KLRN: 2010 PBS Interactive Innovation Award Winner

The second Annual Innovation of the Year Award winners were announced last week at Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas. This year's winners are KLRN's College Call In and WPBT's KidVision VPK  

Winners received a scholarship to attend Annual Meeting and thanks to a generous contribution from Adobe, winners will also receive licenses for the new Adobe CS5 Master Collection.

Congratulations KLRN and WPBT!  Please continue your innovative and entrepreneurial efforts! 

Keep reading for a bit more on KLRN's project.  Next week we'll also be profiling WPBT.

KLRN College Call-In

Every year, for the past 5 years, KLRN has hosted a college call-in program which brings experts from local college admissions and financial aid offices into the studio to answer questions from viewers.  The program has typically followed the pattern of a night of live pledge... interviews and questions and answers spaced out between clips. Over the last three years they've also integrated clips from the program Roadtrip Nation.

Ellen Evans, VP of Marketing at KLRN explains how they decided to do more this year:

"In 2010, we wanted to expand College Call-In beyond the hour long call-in. We saw it as a chance to experiment and bring various media together for one live hour, engaging our audience in the days before and after the broadcast. We weren't really sure what to expect and were trying lots of new things, but we wanted to have fun and learn along the way.

As our studio wasn't available on the night of the broadcast, we decided to take the show on the road and create an event in a local coffee house. We borrowed the vibe of Roadtrip Nation and taped segments that included conversations between perspective college students/parent and college representatives as well as interviews with prominent local figures, including the mayor of San Antonio. 

In the days leading up to the broadcast, we solicited advice for college students in Facebook posts. We also posted advice that was recorded on a Flip camera on the program web site via YouTube and provided pictures of the taping on Flickr.

ustream.jpgOn the night of the broadcast, we hosted the usual live phone bank at KLRN. We fielded calls, email and questions via Twitter. We also Ustreamed the phone bank live on the College Call In web site so viewers of the program could log on and follow the Twitter feed and watch the phone bank in action.

To extend the life of the program, we loaded the program onto our video player (COVE), embedded it into the web page and continue to encourage folk to email questions, which we'll answer with the help of our college advisors. "

KLRN found a lot of success in securing underwriting from local colleges, universities and credit unions to offest the cost of the program.  The institutions enjoyed the exposure, and in many cases also helped to promote the program.

Engagement from social media networks was low in comparison to the on-air audience, but there WAS participation, including a few dozen questions submitted via Twitter during the show as well as a few dozen viewers on the live Ustream feed.

Ellen had this to say about what KLRN learned from the experience:

"While a really cool experiment, we learned a lot from the experience. The numbers of calls were down a bit this year, which we attribute partly to scheduling against the Olympics. Also, while the coffee house setting created a fun vibe, we lost a bit of the excitement of the LIVE in studio production. Our colleges have suggested we have the event in the fall when more students are preparing applications and financial aid paperwork.

Also, we used Twitter as a main tool for submitting questions during the evening.  This is an environment that isn't heavily populated by the teen crowd and the majority of adults in the parent demographic in San Antonio that are using Twitter are logging in during business hours.  Looking back we should have used Facebook more to help feed questions during the show/live phone bank, which is a platform that can be a little more viral for the teen destined for college.

This model can easily be adapted for any topic, beyond the college experience.  Shows could be modeled around applying for a Masters program at a local university; political debates; cyber security; urban planning; clean technology for business, etc."

A team comprised of members from the PBS Communications Advisory Council (CAC), Development Advisory Committee (DAC), Station Advisory Council (SAC)  and PBS staff judged the Awards. Judges liked the fact that KLRN experimented with tools that are readily available to everyone to try engaging with their audience in new ways.  Here's what some of the Judges had to say:

"It is also flexible enough to be used in radio, tv, or online streaming event.  This is a method that every station should have as a standard and I think in a couple years it will be.    Good on KLRN for putting a package together to pass along an innovation that will be around from here on out."

"I like the scope of project and how it address a core mission of public media. I think the value here is not any one single innovation, but pulling together many small piece to create the whole."

Congratulations to the whole KLRN College Call-in Team:

  • David Rice, Public Relations Representative
  • Katrina Kehoe, Public Relations Manager
  • Lisa McGrath, VP, Education
  • Cara Bailey, Education Assistant

Let us know if you have any questions for KLRN and please come back next week to learn more about WPBT's innovative KidVision VPK project.

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