(BPT) – In a time when consumers have more information and entertainment options than ever before, one resource continues to deliver high-quality, well-researched news and engaging entertainment programming that bridges the divide between national events and local activities.
Whether you are braving the I-5 slog, venturing to Yellowstone National Park, hiking Mount St. Helens or whale watching off the Alaskan coast, nonprofit broadcasting outlets keep families connected to their community, informed on the news of the day and entertained regardless of age, gender or demographic background.
Community radio stations, public broadcasting and non-commercial outlets bring a content-focused approach to their daily programs that serve to uplift their audience’s region as much if not more so than any other media platform. There are six primary ways these outlets help local communities flourish and thrive:
* Creating a more engaged, informed community. Recent research from the Political Quarterly shows those who have access to public service broadcasting are better informed about government and politics, are more trusting of others, maintain more positive civic attitudes and have greater confidence in democratic institutions. That educated and engaged listener base is more likely to engage on key community issues.
* Stimulating creativity and innovation. Through programming that engages, explains and explores, public broadcasting plays a major role in supporting STEAM subjects. But many stations go beyond that. Spokane Public Radio, for example, recently rehabilitated a former fire station to include a state-of-the-art performing and recording studio for regional artists, thanks in part to grant funding from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.
* Supporting local cultures. Public and non-commercial stations can often focus on elements of local and regional culture that might otherwise go unrecognized by other media outlets. For example, Anchorage-based Koahnic Broadcast Corp., a public radio station, and Nome-based KNOM Radio, a non-commercial outlet, both concentrate their efforts on programming that addresses the needs and interests of Alaska’s Native populations. KBC’s National Training Center also provides training opportunities for Alaska Natives and Native Americans interested in broadcasting careers.
* Filling the reporting gap. As some news sources struggle to maintain profitable business models, public broadcasting continues to offer in-depth coverage of important issues. Because its primary mission is public service and not profit, it can remain independent of corporate influences without sensationalizing news issues to boost ratings. As such, public channels are more highly trusted than commercial channels for the accuracy, reliability and impartiality of their news coverage, according to Political Quarterly. Recent examples of excellent, unbiased reporting include the comprehensive state election coverage regularly offered by the Bozeman-based Friends of Montana PBS.
* Diversity in programming. Relatively unencumbered by commercial pressures, public stations are free to broadcast shows and podcasts its leaders believe have the most information and entertainment value to its listeners. That typically contains a wide range of programming, from hard news, news features and in-depth documentaries to entertainment, sports coverage and educational kids’ shows.
* Ad-free. Since public stations are generally funded through tax money and private contributors, many stations can forgo all advertising revenues. That can be a breath of fresh air in an age when we’re bombarded at every turn by invasive ads, and it allows audiences to focus without interruption on the quality programming being presented.
For decades, the Murdock Trust has been proud to support public broadcasting outlets across the Pacific Northwest through a number of grants, both for their ability to inform and to preserve and celebrate local culture. Visit murdocktrust.org to learn more.