A Place For Community Media
This year, the NFCB 2017 Community Media Conference is July 17-19 and will be held in Denver, Colorado.
The NFCB Conference is hosted by the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB), and this year’s theme is “A Place Called Community.” Sally Kane, CEO, expects this to be the most energetic conference yet. While the majority of those who attend are regular members, this year “a whole lot of nonmembers want to come to the conference. It’s our strongest response. People are energized and concerned about the political climate [and] upholding the first amendment.”
The NFCB Conference brings together people from community and public radio to learn from one another and be reminded of the community. Kane’s goal for the conference is to create an environment of customization for community radio, to “read the landscape, pay attention to what’s happening, and present that back in a way that is translatable and inspiring.”
When asked why the conference is to be held in Denver for the second year in a row, Kane remarked on the density of community radio stations and political issues in the area. “Denver is one of the fastest growing urban areas in the country right now and happens to have really engaged independent media. It’s also the epicenter of major political issues. It’s a swing state [and] a really interesting state right now for many reasons. Sixty-five percent of community radio membership is rural.”
Membership Program Director Ernesto Aguilar speaks on the unique nature of the conference. “You really have community radio – volunteers, general managers, thinkers – everyone comes together in the same space, from LPFM’s to public media. [It’s] very unusual. All the folks who come to this conference are passionate about community radio.”
Kane adds that this is the largest gathering of people in community radio in the country.
“We’ve been doing this for 42 years; there’s a lot of wisdom, knowledge, and experience. The really important thing [to remember] is that a lot of our member stations can fall into getting isolated from others from doing work in the community. It reminds us that we have a larger community of community broadcasters.”
Participants will see a combination of traditional and new courses this year. In addition to the usual tracks on content, revenue, engagement, and technology, conference goers can also expect upfront conversations on diversity within media. The two keynote speakers are Denise Soler Cox and Jenni Monet, respectively speaking on how to welcome listeners that reflect America’s changing demographics, and visions of nonprofit journalism within community media. Both of these events will be streamed live on the NFCB Facebook page.
Kane emphasizes that the NFCB is committed to serving communities of color. “I really like the integrations that we’ve done with making our organizations more diverse at every level: board, staff, and programming. We don’t have a track, [and] all the sessions reflect that. It reflects what our country looks like. This year is arguably the strongest program we’ve ever done in my time here.”
From Community Radio to the NFCB
Both Kane and Aguilar came to the NFCB from community radio. For Kane, the transition from station manager to the organization gave her a change to draw on lifetime experiences. “It’s a time in my life where I can share that experience, and it’s really satisfying.” She hopes that people will bring an open mind to the conference and engage in the shared learning experience. “You won’t be lost. This is very much people who have resonance with one another. People can expect to meet peers that they can relate to and make new relationships.” These are organizations that are “small in scale but mighty in spirit.”
Aguilar moved to Denver from KPFT in Houston and is excited to apply his experience in a different way. He also spoke on what community radio means to him.
“My whole world expanded because of community radio. I am very much an example of the potential of community radio. I believe [it] changes lives in this country every single day. The problem is that too many of us in community radio take that for granted. You will put [a person] on a life path that you would have never thought you would have done. That’s what happened to me! Do not ever think that you are not making a difference, even though pledge drive sucks. The fact of the matter is that every one of these stations makes their city better. You may not ever meet that person, but you’re still doing it.”
How to Sign Up
Aguilar also stressed that it’s not too late to sign up for the conference. He understands that attending is expensive, but wants stations to think of this as an investment. “It’s easy to say that I can be the person to work harder. Conferences help you to work smarter.” He added that the conference will provide opportunities to network and find others who may have already solved your problem. “These are living examples of people doing it better. The most organized stations will sit down and figure it out. This is not a time to get left behind.”