managing change…. and living to tell the tale joan siefert rose general manager north carolina...

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Managing Change…. And living to tell the tale Joan Siefert Rose General Manager North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC

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  • Slide 1
  • Managing Change. And living to tell the tale Joan Siefert Rose General Manager North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC
  • Slide 2
  • The Question: Is WUNC As Good As It Can Be? Station was successful Many listeners, many contributors Stable and dependable
  • Slide 3
  • But There Were Signs of Trouble Audience had not been growing Costs of fundraising were starting to increase Station was not attracting the most talented broadcasters
  • Slide 4
  • Time to Make a Choice Should WUNC commit to its dual format news and information during mornings and afternoon, classical music middays Or should WUNC change format to include more NPR news/talk programming middays, nights and weekends?
  • Slide 5
  • Reasons to Stay the Course Few complaints from long-time listeners Classical music deserves a place on the radio Less expensive Any big change is likely to cause an uproar
  • Slide 6
  • Reasons to Change Most popular WUNC shows are news and information Radio increasingly becoming a niche market Classical music available on 89.7 FM - WCPE
  • Slide 7
  • Step One: Gather Information Review of institutional documents Strategic planning meeting with senior management staff Analysis of marketplace Focus group research
  • Slide 8
  • The Audience Speaks WUNC is valued primarily as the flagship station in the market for NPR programs, including weekend entertainment as well as daily news Listeners know there are other NPR programs available in other markets not available here Lots of enthusiasm for Back Porch Music
  • Slide 9
  • However Little enthusiasm for WUNCs classical music programming not personally important to most listeners WCPE seen as the classical music station in the market WUNC would benefit if listeners recognized a real gain in more NPR programs and local news, vs. an abstract loss of choice in classical music
  • Slide 10
  • Making The Case To supervisor To staff To University leadership To donors To corporate supporters To hostile groups To media
  • Slide 11
  • The Best Laid Plans Set the date Labor Day 2001 Develop key talking points Develop communications strategy Develop internal logistics plan Hope for the best!
  • Slide 12
  • Key Issues for Staff Will I still have a job? What will this change mean for me, personally? What will be the same? What will be different? What does this mean to everyone else here?
  • Slide 13
  • Key Issues for University How will this help UNC with community outreach? What are the potential short-term consequences? Whats the long-term benefit? Are you sure this is the right thing to do?
  • Slide 14
  • Key Issues for Donors and Corporate Supporters For individual donors, it all depended on the personal importance of the programming For corporate supporters, it represented an opportunity to attract a larger audience
  • Slide 15
  • Key Concerns About Hostile Groups When was it appropriate to notify in advance of the change? Would there be an organized campaign against WUNC? Would our key supporters withstand the pressure?
  • Slide 16
  • Key Concerns About Media Coverage How long could we keep our news quiet? How would we break the story? What should the key message points be? When should we have our media kits ready?
  • Slide 17
  • Taking The Plunge Story broke two weeks prior to the format change Many were happy about the news But the ones who were unhappy were more likely to speak up
  • Slide 18
  • Fate Intervenes Eight days after the format change, 9/11 occurs NPR goes to 24-hour all-news coverage Listeners tune to WUNC in record numbers Phone calls and letters complaining about the format change drop sharply
  • Slide 19
  • Three Years Later Stations audience has grown 60% Annual fundraising has increased from $3 million to $5.5 million Staff has expanded from 30 to 50 people Programming staff performing at much higher level Culture has changed
  • Slide 20
  • If We Had To Do It All Over Format change probably should have taken place sooner Station could have engaged volunteer leadership more effectively Station management could have put better tools in place to measure goals and outcomes Highly personal staff communication system might have been sustained
  • Slide 21
  • But, After All It was worth taking the risk!