From its two public radio stations (89.7 NPR News and Classical 101) and public TV station that spans across four channels (WOSU TV, WOSU Plus, WOSU Ohio and WOSU Kids), a mobile app and two websites, WOSU Public Media has a reach that covers a quarter of individuals throughout the state and has nearly 25,000 members. In 2016, WOSU TV celebrated its 60th year on air.
While you may fondly associate the organization with your Downton Abbey obsession, WOSU’s mission is to enrich lives across Ohio through content and experiences that engage, inform and inspire. By celebrating Ohio’s diverse citizens, embracing innovation, promoting lifelong learning, and partnering with those who share a passion for public service, WOSU’s programming brings local stories to life through radio programs such as All Sides with Ann Fisher.
WOSU also delivers PBS KIDS® programming 24/7 through WOSU Kids to enhance child development and early learning opportunities, and in 2016, celebrated the 20th year of Ready To Learn®, which is grounded in workshops offered to childcare providers and parents utilizing resources from public television. Through WOSU’s educational services, more than 1,200 books have been distributed at community events and more than 500 individuals participated in workshops in 2016.
Headquartered in the basement of the Fawcett Center, The Ohio State University owns WOSU’s broadcast license, but WOSU functions as an autonomous nonprofit multimedia organization. Media outlets are no stranger to increased competition, and in recent years, it has become clear that offering their expertise as a revenue-generator would benefit the organization, leveraging its assets and production talents.
“We attended a SocialVentures’ (at the time, Center for Social Enterprise Development’s) workshop on social enterprise a year or so ago,” said Brent Davis, Chief Content Director – Arts, Life & Culture, WOSU Public Media. “And what struck me most, was that all of the institutions that attended the workshop are completely unique and have different needs—and that we too have a very unusual makeup and goals, even compared to the other nonprofits in attendance.”
In 2013, the organization launched WOSU Productions as a social enterprise dedicated to generating earned revenue to support and expand WOSU Public Media’s mission work. WOSU Productions provides videography, video streaming and webinar production, complete with studio space and field production capabilities, graphics and audio (radio/podcast) production services at competitive rates.
“We regularly have to measure our impact and provide it to NPR and PBS, along with standard media measurements such as ratings and audience, but in terms of measuring initiatives that have more of a social impact, those are more difficult to measure and are more anecdotal responses from our audience,” said Meredith Hart, Marketing & Communications Director, WOSU Public Media. “In addition, the collection of this feedback varies by the type of content that we provide.”
From working with local nonprofits such as the Greater Columbus Arts Council to The Ohio State University, WOSU Productions serves a wide range of clients to support its mission work. In 2016, the organization reported that five percent ($720,284) of its overall revenue ($13,506,572) was earned revenue from many initiatives, including the contributions from WOSU Productions.
“All organizations, not just media organizations, have to figure out how to remain relevant when the landscape is changing so quickly, and that’s a challenge for us as well,” said Davis.
If you are interested in supporting WOSU and are in need of WOSU Productions’ services, please contact Brent Davis by sending an email to [email protected], or by calling 614-247-2454. You can also see samples of WOSU Productions’ work online: wosu.org/wosu-productions.
If you are passionate about empowering your purchases to do good, you can view Central Ohio’s 100 pluse social enterprises by visiting SocialVentures’ new online Marketplace, where you can filter your view by cause (impact area), such as Employment & Job Training and Individuals with Disabilities. You can also reach out to learn more: [email protected].
SocialVentures, formerly the Center for Social Enterprise Development, changed its name in August 2017.