I Heart Public Media

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
I love public media.
How about you?

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the ultimate Hallmark holiday, I’m sending this little love letter out to some my favorite public media projects.

None of these initiatives has anything to do with romance in the slightest. It’s just that I’ve fallen in love with the spirit behind these efforts, the way they invite people to participate, to get “engaged.”

Let me declare my love publicly and shout it from the rooftops, or at least from this little blog, with the hopes that you will: check these innovations out, think about how they might be replicated at your own/local public radio station, plus post your comments here, telling us what we might find in your secret stash of public media chocolates

I HEART WNYC’s Your Uncommon Economic Indicators project. Yep – it’s been around now since 2007, but it still rocks my world. In the shadow of Wall Street, YUEI takes a look at the economy from the bottom up, engaging listeners to the Brian Lehrer Show in a city-wide effort to map signs of economic changes and challenges facing the community. Plus, they’ve put together a Fieldguide to Crowdsourcing to help other stations climb on board the UGC (user generated content) express. YUEI is part of the Economy Story, a site that aggregates (and blogs about) public media content on economic issues.

I HEART Appalshop’s Thousand Kites, a national project that “uses performance, web, video and radio to open a public space for incarcerated people, corrections officials, the formerly incarcerated, grassroots activists, and ordinary citizens to dialogue and organize around the United States Criminal Justice System.” In prison slang “to shoot a kite” means to send a message. Think prisoner poetry, calls from home, prison mapping. This simple, yet powerful project is “reality radio” that gives voice to the growing number of Americans who are living in or coming out of prison and the millions of people connected to them. 

I HEART KQED’s QUEST: a multimedia series exploring Northern California science, nature and the environment. This project integrates a ton of interesting multimedia content and many points of entry for listeners and viewers. But most of all QUEST demonstrates how public media can provide a meeting place, a hub for collaboration between a diversity of institutions in the region that are committed to raising environmental awareness and the quality of life for people, plants and animals of the Bay Area and beyond.

None of the projects I mentioned above is hot off the press; they’ve been developing over several years but seem fresh as ever. But I do want to give a shout out to a brand spanking new effort that I think will make many ripples throughout the public radio system. It’s called “Inside and Out: Young People and Juvenile Justice in Illinois.” It’s a project of WBEZ (aka Chicago Public Radio) that combines investigative journalism with storytelling to shed light on the lives of youth caught up in the criminal justice system. “What if prisons redeemed kids instead of warehousing them?” is the central question of the series. It’s an exciting initiative and they are off to an excellent start.

Now, your turn to confess. What public media projects do you love? Kiss and tell…