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Public Media Workforce Collaborative Secures Two-Year, $450,000 Grant From the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to Support Workforce Development


Public Media Workforce Collaborative Secures Two-Year, $450,000 Grant From the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to Support Workforce Development

CLEVELAND, Ohio (August 11, 2021) — Public media organizations Buffalo Toronto Public Media in Buffalo, N.Y.; Detroit Public TV in Detroit; Ideastream Public Media in Cleveland; and WQED in Pittsburgh have secured a two-year, $450,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to advance the next phase of the first workforce collaborative in the public media industry.

This next phase of the public media workforce collaborative (PMWC) launched on July 15, 2021 and focuses on advancing diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) through specific workforce development initiatives. These include the following elements:

  • Recruitment Campaign with Message Testing. The collaborative will create recruitment campaigns to better understand how to appeal to culturally diverse job seekers and test recruitment messaging.
  • Building Staff-Centric Workplaces. Using design thinking practices, the collaborative will test and implement workplace practices, policies and programs that better meet the needs of their diverse workforces.
  • Training. The collaborative will administer professional development and training, with emphasis on DEI-based training for managers.
  • Evaluation. Routine analysis of collected data ensures measurement of progress and outcomes from the collaborative’s efforts.
  • Mentor Program. The program pairs those new to the public media industry with those with 5+ years of experience to provide strategic and cultural perspectives.

The funds from CPB also support the creation of a governance structure. In addition, the collaborative is planning to produce a sharable workforce development playbook based on key findings to offer insights and ideas to public media stations nationwide.

“As member-supported nonprofits we have inherent limitations to advancing the development of our workforce because the majority of our funds go directly towards providing services to our communities,” said Mike Shafarenko, Chief Experience Officer at Ideastream Public Media. “This support from the CPB provides us with resources to develop innovative and collaborative solutions to advance our workforce development and DEI efforts.”

In 2019, the PMWC was formed to share information and best practices among public media organizations of similar size, operations and geography. The collaborative focuses on creating a more diverse, highly skilled workforce and fostering career advancement opportunities. All four participants of the collaborative are member-supported public media organizations that manage television and radio stations and digital media platforms.

Since its launch, the PMWC has implemented the following elements:

  • Open Position Sharing. New job postings are initially considered exclusive across the collaborative, giving employees the opportunity to apply for positions at any of the four organizations before they are shared externally. First-round interviews are guaranteed for qualified applicants. 68 open positions have been shared within the collaborative to date.
  • Resource Sharing. The collaborative has shared organizational charts; job descriptions; DEI policies and practices; PPP loan administration procedures; return to office plans and policies; compensation policies; and performance evaluation processes.
  • Mentorship Pilot Program. The pilot program included two mentors and two mentees. John Jacob, Assistant Vice President of Finance at Buffalo Toronto Public Media, participated in the first phase of the mentorship program and said, “The mentorship meetings were great and informative. It was truly valuable to discuss current professional accounting issues with a peer in the industry. It was great to hear my mentor’s ideas for more efficiently preparing reports for CPB.”
  • Inter-Organizational Departmental Meetups. The ongoing meetups have so far included 34 staff members across production, education and digital departments, with commitment to ongoing quarterly meetings to continue to share resources and ideas and plan collaborative efforts.
  • Shared Professional Development and Training Planning. A survey was conducted in early 2020 to assess staff interests. Over 100 responses indicated addressing knowledge gaps and skills gaps and establishing mentorships and meetups as areas of focus.

“Working together over the past 18+ months, the four stations in the public media workforce collaborative have learned, shared and accomplished so much organically,” said Nancy Hammond, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for Buffalo Toronto Public Media. “The funding from CPB provides the resources needed to facilitate our joint vision of attracting, retaining and growing a skilled and diverse workforce. This funding gives stations with already stretched budgets the opportunity to build upon our DEI, workplace culture, recruitment and professional development programs.”

“The mission of all PBS stations is to provide the best possible service to our communities,” said Rich Homberg, President and CEO of Detroit Public Television. “We can only succeed at that if we fling open the doors of opportunity to all people seeking fulfilling careers in the media. This new and needed infusion of funds by the CPB will allow the four stations in the workforce collaborative to set an example of how public television stations can be a national leader in trust, in content and in talent.”

“In a short time, a lot of meaningful work has emerged from our public media workforce collaborative, and we are grateful for CPB’s support to allow us to take our efforts to the next level, said Deborah L. Acklin, WQED President and CEO. “Our early results, combined with a strategic future course of action, set the stage for creating a playbook that can be applied by other public media stations. This pilot is indeed an investment in our workforces, as well as our public media culture.”

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Buffalo Toronto Public Media Contact:
Heather Hare, Sr. Director, Corporate Communications
716.845.7155 | hhare@wned.org

Detroit Public TV Contact:
Martin Fischhoff, Director of Communications
248.305.3729 | mfischhoff@dptv.org

Ideastream Public Media Contact:
Calle Andrus, Communications Manager
216.916.6434 | calle.andrus@ideastream.org

WQED Contact:
George Hazimanolis, Senior Director of Corporate Communications
412.622.1366| ghaziman@wqed.org