Putting the Public back in Public Media
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Igor Gebler

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grungenerd

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Igor Gebler

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Ian Hill

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Should NPR Start an Online Dating Site?

Public radio listeners: make babies together!

That was the slogan from Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ during a recent pledge drive. When I posted this plea to my Facebook page, multiple friends responded with this:

Tell NPR to start an online dating site!

Hmm, okay. I decided to play business consultant and find out if this was an idea whose time has come. So I began my investigation by going directly to a man who knows all about the biz: Sam Yagan. He's the founder of OKCupid and the CEO of Match.com, two of the most popular online dating websites in the world.

Yagan says lots of companies are trying to get in on his action, but that shouldn't discourage public radio. "The U.S. market was $2 billion," he says. "Think about it. It’s the most important search of your life.”

Some of the more successful niche sites are J-date for Jews and Shaadi.com for Indians. How would an NPR dating site for ... uh ... NPRites ... stack up?
Yagan, who happens to be a self-identified NPR junkie, says the organization has the advantage of  having a dedicated following. But so do other news companies, and they aren't hosting online dating sites.  I asked him if it made sense to mix news and love. "I think the NPR brand goes beyond that," Yagan says. "It's much more a lifestyle brand than a pure news brand."

So a global leader in online dating thinks it could work. But what about listeners?

KQED's Forum radio program did a show last week on online dating, and a guy named Johnny called in.

"I’m polyamorous, and being in an open marriage, it can sometimes be really difficult to meet somebody out in the wild," he said. "So online dating has made it really easy to kind of cut through to the people who really think that’s okay.”

Disclaimer: Polyamorous Johnny may not be representative of all public radio listeners. So we put a call out through social media and asked listeners to describe the person they were looking for.

Some of the results:

"Seek female enchantress for potential long-term relationship."
"A geek, that would be really great. I'm rather a geek myself."
"I'm an urban explorer, technologist, artist and scientist. I'm looking for a co-host for my dinner parties."
"Perhaps this will allow for the creation of an uber-race of uber-nerdy Americans who will transform this country into a bastion of sanity."
Yep, lots of people out there are into the idea of mixing love and public radio. And as it turns out, thousands of New Yorkers are too.

Brenda Williams-Butts, director of community engagement for WNYC, says her station has been hosting singles events for years. On-air personalities like RadioLab's Jad Abumrad give sold-out lectures to 20 and 30-somethings. And then there's speed-dating in high-end hotels.

"Speed dating was becoming a big hit in New York City," says Williams-Butts. "So we said let's do speed-dating, that would be kind of fun. So we partnered with New York's Easy Dates."

Okay, time to run this idea up the old flagpole with NPR CEO Gary Knell. I recap the interviews and put the question to him: should NPR start an online dating site for its listeners?

Turns out he likes the idea.

"I think that this is something that has fantastic potential," Knell says. "It's a pretty big group and there's got to be several million who are single. They're hungry for a connection and a community of people who, like them, want to engage in and are curious about the world, which is really complicated, and can be really lonely ... I think it's a very cool idea and we should be talking to Match.com. I'm going to hang up the phone and call them now."

Stay tuned!

Oh ... and happy Valentine's Day!

( #pubmedia  +NPR  #valentinesday   #valentinesday2013 )
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Ed Reggi

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Who is attending IMA this year?
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Ed Reggi's profile photoJasmine Bulin's profile photoSteven Ley's profile photo
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I should be there pending no acts of flying spaghetti monster
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Mark Glaser

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I love Google+ and Discussions but they are making my head spin a little bit. How will this group differ from the Facebook Public Media Group? Do we need two of them? Is the other one dead?
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Hari Sreenivasan's profile photoMark Glaser's profile photo
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Cool! I hope it works out.
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Igor Gebler

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Alyson Baker

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Hello everyone. As of last week, I became public media's newest employee. Happy to join Kansas City's NPR affiliate, KCUR-FM 89.3, as its first social media producer. I'm wondering how effective you all have found Google+ in your arsenal of social media tools. Anyone having any luck engaging public media audiences through Google+?
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Fred Barrett

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Fred Barrett

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Ever wanted to fly in the Goodyear blimp? Check out this video.
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Igor Gebler

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Andrew Haeg

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Greetings Public Media folks! I'm in early testing mode with my newest project, +GroundSource -- a mobile knowledge-gathering platform -- and am looking for some adventurous souls willing to try it out on an actual project. You can use it to push questions to people on their mobile phones, and synthesize the results using maps, charts, etc. It's going to be easy enough for individual producers or journalists to use, whether or not you're employed by a newsroom. 

A few ideas for pilot projects: Tracking daily behavior and attitudes around a public health issue (flu incidence), connecting with small groups of people for quick daily check-ins (kids getting ready to graduate high school, teachers dealing with new fears around school safety), or connecting with specific sources for a story (mothers of young children, gun owners, etc.). We already have the ability to gather audio, as well as survey responses, so you can target story collection and hear people in their own voices.

For our initial releases, we'll enable you to plug GroundSource into your existing customer or source databases, or by copying and pasting contact information for people you're already connected to. We'll also help do some targeted outreach to build your response base. In the future, as we build out the platform, we'll have a large database of sources who have opted in to receiving questions or messages via their mobile phone.

Happy to share more if you have questions. If you're interested in testing GroundSource, please comment here or ping me at andrew [at] groundsourcing.com. 
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Hari Sreenivasan's profile photoAndrew Haeg's profile photo
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Not yet! I saw a need for a mobile engagement platform, and one that would be easy enough for any journalist or researcher to use without much training or support, and one that could incentivize engagement with more than the promise of having an impact on newsgathering. We're early in development, and seeking smart, enterprising journalists to help us shape it.  
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Thanks for creating this space Hari...looking forward to expanding my public broadcasting network!
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Hari Sreenivasan
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How does #PIJournalism  affect #pubmedia ? Any clear opportunities that you see? 
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