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PBS Regional Meeting, Detroit-style

Our colleagues at PBS Station Services have added a new kind of event to the conference landscape – a regional meeting, partially unstructured, designed to allow many leaders from stations to meet their peers and talk about common problems and ideas.

Three have been held so far (Kansas City in January; Nashville in March; and Detroit in April; and more to come, after everyone survives the PBS Annual Meeting). Have they been useful?


Here are some perspectives from Jack Brighton, director of new media and innovation at WILL, Urbana-Champaign, and member of our Digital Media Advisory Council.


Detroit Regional Meeting
I like public media conferences but they wear me out. At the national conferences like the PBS Annual Meeting, PMDMC, and TechCon, there are so many smart people it’s hard to even meet half of them.

That’s one reason the PBS Regional Meeting this month in Detroit was so rewarding. I was able to have extended conversations with just about every person attending, in many cases spending hours together over the course of four days. The scale was large enough to represent a wide range of stations and people, but small enough to have repeated encounters with the same people. Not only did we dive deep into some of the most crucial issues facing public media, we also got to know each other.

Webinars are great, but don’t build relationships like face to face conversations.

So what are the issues we’re dealing with at the PBS Regional Meetings? Only the future of public media: changes in technology and audience behavior, funding challenges, our role in education, diversity and inclusion, and building on our value to communities through partnerships and collaboration. 

Exciting things are happening in Detroit, and Rich Homberg’s team at Detroit Public Television are demonstrating the value of public media by telling the Detroit story. Other local stations are innovating in storytelling, technology, and community engagement. The Regional Meeting gave us an opportunity to share our challenges and stories of success in a way we can extend through the PBS system.

The Digital Storytelling Workshop, facilitated by Columbia University’s Learn Do Share Center, was also one of the highlights. I wrote a blog post detailing the takeaways, and new ideas for designing the future of public media in collaboration with our communities.

The first MVOD Roadshow was also held last week in Detroit. I arrived a skeptic but at the end of the day I’m enthusiastic about what Member Video on Demand can mean for local stations. More MVOD Roadshows are coming and you can register here.


And I’ll see you are an upcoming PBS Regional Meeting.

Jack Brighton | Director of New Media and Innovation | WILL

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