The SPI Files: Jasmine Bulin, PBS SoCal

by Rachel Lim, PBS Station Products & Innovation 

Welcome back to The SPI Files, where we take a super-secret inside look at some of the PBS agents around the system.This week we're going west, where we chatted with Jasmine Bulin at PBS SoCal about upcoming SoCal events, cultivating relationships with fellow stations, and her cross-country trip from D.C. to L.A.

Who are you and what do you do at PBS SoCal?
I’m Jasmine Bulin, Senior Manager of Interactive at PBS SoCal, wearer of many hats.

Before PBS SoCal, what did you do?
Before PBS SoCal, I was at PBS headquarters where I launched the PBS Video Portal, PBS iPad App, and PBS iPhone App. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of the stations and producers that are part of PBS and it is neat to now experience how the other half lives.

Jasmine's cat Chester manned the
wheel from Kansas to Nevada.
How long have you been at PBS SoCal?
I’ve had a busy year. My husband and I eloped in January and I left PBS in February. Last March, my first day’s commute to PBS SoCal was 9 hours long from Washington, DC to Los Angeles. I think it is going to take me awhile to get used to the subtle changes in season in LA because it is so easy to forget how long I have been here.

What was it like moving across the country for the new gig?
I thought driving across country would be fun and I would get to see a lot of sights, but it was more like an amazing race to see how quickly we could get ourselves to California with our two dogs and one cat in the car. The only landmark I really remember from the trip was the California border. I hope someday we will take a more leisurely trip.

How is Southern California different than DC?
Other than the fabulous weather?! I miss walking the streets of DC from the museums to the Nationals games to the nightlife in Adams Morgan. There is lots to do in SoCal, but it is so spread out. I’m still trying to find my niche.

PBS SoCal is so involved with the community. We're impressed with the community events listed on your site, in particular the ones PBS SoCal is hosting. These must be particularly exciting because of the southern California public media consortia between PBS SoCal, KVCR, PBS OC, and KLCS. Anything special coming up soon?
There is always an event going on! I had no idea before I got here that there were so many station events.  August is a socialite’s dream: there isn’t just one big event coming up. But I can tell you about two major events I am focusing on. We have an event in LA we are hosting with KLCS where we are screening the upcoming Dinosaur Train movie followed by a parenting blogger workshop and fun activities for kids. Later in August we are sponsoring Pub Camp West with KPCC and KQED August 19th-21st, which all stations and media are invited to.  Both events have an online Raise the Barn component.

How did the Raise the Barn events get started?
The Raise the Barn event idea got started as a way for the public to help build our online presence in the style of Amish barn raising. It has evolved into a mantra to give our viewers the opportunity to help shape what public media online in Southern California means to them. We have done this through roundtable discussions, challenge questions, workshops, and surveys. Because our viewing area is so large we have found that more intimate and focused events in multiple areas are the most appealing to our audience.

What do you see as the future for public media and how does PBS SoCal fit into that vision?
Hold on, let me shake my magic 8 ball... “Concentrate and ask again."

PBS SoCal, PBS OC, KVCR, Desert Cities, and KLCS have a huge challenge ahead of us. I like to tell the story of how the day PBS SoCal became the primary PBS station in Southern California, there were less than 30 people here. There are still fewer people in all of PBS SoCal than some other stations have in their interactive department. We work very creatively and efficiently with what we have but sometimes we can’t do everything we would like to do. While I can only speak for Interactive, my vision for public media in Southern California is for PBS SoCal to be a regional hub for the collaboration of both traditional and new media.

What is the next big thing for PBS SoCal?
We are working on a new site to launch in the Fall. Our focus is on doing more with what we have by streamlining operations, and a new site will help us accomplish that.

What would you like to tell your fellow public media colleagues? Any words of wisdom?
The biggest piece of advice I can give is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes a simple change can make a major impact. There are so many resources available from PBS, your fellow stations, open source tools, or even low cost proprietary tools. I was amazed at all the stations that have reached out to us in the past six months giving us code and advice. Especially KLRU, who donated their web template for our rebranding in January.

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