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2016 PBS TechCon - Fred Rogers Would Be Proud


I know you've had one of those moments, you know the ones when you look around and think to yourself, “these are my people.” They’re those wonderful times when you realize you’ve found your tribe. Going to PBS TechCon was one of those moments for me. It was an environment ripe with inspiration, innovation and lots of mission-driven people. There just wasn't enough time in the day to absorb all the information shared at all the amazing sessions.

Part of what was so inspiring about PBS TechCon was the recognition of the digital shift, Robert Tercek’s keynote address on ‘digital disruption,’ or ‘vaporization’ as he puts it, set the tone for the conference. Whether it be through web series, digital first social media strategies or virtual reality, there was a ubiquitous recognition that with vaporization comes opportunity (watch Robert Tercek’s keynote). It was evident that colleagues across the system are embracing new ways of reaching our audience. We must focus our efforts on reaching our viewers/users wherever they choose to be, whether that’s TV, OTT, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever the next platform may be. Ultimately, I came away from TechCon knowing deeper than ever that whether it’s digital-first or broadcast-first, it should always be audience-first.

Furthermore, knowing about our audience is key. What are they responding to and how are they interacting with our content? Knowing these things will only become more important as we move into a more vaporized world. The last session I attended was by Dan Haggerty on ‘The Joy of Analytics.’ Mind you, this was the last session on the last day after 2½ days jam packed with workshops, conversations and eye opening presentations. But, in true form, us PBS nerds showed up en masse. Dan presented in exuberant fashion to a packed house. He made Google Analytics exciting and I’m pretty sure it was the only session that nearly ended in a standing ovation.


I love gatherings like this, they let us wave our nerd flags proudly and unite under the common banner of the PBS mission. There’s something so heartwarming about the genuine interest colleagues share in ensuring the success of the entire system. We all know that by helping each other we elevate public media as a whole. Fred Rogers would certainly love how PBS colleagues are willing to share knowledge, best practices and lessons learned. My experience has been that everyone is willing to lend a hand in whatever way they can to make sure we all succeed in fulfilling our mission.


Tom Dooley | Television Producer | WXXI 

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