KETC on the Impact of Facing the Mortgage Crisis

September 11,2009

Patricia Harrison
President and CEO Corporation for Public Broadcasting
401 Ninth Street, NW Washington, DC 20004-2129

Dear Pat:

During the spring of 2008, you entrusted KETC to create a model of how public media would respond to the national disaster that is the mortgage crisis. With your support and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's investment, we are now using this model to lead public television and radio stations in the 32 hardest-hit markets across the country -- helping those stations create significant impact in their local communities. Thank you for the investment to extend this critical national initiative through November 2009. It's clear that the need is great for this concerted public media effort. Facing the Mortgage Crisis is advancing the case for public media as a distinct, relevant and essential value worth supporting -- an imperative, as expanding media options and cultural changes threaten traditional funding models.

Facing the Mortgage Crisis is signaling the emergence of the next generation of public media. In this work there is a transcendent deepening of the connection between public media to the public -- a deepening that will take us beyond a reliance on just broadcast and audience for our support and livelihood. The stations participating in Facing the Mortgage Crisis are transforming the culture of their organizations and creating impact in their communities.

"My husband and I never could have imagined having to deal with the mortgage crisis. I was very concerned about losing my home. I was watching "Facing the Mortgage Crisis" on KERA and they listed their economy website, so I went to the website to tell my story. I was looking for help -- I was at my wit's end. KERA forwarded my story to my lender and at that point everything started moving like clockwork. KERA helped me save my home."
Toni Johnson
DeSoto, Texas

"I came to the event at WGTE today and not even knowing they were going to be here, my lender and I were able to work something out. I'm so happy, I'm about to cry. It has relieved a lot of stress, a lot of worry. I am very, very grateful that WGTE has taken the initiative to provide such an opportunity for people who are in trouble in "Facing the Mortgage Crisis."
Jennifer Todd-Warfield
Toledo, Ohio

After Michigan Public Radio aired a story about mortgage relief fraud, someone left a comment on our website saying they heard the story and cancelled a meeting for later that day with one of the fraudulent companies named the report.
Michigan Public Radio

Through Facing the Mortgage Crisis, stations are being acknowledged as vital to all parts of their community -- not just to its traditional listeners and viewers. These stations are becoming the leading facilitators in their community, emerging as forces to reinvent America in response to the crisis that we have all been facing. These stations know more than any other source about what is really going on in America -- because they know what's happening in their communities.

We are feeling much more connected and knowledgeable about our community. And in saying "community" the word takes on new meaning for us. Our community now goes beyond the public media demographic that we think we know and understand. Additionally, our sense of public service has greatly increased and we appreciate the value of community engagement -- to the point that community engagement becomes a non sequitur -- how could public media not be fully engaged in their community?
Cincinnati Public Radio

The response we have gotten from the community has validated our work on "Facing the Mortgage Crisis." It has been made very clear to us that there is a need for the role that public television can play in the community as a facilitator of discussion and a trusted broker of information.
Northern California Public Broadcasting

Through this work, we're also learning how to measure our effectiveness and our impact so that we can establish our case for support.

During conversations where elected officials outlined the challenges to funding for public broadcasting, a bright spot of enthusiasm was about the work of Nevada Public Radio. Congresswoman Shelley Berkeley and Senator Harry Reid both said that this kind of project is what public broadcasting "should" be doing and are very supportive of our ability to reach out to the community.
Flo Rogers
Nevada Public Radio

Development and Marketing have used this project to demonstrate to listeners and supporters the public service value that public media plays in the community's life.
Cincinnati Public Radio

Key themes are emerging from Facing the Mortgage Crisis about the essential elements of a relevant and significant public media organization. These essential elements will help public media achieve critical mass and tell our story of impact at the national level.

Beyond Broadcast to Engagement

Stations are making the shift from a traditional media organization to the next generation public media organization. Stations have been somewhat stunned by their true ability to use their competencies on-air, online and in the community to help bring their community together. All races and all values are in this crisis together.

There is a profound resonance that what we are doing is what public media can do as no commercial media can: dedicating our resources to focused on-air messaging, providing online resources and getting appropriate messages out to audiences who don't listen to us. In particular the Hispanic audience, African American and those demographics not associated with public radio use.
Nevada Public Radio

I think the surprise was really me starting to think more of WMFE as a "convener" of public information and a trusted source. We say all of those things in our marketing and membership materials but until now we've not really put it into action as we are doing with "Facing the Mortgage Crisis." This has been an eye-opening project and it has started our whole team on other ways for WMFE to get involved in helping our community.
Orlando, Florida

This project really brings home the importance of public media in our society. We expect this project to have tremendous impact in our community in connecting people to the agencies that can help them through this crisis. Helping people in need is important work and as a public media organization, providing this kind of information to the community can be transformational in peoples lives.
Tampa, Florida

The Network Effect - Collaboration Inside and Outside

Like KETC, stations are reinventing their internal culture and processes and are moving to make collaborative work a new norm. The best stations are working across radio and TV in their own markets and starting to work with each other across the nation. They understand the power of building this network. We're also seeing the power of collaboration between public television and public radio and what this means to the communities we serve. It is hard to overestimate what this shift implies. Our work on Facing the Mortgage Crisis is teaching us all how to be able to find the return on investment that is part of this network effect.

We have learned that our partnership has a much greater impact for our community than we had even hoped for. WEDU andd WMNF had worked on various smaller projects prior to partnering on the "Facing the Mortgage Crisis" initiative. But, we've expanded our relationship to a much broader level now and have many projects in the works. Both organizations are very proud of our work on the project and the impact it has had on the communities we serve. It has been a terrific catalyst for helping us find new ways of working together.
Tampa, Florida

This is the first time in recent history that radio and television have worked together on a common initiative. The biggest lesson that we've learned is that this kind of collaboration can only help us reach more members of our community. If we were to take either television or radio out of the equation and attempt to tackle this initiative with just one platform or the other, we would be missing an opportunity to connect with huge segments of our community.
Memphis, Tennessee

This project partnership has allowed Valley Public Television to partner with our Spanish language public radio station, Radio Bilingue, for the very first time. As part of this partnership we created a Spanish language program that was shot in KVPT's studio, heard on Radio Bilingue and watched on V-Me. The program aired as a "special presentation" of Radio Bilingue's national satellite radio show "Linea Abierta," so it was heard outside our area with promotion for the project.
Fresno, California

A Critical Mass Are Moving to Web 2.0

Stations are making the breakthrough in understanding that they can leverage web 2.0. The costs of going here are not financial, they are cultural. Through Facing the Mortgage Crisis, there is a core group of stations who are discovering how to use the online space to amplify the value of our traditional content and to use it to offer a voice to the American People. Stations are learning by experience how to connect social media and digital content in all that they do -- making it possible for the public to have a much deeper relationship and an identity connection with the station, while at the same time having a "safe and trusted place" to ask questions, have conversations, and build connections. The stations that are making this possible are also learning how to use their online space to converge national, local and public content on the web and are beginning to understand how to use the web to listen to every whisper in their communities and to reflect back what they have heard. Stations are beginning to see the online space as vital.

At KPBS, TV and FM are under one roof but have not always worked together. Our station goal as a whole has recently been convergence across TV, Radio and Web. This project has really shown how we can bring all platforms together to deliver one message to our community as a whole, not just one audience or the other.
San Diego, California

The Mortgage Crisis Has Expanded to Include the Entire Economy

Stations are connected to their communities, so they know in great detail how the crisis evolves and shifts to impact the community. While it is still possible to connect people to help to keep their homes, the collapse of sectors and the cut backs in others are making employment the key driver. We're also seeing a rise in predators who seek to capitalize on those impacted by the economy. Our work is expanding beyond helping people stay in their homes to helping people deal with the crisis as it is impacting their local communities, their social relationships, and their personal solvency. Much of this is happening by leading community members to resources available through community partners.

We just received our first report from United Way 211 on the calls. They saw a 272% increase in calls related to the mortgage crisis since the town meeting and vignettes starting airing on TV and radio. In the three months prior to our efforts, the United Way reported 7,490 total calls related to mortgage and financial questions. After our on-air campaign began they reported 7,166 calls in just three weeks!
Connecticut Public Television

The surprise was that we don't have to work to assist in the creation of a response, we have to assist in connecting people to the REAL partners and disengaging them from fraudulent advisors.
San Bernadino, California

"This is exactly what KVPT and public media is meant to do. Being responsive in times of crisis is when we are at our very best!"
KVPT Board Chair
Fresno, California

There is the commitment to press on. Many stations see that their work is helping. They are serious now and they cannot stop -- they are so connected with the needs of their community that their efforts must carry on to address this evolving crisis. We have an unparalleled opportunity to see these stations emerge as a significant and relevant force in their local community.

"Our staff will tell you this is the most important work they have ever done -- we can't stop now."
Paula Castadio
Fresno, California

Pat, there will continue to be compelling stories of impact in the coming months. CPB's investment in Facing the Mortgage Crisis is signaling the emergence of the next generation of public media. We're seeing a transformation in stations looking outward and reinforcing their place in the community as a distinct, relevant and essential value worth supporting. We are excited at the prospect of the 2010 Capitol Hill Day with stations flooding the halls of Congress with stories about public media's impact in their local communities through Facing the Mortgage Crisis. Thank you for your investment in this critical effort.

Best Regards,

Jack Galmiche
President and CEO

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