The SPI Files: Dennis Haarsager, Public Television Major Market Group

This week we are beginning a series of SPI Files posts featuring the newest members of our Station Advisory Council (SAC). Over the next few Monday's, we'll be introducing you to some of the most collaborative minds in public media. Today we are launching the series with Dennis Haarsager, President and Executive Director of the Public Television Major Market Group (PTMMG).

How long have you been with the PTMMG?

Since February 2011

Before the PTMMG, what did you do?

I was SVP System Resources & Technology at NPR for 2 years; Interim CEO at NPR for 1 year; General Manager, Washington State University's public radio and television stations for 29 years.

If you didn't work in public media, what would you be doing?

Retired and doing a little consulting

Explain the PTMMG in Twitter-style, 140 characters or less.

Public TV leadership group and affinity group for full-service PBS stations in larger markets.

The Public Television Major Market Group has a mission to build cross-market partnerships with stations. Can you tell us a little more about this?

An effort to build scale and collaboration among stations in building engaged relationships with non-profits in their communities to address community needs.

What is the next big thing for the PTMMG?
Completion of "Community's Agenda" (above) start-up phase and enabling it to grow beyond three initial projects.

What do you see as the future for public media and how does the PTMMG fit into that vision?

Speaking for myself, I believe we're entering a period of both opportunity and challenge, both financially and with changes in how people are using media, our response to which will determine the survival of local stations in many communities. If we can build collaborative relationships with our peers to gain scale and reduce costs; move from being the nonprofit arm of the media sector to being the media arm of the nonprofit sector; reboot our local efforts in a direction of wider but smaller production and "distributed distribution;" and ensure strong national programming, web and mobile services -- and do all that quickly enough -- we will have a bright future. The PTMMG has been supporting my work in analysis and model-building in this regard.

And – just for fun – a few quick-fire questions:

iPhone or Android? iPhone + BlackBerry
Dogs or cats? I'm a dog lover, but inherited two elderly cats when I married in 2010
Blog platform of choice? TypePad
Elmo or Grover? Elmo
I am currently listening to… WAMU
I am currently reading… Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens
I’m currently watching (TV, film, etc)… Downton Abbey
Most overused phrase: "We tried that."

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