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Public Media Partnerships: Amplifying the Power of Culture

Greg Liakos, External Relations Director

Zoo New England's ZooCrew.
Zoo New England’s ZooCrew. The Zoo’s youth programs, supported through YouthReach, provide students with access to hands-on learning opportunities, exposure to jobs in zoos and conservation organizations, and workplace skills.

If you listened to public radio in your car this spring, you may have heard that one of your favorite music or news programs was sponsored by the station’s listeners and something like this: “Mass Cultural Council and The Care Center, working together to unleash the potential of youth as creators, leaders, and change agents. . .”

These sponsorships are part of our long-term effort to leverage our unique position as Massachusetts’ largest public investor in arts and culture to raise the visibility and impact of our sector through four public media stations that are also vital sources of support for culture: WBUR, WCRB (a WGBH station), WICN, and NEPR. Combined we reached more than 1.2 million listeners over a few months through a $120,000 investment.

Our Public Media Partnerships take a straightforward approach: Mass Cultural Council contracts with nonprofit public radio stations to purchase an agreed-upon number of on-air sponsorships. We then ask a group of our grantees if they are interested in participating. The radio spots highlight our work together at the intersection of culture and public policy: last spring our focus was creative youth development. The sponsorships highlight Mass Cultural Council’s mission to connect arts and culture to public policy goals such as economic growth or education, and help our grantees raise their own visibility.

Jerry Norton, marketing consultant at New England Public Radio, told the Council at its May meeting that the program aligns well with the station’s mission of supporting a strong and healthy cultural sector in Western Massachusetts. NEPR recently merged with Springfield-based WGBY, another WGBH affiliate, offering greater reach for coverage of the arts and culture in the region.

Mass Cultural Council will explore new public value themes through its Public Media Partnerships in 2020. So stay tuned.

Listen to a clip featuring The Care Center (Holyoke):

Listen to a clip featuring Zoo New England (Boston):


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