President’s Report at 2018 PRIMA Conference

Outgoing PRIMA President Dan Skinner presented these remarks as his final President’s Report during the 2018 PRIMA Conference Membership Meeting in Chicago, IL. 

It has been a privilege to serve as PRIMA President for the last four years. I’ve enjoyed working with the Board and the membership. The opportunity to meet and work with Public Radio leaders has been an enriching experience and one that I will always cherish. Working with the other Public Radio Regional Organization Presidents and interacting with NPR Management and staff, has given me a broader and deeper understanding of the dedication and commitment that you and our colleagues bring to our mission of providing a vital public broadcasting service to the nation.

During my tenure, like you, I’ve seen a mixture of challenges and opportunities within Public Broadcasting and media in general. While attending the NPR Board Meetings over the last four years, I watched NPR struggle with red ink and restructure to become fiscally strong. I’ve seen a new spirit arise at NPR, and member stations, under the new leadership of Jarl Mohn. Recently, NPR has been dealing with personnel and workplace culture issues, but from what I’ve observed, management and the NPR Board have responded appropriately. I was also impressed how the dedication of the NPR staff to delivering on their mission of providing quality programming has not wavered, even as work remains to be done on changing the workplace culture.  We’ve all seen the continued rise of digital media, and recently, the public’s rapid adoption of smart speakers. Whether you call it “public radio” or “public media,” it continues to morph, as the content we produce finds new avenues of distribution. No doubt, there are exciting and challenging times ahead for us all on the technology front. Sadly, we’ve also seen attacks on the media and journalism… this underscores the importance of the work we do… and thankfully, nationwide, listeners have responded with appreciation by tuning into public radio in record numbers.

I hope you found this year’s PRIMA Conference to be informative and useful. It has been my honor to have a role in putting together our PRIMA conferences, but it takes a team effort to do so. I’d like to thank the PRIMA board members for their work in putting together this conference, and a special thanks to Paul Maassen for arranging the logistics with the conference hotel. Please give them a hand…

Through our annual meetings, membership conference calls, and the PRIMA Fly-In last year in St. Louis, we have been able to provide opportunities for updates and discussions between the PRIMA Membership and leaders in the public radio community. As with this PRIMA conference, members also had the opportunity to provide ongoing input into NPR’s work on forming a new Station Compact. I trust that PRIMA will continue to be a voice in this process and other issues that will arise in the years to come.

Each year, PRIMA offers scholarships to attend the conference. This year, we were happy to award a scholarship to Stephen Williams, the General Manager of WMUK, Public radio from Western Michigan University. Please welcome, Stephen.

PRIMA was formed in 1975 and has been a strong voice within the public radio system, representing stations, both large and small, in a 20-state region. Over the years, numerous PRIMA members have served on the national level as NPR Board Members, and also within the leadership of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Keeping the tradition going, PRIMA members Nico Leone, Jay Pierce and Mike Crane are currently serving on the NPR Board and Tim Eby is on the slate of new officers for the next election. In a few minutes, we’ll hear from Kit Jensen, who served as the Chair of the NPR Board, as part of her distinguished career in public broadcasting.

Thank you once again for the privilege of serving as your President.  I’m looking forward to continuing to work with the PRIMA Board in the position of Immediate Past President and I wish you all the best in the future.