Over the course of the last year, Arizona Public Media enjoyed exceptional audience growth on every platform: television, radio, and online, including record-breaking growth for AZPM Passport, our video-on-demand member benefit. AZPM staff members were honored with eight individual Emmy® Awards for four projects and two regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for journalistic excellence. AZPM’s flagship station, PBS 6, was again ranked the #1 public television station in the country for full week viewership during the May sweeps period and was among the top five most-watched public television stations nationally in every other major sweeps period.
One of the major initiatives achieved this year was to establish NPR 89.1 as a full-time news and information radio station featuring a mix of local, national, and international programs. In addition, new FM frequencies were added to provide improved NPR signal receptions to communities outside the Tucson metro area: 104.5 FM, serving residents in Catalina and SaddleBrooke, and 91.1 FM, serving residents in Nogales, AZ. NPR 89.1 was ranked #1 among all Tucson radio stations in the summer ratings period, a first for that station.
Like so many other organizations across the country, AZPM was significantly affected by the outbreak of COVID-19 in mid-March. AZPM responded immediately to CDC and University of Arizona safety guidelines. Emergency procedures were implemented to ensure seamless broadcast operations and maintain the high content standards for which AZPM is known. Health and sanitation protocols were enacted to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and their families. Working remotely, AZPM's news and content teams continued to produce all local programs without interruption. In response to widespread school closures, AZPM formed a partnership with Arizona PBS in Phoenix to help support families working to keep children educationally engaged from home. Within days, AZPM's Education, Outreach, and TV Programming teams created and launched a suite of free digital learning resources and an educational broadcast schedule of programs aligned with state curriculum standards.
For so many in our community, 2020 has proven to be difficult and challenging; what started off as a normal year quickly transformed into something unprecedented. Through it all, AZPM remains a widely respected, trusted, and successful public media organization that consistently earns top national rankings on all of its media platforms. Thanks to the ongoing financial investment from the community, AZPM remains favorably positioned to provide compelling and timely programming from award-winning journalists and producers for years to come.
Thank you for your continued support!
In the initial weeks of the pandemic, 100% of AZPM’s local production capability was redeployed to cover stories about the coronavirus and to support the newsgathering that helps to keep audiences informed and safe. Most radio news production moved off-site, with anchors, reporters, editors, and producers working remotely. In-studio TV news production was pared back to the absolute minimum as journalists and producers also began working remotely.
Almost immediately, Arizona 360 began including focused reporting on the pandemic in every episode and produced a special, “Coronavirus in Southern Arizona,” that aired in late March.
Through mid-May, the news team provided pandemic-focused Saturday and Sunday radio newscasts and TV newsbreaks to ensure listeners and viewers always had the most useful news and information at their fingertips.
The Buzz continues to provide listeners with in-depth analysis of the latest state and local news, while Arizona Spotlight and the newly rebranded Arizona Illustrated have taken a more personal look at how the pandemic is affecting individuals in Southern Arizona.
In addition, AZPM’s content team produced more than twenty 60-second public service announcements that were made available to PBS stations across the U.S. to educate viewers about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ongoing reporting on all aspects of the pandemic continues online at azpm.org/coronavirus, on PBS 6, and on NPR 89.1.
In response to the pandemic, AZPM formed a partnership with Arizona PBS in Phoenix to provide educational content to students and educators affected by school closures statewide.
Arizona At-Home Learning, a suite of free digital learning resources coupled with an educational broadcast schedule of programs aligned with state curriculum standards, launched in March and continues to provide remote learning resources through a website and television programming endorsed by the Office of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.
AZPM also provided distance learning assets to Southern Arizona teachers through a series of PBS LearningMedia workshops.
Arizona Public Media staff received eight individual Emmy® Awards for four projects in as many categories from the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences during a virtual ceremony on September 19. This year’s honors include a win for AZPM’s special documentary project, The Arizonans, and the second consecutive win for Arizona 360. Arizona Illustrated earned nods in two categories, including arts/entertainment and societal concerns.
AZPM was nominated for the prestigious Overall Excellence award for the fifth time in six years. The award is presented to a single organization for overall excellence in operations, local productions, and involvement in the community.
AZPM producer Ariana Brocious received the National Public Media Journalists Association Silver Award for Continuing Coverage for her work on Arizona border wall coverage, and AZPM’s Christopher Conover was presented with the RIAS-Berlin Commission Media Award for The Buzz: “German Voices on Immigration.”
Wild Arizona! showcased the eclectic and enchanting beauty of Arizona’s flora and fauna.
The pilot episode of the Emmy award-winning documentary series The Arizonans profiled the Udall family. This new series chronicles the lives of people who have forged Arizona in their vision.
In the Arizona Illustrated documentary special “La Vaquita,” producer Vanessa Barchfield took viewers on a journey to the Sea of Cortez where the most endangered marine mammal on earth is fighting for survival against overwhelming odds.
Arizona Spotlight concluded its participation in StoryCorps’ One Small Step project, led by producer and host Mark McLemore, in which conversations between people of differing political beliefs helped them break down barriers created by politics and recognize their shared humanity.
With the participants’ permission, the twenty-five conversations recorded in this project are preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
PBS 6 remains a source of trusted information as significant regional and national events continue to unfold, presenting relevant stories and providing escape with a wide variety of entertainment. The January premiere of Sanditon on MASTERPIECE was well-received. Country Music, a film series by Ken Burns recounting the history of country music, premiered in September with an encore presentation the following summer.
As reflected in their strong rankings, AZPM’s thoughtful and thought-provoking original programs, Arizona Illustrated and Arizona 360, remain committed to meaningful, unique, and trustworthy storytelling that serves Southern Arizona.
In January, the radio news team implemented a seamless transition to a more in-depth approach to storytelling that decreased the overall quantity of stories while increasing the depth and quality of the coverage. The new system allowed reporters to dig deeper into stories and provide more valuable insights to listeners. As a result, feature-length news reports grew from a weekly average of 1.5 in February to an average of 5.5 per week by the end of May.
In February and early March, radio news staff teamed up with the television content team to produce Arizona Addicted, a multi-platform series that examined the impact of opioid use, told stories of those affected, and highlighted local initiatives to reduce the negative effect of this type of addiction.
“The Vanishing Vaquita,” a multi-platform report, examined the conservation efforts to preserve from extinction a small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California.
Focusing on issues rather than rhetoric, AZPM’s “Your Vote 2020” provided audiences with trusted election news and information. Coverage was carefully coordinated across all platforms, with day-to-day news coverage and analysis provided on radio and online, while Arizona 360 and The Buzz explored issues in greater detail.
AZPM’s Lorraine Rivera was one of four journalists chosen to moderate the U.S. Senate debate between Martha McSally and Mark Kelly in Phoenix.
On election night, the news team produced rolling live coverage on TV, radio, and online, providing a seamless local accompaniment to the national programming from PBS and NPR.
NPR 89.1 recently attained the rank of #1 overall in the Tucson Metro market. This new record-high rank is based on the share of the average number of persons 12 years of age and older listening Monday through Friday from 6am to midnight in the Tucson Metro area during July, August and September, according to the September 2020 Nielsen Audio estimates.*
Compared to the same period one year ago, average quarter hour share (AQH share) was up 12.1%, the number of persons (AQH persons) listening in an average quarter hour was up 14.3%, and the amount of average time spent listening per listener per week (TSL) was up 20.7%.
NPR 89.1 maintained its #1 rank in afternoon drive, Monday through Friday from 3pm to 7pm, and was tied for #1 in the highly competitive morning drive hours, Monday through Friday from 6am to 10am. These rankings are also based on the share of the average number of persons 12 years of age and older in the Tucson Metro area during July, August and September, according to the September 2020 Nielsen Audio estimates.**
AZPM Passport is a membership benefit that provides unprecedented access to a streaming library of favorite PBS programming. Within the last fiscal year, content was streamed on AZPM Passport more than 350,000 times, an increase of more than 59% from the same period in the previous year. Through targeted promotional efforts over the last few months, the number of logins on AZPM Passport is up 21% over last year with a 78% increase in watch time.
This past year, PBS offered the highly-anticipated new MASTERPIECE drama from Gurinder Chadha, Beecham House, exclusively on Passport prior to its on-air broadcast. Binge-able fan favorites, like Roadkill and The Trouble with Maggie Cole, were also offered to members.
The social media team builds and fosters the connection between AZPM and audiences in the social space, delivering innovative social content that elevates awareness and engagement. AZPM continues to connect and attract viewers and listeners through various multimedia platforms. Members watched more than 12 million minutes of TV programming, an increase of more than 62% from the same period in the previous year. Viewers and listeners can access full episodes of AZPM originals, as well as read and listen to exclusive content, on azpm.org.
Arizona Public Media used its online presence to reach viewers more efficiently in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The news team instituted a new focus for its online reach, making a concerted effort to make AZPM’s web-based journalism and social media more responsive and timelier in covering breaking news. In addition, the news and digital teams launched an online COVID-19 portal to help viewers stay connected and informed.
Due to the suspension of in-person events during the pandemic, the Outreach team adapted to host events online through OVEE, a digital platform that allows web users to interact while watching PBS and local content. AZPM staff hosted several such virtual screenings, enabling viewers and donors who were geographically dispersed to participate.
By posting content directly to Facebook, including local updates and information about the pandemic geared toward its Southern Arizona audience, AZPM significantly increased its engagement and reach on social media, attracting more than 12,000 Twitter followers and earning nearly 24,000 likes on Facebook.
Following Gov. Doug Ducey’s decision in March to close schools as part of the effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the state, Arizona Public Media and Arizona PBS, with the encouragement of the Arizona Department of Education, partnered to provide educational content to students and educators affected by the closures.
The Arizona At-Home Learning partnership supported remote learning for K-12 students through a suite of free digital resources and an educational broadcast schedule of programs aligned with state curriculum standards. Endorsed by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the dedicated website and programming suite continues to support Arizona school districts, classroom teachers, and parents who work to keep children educationally engaged at home.
The Education and Community Outreach teams worked with school districts during the remainder of the school year and over the summer to determine how they could best harness the wealth of online resources offered by PBS LearningMedia.
As a way to extend learning opportunities beyond the end of the traditional school year, the Education and Outreach team launched the AZPM Summer Adventure Club, a virtual experience geared toward elementary school age students that brought on-air learning to life by connecting members to PBS KIDS programming, activities, games, prizes, and more. In addition, AZPM conducted 72 PBS LearningMedia workshops, training 712 teachers to employ curriculum planning and resources in their classrooms.
AZPM continues to connect the community through outreach and events that bring people and ideas together. In the summer of 2019, AZPM hosted several preview screenings, including the PBS 6 programs NOVA: Polar Extremes, Sanditon on MASTERPIECE, Ken Burns’ Country Music, and the Downton Abbey movie, and the PBS Kids shows Molly of Denali and Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum.
A live presentation of The Buzz at Dunbar Auditorium featured a panel discussion on affordable housing, gentrification, and changing neighborhoods in Tucson. Together with The Center for Community Dialogue and Training, AZPM presented “One Small Step: Finding Common Ground,” an evening of conversation concluding the StoryCorps One Small Step project that aired on NPR 89.1 in 2019.
AZPM participated in the Pascua Yaqui Festival of the Arts, sharing children’s activities and educational information with families from the region. AZPM also took part in Family SCIFest, a signature event of the Arizona SciTech Festival that included a day of demonstrations, exhibits, and hands-on experiments at the Children’s Museum Tucson.
Further, AZPM shared resources from PBS Kids about inclusivity and culture during the Celebrating Culture/Unpacking Stereotypes event at the Arizona State Museum.
In conjunction with other local organizations, AZPM also helped plan the Century of Tucson Block Party, a joint event celebrating the milestone anniversaries of Arizona Public Media, Hotel Congress, Rialto Theatre, and the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.
In partnership with 31 local organizations, AZPM offered 39 events, many of them virtual, for the benefit of the Southern Arizona community. From screenings of PBS programs, kid-friendly events, and forums that facilitate important community conversations to community celebrations, AZPM’s outreach continues to bring people and ideas together.
Arizona Public Media employs between 20 and 30 University of Arizona students every year who are vital to the function and culture of AZPM.
Students gain hands-on experience by working in a variety of departments such as Television & Radio Production, Administration & Business Office, Marketing & Communications, Membership & Development, Broadcast Engineering, and Information Technology. Many of these students remain employed with AZPM for the duration of their college years.
Several AZPM student employees have gone on to successful careers in media and journalism after graduation, with some even being hired full-time by AZPM. Television production students perform studio production functions such as control board and camera operation, lighting, audio, technical directing, and editing. Field production training includes sound, lighting, and camera operation. Student employees who are interested in developing technical and creative skills produce graphic content for television, print, online, and other forms of digital media.
AZPM staff joined nearly 100 other volunteers at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona to load 41 pallets of boxed food and 2,500 paper bags filled with non-perishables to be distributed to seniors in the community.
The AZPM community filled 22 boxes with nearly 600 donated items for the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive.
AZPM staff volunteered to organize donations and distribute food at the UA Campus Pantry just one week before the coronavirus shut down the campus in March.
During this time of great uncertainty, we’ve been encouraged and humbled by the outpouring of support from our community. Generous donations from annual and sustaining members, support from the business community through program underwriting, fee-for-service production activities, grant support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and direct and in-kind support from the University of Arizona have made it possible for AZPM to continue to deliver the trusted news and information on which we all rely.Annual Membership
Thank you to our more than 30,000 annual members whose support helps provide top-quality programming on six media stations and throughout our Southern Arizona communities.Leadership Circles
AZPM Leadership Donors allow everyone in the community access to public media, regardless of their ability to pay.Legacy Society
Planned gifts are often the largest and most significant gifts a donor will ever make, and we are so grateful to those who have chosen to remember AZPM in this most important way.Underwriting
Hundreds of businesses and organizations understand that AZPM’s lineup of radio stations, television stations, and online assets offer a powerful platform to engage their customers. We thank them for their investment.Thank you
Hundreds of businesses and organizations understand that AZPM’s lineup of radio stations, television stations, and online assets offer a powerful platform to engage their customers. We thank them for their investment.