The Big Announcement – Part 1

So I’ve hinted at it via Twitter over the past couple of days, but not spoken openly until now.

On Thursday, August 14 we began, in earnest, the reorganization of Alaska Public Telecommunications, Inc. (APTI) in Anchorage, Alaska. APTI is a public media company that operates KSKA Public Radio (FM 91.1), KAKM Public Television (Channel 7) and the Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN).  APTI is both an NPR and PBS member and APRN is a statewide news network composed of about 24 public radio stations.

At the moment, I’m kind of exhausted from the many conversations and meetings swirling around this change, so I won’t go into much detail now. I’ll stick to the headlines now and try to do a longer explanation this weekend.

First off, I’m now in a new position. A position so new it has a non-traditional title: Vice President, Community Media Streams.

We’re organizing the company in a completely new way, using four divisions:

  • Community Media Streams
  • Media Production
  • Advancement
  • Operations

Previously we were arranged into platform and functional units with a total of 8 people at the “management” table, including the CEO. Now our “managers” number only 4. The old breakdown:

  • APRN
  • Broadcast Engineering
  • Information Technology
  • Development
  • Finance & Administration

Much of this organizational structure stemmed from the two mergers that created APTI as it stands today.  TV and radio uneasily merged in the early 1990’s.  APRN was merged into the company (by necessity, I would contend) in 2004.  Since each merger, the units have largely acted alone — and have competed for resources.

The primary collapse is to bring together radio and television and the web — to date just a subset of my duties — under a single manager (me).  Other public media companies have called this a “Chief Content Officer” or some nomenclature like that. We decided to split what others might call “content” into streams and production because we felt the two were fundamentally different things. Media Production makes programs.  Streams creates experiences.

I’m falling asleep as I write this, so I’m going to stop here.  There’s much more to say, probably this weekend and, really, for months to come. In the mean time, here’s the formal press release (PDF) crafted by our own CEO on Thursday afternoon. It’s intentionally brief and vague.  We have longer docs we’ve been developing internally.

More later. And thanks to all the Twitter pals out there that patiently waited to hear more!

9 thoughts on “The Big Announcement – Part 1

  1. Congrats John, this sounds like a very progressive and creative restructuring. I can’t wait to follow your advancement.

    One question, where does marketing and communications fall in this model?

  2. Congratulations on making this big change and good luck with the implementation. The structure of organizing around processes makes a lot of sense, especially removing the silos of radio, TV, and web.

    Hopefully, your team is also taking steps to address the culture and the recognition/reward systems to facilitate the changes outlined on paper.

  3. Thanks Bonita! Marketing and communications functions fall into the Advancement unit. Not all functions in the company are shown on the graphic. The graphic was made for employees so that they would know where they fall into the new structure. We have no dedicated employees for marketing or communications work, so we didn’t show that there.

    Similarly, thinks like grant writing and management aren’t listed. Formally, grant-writing belongs in the Advancement unit, but we don’t have a grant writer today. In most cases, various department heads will actually write grant applications and funnel them through Advancement (and the CEO) for approval.

  4. Thanks Gary! And it’s funny you mentioned culture. That was one of the first questions that came up at the meeting announcing the restructuring. We’ve had, well… let’s say an “unfortunate” culture for a long time, mostly stemming from the strategic gridlock and the sense of helplessness throughout the company. Two years ago we had a sizable layoff in the face of poor financial results and the mood has been dour ever since.

    The fact that we had battling departments, all pulling in different directions, and a lack of a unified vision created undercurrents of animosity and distrust. It will take quite a while to turn things around, but one thing that gives me hope was the reaction on the first day — people felt good about the change, in general (or at least that’s what I saw and heard).

    Now those of us on the new management team need to model the new culture, need to bring joy and fun back to the company.

  5. Well congratulations Mr. Vice President!

    I echo the comments above about the restructuring making sense. I hope it helps you foster a new healthier, more “joyful” organizational culture. If you achieve it, please bottle some and ship it out east.

    Good luck with your ambitious plans. We will be watching closely.

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