Defining Your Program’s Content Mission

You’ll need to articulate the fundamental mission of your program. Everything you put on the air should validate that mission. Based on your station’s mission, it will inform and clarify your program’s overall focus and provide a framework for topic and guest selection. Making the development of your show’s mission a collaborative staff process will help get everyone on the same editorial page. Here’s an example; how KUOW, Seattle frames its mission and the mission for its daily show Sound Focus:

KUOW Station Mission: "The mission of KUOW is to create and serve an informed public, one challenged and invigorated by an understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures"

Two KUOW Programs' Content Missions:

KUOW Presents:  "Local stories on KUOW Presents must connect listeners to their community through stories that offer diverse perspectives of what it means to live in the Northwest."

The Conversation:  "Covers and analyzes the stories and events in the news that people in the Puget Sound Region are, or will be talking about. We inform, challenge, and surprise listeners in a civil forum where they join leaders and experts (broadly defined) to exchange a wide range of opinions, experience, and knowledge."

Other examples of how shows articulate their mission:

WUNC, The State of Things

Oregon Public Broadcasting, Think Out Loud

Two other useful tools have been developed that can help you translate your program mission into programming:

  • Questions about Topic Selection and Framing: A comprehensive series of questions to guide the selection and shaping of content, “place” and craft elements of your program.
  • Program Development Question List: This list provides a great framework to explore and define your program’s purpose, tone and style, hosting, show topics and values.