Civic-Minded Donors Contribute $3 Million to Help Fund Unique Media Merger For Deeper, Expanded Coverage
Twenty-four individuals, four foundations and two trusts have contributed $3 million to support the expanded news operation of St. Louis Public Radio – the local NPR member station licensed to the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
The expanded newsroom is the result of a merger that integrated 13 veteran journalists from the online news publication St. Louis Beacon into St. Louis Public Radio late last year. The combined news staff is located at UMSL at Grand Center, 3651 Olive St. in St. Louis, which houses university classrooms and St. Louis Public Radio. Grand Center is the region’s largest arts and entertainment district.
Longtime benefactor of St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, contributed a $1 million lead gift.
Donors contributing more than $100,000 include Josephine and Richard Weil, Connie and Dan Burkhardt, Nancy and Ken Kranzberg, William H. Danforth, M.D., Harriet and Leon Felman and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The merger, the first of its kind in public radio, brings together two fully-staffed newsrooms to provide expanded in-depth coverage of the stories and issues that affect the St. Louis region. As the consumption of news across digital platforms has increased significantly over the past several years, the need to reach more people in more places has become paramount. The merger, which provides for robust coverage both on air and online, came about to enable people to become more deeply informed of the issues that affect their lives, to be better prepared to make decisions and to become more engaged in the community.
“We’ve created a national model for a sustainable, multiplatform news operation that can provide in-depth coverage of issues important to a vibrant democracy and flourishing region,” said UMSL Chancellor Tom George.
The St. Louis Beacon began publishing in 2008 as an exclusively on-line, not-for-profit news organization. Margaret Wolf Freivogel, a veteran journalist and former reporter and editor for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was a Beacon founder and served as editor throughout the publication’s life. Freivogel worked closely with St. Louis Public Radio’s general manager Tim Eby in seeing the historic merger of the two media into one multi-platform organization.
As more people continue to seek news and information in different ways on different platforms, St. Louis Public Radio will create content that offers insight, has long-term value, and has the potential to stimulate and promote conversation within four areas of inquiry.
How We Learn:
A focus on how education and lifelong learning can be transformative for our region;
How We Grow:
A focus on economic development, sustainable growth, jobs, urban planning and environmental issues;
How We Live:
A focus on the people, neighborhoods, culture and diversity of experience within our community;
How We Decide:
A focus on policy- and decision making, and the mechanisms of elections, with an emphasis on information that helps people weigh options and take action.
Since combining forces on December 11, 2013, St. Louis Public Radio has seen a strong increase in audience on its web site, a deepening of engagement with people across social media and increase in the stations’ radio market share. St. Louis Public Radio is now serving the St. Louis community better than ever before and is better suited to provide seamless coverage across its many platforms.
“This is a unique endeavor that might not have been possible without the generous support of individuals and foundations whose interest is community development and an informed democracy,” said Tim Eby, general manager of St. Louis Public Radio
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St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB provide the St. Louis and Quincy regions award-winning, in-depth news on-air and online, insightful discussion, and entertaining programs that focus on the issues and people who shape our communities, our country and our world. Signature programs include: Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Fresh Air, This American Life, Marketplace, Car Talk, St. Louis on the Air, BBC World Service, The Tavis Smiley Show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and A Prairie Home Companion.
St. Louis Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.7, 90.7-2 and 90.7-3, and is online at www.stlpublicradio.org reaches 515,000 people a month in the bi-state area. Quincy Public Radio, which broadcasts in HD on 90.3, reaches nine counties in western Illinois and northeastern Missouri.
St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KWMU and Quincy Public Radio | 90.3 WQUB are member-supported services of the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
Next week will mark the three month anniversary of the marriage between The St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio and the signs are looking good for a very long honeymoon period.
The storyline since bringing our two organizations together on December 11, 2013 is that we’ve seen a strong increase in audience to our web site, a deepening of engagement with people across social media and, most importantly, the journalism that we’ve produced has been compelling.
During these first few months of the honeymoon we identified ourselves as “St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon” to signal that our two organizations are now operating as a single organization with one of the largest newsrooms in the St. Louis region. The next evolution of our marriage rolled out this week with our “News That Matters” campaign.
We’ve also returned to using St. Louis Public Radio as our brand name.
The use of the term “radio” shouldn’t suggest that the radio platform is our only focus. While radio (audio) is one of our core strengths, we feel the merging of The Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio is about connecting with people wherever and however they use media as they seek to gain a deeper understanding of our region and the world–be it through broadcast, websites, mobile devices, social media, or in person.
Over the months leading up to and in these first few month of the merger, we’ve been refining our public service pledge to our audience and stakeholders. These promises drive our work on a daily basis.
A SPACE WHERE FAIRNESS, FACTS AND CONTEXT PREVAIL
As public media, our community relies on us to gather, investigate, focus on and prioritize the significant issues affecting our region — free from any external influencing forces, whether commercial, political or financial. We will delve deeply into critical issues, always striving to place these issues into an historic and factual context, and sharing insight from across our diverse community. Our work will counter ignorance with information, and prejudice with understanding. We will keep watch on powerful interests, challenge conventional wisdom and expose nonsense. We will create a unique and trusted space where the people of our region connect with each other, learn about each other, and come to understand each other, our nation and our world.
A FOCUS ON FOUR DISTINCT LINES OF INQUIRY
We will create content that offers insight, has long-term value, and has the potential to stimulate and promote conversation within four lines of inquiry:
- How We Learn: a focus on how education and lifelong learning can be transformative for our region;
- How We Grow: a focus on economic development, sustainable growth, jobs, urban planning and environmental issues;
- How We Live: a focus on the people, neighborhoods, culture and diversity of experience within our community;
- How We Decide: a focus on policy- and decision-making, and the mechanisms of elections, with an emphasis on information that helps people weigh options and take action.
FOR THE GOOD OF OUR COMMUNITY
We will help the people of our region understand this moment in our history, appreciate its culture, recognize its strengths, meet its challenges and embrace its opportunities.We will promote conversation and engagement that give rise to thoughtful and informed actions and solutions. We will promote democracy by providing open access to information our audiences need to understand the events and ideas that shape our world.
WE CONNECT WITH PEOPLE ACROSS MEDIA
Using all tools at our disposal, we will make our content available to our diverse audience in broadcasts, online, in person and through partnerships with other organizations.
These promises align with our belief that the St. Louis region benefits from a vigorous, forward-looking and public news organization. As public media, service to our community is the sole focus of our work. We believe unbiased, influence-free reporting is foundational to a strong and thriving region.
With this belief, our purpose is centered around the idea that we exist to help people become deeply informed about the issues that affect their lives, better prepared to make decisions and more engaged in our community.
This is why we brought our two organizations together and it’s our hope that we’re delivering on that purpose to you, however you experience us. If you agree we’re delivering on this worthwhile purpose, I want to encourage you to support the service that you use by making a gift of financial support during our Spring Membership Campaign that is beginning today. Thank you.