Geeks out there probably know Leo Laporte, the long-time commercial radio and TV host, made especially well-known via the now-defunct TechTV cable channel. He continues to develop media, having built the TWiT podcast “network” over the past couple of years, including the flagship This Week in Tech podcast, drawing some 200,000 listeners a week.
In a blog post this weekend, Laporte describes several changes he’s bringing to the core show, centered on live video streaming. I’m recommending the post because he describes both some Media 1.0 troubles he’s had lately and then describes the changes he’s about to make in his Media 2.0 company.
Why should public media folks care?
Because Laporte is doing what many of us in public media are not, and his strategy is especially well-suited to the Media 2.0 economy:
- he’s engaging with his community in a two-way and multi-way fashion that’s meaningful, open and authentic
- he’s increasing his real-time contact hours across multiple digital platforms (he doesn’t limit himself to one platform)
- he’s doing it all himself, on the cheap — there’s no network or corporation pushing him forward or holding him back
Laporte’s example is inspiring. Imagine what a public service media company with a true local engagement mission could do, using similar methods and the same low-cost, low-risk, rapidly-developing technologies. Engaging your community, communicating with your “true fans” is not a matter of holding public meetings or taking pledge calls. I’m hoping to steal some of this TWiT model for use in my shop (assuming we can get past our difficult strategic planning process).
But we’d better move fast.
Because in a world where Content is a commodity with a value approaching zero (or as Robert Paterson described content recently: noise), all we have left is Contact and Context. PBS and NPR can provide content on a national scale and with unrivaled quality. They can even distribute it and gather financial support for it directly. So we, the locals, must do what they cannot: provide authentic contact and develop a contextual service in tune with our local communities.
Take a look again at Laporte’s example. He’s building out in service of his “tribe,” his community. He’s co-creating value with volunteers in his “TWiT army.” He’s using two-way platforms authentically. He’s got real-time contact with his audience. He’s doing it without transmitters or other oppressively heavy engineering costs. We should be so lucky.
We can be so lucky.