PBS examines successes in public service among stations

As some local pubcasters have started to forge paths toward models of public service developed through their own strategic planning or in collaboration with other stations, PBS has sought to bring more attention to their work, and progress, to date. Last year, it tapped Ted Krichels, former g.m. of Penn State Public Broadcasting, to lead its Sustainable Models Project, identifying models that other stations can replicate. Krichels completed that study last fall and recently joined CPB as senior v.p. for system development and media strategy.

Paths to Sustainability for Public TVPBS released the 50-page “Public Media Models of the Future” report, written by Krichels and Stephen Holmes, PBS director of strategy, in November. Based on six months of research with public television station executives nationwide, the report identified eight service models: four within a broad category it called “community impact” and four that were focused on education. Krichels discussed the report with Current in a Q&A.

The community-impact models covered a variety of activities that reposition the station as a “beyond broadcast” community institution, including: addressing specific social needs within a community by working with other local organizations; using events in the community to engage public media audiences; providing extensive local news and public affairs programming; and participating in production collaborations among stations, including the Major Market Group Arts Initiative, which led to the creation of local arts newsmagazines built around common national programming from New York’s WNET.

The education models, which the report said can frequently tap into state, federal and institutional funding, include offering enhanced services for preschoolers through 12th grade students and their families, from homework hotlines to virtual labs. Other education models offer lifelong learning courses, professional development training for teachers and caregivers, and workforce training programs.

To build on the report, PBS is developing a website, StationMgmtCenter.org, to launch later this year. It is to serve as a “central repository” for station best practices, detailed case studies and strategic plans showing how stations have implemented the various service models.

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