Community Broadcaster: See You in Denver!

A preview of the upcoming Community Media Conference next month
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A preview of the upcoming Community Media Conference next month

The author is membership program director of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. NFCB commentaries are featured regularly at

Community media brings people together to tell outrageous, thought provoking, uplifting stories, and to create conversations. Community radio is deeply engaged with cities and towns around the United States. It creates opportunity.

As one of the planners of the upcoming Community Media Conference, seeing community and public media’s brightest minds come together to learn and talk about community radio is a rare occurrence. This year’s gathering of grassroots radio builders and big picture thinkers features a stellar cast.

NFCB’s annual Community Media Conference happens July 17–19 in Denver. From sessions that help you raise money to discussions that offer answers to your biggest legal questions, the NFCB conference has sparked community media leaders’ efforts for more than four decades. Attendees will get an assortment of relevant intensives, panels that bring out your best ideas, and tools you can put to work to help your station when you get home.

The Community Media Conference’s Tuesday keynote speaker is independent filmmaker and Huffington Post Latino writer Denise Soler Cox. She will address media, growth opportunities and diversity in our present moment. Her organization, Project Enye(ñ), has given Soler Cox a chance to raise awareness about the opportunities, challenges and shared experiences many first-generation, American-born Latinos with immigrant parents experience in America. Her documentary, Being ñ, captures many of these stories:

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Our Wednesday keynote speaker is journalist Jenni Monet. She is an independent journalist with recent works published by the Center for Investigative Reporting and its news platform, Reveal, the PBS NewsHour, Columbia Journalism Review, Public Radio International, High County News, Yes! Magazine and Indian Country Today. In December 2016, Monet embedded herself on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation to chronicle the ongoing battle against the Dakota Access pipeline where she was arrested in February while on assignment. In response, she joined a renewed call for protecting our civil liberties.

The Community Media Conference will feature four intensives that offer attendees deep dives into pioneering fundraising, governance, newsgathering and music programming, and are led by our system’s biggest names, Tom Livingston, Jim Anderson, Mike Henry and the Solutions Journalism Network. Anderson has raised millions for community radio to major public media, and will offer his experiences in a fundraising workshop. Livingston has guided many community media organizations worldwide to stability and success; he’ll discuss community radio governance and culture. Mike Henry has helped develop signature sounds for community and public radio, and shares how to craft a great sound for a station. And, the Solutions Journalism Network has built an exciting model for journalism that will help community media news grow.

The rest of the conference features community radio authorities from stations across the United States, including KUVO(LP), WERA(LP), KMUD(FM), WERU(FM), KALW(FM) and many more. Our session moderators are among the most diverse in noncommercial media. They include Julia Kumari Drapkin of iSeeChange, Carol Courville of WVAO(LP), Adriana Gallardo of ProPublica, Jennifer Kiser of the University of California at Santa Barbara’s KCSB(FM), and many more.

Some of the speakers I’m most interested in are Sue Schardt of the Association of Independents in Radio, which takes high-quality audio and video storytelling into communities like yours; Joe Torres of Free Press, an organization on the forefront of debates on media ownership, net neutrality and the digital divide; Melodie Virtue, one of noncommercial media’s most respected attorneys on issues like music rights, underwriting and independent media; Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media, which does the nation’s most extensive survey of listening habits, audience demographics and trends; Nan Rubin, lifelong community radio advocate and one of the founding mothers of low-power FM; and PRX’s Sean Nesbitt, an emerging young leader with community media’s trailblazing content provider.

Panels on volunteer management, video and events, social media for fundraising and engagement and community media news gathering are among the agenda’s many highlights. The conference’s Low-Power FM Summit brings together leaders from WOWD(LP), Asheville FM, WXTJ(LP) and others. NFCB has also scheduled a task force meeting for stations contending with analog-to-digital music library conversion, including discussion on standards, resources and metadata. Networking, conversations about the latest trends and best practices and ways of maximizing your precious resources are some of the best reasons to come to Denver. For those who can’t, NFCB will be streaming a few sessions via Facebook Live and Periscope.

You can register to attend now and take advantage of the collective knowledge in Denver. And lastly, those looking for a bit of savings can check the Radio Survivor podcast for a special discount code for prospective attendees. I look forward to meeting you.