Behind the Scenes
1:20 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

What we're working on at West Virginia Public Broadcasting

You've probably heard or seen our new slogan, "Telling West Virginia's Story."

For us, it is also a mission statement. It's our job to tell the TRUE story of our state and our Appalachian region.

We're doing that in a myriad of different ways, working on several projects as we speak from our many different departments (Radio, News, Engineering, etc.)

My question to you is, Are we getting this right? And what's missing from this list?

Feel free to comment on this story, or e-mail me directly at sfinn@wvpublic.org.

EDUCATION

PBS Learning Media -- This is a new, free website for educators with thousands of videos, games and teacher guides. We are figuring out how to add our own West Virginia content. PBS is coming to train us in this in November. (with TV PROGRAMMING and DIGITAL)

Inspiring West Virginians -- We’re working with producer Jean Snedegar and our own curriculum specialist Margaret Miller to make five stories more accessible for middle school students. We’re also developing a teacher’s guide to go along with them. (with NEWS and RADIO)

West Virginia STEAM videos -- How can we motivate the next generation of scientists and engineers? Producers Chuck Kleine and Glynis Board are working with the state Department of Education to profile West Virginians who have fascinating careers. And they plan to have some fun and teach a lesson along the way. (with VIDEO PRODUCTION)

Abracadabra -- It’s now online and we’re producing season 3 as we speak! We are about to send out Best of Abracadabra DVDs to all elementary schools in the state, along with educational materials. (with VIDEO PRODUCTION and TV PROGRAMMING)

Road to Statehood/You Are There -- Our video and curriculum about our state’s birth is almost ready to be sent to WV 8th grade studies teachers statewide. (with VIDEO PRODUCTION and NEWS)

Ready to Learn – Ready to Learn continues its focus on 3 – 8 literacy development, and adding a focus on math development.

MOUNTAIN STAGE

Mountain Stage Radio channel – A 24-hour online radio channel from the folks who brought us Mountain Stage. It’s still in the planning stages, but when it is up and running, we have interest from NPR Music to carry it on their website! (with RADIO)

Saving the Mountain Stage Archives – We have 30 years of Mountain Stage shows and other materials on many formats. This is a huge treasure, but we must digitize it first, and that’s not cheap. We’re in the planning and fundraising mode. (with UNDERWRITING and RADIO)

Mountain Stage 30th anniversary – The December show will be a big deal, and we plan to broadcast it live online and on the radio, as well as gather video for a later special. (with DIGITAL, NEWS, RADIO and TV)

New Mountain Stage website – We’re working with West Virginia Interactive to design an entirely new Mountain Stage website – one that focuses on the artists and the music, and allowing you to watch and listen. (with DIGITAL)

NEWS

Knight Digital Training -- ongoing effort to transition into new way of reporting for web as well as radio and TV (with DIGITAL)

Partnerships with Universities such as WVU and University of Charleston to record live events and present on radio and web. Beth Vorhees is tentatively calling this, “The University of the Interesting.” (with RADIO)

Economic Transition project with the WV Center for Civic Life -- We produced several video and audio stories about success stories in transitioning to the new economy. We also will participate and cover community discussions. (with VIDEO PRODUCTION)

Mountain Stage documentary -- Dave Mistich is completing a one-hour radio special about 30 years of Mountain Stage (with RADIO)

Legislative Today Everywhere -- Building on Legislature Today’s success on TV and radio, and making it more accessible in the digital sphere (and getting underwriting for this). (with VIDEO PRODUCTION and UNDERWRITING)

VIDEO PRODUCTION

Jay Rockefeller documentary -- Russ Barbour and Suzanne Higgins are telling the surprising story of how a man of wealth from the Northeast came to love and represent West Virginia. (with NEWS)

Child Poverty documentary -- John Nakashima is tackling this topic. It’s a timely issue: there’s a special committee of the Legislature exploring the issue, and it is the 50th anniversary of the launch of the War on Poverty in West Virginia. (with NEWS)

West Virginia Music Hall of Fame -- We’re broadcasting this live under the director of Pat Sergent on TV, radio and the web. (with DIGITAL, MOUNTAIN STAGE, RADIO, TV PROGRAMMING)

Mountain Stage live webcast -- For the first time, we’re broadcasting the show live on the web. (with DIGITAL, ENGINEERING, MOUNTAIN STAGE)

DIGITAL

New website – check this one off our list! There are still some things to work on, but overall it has been a huge success.

Mobile apps – for iphone and Android devices

New pledge form – with a better interface with our donor software (with DEVELOPMENT)

PBS Digital Studios training – We are the first station in the country to receive this training from the PBS web-first producers. They’re showing us how to produce for the Internet as well as TV. (with VIDEO PRODUCTION)

RADIO

New Automation System -- This will allow us to operate more effectively and efficiently, as well as do things like repeat our shows in the overnight hours. This is currently out to bid. (with ENGINEERING and BUSINESS)

Trey Kay Documentary -- We are airing his follow-up to the Peabody Award winning “he Great Textbook War,” which is “The Long Game” about textbook wars in Texas. We’re also hosting an event in Charleston around the premier. We’re also in discussions about helping to produce Kay’s next work, about sex education in West Virginia. (with COMMUNICATIONS and NEWS)

Interview/talk show? We have been thinking about starting a daily interview/talk show about West Virginia. This is in the earliest planning and discussion phases. (with NEWS)

Telling West Virginia’s Story – these spots highlight our staff’s commitment to our mission.

TV PROGRAMMING

Education – from Ready to Learn to the new PBS Learning Media website, TV Programming is helping to lead the way in education, and help us adapt our previous efforts (such as the highly-successful Chalkwaves program) to new technologies.

Master control reorganization – We are reorganizing the department and cross-training personnel to maximize efficiencies and avoid layoffs through inter-departmental transfers. This will result in a reduction of the TV Programming staff (excluding Ready to Learn and a custodian) from 17 to 13. (with ENGINEERING)

The Interconnect – Dale Malcolm and others are trying to lease a fiber pipeline that would connect all three stations. The goal is to allow for safer, cheaper, faster transfers of everything for TV and Digital. (with ENGINEERING and DIGITAL)

Fiber connections to Cable providers – Many cable providers in the state get our signal off air from our transmitters. The goal would be to switch to more reliable fiber connections, when possible. (with ENGINEERING)

Telling West Virginia’s Story – these spots highlight our staff’s commitment to our mission.

COMMUNICATIONS

Let’s Talk – For the first time in a while, we made a concerted effort to reach out to our audience and ask them what they think. We’ve done more than a dozen events and spoken with hundreds of supporters. We’re also compiling the results to our surveys, both paper and online, which will give up valuable insights into our programming. (with DEVELOPMENT, TV PROGRAMMING, BUSINESS, DIGITAL and others)

E-newsletter – With the demise of the Pubcaster because of printing costs, we have instituted a new and improved online e-newsletter. Now, we are focusing on how to get more subscribers, and how to use it to help promote our station.

Social Media best-practices training – Communications is working with other staff, such as news, to help them learn best practices for posting to social media. This is allowing us to spread the responsibility among more employees.

DEVELOPMENT

New focus on radio drives – we’re working to make our drives sound better, with shorter pledge breaks, more spots in the middle, producers and more practice in advance. (with RADIO)

Development review – We’re working with a nationally-recognized development consultant, Becky Chinn of Lewis Kennedy Associates, to see who we can make our development efforts even more effective than they already are. (with BUSINESS)

Major Giving – We’re in the process of hiring a new major giving person for the first time in years. This person will focus on gifts of $1,000 or more, as well as planned giving.

UNDERWRITING

Radio spots featuring underwriters – This was a great success. We featured several long-time underwriters talking about why they use West Virginia Public Radio. The spots were appreciated by both underwriters and the audience. (with RADIO)

Grant writing – Jane Wright has added grant writing to her duties of overseeing the underwriting department. We have several major grants out to replace our studio equipment in Charleston and digitize our Mountain Stage archives, among other projects. (with MOUNTAIN STAGE, VIDEO PRODUCTION, ENGINEERING)

Digital underwriting – We’re working with the Digital department to determine how to best feature our underwriters in the rapidly-expanding digital sphere. (with DIGITAL)

New focus on projects, not just airtime – more and more, underwriters want to associate with a specific project or topic. We’re re-tooling our pitches to accommodate the underwriters who want to focus on, say, science in West Virginia. (with NEWS, RADIO, TV, VIDEO PRODUCTION, DIGITAL)

ENGINEERING

Generators for major transmitters – Weston, Wheeling, Parkersburg – which will help keep our FM network on when power fails. Every major transmitter in the state will have this automatic backup now except Martinsburg (we are working on a plan for that.)

Radio automation – see RADIO. Engineering is leading the way to make sure we get the best possible system for the lowest cost.

Emergency link to Capitol – Working with the Governor’s office, we are setting up a transmitter between the state Capitol complex and our main studio in Charleston. The next time there is a major emergency, this gives state officials the capability to transmit directly from the Capitol to our studios, and also to the major TV stations in Charleston.

BUSINESS

Department budgets – each department will know how much is has to spend and be able to track it. This gives department heads more ability to control expenses.

Oasis – the state’s new system for everything is coming online soon and will change how we do everything from HR to keeping track of expenses.

Money-saving ideas – from getting rid of cell phones to ditching our P.O. box to cutting unnecessary parking, the business office is instituting ideas that are saving the organization thousands each month while protecting our service to the public.