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Community Broadcaster: The Last 2019 To-Dos

While the Night Before Christmas is not far away, we radio creatures still have the day

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

For much of community radio, the holiday period is a time for stations to do a bit of regrouping. Fall pledge drives are long gone. Giving Tuesday is over. And our year-end campaigns are already in flight. Our listeners and donors are occupied with the hustle of the holidays. Even some of our staff and volunteers are taking a needed and deserved break.

During the holidays, what is an earnest community radio person still at the station to do? The list is longer than we may care to recall!

[Read: Community Broadcaster: Generation Shift]

Studio maintenance is an excellent task to handle during this season. An engineer at my old station simply loved to use the holiday period to open up sound boards and dust, check loose wires, redo the tape that had worn down from people touching mixers, and recalibrate turntables and sundry equipment in master control. If your volunteers are gone, the Christmas and New Year breaks are perfect to flip on your automation system and roll up your sleeves to fix up the little things we neglected during the year.

Not to shame you, but how about cleaning up that desk, or other things around here? It is very easy to let clutter take over our spaces. I spent plenty of dead time during the holidays replacing light bulbs, vacuuming floors, filing papers, and taking down faded fliers from bulletin boards. If the calls are not coming in too much and email has slowed too, this is as wonderful a time as any to tackle the pickup you meant to do during the dog days of summer.

Oh, shoot! Did you forget to do that filing?! You would be surprised how often stations blank on doing their electronic submissions with the Federal Communications Commission, whether it was a quarterly issues report, a biennial ownership filing or — Uh, Oh — Form Two and Three from that Emergency Alert System test all those months ago.

Having conversed with many good folks at the FCC and other agencies, I can tell you the last thing they’re focused in on is dinging you with a hefty fine. However, they do need to ensure the public that you are meeting your obligations in using the airwaves and in service to the noncommercial educational mission to which you are devoted. This next two weeks is an excellent time to dig out the calendar and make sure your station has done its required filings this year. The last headache you ever want is to have your station’s license renewal period reveal missed filing dates.

Holidays make soaking in media a tempting proposition. Especially now, the news cycle could easily suck you in to reading impeachment analyses literally 24 hours a day. However, with the elections ramping up next year, fundraising is likely to be tougher come your spring campaign. How about using the holidays to craft your fundraising messages? Whether your station provided gavel-to-gavel coverage of the House of Representatives’ deliberations or just a welcome respite from the rancor in the public square, your station has a story to tell. Why are you relevant? How do you enhance your community? Why should people donate to your station over the scores of candidates, nonprofits and interest groups vying for funds in 2020? These are complicated questions that the holidays may give you a little head space to flesh out.

Earlier in the month, I suggested that enterprising people like you might consider creating your New Year’s resolutions. There are also lots of innovations to try out locally. One station formed a book club to engage listeners. And that’s only the beginning. We’re in an era of ambitious ideas. Now is the time to put some on your list for things to do at your community radio station in 2020.

Regardless of how you utilize these holiday weeks, we at Radio World, NFCB and beyond hope your break is restful and recharges you for a fabulous New Year.