Dive right into Albuquerque with us … One of the sessions we are holding at all of our regional summits is a plenary on collaboration. We get deficit thinking out of the way by having summit participants identify the obstacles to collaborative efforts and then dive into a conversation that will help us all move forward by asking a basic question: “what needs to be in place for collaboration to be successful at your station and in the industry?” So far results have been fascinating, insightful, and clearly helpful in laying a foundation for NFCB members to increase the extent to which they are working together to meet the challenges they all face. A full report of our findings will be coming out in September. For now, enjoy this glimpse of the process!

NFCB’s regional regional summits are a coordinated effort to start a new conversation, one that leads to improving services that we offer at NFCB, one that leads to strengthening ties, and one that identifies projects and ideas that we can support in multiple ways at the national level.

This conversation has been rich and fruitful because of the people who’ve shown up to be a part of it. In Albuquerque, we had such luminaries as Nan Rubin, Paul Ingles, Native Voice One, the talented staff at KUNM, and 76 people representing 20 stations who were willing to share their knowledge and their questions. It has lead to some readily apparent observations such as, as one summit participant stated, “we are so similar, we have so much in common and we are all here for the same reasons. That’s the beauty of bringing us together.”

Another summit attendee said “I was really glad that I came on this trip. I have learned something from the very minute that I got here that I can take back to make what I do better and my co-producers up there better. I hope you all take something back and make your stations better too.” We couldn’t have said it better – this is what we hope folks take away too.

Of course, part of what has to be taken away to make traveling to a summit worth it, is new information and perspective. We offered three workshops in Albuquerque: A panel on engaging youth, a session on fundraising that works, technology and digital platforms, and case studies on successful community-based programming initiatives. Communications attorney Ernie Sanchez, from the Sanchez Law Firm, shared the institutional history of radio, including the evolving position of the FCC toward community radio. KUNM News Director Elaine Baumgartel presented on her award-winning project Public Health New Mexico and Mike Marcotte shared what he had learned through creating “creative capacity” by blending together students with a professional staff in launching the New Mexico News Port.

We look forward to processing our pages of notes, the conversation that filled hallways, and the feedback gathered through evaluations. More importantly, we look forward to giving it all back and sharing what we learn with our members, and the public media system as a whole. What’s coming together is a narrative of community radio that is not about it’s challenges and deficits, but about it’s impact.

Our takeaways from the summit are that our funding model needs a serious redesign, our operations are multi-platform now and we need to play in that space. Our content has to engage listeners and we need to create the capacity to build our own capacity. We need greater capacity for embracing this media ecosystem. It’s all connected so our solutions must involve some degree of working together. They are also that there are community radio stations throughout the Southwest that are robust, embracing diversity, serving their communities, providing creative jobs in small towns, and telling the important stories mainstream media forgets to tell.