Trailnet Champion: Tim Eby
Trailnet is happy to partner with St. Louis Public Radio to merge our goals of informing the public, building St. Louis’ culture, and connecting communities. We’re excited to present St. Louis Public Radio as this month’s Trailnet Champion. Read on for a Q & A with the station’s General Manager Tim Eby about how Trailnet and St. Louis Public Radio are uniting to advance and empower St. Louis.
Trailnet: Trailnet and St. Louis Public Radio have burnished their partnership over the past couple of years. Where do you see the points of connectivity between the two organizations?
Eby: Our two organizations are aligned in so many ways as we seek to nourish the mind, body, and spirit. The audience for St. Louis Public Radio is incredibly active and involved in the community. They love to walk and ride bikes. It’s a near perfect match.
St. Louis Public Radio sponsored Trailnet’s 2019 Community Ride Series and your logo is on their Bike City t-shirts. Why do you want to have your brand associated with Trailnet’s work?
We believe that the association with the Series reflects on our belief that an active, healthy community makes for a stronger region. We help people understand and appreciate the wealth of ideas and cultures in our region and this type of partnership with Trailnet is an ideal match.
Where do you see our audiences overlapping?
I think that it’s almost universal in how our audiences overlap one another. A recent research study found that NPR listeners are 74 times more likely than the general population to bike and 104 times more likely to hike. You can’t get much closer alignment than that!
As you look at the future direction of the station, how does Trailnet’s work to make it safe and easy to bike, walk, and take transit fit in?
One of our key initiatives is to go to where our audience is going so we’re focused on delivering our news and information online, through social media platforms, with podcasts, as well as with broadcast streams. It’s important for us to fit into the mobile lifestyle of active people in the region. We also are looking at a variety of ways that we can help inspire important community conversations and the work that Trailnet does fits well into that initiative.
Trailnet aims to connect people to jobs and cultural centers throughout the region. How does this goal of connectivity align with your mission to inform and provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures for a more inspired and engaged public?
As we look to reach audiences through a variety of channels and platforms, it really is all about connectivity. One of the best ways to achieve this kind of connection is with partnerships with like-minded organizations in the region. We care greatly about the community and seek to make it better by producing journalism and storytelling that connects with audiences.
How do you view the current state of transportation in St. Louis? How might that be impacted by increased accommodations for those who walk, bike, or use transit?
I’m a huge believer in public transportation and will take a bus or a train as often as possible. I also love the many parks and bike trails that we have around the region. We have work to do to ensure that the entire region – wherever the location – has good access to these options. We’re certainly not to that point yet, but I do think the community believes this is important and is working toward bringing equity to those who currently don’t have that much access right now.
How does your geographic location in the Grand Center Arts District- next to the Nine Network and KDHX – put you in a better position to deliver on your mission with engaging content? What does that sense of connection mean?
Being near these public media partners provide us with great opportunities to collaborate. The same is true with many arts organizations here in the District that allow us to [work] together in a variety of ways. I’m also very enthusiastic about how the arts and cultural organizations can further connect with the innovation community at CORTEX to take this idea of creativity to a new level to further develop the region. It’s that kind of connection that really energizes me.
Trailnet’s approach to transportation strives to have a positive impact on more than just walking and bicycling. How do you think increased active transportation access impacts St. Louis in terms of culture, environment, and talent attraction/retention?
From what I know, and I’m not an expert, active transportation access is essential to building a more “whole community” in the St. Louis region. It puts individuals on a more equal playing field, so to speak, to participate the vibrant life of our region. It’s really essential to provide individuals with the mobility they need to thrive economically, socially, and culturally in the region.
So much of your on-air content is about where St. Louis is heading as a region. Transportation is part of that equation. How do you see being able to safely and conveniently move about St. Louis without the need to get in a car as part of the storytelling in We Live Here, St. Louis on the Air, The Story Collider?
Our stories can transport you to a place through the audio portraits that we produce and that, hopefully, inspires listeners (including community, business, and civic leaders) to ensure that we are all connected in the region. One of our commitments is to bring diverse voices into our work. By hearing those who may look like us, and those who don’t, we seek to help our audience understand one another in a more effective way. When we hear stories that might challenge our beliefs, it helps bring us all closer together that, at least I hope, will lead us to finding solutions to the various challenges facing our region – including the challenges that exist in our transportation system and infrastructure.