Identifying Sustainable Revenue Streams for Public Radio

We’re excited to share about our ongoing work with Detroit’s public radio station 101.9 WDET. With a grant by The Democracy Fund, the project is driven by the goal to develop sustainable revenue streams for engagement journalism. The practice of engagement journalism brings audiences into the reporting process, leveraging their resources and knowledge in a collaborative storytelling format. This fall’s “Framed by WDET” exhibition and photo book will be the testing ground for three experimental revenue tactics. “Framed by WDET” is an audio-visual series that integrates photography and storytelling to tell the story of ethnic and cultural communities throughout metro Detroit.

We began by interviewing WDET staff to understand the station’s various revenue generating activities and researching innovative revenue tactics at other media organizations. We also co-developed surveys for WDET staff to get feedback from past participants of engagement projects.

Our initial discovery phase informed conversations with WDET staff over a series of workshops. In the workshops, we mapped WDET’s existing revenue streams, identified tools and methods that can be used better or in different ways to generate revenue, and brainstormed and selected three revenue tactics that WDET will test.

To facilitate the effective implementation and evaluation of the experiments, we’re creating a planning toolkit for each. Together, we will share the outcomes and learnings of this effort in a presentation and toolkit that can be used by other media outlets. Stay tuned for more!

photo by Annie Scarmuzzino
photo by Annie Scarmuzzino