you didn’t know before getting into community radio?
 
I’ve learned I’m much more of a people person than I realized! While it might appear that I’m quiet, I’m often absorbing the environment and being present in the moment. Before I joined WLFR, I never would have thought that I’d be leading meetings and running a radio station, let alone be on the air! The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can overcome many fears if you are truly passionate about something!

WERA was recently successful in appealing to city leaders and other key stakeholders for funding. How did WERA and its supporters make the case for the value of your organization to the community?
 
Arlington Independent Media (AIM) started as the public access television station in Arlington, VA in 1982. We’ve long had a dedicated group of volunteers who create the content you see and hear in our media outlets. Over the years, we’ve developed strong ties to our community and other non-profit organizations within Arlington. The appeal to the Arlington County Board was truly driven by our member volunteers who are extremely passionate about their own work as well as the work of the entire organization. We reached out to the many people we’ve served over the years and asked them to speak for us. We showed up in numbers at as many open meetings and sessions and let our members tell their stories. Many of our County Board members have appeared on AIM-TV or on WERA programs, so they are all quite familiar with the work we do! In addition, WERA is a project of Arlington Independent Media and we have an agreement in place with the Arlington County Public Safety and Emergency Management Office to help distribute messaging for awareness as well as in times of emergency. While our appeal was successful, our funding model is rapidly evolving so we must continue to be vigilant and creative in generating revenue to sustain ourselves well into the future!
 
Your organization’s model is a little different than others in that you do not depend solely on pledge drives to make your budget, but also host fee-based classes and other methods to generate revenue. Are there any tips you could share with stations looking to diversify their incomes?
 
As I mentioned, Arlington Independent Media began as a public access television station and continues to evolve as media evolves. Our mission “is to promote and facilitate free speech by providing access to established and emerging media.” The main way we’ve accomplished that for decades is by teaching people how to make media. Initially that was television, but we are so much more now! One of our most successful areas in instruction is in our youth programs. I recommend finding ways to bring younger generations in to learn about what you do. It’s best to start small and build from there. We’ve benefitted from partnering with other local organizations to diversify our offerings. For example, if your station doesn’t have space to hold workshops or similar activities, I’m sure there’s a way to partner with others who have space, like a local library.
 
Multiple sources of revenue are crucial to success and I believe adopting new technologies and ways for the community to support you is very important. AIM is relatively new to the pledge drive model, so we continue to incorporate that into our fundraising activities.
 
In addition to working at WERA, you’re also a broadcast volunteer. What is your favorite memory as a DJ?
 
I don’t think I could pick just one, but I’ll do my best to keep it brief. In 2017, musician Steve Wynn (The Dream Syndicate, The Baseball Project, The Minus 5, & solo artist) was visiting radio stations in the DC area to promote the new album from Theo-rell Dream Syndicate. He stopped by WERA to be live on my radio show, Spin Cycle. I was a little nervous, as I’ve enjoyed his music since my college days, but I had never met him. As I did my research in advance of the show, I realized he’s just as much of a fan of music, if not more, than I am! The hour we spent on air chatting about the album and music in general, went by fast! I later learned that he visited my show and another at Sirius XM and then went back to New York!
 
If I were to share a memory from WLFR, it would be the time we created our own version of the “War of the Worlds.” A whole bunch of us gathered into the small production studio to record live to tape (reel-to-reel back then!) a Stockton/WLFR radio drama scripted by a DJ. It was really fun to do, and I wish we had a recording of it preserved. I have a copy of the script somewhere!
 
What would today-you tell first-day you about community media?
 
You’re stronger and smarter than you allow yourself to believe! Don’t be afraid to take chances, speak up and try new things. It’s ok to be aggressive, in a positive and constructive way, if you truly believe your ideas are beneficial to the greater good of the station. Always ask! If you don’t ask, you won’t know and the worst that happens is the answer is no.
 
I’d also tell first-day me: “You have no idea the journey your love of music will take you! Make sure you enjoy it whenever possible!”
 
Want to nominate someone for a profile? Let us know.
 
 

Year-end giving

Your community radio station has probably noticed that pledge drive and other kinds of fundraising are getting longer and more difficult. This challenge may be because individual donations nationwide are declining. For community radio, a shrinking base and increased competition for dollars has meant fundraising is a year-round exercise. At no time is fundraising a bigger priority than the end of the year.
 
For stations starting their fiscal years in the fall, year-end fundraising represents a time to boost your fortunes early into the financial cycle. The period starting at Giving Tuesday and continuing into 2020 is the biggest time all year, every year, for donations.
 
Still, no matter what time of the year, every station should stick to their best behavior in fundraising. These practices include offering multiple ways to give, offering insights on how donations are used, and following up with thank you letters/emails and updates throughout the year as a means of stewarding donors into future giving.
 
For organizations keeping score, though, Nonprofit Resource estimates nearly $400 million came into charities on Giving Tuesday 2018. The bulk of these contributions came via Facebook, up almost 200 percent from the previous year. The increased interest in giving back during the holiday season, amid a gloomy forecast for fundraising, means stations must be organized and active around end-of-year gifts.

Here are a few practical recommendations for your community radio station mapping its year-end fundraising work:
  • Whether it’s on the air or by mail, your station’s year-end messages must focus on your audience. Don’t present donation requests as what you do as an organization, but what your listener does when s/he contributes. What is the value of that investment to your mission? “Supporters like you brought award-winning news coverage to our area,” “without your help, our town would not have the cultural reputation it does,” and “your donation makes an impact here,” are just a few messages you could utilize to remind your audience of what they mean to you.
  • How does your online donation form look on your phone? If you do not know, you should check. The number of people who give to a nonprofit via their mobile devices has grown in the last few years. And nothing is more frustrating than accessing a donation form that is not responsive. Zooming to type into undersized boxes and other headaches are a sure way to chase off well-meaning fans and miss donations. Add to the statistics of online giving that 40 percent of website traffic for nonprofits came from users viewing sites via phone, and it is clear your station’s mobile game needs to be on point.
  • Speaking of digital campaigns, don’t forget to sharpen up your email visuals. Stations that rely on email to communicate with donors need to up their efforts to rise above the many year-end asks your listeners will receive. You’ll most worry about whether the email grabs your reader’s attention; how successfully the message keeps a reader from moving on; and the quality of the email to get you to donate. If you are out of ideas, there are many inspirations for look and feel of your year-end email campaign. Stations using photos with their campaigns should do so from the public domain and be sure to credit the artist if it is specified as a condition of use.
  • If your station does minimal or no direct mail, your online ask is it as far as year-end fundraising goes. So, your website presentation has to look great and read exceptionally well to grab attention and dollars. More and more donors to nonprofits want to see how their money goes into service rather than operations costs. Sharing the story of a person impacted by a radio station training program, a musician whose career was shaped by a station, or a local issue changed by your station’s reporting are good examples of the effect you have.
  • If your station does direct mail, being precise pays dividends. Your station should focus on the impact of a donor’s support. In addition, with merge mail functions, your letter can reference past gifts and your target donor’s interests. Personalized letters and those aimed at your major givers, lapsed members and even non-donor prospects are other ways to generate the funds your community media organization needs.
For more fundraising recommendations, member stations are encouraged to visit NFCB’s Solution Center. Stations that have not become NFCB members yet are encouraged to join today.
 
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