It’s that time of the year when things become extremely busy in our personal lives – and also in the life of West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Let’s get to it!
1. Welcome new staff
First of all, let’s all welcome Kristi George as the new Director of Radio. You might remember Kristi from her previous stint here as a host and membership employee. She went on to work for Public Radio International and two state agencies before coming home to lead our radio department, along with our new Radio Operations Director, Bob Powell.
Kristi brings a lot of great energy and new ideas to us. Please take a minute to reach out to her and say, “Hello!”
Also, congratulations to Eddie Isom, who has transferred from TV to underwriting this month. Eddie has already gotten a meeting with Toyota to talk about our WV STEAM program. Meanwhile, Michael Caruso has obtained a large new underwriting contract from WVU Engineering department for WV STEAM. Thanks, guys.
2. Concerts and parties
We have so many awesome events coming up – both live and on radio and TV.
We’re broadcasting the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame live on TV, radio and wvpublic.org on Saturday, Nov. 16 starting at 7. Or see it live at the Culture Center in Charleston if you can.
We’re taking Bob Thompson’s Joy to the World on the road this year, to Charleston, Elkins and Morgantown on Dec. 12, 13, and 14.
Also, we’ll be broadcasting a Joy to the World marathon on Christmas Day! Stay tuned for details.
3. New website a huge hit
Our newly-designed website, wvpublic.org, is already achieving its goals. When you compare last week with the first week of September (before we started these changes,) the number of pageviews has increased 25 percent.
Not only that – the amount of time people are spending on our site has doubled, and the bounce rate has been cut in half, meaning visitors are engaging more deeply in it.
We're partnering with NPR and PBS to help spread the word about our stories on social media -- and it's showing.
4. Members more important funding source than ever
Our CFO Tammy Treadway and I have been busy getting ready for our budget hearing on Tuesday morning. This is a meeting with state budget officials to help set our proposal for funding to the legislature this year.
State funding makes up about half our budget, and we’re being told to anticipate another cut next year, of at least 7.5 percent, in addition to last year’s 7.5 percent cut. We’ve been preparing for this by not filling some empty positions, and by trimming other costs.
In recent years, every department in our organization has been cut. Video production, radio, TV, engineering, business – we’ve all made sacrifices, and I appreciate the devotion of our employees to their work and this organization. They’re doing a lot more work, most without any increase in compensation for years.
More than ever, we depend on our members for our future. We’re doing everything we can to get that message to you and to recruit new members.
5. Investing in the future
We’re also making some targeted investments this year to make and save more money in the future:
- making overdue repairs to our transmitters and translators
- replacing our failing TV studio equipment in Morgantown and (hopefully) Charleston
- hiring a new development position devoted to major giving
- making software upgrades in radio and possibly development/marketing
- creating a Digital department to support our third channel
6. Development consultant
Becky Chinn, formerly of Oregon Public Broadcasting, visited us last month as part of her assessment of our development and marketing operations. We’re expecting her report in time for the EBA, Foundation and Friends meetings in December.
Meanwhile, we’re already implementing some of her recommendations, such as making sure our TV membership drives are better produced. We’re adding a nightly pledge producer to our live pledge breaks in December to help make sure we sound as good as possible. (I personally will be one of them, in addition to Robin Mazza, Craig Lanham and Marilyn Divita.)
7. Let’s Talk results coming soon
Our tour of West Virginia and accompanying survey is done. We’re tabulating the results, and plan to reveal them at our Educational Broadcasting Authority meeting on Dec. 4, and then later online. Stay tuned to hear what YOU think about our programming.