June 4, 2020 / Modified jun 4, 2020 2:27 p.m.

Letter from the CEO

Special programming focused on deep and systemic racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

race matters local friday hero PBS NewsHour will examine the deep systemic racial disparities in the criminal justice system in a special called “Race Matters: America in Crisis”, airing Friday, June 5 at 9 p.m. on PBS 6.

Dear friends,

I hope you are staying well and safe as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Here at Arizona Public Media, we are committed to continuing our coverage of the pandemic’s effect on Southern Arizona and to providing you with the latest information and resources. Although there is no way to predict with any certainty what the future will bring, you can count on AZPM to be there for you 100% with the news, information, entertainment, and educational programming you need every day.

As I’m sure many of you have done, I have been following the brutal murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests in Minneapolis and other cities across the country, including Tucson, with an increasing sense of dismay, shock, and horror.

Although Southern Arizona has had a long history of largely peaceful coexistence between multiple cultures, we would be naïve to think that racism is limited to other parts of the country – that it couldn’t or doesn’t happen here. As a media organization whose mission is to inform, educate, and inspire, we cannot shirk our duty to hold up a mirror to our society, no matter how disturbing and unpleasant the reflection.

This week’s Arizona 360 (Friday, June 5 at 8:30p on PBS 6) and Arizona Illustrated (Sunday, June 7 at 6:30p on PBS 6) will focus on local protests and civil unrest in response to the death of George Floyd. On radio, this week’s Arizona Spotlight (Thursday, June 4 at 8:30a on NPR 89.1) discusses the lack of American understanding of the pain of Black women and explores the hidden history of one of Tucson’s oldest Black communities.

This Friday, June 5 on PBS 6, a PBS NewsHour special, Race Matters: America in Crisis, focuses on the frustration pouring out onto American streets, outrage about police brutality, and America’s deep systemic racial disparities in the economy, education, criminal justice system, housing, and health care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will air Friday, June 5 at 9:00p on PBS 6, followed at 10:00p by a Frontline special: Policing the Police. On Sunday, June 6 at 2:00p on PBS 6, Talk – Race in America focuses on the troubled relationship between people of color and law enforcement in America. The film chronicles how families of color protect their children's lives with "The Talk" -- about what to do and how to behave if they are stopped by the police. The program repeats on Saturday, June 20 at 2:00p on PBS 6 PLUS. On Monday, June 15 at 9:00p on PBS 6, Antiques Roadshow will be pre-empted to present an encore airing of the 2016 PBS NewsHour Weekend special America in Black & Blue, which explores the roots of tragic racially-motivated clashes between police and people of color, competing accounts of responsibility, the quests for justice and the conversation Americans are having around losses, fears, and common ground where progress can be made.

Our fiscal year wraps up at the end of this month. As you may know, we cancelled all in-person community events out of concern for the community and suspended our March radio fundraising campaign, our June radio and television campaigns, and our end-of-fiscal-year countdown campaign to devote all available airtime to coverage of the COVID-19 crisis and to educational resources supporting Pre-K-12 at-home learning. We will continue to do so as long as is necessary. However, the need for your support is real and immediate.

With so many members of our community spending more time at home, audience numbers across all AZPM’s platforms (radio, TV, social media, and digital) have skyrocketed. The increased numbers confirm that more and more Southern Arizonans rely on the quality, honesty, depth, educational benefit, and entertainment value that AZPM’s programs provide during this stressful time. But as audience numbers rise, so does the need for community support.

I am grateful to the many donors who have stepped up their giving as a sign of their support or on behalf of those who are experiencing economic hardship. I urge you, if you have not already done so, to give at your comfort level before June 30. Arizona Public Media is there for the community; now we need the community to be there for us.

School districts, teachers, and parents have enthusiastically expressed their thanks for the free educational programming offered on PBS 6, PBS 6 Plus and PBS Kids through Arizona At-Home Learning over the past few months. The service was especially critical for families without access to at-home computers, internet, or Wi-Fi. To help keep kids engaged over the summer months, AZPM’s educational and community outreach teams are hard at work developing a summer camp environment of educational and entertainment activities. Please keep an eye on AZPM’s Education page over the next few weeks for more information.

The daytime program schedule on PBS 6 and PBS 6 Plus returned to normal effective Monday, June 1. We appreciate the understanding of viewers who have waited patiently for the return of their favorite daytime programs. Prime time programming in June offers plenty of entertainment, including a last chance to catch Downton Abbey in a four-day marathon (June 25-28) before broadcast rights expire at the end of the month, and special programming in honor of LGBTQ pride month. Complete program schedules are available on our website.

We recently announced the launch a new radio frequency (104.5 FM) that is already providing listeners in northern Pima and southern Pinal Counties with improved NPR service. My sincere gratitude to the Golder Ranch Fire District for their support in helping to make this new service possible. With the support and cooperation of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, plans are underway to expand NPR service to Nogales, which we hope will improve signal reception in that area as well.

Many NPR programs have reduced special coronavirus coverage as of the end of May. AZPM’s news team will continue to provide viewers and listeners with ongoing coronavirus coverage in addition to in-depth analysis of the latest state and local news. Timing and format of both radio and television news has been altered slightly to allow anchors and reporters to deliver stories with more depth and substance and to air local news stories more often.

Now more than ever, thank you for your continued support. Please stay well and safe in the challenging days ahead.

Sincerely,

Jack Gibson
Chief Executive Officer

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