January 31, 2024 by Preach Jacobs
November 21, 2023 by Robin Pizzo
In a recent webinar presented by Greater Public’s Young and Young-at-Heart Professionals (YAYAHPS), three career-long public media professionals shared their insights into moving around the industry. Their experiences point to the possibilities for career development within public media, as well as individual strategies that can be applied to industry challenges. The panel was hosted by J.R. Rudolph, Engagement Marketing Specialist at WFYI; and moderated by Stephanie Rio, Corporate Support Associate at Vermont Public and Matt Blanchard, Account Executive at Radio Milwaukee. These excerpts have been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.
Gavin Dahl: The big change that helped my career was going more rural. I landed my first job as a news director at KYRS in Spokane, Washington, and my first time as a GM was for KDNK in Carbondale, Colorado. Those are not tiny markets, but they’re certainly not top 50 or even top 100, I don’t believe.
If you love music and public radio and you’re like, “My dream is to work for KEXP,” the chances you’re going to start at KEXP are very small. I know people who volunteered there for 10 years before they got a tiny part-time job. So, taking the opportunity to go where the need is and maybe bring a more progressive or urban perspective to a smaller community can really help you. Then, it’s exciting to bring what you’ve learned in smaller shops and apply it to a bigger budget situation.
I think imposter syndrome is everywhere, but it’s also more prevalent at certain companies and in certain industries, [including] public media. I think we need to ask ourselves why that is. I think that has a lot to do with the way that we perceive our work, the way we perceive accreditation. I just want to call that out.
If you don’t have a lot of support from your supervisor for the changes you want to make, put them on paper. Get them in front of the people that need to hear them. Even if you’re a barnacle on the hull, barnacles do make it, they do stick around, and eventually these changes will come. When you think about Public Media for All, for example, the long game has a deep amount of value. Reform has value, not only revolt. So, I just want to encourage you to not give up or bottle up what you have to offer just because it doesn’t feel like there’s an avenue for you.
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