Farewell Alaska. Hello St. Louis!

Announcement Time!

As of this week I accepted an exciting new position with public service media company KETC in St. Louis, Missouri. Starting in early March, I’ll be their new Director of Digital Engagement.

Historically KETC has been, and to this day is, a public television station in a TV market of roughly 3 million, broadcasting national PBS programming as well as locally-generated shows, some of which are distributed nationally on occasion. Amongst public TV stations, KETC is one of the oldest on record. Seriously — check out their amazing timeline going back to 1954, a full 13 years before the Public Broadcasting Act. Now that is history.

Yet for all that rich history, KETC is becoming something very new today: a public service media company, not simply a broadcaster. Over the past few years they’ve embarked on a remarkable transformation, developing closer relationships with their community and using media to solve problems.

It started with outreach around The War, in which KETC set the national standard for gathering local veteran stories and integrating it with the Ken Burns documentary.

This new way of working and thinking culminated with the local, then national, Facing the Mortgage Crisis, in which the station literally networked nonprofits, government agencies, banks and homeowners in a united effort to slow or even stop the wave of foreclosures hitting the area following the financial meltdown. The project included social media, broadcast, old-fashioned networking, live events and lots of online work. The accomplishment in St. Louis were so impressive the CPB expanded the program to selected stations nationwide.

Now a new project is beginning; one focused on issues around the topic of immigration. They’re even remodeling part of the building to house the new local nonprofit news service — the St. Louis Beacon — and the cross-functional multiplatform digital media team… all together in the same space. And I’ll be there to help.

I can’t tell you how exciting this is. I’ve watched KETC from afar, oftentimes through consultant Rob Paterson‘s postings. This is an opportunity for me to put up or shut up on digital engagement and public service media. And I will do my best, for the good of St. Louis (a town I knew as a child, as it turns out), and hopefully for a broader public broadcasting community looking to understand how to move into what CPB’s Rob Bole calls “public purpose media.”

Sadly, this means I will be leaving Alaska very soon indeed, having lived on the Last Frontier for the past 9 years. The departure is made all the harder because I must leave behind a vibrant social media community I helped create over the past year. That community has gone on to raise money for a friend in need, form a local Ignite chapter and, from what I’m told, a wedding may be in the works. 🙂

So farewell Alaska. I will miss your Chugach mountain skyline and the warm embrace of entertaining and thoughtful friends all too soon.

And hello St. Louis! Let’s make something meaningful together.

4 thoughts on “Farewell Alaska. Hello St. Louis!

  1. As a STL native (and current NYC resident) I’m a little jealous. KETC is one of the best public television stations in a great community. STL Beacon is the pride and joy of the local blogging community, and KETC has historically been a leader in public media since well before television was a household fixture.
    I’m looking forward to reading more about your experiences in STL (and as a regular reader anyway).

    • Thanks Matt! I’m excited to join KETC as well. Had it been any other public TV station, I wouldn’t have bothered. But KETC is doing much more than TV and is actively seeking to change the face of public media and what it means to be an institution that uses media to serve public needs. The chance to work closely with the St. Louis Beacon is icing on the cake. And thanks for reading!

  2. We are excited to have you guys so close. The good news is that all the cold and snow here will make you think you never left Alaska!

    Elizabeth LOVES Ruff Ruffman and WordGirl, so looks like you are going to a good station!

    • Eric — I’m excited to be closer to family and friends, too! My only regret is that Stephanie is staying behind for a while. She wants to wrap up some projects and enjoy a visit from her niece this summer. But she’ll be down in St. Louis before 2011, I’m sure.

      I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to visit Louisville, but it might be a bit. I need to dig in at work for a while, and then we have a memorial service for Stephanie’s mother in April (she passed away earlier this month). Plus I’ve got a meeting in DC in April as well. So May is more likely a visiting timeframe.

      But if you’ve got time to spare and want to go to the top of the Gateway Arch, we can get together on MY side of the Mississippi. 😉

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