After raising more than $35 million, WBUR, Boston’s NPR news station, is bringing its first-ever capital campaign to a close. The Campaign for WBUR achieved its goals of making investments in local journalism and content innovation and creating WBUR’s first public convening space, CitySpace at the Lavine Broadcast Center.
“When we launched The Campaign for WBUR, we wanted to address the rapidly changing world we were living in. The media landscape has shifted and the way that we consume news has evolved. We wanted to meet our audiences where they were and provide them with local coverage that would enrich their lives.”Paul Gannon, Chair of the WBUR Board of Directors
Comprised of three key investment areas, The Campaign has enabled WBUR to tell the stories that need to be told on air, online, on-demand and in person:
- Expanding local journalism: WBUR has enriched its coverage of the region by deepening areas of reporting, including creating topic-specific multimedia teams. Recognizing a lack of reporting on environmental issues throughout the media industry, WBUR built out a team dedicated to reporting on critical issues such as climate change, environmental public policy and sustainability. WBUR also launched an award-winning investigations unit to report stories that hold powerful individuals and institutions accountable. WBUR expanded arts and culture reporting and engaged additional communities throughout the region. WBUR strengthened its education coverage, covering everything from quality, access and equity to education policy in K-12 to higher ed. This reporting was especially critical throughout the pandemic. In addition, WBUR launched a local journalism fellowship and welcomed its first fellow Hafsa Quraishi, in January of this year.
- Producing innovation: WBUR launched two labs dedicated to invention in today’s ever-evolving media environment: one focused on content and the other on models of support. The iLab embodies WBUR’s commitment to exploring and incubating new programming in its podcasts Endless Thread, Circle Round, Last Seen and Anything for Selena. At the same time, BizLab discovered and developed sustainable models of support for public radio in the digital age, leading successful revenue experimentation for itself and stations across the nation.
- Creating CitySpace, a home for civic engagement: CitySpace at the Lavine Broadcast Center is an event space for inquiry, conversation, and engagement in an increasingly complex world. Over the past two years, CitySpace has brought journalists and audiences together to grapple with some of the biggest issues of our time. The CitySpace team collaborated with numerous community partners, and served both devoted audiences and newcomers to WBUR. These convenings are still available online and include everything from pandemic coverage to political debates, policy discussions, environmental panels, cooking demonstrations and musical performances.
Gannon added, “WBUR has truly transformed itself from a radio-centric media organization to a multi-faceted, multimedia organization through the investments made possible by the capital campaign.”
With the close of the FY21 fiscal year, WBUR is looking to the future under the leadership of CEO Margaret Low.
“So many members of our community came together to support The Campaign for WBUR and they were so generous. I’m grateful for their belief in WBUR’s journalism and programming and the vital role we play in Boston and beyond,” said Low. “And with The Campaign, WBUR is well-positioned to provide rich and distinctive coverage to an ever-growing audience.”