My friends/heroes Jad Abumrad and Jay Allison gave the opening and closing remarks at the recent Public Radio Program Directors’ conference. The PRPD is largely an exercise in self-justification by the largely calcified public radio world, but Jad and Jay both really nailed their contributions. It’s inspiring to see guys at the top of their field use their power and influence for good.
Jad, who’d been crowned a genius by the MacArthur Foundation just two days before, talked about change. Public radio is notoriously change-averse, and he did some Radiolab-style research as to why that is. Then he issued a call to arms. Luckily for me, that call to arms included an exhortation to program directors to carry my show. More than that, though, it was a request on behalf of creators to be given the opportunity to create, and see what happens.
The benediction at the conference was delivered by Jay Allison. Jay’s a less public figure than Jad, but you may know him as the producer of the long-running essay series This I Believe. He’s probably public radio’s most prominent independent producer, and created Transom.org, a magnificent website for folks who want to learn to make great radio. He also founded a radio station that serves the Cape & Islands in Massachusetts.
Jay’s talk made me cry. He’s a man who truly believes in the work he does, and the things he believes in are the reasons that I’m proud to call myself a public radio host. There were more than a few moist eyes in the house, which is a remarkable feat for a Saturday morning. He also took some shots at public TV pledge drive bullshit, which I think we can all get behind.
I post this here because both of their wonderful talks are available free to anyone at the PRPD website. They’re not just for public radio people, or even public media people. I think you’ll find them moving, informative and inspirational no matter what field you work in. Give them a listen now.