I was commissioned to write an article by GrantMakers in Film and Video.
What do we need to “forget” then, in public radio? There are two sacred concepts that make a good starting point: the supremacy of content, and public service.
Let’s start first with public service. Public service is public broadcasting’s holy grail. Service defines our very reason for being. We have in public broadcasting over the years devised specific and clear audience research methods to measure and define “public service.” More measured listeners = more success at serving the public = more compelling reason to be funded, be picked up by a distributor, or to be given air-time on a broadcast outlet. The public service mantra also offers a blend of humility and “make the world a better place” sensibility that’s pleasing to the dominant culture of the industry.
But in this time of forgetting, of re-imagining everything, I wonder what it would mean to let go of our current understanding of public service and consider a new way of thinking about it?
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