The meeting with the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Board of Directors was cordial but serious. The group was searching for a new executive director and my name had traveled to them from the offices of a search firm. There was little wasted time in that meeting. The board, all seven members, wanted to know my vision for MPB and what the agency would look like under my leadership. I had to gather myself. After a 27-year career in newspapers, here I was in front of a group that wanted to know my vision about the broadcast industry, an industry that I had studied extensively for competitive reasons.
But I was prepared. As a student of media, its trends, its issues, its future, I presented before the board a plan that to this day I firmly believe is a recipe for success. I told them that media of the future must be prepared to develop content for a public with an insatiable appetite for information that would be consumed across multiple platforms. Today, information consumption has turned into an on-demand endeavor. No longer are people waiting around for their favorite show to hit the airwaves. They want their information now, in real time, and their desired content is as much entertainment and social media-based as it is investigative journalism.
I think I’ve made good on the digital and on-demand promise that I made to the MPB Board of Directors three years ago. Today, is a big day for us. It is the day we launch a new website. We believe the new site is vibrant, active and designed to bring viewers back again and again. Given the growth we’ve seen in user interactivity, this is the perfect time to launch the new site. We have significantly grown our social media followers to the tune of a 95 percent increase in two years. We’ve also had more than 13,000 downloads to our mobile app since it launched in 2012. Just last year, podcasts for locally produced programs and news were downloaded 146,484 times.
Our Twitter tweets and retweets are exploding. We are using Pinterest, Instagram, Hootsuite, Facebook and many more social media tools to reach tech-savvy audiences and newcomers who are quickly realizing they must get in the game. Of course, we will never stray from our core. Those who get away from their core will never succeed. It is the core that provides the value and the principle by which a business must operate. MPB’s core mission is to produce top-notch radio and television programming. It is to have an education department that will not rest until it reaches as many children as possible in early children education and dropout prevention. It is to produce a newscast that goes deeper than time-strapped commercial stations. It is to reach every corner of the state with the latest in technology to ensure that we are, as we say in public broadcasting circles, “America’s largest classroom.”
Our enhanced digital focus gives us another avenue to get our content into your homes. I am extremely happy to launch this new website. But it has nothing to do with personal goals or a promise I made to a board of directors. The excitement I feel about today’s launch is strictly because of you, the audience that has made this website possible by supporting our programming.