Regional Summit – Grand Rapids2018-05-17T13:20:24+00:00

About this Summit

Grand Rapids is a beautiful town with a river running through it and a thriving public art scene. ArtPrize is a galvanizing force in this regard and now attracts over 500,000 visitors a year, leaving a legacy of lots of public art. We’ll have a self-guided public art tour to engage you on Friday night and a workshop on how your station can help activate public art spaces and spur arts and culture as economic drivers in your communities.

Grand Rapids Community Media Center is a multi-platform media and technology assistance organization whose mission is to build community through media. It is home to member station and summit host WYCE (88.1 FM), Wealthy Theater, the Rapidian, and GRTV.

Our summit will be held at Wealthy Theater near downtown Grand Rapids. Tours of WYCE and GRTV at the Media Center will also be offered. Featuring sessions on:

Regional Summit Agenda


5:00 p.m. Welcome event: Join NFCB and our local hosts to hear from community leaders and enjoy live entertainment and social time with your peers. Location: Harmony Hall, 401 Stocking Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 [Google map].


9:00-10:15 a.m. Opening general session: Meet the workshop presenters, and engage in the big-picture discussion that frames your summit experience. Location: Wealthy Theatre, 1130 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506 [Google map].

10:15-10:45 a.m. Beverage break

10:45-1:00 p.m. Morning Workshops: In-depth, interactive sessions organized in three tracks:

Connect Community Content to Increased Engagement

In her presentation, Neenah Ellis will show how content, engagement and revenue are interconnected at WYSO, a public radio station in a town of 3,000 people in southwest Ohio where she has been the manager for 9 years. WYSO has an eclectic music/news format with volunteer music hosts every evening. Through a training program called Community Voices, WYSO has engaged a new generation of content producers who are making a huge variety of stories. Local content on WYSO has been improved and increased, there’s renewed engagement and trust with listeners and, not coincidentally, station revenues have increased dramatically.

During this session, Ellis will:

  • Describe the Community Voices training course and play examples of the resulting stories and series
  • Show how it’s transformed WYSO
  • Answer your questions and leave you with tips and ideas for how to start a similar program at your station

Neenah Ellis has been a radio producer for most of 45 years, having gotten an early start because her parents owned and ran a commercial station in a small town in northern Indiana.

She went to journalism school in Iowa and worked in commercial radio news for several years in the late 70s, until she got hired as a newscaster and reporter at WAMU in Washington DC and made the jump to public radio. She worked at NPR in Washington for ten years, mostly for the evening news program “All Things Considered,” where she was a staff producer: editing tape, writing scripts and field producing stories for hosts and reporters.

After a brief stint at Minnesota Public Radio producing a live entertainment program in the World Theatre, she became an independent producer. All through the 90s and early 2000s, she worked independently as a reporter and producer, for NPR and others, also working in television and film documentaries. Her work has won three Peabody Awards and a Columbia-DuPont Award.

In 2009, she and her husband, NPR correspondent and author Noah Adams, moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, were she became the General Manager of public radio station WYSO. Under her leadership, WYSO has been transformed from deep in debt with declining membership to high performing and revenue positive in all categories. At WYSO she created an innovative community training and engagement program called Community Voices. Nearly 200 people have been trained as a result and the number community volunteers who make non-music programs at her station has increased by 500%. WYSO was chosen as a Localore station by AIR in 2012.

Today she serves on the boards of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio and PRIMA, Public Radio in Mid-America. She’s on the Senior Leadership Team at Antioch College, which holds the WYSO license. She’s a 500 hour certified yoga teacher and teaches weekly classes in Yellow Springs.

Making the Aspirational Achievable: Developing Member Relationships and Revenue that Lasts

When you wear many hats the default answer to implementing almost any new fundraising or engagement ideas is, “it would be great, if we had the time’. So today, let’s make the time! In this workshop we’ll talk about practical steps you can take back to your station to help you raise more revenue, connect in more meaningful ways with your existing donors, and reach out to acquire more. We’ll talk about making the most of on-air and direct mail campaigns and what you need to find success with online gifts and sustaining memberships. We’ll also consider the critical acknowledgement and non-revenue related touchpoints that will keep donors engaged. Participants will share ideas and spend some time deciding what they want to prioritize in their work with the goal of going back to their stations energized and ready to forge ahead.

Melanie leads station service and support efforts in the areas of corporate support, membership, digital/social media, major and planned giving, and Greater Public Benchmarks. She’s passionate about the importance of increased station connectedness aimed at collaborative success of all. Before joining Greater Public full-time, she spent eleven years as an independent fundraising consultant for stations of all sizes and formats, APM, Greater Public, PBS and the Texas Tribune.

Melanie has worked at KEXP, Vermont Public Radio, and KNKX. She lives in Seattle with her husband, son, cat, and terrier, who are the stars of her Instagram feed.

Emergency Alerting, Response and Preparedness – How can you be most effective?

How does your organization approach an emergency — a natural or man-made disaster? Are you prepared if a flood, mudslide or wildfire sweeps through your town? Are you prepared if you can’t operate out of your studios because of the effects of a hurricane or tornado? Does your staff know how to react, and do they understand their roles in an emergency? How do you engage with your community and become a reliable resource in an emergency?

This two-hour session is designed to help station leaders develop – and understand the benefits of – an emergency preparedness plan that is integrated with all facets of station operations and with other leaders and organizations in your community. We’ll talk about the role of media and its operations before, during and after a crisis. This session will explore a range of scenarios, including some recent case studies. We’ll talk about the realities of operating through a crisis, identify best practices, and offer tools you can customized and implement for your team and organization.

Objectives of this session:

  • Understand the importance and benefits of emergency preparedness plan
  • Learn about best practices for managing before, during, and after a crisis
  • Acquire the tools to be able to develop an emergency preparedness plan for your organization

In this role, Beach oversees the Public Radio Satellite System® (PRSS), the backbone of all public radio distribution. Each year, the PRSS distributes more than 450,000 hours annually of news, music, and specialized audience programming to more than 1,600 public radio stations throughout the United States. He is responsible for all activities associated with the planning, operation and management of this system-critical division.

Prior to coming to NPR, Beach worked for Intelsat, S.A., a major commercial satellite operator, which he joined in 2006. He also served as assistant general manager and chief technology officer for Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET), the state-wide PBS and NPR broadcast network, from 1998 to 2006. Prior to that, he served in multiple technical and security roles for NSN Network Services of Avon, Colo.

As a lieutenant in the Navy, he served as a communications officer on the USS Duluth. Beach, who is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications/Media Studies from the University of Utah and a Master of Science degree in Project Management at George Washington University.

In his current position, John is responsible for developing communications plans and projects that support NPR’s role as manager and operator of the Public Radio Satellite System. He also acts as a liaison to the NPR Board and its Distribution and Interconnection Committee, and oversees logistics for events and conferences.

Before joining NPR in 2008, John served in a variety of Web-content development roles at Fannie Mae, America Online and USA Today. Earlier in his career, he worked as a broadcast journalist in Boston and Washington, D.C.

TanyaMarie Singh is the CEO of WTJX in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. She will provide a true case study, which will describe her organization, its emergency plans, how it weathered the recent devastating hurricane, and how it moved into business recovery.

1:00-2:30 p.m. Lunch provided on-site by NFCB.

2:30-5:00 p.m. Afternoon Workshops

In-depth, interactive sessions organized in three tracks:

Strategies and Tactics for Effective Event-Based Work

This interactive workshop will feature case studies in collaboration between Creative Many Michigan and different arts and cultural events designed to thicken Creative Many’s network of relationships with stakeholders and funding partners. Joe will discuss Creative Many’s strategies and tactics for event-based work, and will invite representatives from partner organizations to discuss the successes and struggles of working together to the mutual benefit of everyone involved. The discussion will include Creative Many’s programming partnerships with ArtPrize, the Earthwork Harvest Gathering and Farm Block Fest, as well as the Michigan House project at South By Southwest.

Joe Voss focuses on creating opportunities to collaborate with organizations and individuals that share a commitment to advancing the creative industries in Michigan. Joe works with the Creative Many team to identify ways to increase the impact of programming and to extend the reach of the organization. He works with external partners to ensure that the necessary funding and other resources are available to facilitate Creative Many’s efforts to develop Michigan’s creative communities. Joe also manages Creative Many’s Lawyers for the Creative Economy Program, which provides pro bono and low-cost legal services to Michigan creative practitioners through a referral network of volunteer attorneys

Joe is a member of the Michigan Film and Digital Media Office Advisory Council and sits on the board of the Hospice of Michigan Foundation. Joe earned a B.A. from Brooklyn College and a J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. He is of counsel to Leavens, Strand & Glover LLC, and as an attorney, Joe provides legal services in connection with artist-cause collaborations, and assists clients seeking to utilize media to advance non-profit missions. This involves advising clients on the tax-exemption process, handling the entertainment law aspects of artist-cause collaborations, and providing guidance on the numerous legal issues that arise when artists and non-profits work together

Steps Toward a More Responsive News Effort

The public has information needs, and most news efforts have no efficient ways to learn what those needs are. Join audience engagement expert Julia Haslanger from Hearken for this 2-hour interactive workshop to learn how stations can better surface what your audience wants and needs, and then create and serve relevant content to those audiences. You’ll practice new methodologies for involving the public in decision-making, and learn from examples of innovative work journalists are doing not just for the public, but with them.

Julia Haslanger is an engagement consultant with Hearken in Chicago, a company that works with more than 100 newsrooms on listening to their audiences. Before Hearken, Julia worked as an audience engagement editor at The Wall Street Journal, a page designer at Politico and a web producer for Politico Pro. She earned her master’s degree in Social Journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, and her undergraduate degree from the Missouri School of Journalism. She’s from Madison, Wis.

Designing Music Programming for Audience and Impact

The award-winning community radio station WYCE succeeds by positioning itself as a champion of music discovery. How did it get there? How does it train staff into this culture? How does it stay the course when other demands arise? How does this identity shape its collaborations and partnerships? How do you legally carry this identity over on non-terrestrial platforms (e.g. video, social, etc.)? Come see WYCE’s impressive efforts and learn from how you can create your own programs with volunteers, board, staff, community stakeholders and artists. From music education training WYCE does with its DJs to the fine points of SoundExchange and music rights, the session will explore a set of practices that improve your on air sound, with small group discussions where your own station is with regard to the practices WYCE suggests, and what steps you might take to move the dial.

Presented by Shane German, Music Operations Coordinator, WYCE



Leadership Seminar- Optimizing Organizational Capacity to Lead Change


In 2017 NFCB’s CEO Sally Kane joined a cohort of arts and culture organization executives for an intensive year long training to understand better the dynamics and variables that allow nonprofits to thrive and not just survive. This year’s Regional Summits will feature a three hour Saturday Leadership Seminar to explore the tools, ideas, practices, and insights that Sally gained and is highly motivated to share. This seminar is open to community radio leaders who are interested in optimizing their own leadership skills and the overall capacity of the organization. The seminar will be broken into three segments as follows:

  1. Elements and Essence of Leadership
  2. Building Teams, Communication Styles, and     Delivering the Message
  3. Strategic Thinking and Leading Change


Attendance of the Regional Summits is exclusively for NFCB member stations. Pre-registration is required. As soon as we receive your registration form, we will invoice you and keep you up to date with details.


Regional Summits are intended to be high-quality, low-cost gatherings that fit your budget. We do not have a hotel room block reserved. Here is a list of recommendations.

The Leonard at Logan House
440 Logan St SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 308-6585

Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown
310 Pearl St NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Phone: (616) 235-7611

Hampton Inn & Suites Grand Rapids Downtown
433 Dudley Pl NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Phone: (616) 456-2000

Grand Rapids International Hostel
117 Page St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
Phone: (616) 498-7902