VIA The Top 22:

The Top 22 Players in Triple A and Adult Rock 2018 – #1

Our annual countdown of the people, organizations, ideas, and stories that had impact in 2018 continues with number 1…

There are essentially two groups of people working on the future of Public Media: Group A is pretty big, and consists of people who talk a lot about the future but basically engage in incremental innovation.

Group A is made up largely of employees at large stations and networks and enjoy the benefits of the way The System is structured. They’ve put together large, loyal audiences and a strong donor base — or maybe they’ve cracked the code in terms of getting regular chunks of CPB money.

There’s nothing wrong with hitting the big time and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Public Media needs these sorts of anchor stores. The problem is that their status doesn’t really give them much urgency beyond toe-dipping into new ideas.

So let’s talk about Group B – those who are getting into disruptive innovation.

Some of these folks have been locked out of or ignored by The System. Some of this talent has come to realize that they can execute the “public media” core values outside The System.

Other have looked at the “business” of public media and realized that there’s a better way to do this.

When you combine disruptive talent with disruptive business types, great things happen.

If you believe that we need a viable, sustainable public media, you should probably get to know people like Erik Langner and a few other Public Media Futurists who are working hard to transform, if not reinvent public media.

Langner, The co-Founder and President of VuHaus, had a big 2018. He was named President of Public Media Company, an organization dedicated to ensuring that accessible, local, public media endures.

Last year Erik also led the spectacular merger of PRX and Public Radio International – and got WGBH/Boston to pour in $10 million worth of fuel.

By embracing different business models such as B-Corps and looking for synergies such as the PRX/PRI play, people like Erik and PRX cohorts Kerri Hoffman and John Barth are doing remarkable things. There are other Futurists worth mentioning, such as PRX founder Jake Shapiro and former This American Life producer Alex Blumberg, who started podcasting phenom Gimlet.

Gimlet, founded just four years ago, was responsible (with a few twists and turns) for the Amazon Prime drama Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts. Think that would’ve happened within the confines of The System? Unlikely.

Pubcasters I speak with know that there are existential issues with the current business model. Heck, if the TV side stays the course, migraines will be so widespread that we’ll be eating Excedrin out of Pez dispensers.

The approaches that the Futurists are taking will soon work their way into your world, and you will be thankful for it.


News, Public Radio, VuHaus