Telling Public Media's Story

Questions from the essay portion of the Station Activities Survey from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  These are KRCC's answers for the 2013 grant cycle.

1. Describe your overall goals and approach to address identified community issues, needs, and interests through your station’s vital local services, such as multiplatform long and short-form content, digital and in-person engagement, education services, community information, partnership support, and other activities, and audiences you reached or new audiences you engaged.

One of KRCC’s overall goals is to improve the lives of people in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.  KRCC’s news and cultural departments investigate trends and newsworthy events in the region and work to provide an in depth look into how such occurrences affect the region.  Additionally, we work to identify deficits that our organization can help fill or elucidate for the community.

Being a much smaller organization than other news sources in the region, KRCC news tends to identify current stories and provide a second look at the dynamics of the story, communicating directly with players involved and providing historical and regional context to the issues we report. 

A story might evolve in several different ways, for example the fires of the past years that decimated portions of our region.  The news department took a traditional route at the start, attending news conferences and providing updates from officials.  We did this on-air and online.  The content in some ways was bare bones, but it served our audience well because during the frantic emergency of a wildfire, a 24-hour news cycle also ignites, with a lot of repetition and sometimes filler.  KRCC’s modest resources forced us to distil information down to the core, providing thoughtful facts about the event.  We engaged our current audience and a new online audience through maximizing our resources and emphasizing thoughtful, just-the-facts coverage.

The next layer of our coverage came in the form a centralized, vetted repository of information for listeners.  We take very seriously that we are a trusted source of information and the information we provided to those affected was simple and accurate.  We feel the last thing a community needs in a time of crisis is anything that might incite greater panic and confusion.   We engaged our audience via on-air, online, telephone, face-to-face and social media. 

We continued to build over coverage with short-form on-air and online pieces, providing basic information and analysis, mainly recapping press conferences and short interviews with any available officials.  And so goes much of the coverage cycle during a crisis event.

As the event slowly became contained, our coverage plans changed to focus on how to provide a picture of the aftermath of such an event.  Public media shines through its analysis of the events following a crisis.  We were able to provide a firsthand look at affected areas through media tours attended by our news and cultural departments.  News provided a depiction of the affected region through interviews with officials and research on the region; the cultural department provided back up, creating simple, understated photographic slideshows online and audio postcards about the affected areas, immersing an online audience in a larger news story that one might not otherwise hear in an on-air piece.

After the dust settles from an event such as a wildfire, a small operation like KRCC’s news department has a special opportunity to circle back and truly educate our audience.  Again, due to the limits of the tools at hand, we have to work smart.  Because we’re not necessarily breaking news on a daily basis, that gives us the freedom to take another look at, in this case wildfire, the constant danger that exists in the region, providing another look by producing an in-depth, educational series. 

KRCC produced such a series, pulling in freelancers and creating content on-air and online that included an interactive online timeline and numerous, thoughtful interviews with officials from environmental, scientific and governmental agencies, as well as residents.  KRCC brought depth like this on-air and online at our own website and distributed it through social media.  We were able to engage listeners in the affected areas. And, we were able to pull our entire listening area into the conversation by reaching deeper into the issues and highlighting conditions that exist for our entire listening area and beyond.  Through online distribution, the country and world were able to have a closeness and familiarity with the southern Colorado region by the news department’s careful attention to the universality of the problems many communities could potentially face.  Through our environment perspective, we saw how the wildfires had potentially global causes.  

The power of public media is the trust we inspire and reverence we hold for our community.  We are a vital part of the information ecosystem because we’re able to fill-in gaps left by commercial media through providing a patient, thorough examination of the issues that face our audience.

2. Describe key initiatives and the variety of partners with whom you collaborated, including other public media outlets, community nonprofits, government agencies, educational institutions, the business community, teachers and parents, etc. This will illustrate the many ways you’re connected across the community and engaged with other important organizations in the area.

KRCC’s mantra is collaboration.  Finite resources mean that it is always important to look for efficiency, and we often find that through working with others.  We are a part of a group of 18 public media stations called Rocky Mountain Community Radio.  RMCR collectively funds a reporter at the state Capitol.  We’re able to bring reports virtually daily to our audience and, through RMCR, most of the state of Colorado.  Our collaboration with RMCR helps to ensure the health of our democracy.  Also working with RMCR, KRCC has polled the group to discover efficiencies in our back end operations.  As a result, we’re consolidating traffic and billing for three stations, including KRCC.  Traffic will be handled by KRCC and program logs and automation files will come from KRCC’s traffic system.  We were able to realize savings for other involved stations by providing a trained traffic professional and eliminating all start-up fees for two other stations.  We will all share the cost for licensing the traffic software and KRCC’s personnel.

KRCC commonly shares news stories with partners in Rocky Mountain Community Radio and on occasion, Colorado Public Radio and Harvest Public Media.

KRCC works with a group partners from Rocky Mountain PBS, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Community College and the Pikes Peak Library District out of the Tim Gill Center for Public Media in Colorado Springs.  We’ve identified a number of projects that we work on including storytelling, journalism and media production.  The project centers around the concept of empowering and educating citizens, highlighting the tools of media.  So far the group has started a thriving internship program and journalism contest.  In the future, we have hopes to create a Story Truck, much in the vein of Story Corps, and a robust website with information for aspiring pubic media journalists and content producers that has a large emphasis on content standards.

KRCC, The Gallery of Contemporary Art at UCCS, Pikes Peak Library District and the Pioneers Museum in Colorado Springs are currently working on a community-wide art show called the 36 Views of Pikes Peak, based on famed Japanese printmaker Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mt. Fuji, we’re looking to explore the myriad ways that Pikes Peak draws our entire listening area together and defines us. What we love about Hokusai’s 36 Views (which are actually comprised of 46 prints total) is the way in which he uses Mt. Fuji to see and unite some of the myriad facets of Japanese culture in the early 1800s. In other words, Mt. Fuji is seldom the subject, but the excuse—an early conceptual premise (that inspired the impressionists) with which to narrate a much larger story about class, society, values and aesthetics.

In an effort to get the word out about cultural and musical events in our listening area, we partner with Peak Radar, an arts and events calendar in the Pikes Peak region, coming out of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (Copper).  KRCC airs thousands of public service announcements annually, which is a big job to sort and prepare–an important job.  To maximize our resources, we’re lucky to have Peak Radar in our region, which provides in-depth, useful information for our audience and frees KRCC from having to collect this information.  Peak Radar compiles and provides us with information and we announce it; they provide a wonderful website and we direct our audience there.

Finally, KRCC regularly work with our licensee Colorado College to provide internship opportunities for students, as well as working with various departments to mutually promote events.

3. What impact did your key initiatives and partnerships have in your community? Describe any known measurable impact, such as increased awareness, learning or understanding about particular issues. Describe indicators of success, such as connecting people to needed resources or strengthening conversational ties across diverse neighborhoods. Did a partner see an increase in requests for related resources? Please include direct feedback from a partner(s) or from a person(s) served.

KRCC’s partnership with Rocky Mountain PBS and Rocky Mountain Community Radio was one of the deciding factors in the Gill Foundation donating a building to RMPBS with the purpose of furthering information about public media to our collective audiences.  The center acts as a hub for collaboration between regional colleges and libraries, public radio and television, and other media non-profits, such as independent film.  It also seeks to increase awareness about public media for student and citizen journalists.  It elicits stories from our audiences through a disciplined and widely inclusive approach to storytelling.  The space has also provided a building in which regional non-profits can congregate; it hosts hundreds of organizations annually. 

Doug Price, CEO at Rocky Mountain PBS, has stated that the partnerships that developed at the Tim Gill Center for Public Media started with a mentor relationship between himself and KRCC’s General Manager Delaney Utterback.  The willingness for the two to work together spread to their organizations working together, which has led to a physical space where others can work together.  The center and KRCC’s work with RMPBS have led to a new philosophical view on partnership and sharing amongst other public media entities throughout the state.

The coming year will see public media, universities and libraries partner to develop programs together.  The goal has always been to make revolutionary contributions to public media that benefit the citizens of the area and uplift the entire public media system, and through willingness to work together and focus our energy on the specific projects that include storytelling, history and citizen journalism, we hope to draft new methods for achieving success. 

Additional comments:

“As part of our partnership with KRCC, they allow us to post four adoptable pets a week on their website. This is more than 200 pets a year that get direct exposure in the community, which gets them adopted much quicker. KRCC is truly passionate about animal welfare in the Pikes Peak Region, and we can’t thank them enough for what they do!”

Gretchen Pressley
Communications Specialist
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region

Pikes peak Library District has had the opportunity to partner with KRCC and The Big Something on a number of initiatives with a consistently positive outcome for our patrons and the public that we serve. It is wonderful to have this multi-media partnership, which allows us to build programming and experiences beyond the book. In particular, our audience has benefitted from opportunities to create content and add voice to issues and topics significant to the community. One such project involved a series of trainings for the public. One attendee said of the experience, “Citizen and student journalism has taught me that everyone has a voice. Whether you are 17 or 71, your voice can make a difference and is important.” It is these types of outcomes that showcase the value of the relationship that we have with KRCC.

Dee Vazquez Sabol
Pikes Peak Library District

4. Please describe any efforts (e.g. programming, production, engagement activities) you have made to investigate and/or meet the needs of minority and other diverse audiences (including, but not limited to, new immigrants, people for whom English is a second language and illiterate adults) during Fiscal Year 2013, and any plans you have made to meet the needs of these audiences during Fiscal Year 2014. If you regularly broadcast in a language other than English, please note the language broadcast.

KRCC produces local news content and local cultural coverage that specifically addresses minority, LGBTQ, and other diverse audiences.  Two to three times per week we feature interviews with various academics that often address topics of diversity.  With the demise of Radio Ahora, we no longer broadcast Spanish language programming.  In fiscal year 2014 we will commence a regular series called Wish We Were Here that will address topics of diversity in the Pikes Peak region, starting with an intense look at the story of an intersexed person who used live in this region.

5. Please assess the impact that your CPB funding had on your ability to serve your community. What were you able to do with your grant that you wouldn't be able to do if you didn't receive it?

It allows KRCC to bring southern Colorado news from NPR.  Without CPB funding, we would not be able to bring NPR to the area, nor would we be a viable radio station.  Additionally, KRCC would not have the guidance on national initiatives that CPB provides to the system, like the importance of collaboration.