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.
Today, the Curators of the University of Missouri System approved the merger of St. Louis Public Radio and The St. Louis Beacon. Beginning in December, the organizations will combine newsrooms and begin to change the face of independent local news in our region and beyond by providing even more depth and perspective on issues and stories that impact our community.
Additionally the new organization will work closely with the University of Missouri system, particularly the School of Journalism in Columbia, to train journalism students in public media and to develop a sustainable business model for the industry.
From Beacon reporter Dale Singer in a detailed report about the approval of the merger: “Dean Mills, dean of the journalism school at Mizzou, told the curators at their meeting that he was excited about the chance for students to work in the St. Louis area and for the Reynolds Journalism Institute on the Columbia campus to apply its research on a new journalistic structure. When approached about the idea, he said, ‘it took me 20 seconds to say yes, yes, yes.'”
Today St. Louis Public Radio general manager Tim Eby said, “We are excited about this first in the nation merging of an non-profit online news start-up and a public radio news operation. We feel that this is a model that will bring about a stronger local service for the St. Louis region on-air, on-line, and in the community.” In a post on this blog in September Tim detailed more of his take on the last year of merger talks.
Beacon editor Margie Freivogel is set to lead the newsroom effort of the combined media organization. Her thoughts on today’s developments are detailed in her editor’s column.
National press has been paying to attention to the merger. Here’s what other news organizations have been saying:
- Poynter: Merger between St. Louis Beacon, St. Louis Public Radio Gets Closer
- Current (public media industry news): University board approves St. Louis Public Radio merger with St. Louis Beacon
It was just about a year ago that the St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio jointly announced their intention to explore forming an alliance to better serve the St. Louis region through journalism.
Through the past year we have been investigating how, by bringing our two organizations together, we can better serve the St. Louis region. Through this exploration we have come to believe that high quality journalism is an important component in creating a narrative about the challenges and realizations of a region reinventing itself. By providing deep reporting, thoughtful discussion and interesting perspectives on key questions, citizens in the region will gain a better understanding of the important issues happening in our region.
Our two organizations combined will have nearly 40 news and content staff producing audio, text, video, data, and photography across digital and broadcast platforms. Of course this is in addition to programs and content from our public radio partners on-air and on-line.
The discussions of the merger over the past year have also triggered exciting academic and research initiatives in a three-way partnership with the University of Missouri – St. Louis’ College of Fine Arts and Communication, and the University of Missouri – Columbia’s School of Journalism.
Through this partnership utilizing UMSL at Grand Center (the home of St. Louis Public Radio) as a base, UMSL and UMC are cooperatively investing further convergent media opportunities and research in emerging technology and interactive design, where best practices learned from the Reynolds Journalism Institute are being used to develop models for sustaining quality, multi-platform journalism in metropolitan areas.
This vision was presented earlier this month to the Board of Curators of University of Missouri System, the governing authority for St. Louis Public Radio, UMSL, and UMC. The proposal was enthusiastically received by the Curators and we have been given the go ahead to formalize an agreement between the Beacon, the University and St. Louis Public Radio that the curators can consider for approval at their next meeting in November.
As a follow-up to the Curators meeting earlier this month, Board Chair Wayne Goode and University system President Timothy Wolfe sent a letter to stakeholders of our two organizations outlining why the prospect of the merger is so exciting.
“The list of partners at both the regional and national levels for this endeavor is amazing. We recognize that the world of media is watching this with keen interest. We are proud of this pioneering effort in the future of media and journalism…”
To learn more about this effort, you can read a report from Coats2Coats Consulting from our initial work on the merger that was funded through a grant from The Knight Foundation. If you’re interested in learning more about the merger, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are pleased to announce that Geri Mitchell has been named the new Morning Host at St. Louis Public Radio and Quincy Public Radio. Geri will begin her hosting duties on Morning Edition this Monday, September 23 at 5 a.m.
Since 2009, Geri has been a familiar weekend voice on St. Louis Public Radio–heard mostly on Saturday afternoons. She is also a familiar voice for listeners to The Gateway | KWMU-2.
Mitchell is a 21-year veteran of radio and has spent time at KUSA, KEZK, KYKY, KSD and KMOX.
Geri has an MBA in Business Marketing from the University of Phoenix and a B.S. in Mass Communications/Journalism from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville.
St. Louis Public radio received the Champion of the Arts Award from the Arts and Education Council at the 2013 St. Louis Arts Awards at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel on Monday, January 21, 2013.
The event kicks off the Arts and Education Council’s 50th anniversary of funding various arts organizations in the St. Louis area. Proceeds from the event benefited the Arts and Education Council’s annual campaign which funds nearly 70 arts education organizations throughout the bi-state region.
The award is given each year to one business or organization that epitomizes leadership, generosity, and dedication towards the arts in their local community. Local groups, organizations, and citizens nominate local businesses for this honor. The award is artwork by local artists.
St. Louis Public Radio is a constant supporter of the arts community in the St. Louis area through online and on-air work. St. Louis Public Radio provides the St. Louis area with in-depth interviews, a forum for civil discussion, and entertaining programs that focus on the issues and people that make up the St. Louis area. St. Louis Public Radio broadcasts live St. Louis Symphony performances on Saturday evenings, provides a 24-hour stream of classical music online and on HD channel Classical KWMU-2, and covers happenings in the arts in St. Louis each week on Cityscape. A video of the work St. Louis Public Radio produces was shared at the event.
Also honored at the Awards were Chuck Berry with the Lifetime Achievement award in the Arts, PNC Bank with the award for Corporate Support of the Arts; Judy and Jerry Kent for Excellence in Philanthropy; the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for Excellence in the Arts; Michael Uthoff for Excellence in the Arts; and Duane Martin Fosteras Art Educator of the Year.
2013 will bring some changes to the St. Louis Public Radio program schedule beginning this weekend with the permanent return of some familiar programs plus a new NPR show to test your knowledge. Then, on Monday you’ll get more things to consider with an additional hour of All Things Considered each weekday.
The new friend joining our schedule on Saturday at noon is Ask Me Another, a lively hour of puzzles, word games, and trivia played in front of (and with) a live audience. Ask Me Another‘s entertaining melange of brainteasers and fun is a descendant of Weekend Edition Sunday‘s Puzzle Segment with Will Shortz, but infused with the vibrancy and quick wit of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me.
Ask Me Another host, noted comedian, and storyteller Ophira Eisenberg, guides listeners with her witty banter aided by the comedic riffs and songs of house musician Jonathan Coulton. Each episode features an interview with a Mystery Guest (noteable actors, comedians, and authors whose identities are revealed via puzzle clues throughout the show), who then takes a turn in the contestant’s chair facing trivia games written especially for him or her.
This American Life, which has been airing at noon on Saturday, will move one hour later to 1 p.m. with its Sunday broadcast remaining at 6:00 p.m.
Also joining our weekly line-up is Radiolab, which will air each Saturday at 3 p.m. Listeners have been able to hear the program in short runs on the station so we’re excited to have the series on each week beginning in 2013. Hosted by Jad Abumrad with co-host Robert Krulwich, Radiolab is designed for listeners who demand skepticism but appreciate wonder; who are curious about the world, but also want to be moved and surprised. Radiolab won a Peabody Award in 2011.
Another program that you may have heard in short runs is The Moth Radio Hour, which will be heard weekly beginning this Sunday at 7 p.m.
Moth storytellers stand alone, under a spotlight, with only a microphone and a roomful of strangers. The storyteller and the audience embark on a high-wire act of shared experience which is both terrifying and exhilarating.
Originally formed by the writer George Dawes Green as an intimate gathering of friends on a porch in Georgia (where moths would flutter in through a hole in the screen), and then re-created in a New York City living room, The Moth quickly grew to produce immensely popular events at theaters and clubs around New York City and later around the country.
The final major change in the schedule begins next Monday with an expanded version of All Things Considered. ATC will begin at 3 p.m. each weekday beginning on January 7, 2013, running until 7 p.m., with Marketplace still at 6 p.m. We’ll also bring you expanded news coverage from the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom with news updates from Maria Altman beginning at 3:04 p.m.
The move to start All Things Considered at 3 p.m. means that we will end our broadcasts of PRI’s The World as of this Friday. We had a long run with the program, but in looking at how we could better serve our audience we believe this is the best choice for listeners to St. Louis Public Radio.
With the new programs on the weekends, there are also new times for Snap Judgment and Marketplace Money, plus the Sunday airing of Car Talk will be leaving the schedule. For the complete schedule see our Program Grid on the website.
As Election Day approaches next week, we have received several inquiries from listeners asking why they have heard some candidates on our daily program St. Louis on the Air while others have not yet been featured on the program.
While our reporters have been covering many of the races including Lt. Gov. and the Missouri 2nd Congressional race, on the talk show we have limited time. Given this we decided that the four races in which we would extend invitations to candidates were: Missouri Governor, Missouri U.S. Senate, Missouri Attorney General, and the Illinois 12th Congressional (which is an open seat currently held by Rep. Jerry Costello).
In order to keep a record of fairness, our producers Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer have reached out to all of the candidates and kept meticulous records when doing so.
The four Republican candidates confirmed before any of the Democratic candidates.
Republican Gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence was on the program on Monday as have the other three Republican candidates.
Democratic Senator McCaskill was scheduled to be on the program last week though she had to cancel due to the illness of her mother. She was rescheduled to be on the program on Tuesday but again had to cancel following the passing of her mother on Monday. Senator McCaskill has now been rescheduled to appear on St. Louis on the Air on Monday (the day before the election).
Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster’s campaign has not acknowledged our request for an interview after repeated attempts. IL 12th district candidate Democrat Bill Enyart was on the program last week. In the case of Governor Nixon, his campaign has virtually said there is no time. There are no active negotiations taking place to have him on the air.
We have also devoted time on the program to third party candidates including the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate, Jonathan Dine.
We are also devoting two programs this week to a discussion on the major ballot initiatives facing voters in next week’s election.
Finally, a reminder that St. Louis Public Radio will be your source on-air and on-line for full election coverage on election night.
Response from the St. Louis community and beyond has been very positive in the aftermath of announcement that St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon are exploring an alliance to better serve the community through journalism.
The non-binding letter of intent signed last week expresses a shared belief that the Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio can serve St. Louisans better together than they can separately. As a result of this action the two news organizations will begin exploring options for strengthening regional news reporting by using their individual assets in combination.
It is the perfect time for us to be embarking on this expedition seeking a new model for public service journalism. Both organizations have established reputations for delivering exceptional journalism to its audiences and, with the digital revolution transforming media, there is a historic opportunity to further establish St. Louis as a leader in journalism innovation.
We have been “test driving” some joint news reporting utilizing Rob Koenig, the Beacon’s Washington D.C. reporter, regularly sharing his observations on politics and issues with St. Louis Public Radio listeners on St. Louis on the Air, our daily local program. In the last few months, Beyond November, a comprehensive, in-depth election-coverage project that also includes collaboration with the Nine Network of Public Media, has increased the level of collaboration between our organizations.
In the announcement, we specified that the alliance discussions will be dedicated to improving the St. Louis region by:
- Advancing regional news reporting at a time when many news organizations around the nation are shrinking;
- Engaging people throughout the region and sharing reporting on air, online and in person;
- Encouraging vibrant dialogue and driving innovation with new tools in the digital age.
We also intend to continue to work in partnership with the Nine Network of Public Media and with other regional and national organizations.
While the letter of intent is non-binding, it authorizes the two organizations to share expertise with each other and develop options for a formal arrangement. We expect to conclude exploratory discussions by the beginning of 2013.
It’s an exciting time for us to begin this journey and we’ll keep you up-to-date as we progress down the road.
- Started broadcasting from UMSL at Grand Center on June 18, 2012
- Received a $1 Million pledge from Monsanto for UMSL at Grand Center
- Estimated surplus at fiscal year-end of more than $200,000 – an operating surplus of approximately 4% of revenue
- A 4% increase in overall revenue including a 4% increase in individual giving and 2% growth in corporate sponsorship billing
- Unveiled new mobile app for the iPhone, iPad and Android devices that resulted in a 150% increase in listening to our three webstreams
- St. Louis Public Radio news reporters recognized with seven awards for journalism excellence from the Missouri State Teachers Association, Missouri Broadcasters Association, and the Illinois Associated Press.
- 2013 St. Louis Arts award recipient from the Arts & Education Council as “Champion For The Arts” and St. Louis Magazine’s “A” List for classical music programming.
- Sponsored more than 80 community events focusing on the arts, science, education, literacy, cultural diversity, green living, civil discourse and community development. This list of events includes the two most-successful blood drives in the history of the station, a symposium on entrepreneurial business start-up and development, an international business career conference, and awards ceremonies honoring St. Louisans for their contributions to the arts and business communities.
These bullet points are highlights but the year also included on-going excellence in our news and programming areas. You regularly hear our reporters from St. Louis Public Radio on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Marketplace. St. Louis on the Air continues to discuss the important issues facing our region and Cityscape serves as a connector to the arts in St. Louis. Our web site and social media efforts have evolved to serve a new platform for audience engagement and public service.
In May, we announced the intent to acquire WQUB-FM from Quincy University. WQUB is the public radio station service more than 120,000 people in and around Quincy, IL and serves as a northern extension of our coverage area. The costs of this acquisition should be around $100,000 with our business plan calling for operating the station in the black in three years. The most important aspect of this acquisition is that we have preserved the public radio service for this community.
Also in May we completed the second year of live Saturday evening broadcasts of the St. Louis Symphony from Powell Hall. These broadcasts have been a resounding success in audience and financial terms for the station. We begin season three in September as neighbors to the Symphony where we envision new opportunities for collaboration.
On the subject of collaboration, we end our fiscal year beginning an exciting project with the St. Louis Beacon and the Nine Network of Public Media focused on the 2012 election and government accountability. Beyond November, with funding from the Deer Creek Foundation, will be our first serious collaborative effort with our new Grand Center neighbors. We view this collaboration as a test effort for future opportunities.
We also initiated another partnership this year with Sauce Magazine that explores the food culture of St. Louis. Sound Bites is heard monthly on Cityscape and has been very well received by our listeners.
Our fundraising efforts were highlighted by significant growth (up 18%) in gifts of $1,000 or more and with the expansion of our sustaining membership program. We now have 26% (5,300) of all current donors in our sustaining membership program.
Finally, from a financial standpoint, our expected surplus this year will bring our case reserve up to approximately $1.7 million. It’s a tribute to the station’s staff that we went from no cash in reserve to where we are now in just four years.
Thanks for your great support of the station this year. Looking forward to a very exciting FY 2013!
St. Louis Public Radio | 90.7 KMWU is pleased to announce the establishment of the St. Louis Public Radio Fellowship for Coverage of Regional Race Matters. The inaugural Fellowship, made possible, in part, by a grant from the Public Policy Research Center (PPRC), is designed to discover, encourage and train the best possible representatives of a diverse new generation of public media talent.
“On-going changes in our listeners’ needs not only require thoughtful, engaging and entertaining programs, they also call for a strong commitment to diversity within our organization,” said General Manager Tim Eby. “As St. Louis continues to grow and change, it is our duty to reflect its composition in the staff we create and the programs we offer.”
The Fellowship will provide the opportunity to pursue in-depth, on-air and online projects that cover race issues in the bi-state region. These reports will leverage on-going PPRC public policy research, as well as build on St. Louis Public Radio’s established ongoing initiative: “St Louis in Black & White” and the “Bound by Division” series.
“This Fellowship is a unique opportunity for PPRC to support investigation of one of the key public policy issues in the St. Louis region,” said Mark Tranel, director of the University of Missouri-St. Louis’ Public Policy Research Center. “PPRC’s funding for this Fellowship comes from a bequest from Margaret Bush Wilson, a civil rights leader, and the work that will be done over the coming year will be a fitting tribute to her efforts to promote racial justice and harmony.”
The St. Louis Public Radio Fellowship will serve as a way to attract unique audio contributors who will share their stories and voices with the station’s listeners and to mirror St. Louis’ changing population in the staff created and the programs offered. Professional training for this full-time fellowship will be provided at the new, state-of-the-art St. Louis Public Radio studios at Grand Center. The program will begin in August 2012 and conclude in July 2013.
The Fellowship will offer high-level mentorship and professional development focused on multi-platform journalism, and content gathering and sharing. Fellows will be given rigorous training in public radio journalism, talk-shows, and online content gathering, andwill work alongside some of the nation’s most respected professionals, including: reporters/producers, talk show producers, online/web content staff, and operations/production staff.
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St. Louis in Black and White presents an oral history of civil rights, the black experience, and race relations in St. Louis from 1847 to 2010. The intention of this project is to enlighten blacks and whites on history with which they may not be familiar and to inspire greater understanding and harmony between the races in our community today. Hopefully, these stories serve as a springboard into a more detailed look at that history and its legacy.
Bound by Division was a past series of feature and news reports examining the economic, cultural, social, racial, geographic and political boundaries that divide the population of Missouri.