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St. Louis Public Radio Leaders Share Merger Insights

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Seven months ago, the St. Louis Beacon and St. Louis Public Radio officially merged. What’s happened? And what’s next? St. Louis Public Radio general manager, Tim Eby, and news editor Margaret Wolf Freivogel joined host Don Marsh to talk about where the organization is today.  

“This is really a first-in-the-nation thing that happened here in St. Louis between a non-profit online news organization and an existing public radio organization,” said Eby. “Coming together with the Beacon and having the support of so many generous donors to support that effort has been something that people are looking at as a great model for the future.”

From training the Beacon staffers in radio production, to establishing defined beats for each reporter there were a number of areas to focus on during the integration.

“We were trying to create something that went beyond being either a radio newsroom or a web-focused newsroom. We were trying to create something that would reach people in many ways, and we had our theories about how to do it, but you never know until you just dive in and do it,” said Freivogel. 

One of the benefits of the merger, she says, is the expanded newsroom it allowed. Now, “we are able to cover more, different topics without sacrificing the in-depth coverage and context that we want to bring to things,” said Freivogel. 

The changing landscape of news media means new strategies and new ways of providing coverage, something the combined newsroom is exploring. “In the old days of producing journalism, you’d publish the story and you’d move onto the next thing, and it’s not that way anymore,” said Eby.

“If we’re going to do thorough in-depth coverage of local news, we need to do more than just put it on air. It needs to be online, we need to reach out on social media. If we are going to reach people the way they want to be reached, we have to be versatile and we have to think carefully about how we are telling stories,” said Freivogel. 

With the many avenues the station is focusing on, the goal is to bring in new listeners and readers, while better serving those who already look to the station for their news. 

“We’re looking to try to reach out and engage people wherever they are at and to provide content that is meaningful to them,” said Eby. “The key is depth, comprehensive coverage, context. That is really what we are all about.” 

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh.

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