A Letter From NSPR's General Manager

Nov 27, 2020

How would you characterize 2020 in one word - unprecedented, chaotic, panic-stricken, historic, hopeful? That’s how strange 2020 has been – one word doesn't do it justice. Through it all, North State Public Radio reporters and show hosts have produced remarkable content, while NSPR listeners and members have supported our journalism. In due course, our commitment to the North State and the station's public service mission has stayed strong - unwaveringly. We've not only stuck the landing but expanded, as we implemented our partnership with Sacramento's NPR station, CapRadio.

This has been a remarkable year, in all aspects. We all knew that a contentious election season was in store for 2020, but – as odd as it sounds – that took a back seat in news coverage for much of the year, due to COVID-19. It sounds laughably naïve now, but the pandemic has really changed everything: working, commuting, technology and vocabulary. Before this year, who'd used the term “social distancing," or “zoom” as a verb referencing video chat? Now, contact-tracing, asymptomatic, super-spreader event and PPE have become part of daily conversation.

NSPR sent all of its staff home – except one – to work remotely for safety reasons. I want to thank our Operations Manager, Russell Damien, for his dedication and grit – especially as he was the only on-site staffer for the first four months of the pandemic. Within days of the initial lockdown, News Director Sarah Bohannon had a 30-minute weekday show on-air, recapping North State COVID news. She and the NSPR news team were able to do this for six consecutive months. Their dedication and talent are extraordinary. And then the fires broke out in Oroville, Redding, and across our listening region. It's been a record-setting fire year. As a station, we've adapted and found ways to cover these life-altering events - while keeping our audiences informed and our personnel safe.

While all this was going on, we concluded an 18-month process that saw NSPR join a formal partnership with CapRadio, one of the nation's top-tier NPR affiliates. CapRadio is a leader and innovator in public media and journalism - from news coverage to podcasting, from broadcasting technology to cross-station collaboration. I believe this partnership is one of the single-best things to happen to the station in the last 25 years. It affords us tech backup where we had none; a dynamic and ever-evolving newsroom staff instead of our two-person shop; and the long-term commitment of CapRadio and CSU-Chico leadership to improve service, journalism and member engagement in our coverage area.

Other than that, it was an uneventful year! Oh yeah, we also hired a Senior News Editor to lead our newsroom. Adia White comes to NSPR from Northern California Public Media, in Santa Rosa. She knows Northern California - and the needs of listeners in our 11-county service area. We couldn't be more thrilled to have her on board.

As we look forward to a calmer 2021, I want to thank you. You are part of NSPR's community of listeners, donors, and business supporters - from our oldest contributer to our newest listener - as individuals, we donate our cars and communicate news tips to this station because we are interconnected. We are all seeking the same relevant COVID news, the latest wildfire updates. Everything we try - everything we accomplish as a station - is because of the financial and community support that listener-members of NSPR provide. You tell us how important NSPR is in your life. Thank you for that trust, and thank you for your continued financial support. I hope you hear your donation hard at work every time your turn on the radio. I certainly do.

Until we get through this terrible pandemic, I continue to tell the NSPR staff and will continue to tell you: Stay safe, stay informed, stay tuned, and stay in touch.

Phil Wilke

NSPR General Manager

530-898-6100

pwilke@csuchico.edu