In June, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters holds its 40th conference in Denver. It comes as many community radio stations are struggling with financial and media pressures. If you are looking for answers and inspirations, I cannot encourage you enough to attend this year’s event.
“Yeah, yeah,” you say. “Aren’t you supposed to say that?”
I am indeed passionate about community radio and NFCB, but the conference is a really great chance for you to get an education in media a lot of stations just can’t fund regularly. You could pay thousands of dollars for classes, workshops and online coaching, or spend three days in Denver and get invaluable insights, tools, contacts and ideas. Need more reasons? Here are three:
1. The sessions
#NFCB16 is rooted in learning, networking and understanding the merger of new and legacy media. The conference is broken out into a variety of tracks, including programming, development, operations and administration. Thursday focuses on content, while Friday focuses on development. However, each track will be represented every day. A sample of subjects includes the following:
- Development: rethinking pledge drives; underwriting a-to-z; fundraising and engagement tools; optimizing revenue with digital; major donor work in non-affluent areas; sustainer programs, strategies and logistics; and more.
- Programming: managing program change; programmer evaluation and training; local and regional journalism; music discovery and curation; reporting innovations; and more.
- Operations: digital strategies for stations; evaluating and implementing back-end systems; emergency preparedness; music rights and SoundExchange; and more.
- Administration: Community Service Grant compliance; volunteer communications; underwriting legal review; insurance and risk management; and more.
2. The Extras
On top of the conference proper are a range of other learning opportunities, public media and media justice leaders and moments to grow.
Wednesday features exciting summits for Latino Public Radio Consortium affiliates as well as a rural station summit, available to rural stations at no cost, and a low-power FM (LPFM) summit, available at no cost. The day will also offer a storytelling/interview intensive and a governance intensive. That is the evening that the conference kicks off with its opening reception.
Throughout the conference, there will be a new feature that gives you an opportunity to get interactive experience in a variety of areas. The Makers Space will give attendees a chance to learn about podcasting; field recording; the software package SalesForce, which is generating interest for member management; and Audience Engine, the much anticipated community radio suite based on the success of longtime NFCB station WFMU. In addition, a new collaborative space will help you learn about social media, automation, archiving, learning how to work within the NPR clock and more.
Malkia Cyril and June Fox are among this event’s lunch keynotes. We’ll also be hosting an awards banquet Friday night, featuring special guests, the return of the Golden Reels, the Michael Bader Award and many surprises.
Saturday may be the time to wind down the conference, but you will want to stick around as NFCB focuses on engagement, featuring an interactive session on women leaders in public media and youth involvement and hip-hop. Concurrently, there will be tours of Denver’s independent media scene and its dispensary industry. Friday night features a music event hosted by NFCB member KGNU.
The sessions will be action-packed, but there’s a lot outside the conference rooms too.
3. Denver itself
Did you forget #NFCB16 is going down in a pretty badass city?
Denver is a lively town. Lots of unique communities, arts, music and outdoor activities. Denver reportedly gets 300 days of sun and June temperatures average about 81 for a high and 50 for a low. Denver has the Bcycle program, where you can check out a bike for a few bucks. Our conference hotel is a ride from the Botanic Gardens and parks and walking distance to the State Capitol Building. You’re highly encouraged to scan Westword or one of the local publications for things to do beyond the conference. Perhaps you want to tack on a day and take a drive out to the mountains.
For your nourishment, breakfast and lunch are included at the hotel as part of your registration. In addition, Embassy Suites is located near the 16th Street Mall, an open-air shopping and pedestrian district, and many bars and restaurants. There’s a Starbucks just outside the hotel and a Caribou Coffee, among others, on 16th.
When you arrange your trip into town, it is smart to consider your plan if you fly in. Denver opens a commuter train April 22 (schedule/info) that leaves Denver International Airport, and goes to Union Station downtown. Trains run every 15 minutes. The 37-minute trip will cost $9, compared to roughly $60 for a taxi and $30 for a shuttle. The walk from Union Station to the conference hotel is about 18 minutes. However, you can walk from Union Station (17th and Wynkoop) to 16th and take Mallride, Denver’s free bus service down 16th Street Mall, then get off ten blocks at 16th and Stout (there’s a Walgreens on that corner). Now you’re just two blocks from our conference hotel. Alternatively, you can take a seven-minute taxi ride. Depending on the hour, cabs can be hard to catch, so Uber or Lyft are your other options.
Did I win you over yet?
One does not need to be affiliated with an NFCB member station to attend. Rooms are big and can be shared, meaning split costs. And it’s the 40th conference. How can you miss that? Register now right here. Discounted registration rates end on April 15.