Case Statement

Our Community, Our Opportunity, Our Responsibility

“ideastream (is) a re-invention of public broadcasting that is generating a digital pulse of media excitement in surrounding communities while, nationally, attracting curiosity and some downright envious stares.” - The New Public Media, Carnegie Reporter, Spring 2008.

Northeast Ohio is a community rich in assets: outstanding and accessible arts and cultural offerings; world class health care; an array of educational opportunities; a richly diverse and proud cultural heritage; and a legacy of technological and civic innovation that ranks second to none in the State of Ohio. These assets enrich our community and offer tremendous opportunity for the future of the region.

While Northeast Ohio claims many positive attributes, the region is not without a set of challenges. Among the top concerns are: jobs and the economy, education, environmental issues, crime and politics. These and other perennial challenges are often seen as “unfixable” in the minds of citizens.

Strengthening assets and addressing challenges requires informed, aware and engaged citizens. Media plays an essential role in providing information, building awareness, engaging community and bringing the region together. However, too often media provides information using “sound bites” without providing the depth and context citizens really need. In addition, now in this second decade of the 21st century, ever-evolving technology and increasing audience fragmentation is limiting the ability of traditional media to bring people together to address community issues.

ideastream, the innovative multiple media public service organization, is uniquely situated to celebrate our regional success stories and bring the community together to strengthen our many assets, as well as to call attention to, explain and bring the community together to address challenges. In fact, the mission of ideastream is to strengthen our communities.

Formed more than a decade ago, ideastream is the consolidation of eight educational and public service media programs  and services, all previously managed separately: WVIZ/PBS with four channels of public television service, including training for teachers and caregivers in the use of technology for education; 90.3 WCPN, Northeast Ohio’s NPR News station; WCLV Classical 104.9 with classical music around the clock; Civic Commons, a multiple media community engagement program; management on behalf of Ohio’s public broadcasting stations of the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau and The Ohio Channel, a statewide public affairs television channel available by broadcast and on the web; management on behalf of consortia of local K-12 school systems of NOTA (North Ohio Technology Association, a broadband interactive distance learning network for K-12 schools) and SMART (Science and Math Achievement Required for Tomorrow), a professional development program for teachers. ideastream applies the power of media to education, culture and citizenship to strengthen our communities. Recognized locally and nationally as a new model for public media, ideastream distinguishes itself from other media organizations through its commitment to partnership, community engagement and extensive use of multiple media. As a nonprofit organization it is independent, community controlled and has established a strong record of financial and operational stability. ideastream is well positioned to leverage the power of media to build a stronger, more connected community.


“The value for news organizations now increasingly lies in providing context and verification—reporting the "how, why and what it means"—and facilitating communities around that news and information.” - Clayton M. Christensen, “Be the Disruptor,” The Neiman Reports, Fall 2012.

There is no shortage of national and international content. Peter Diamandis, author and X Prize Foundation Chairman, observed recently that “a Kenyan on a smartphone has access to more information than Bill Clinton had as president.”   What most perceive as a precipitous decline in smart, critical, relevant content stems from a weakness in creating and curating content that is meaningful at the local level and is created in response to defined community needs that are solicited, understood and well-served.

The opportunity for the current day media organization is two-fold. First, it must curate content to make it relevant for the local community when, where and how its disparate members want to consume it. Second, and particularly for Northeast Ohio, it must fill the growing void of meaningful locally produced content about our region, our citizens, our challenges and our opportunities.


“(ideastream) is an organization that has broken down the silos between platforms and embraced interactivity and the digital space. It sees its mission not as broadcasting but as community service.” - Rethinking Public Broadcasting: More Local, More Inclusive, More Interactive” - The Aspen Institute December 2010.

The community is increasingly turning to ideastream to fill the growing media void. Why?  Because it is independent, nonprofit and community controlled. Because it has demonstrated success in creating the digital assets required to share content in a complex media environment. Because it has been a good steward of community resources and because it has earned the public’s trust by bringing together the power of the full community to help strengthen the region’s important assets and address the region’s pressing problems. And because it is the only multiple media organization with the potential to unlock all of Northeast Ohio’s rich resources for the benefit all citizens.


“I think that ideastream, if not uniquely, is unusually well situated to be both an example and a means of collaboration to make sure that limited resources are used as effectively as possible.

So, its very existence as an unusual collaboration enables it to do that with some credibility and legitimacy …” - David Goodman, Squires Sanders, Community Leader Panel, The Listening Project 2011.

The ideastream Board of Trustees has adopted a strategic plan to respond to the community. The goal is to better serve the citizens of the region by doubling the investment in ideastream produced content, programs, services and community engagement. The focus of this investment will be in areas that have been identified by the residents of Northeastern Ohio as priorities: arts and culture; health information; education; community assets and challenges; and issues relating to the State of Ohio. The results will be achieved through effective partnerships, strategic investments in technology, development and marketing, and growing the financial base of the organization so as to sustain over time that increased level of service.

The Campaign for Community asks for a community investment of $20.3 million to build capacity and provide a funding bridge to sustain this increased level of service far into the future. Its success will ensure that locally owned, locally produced, high quality media assets are leveraged, all for the benefit of building our community’s sustainable future.

Find out how you can support the ideastream Campaign for Community. Contact Ella Fong, Director, Major Gifts (Interim) at 216.916.6154 or

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