Fort Collins Public Media

An Oasis in a Media Desert

In the dimly lit video editing bay of Fort Collins Public Media (FCPM) Executive Director Chris Winslow sits talking about the non-profit media station. He says the mission of the organization is to be the counterbalance to corporate media and give a voice to the underprivileged. Those being members of the community and other non-profit organizations (NPOs). 

When it comes to the work for NPOs, Winslow mentions that there are a variety of projects FCPM takes on. Ranging from event coverage such as galas and races to creating marketing content helping to promote the NPOs’ message through visual storytelling. Recently, FCPM worked with the Alliance for Suicide Prevention to bring attention to the suicide rates of Larimer County, the sixth highest rate in Colorado. This collaboration helped to shine a light on an issue that otherwise keeps to the shadows. This work with NPOs serves a dual purpose for the non-profit multimedia organization. It keeps the lights on in the underfunded studio, and it cultivates cooperation between other like-minded community groups. FCPM also provides media consultation to non-profits. 

When the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers came to FCPM for help Winslow says that they already had the perfect tool, a GO Pro camera. Which became their best friend because of its weather resistant design, “What we find happens more often than not is that [organizations] know what they do, they just don’t know how to show other people that they do it.” 

 With FCPM’s help the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers were able to create video content that spreads awareness of what the organization does in the community. Ironically, being a voice-box for others usually means that your voice is muted. Winslow believes this is a cause of the lack of public funding for public media stations such as FCPM. This shortcoming has not stopped the plucky NPO as they are constantly pursuing other avenues to secure financial support through sponsors and underwriters for their original programming, “but that requires manpower,” to reach out and find those financial backers. He says that the challenges that most Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) Stations face is not the lack of equipment but operational funding to hire more people to act as ambassadors for them. 

Winslow says it might be easier to commercialize by selling ad time but that would go against the mission of FCPM which is to remain “true to your core, serve the lower income people, serve the community in a way that gives them an approach to archiving all of the cool events that happen without having them break the bank to try and do so.”   

However, all of the uncertainty surrounding the future of PEG stations hasn’t shaken Winslow’s resolve about the next step for FCPM; To become the go to place for all things related to video and events in Fort Collins. 

“Not the primary people who necessarily create all those things but the place that everybody goes to,” Winslow says, whether that be local filmmakers or senior citizens to find out what is happening in the city. There are even talks about FCPM becoming a news station of sorts to cover local stories within the Fort Collins area, which lies within a “media desert,” meaning that the closest news stations are either in Wyoming or Denver. 

Winslow believes FCPM can be an oasis, “There is not a day that goes by that I’m not conscious of the idea of trying to impact and create content that’s best for the entire community of Fort Collins.” 

This wouldn’t be an overnight change as this type of undertaking requires a veritable army of people to join the organization to help tell these stories. From video producers to editors cutting the new story that just came in and putting it up online, this would require more than the estimated eighty people that come through the small station yearly. It would however align perfectly with FCPM’s mission, they are truly passionate about projects that make an impact in the community. What better way to do that than to give a voice to the people of Fort Collins?

Along with this change comes the ever-evolving media landscape in which people are ditching the rabbit ears and cable television, moving toward more convenient and affordable streaming options instead. FCPM foresaw this change five years prior and opted to move their entire library of programming online which is available free of charge while also staying on regular television. 

Winslow believes the organization could shift completely online if cable ever goes by the wayside, but he isn’t worried about the possible move as, “the vehicle isn’t as important as the impact.” 

All of this would not be possible without Winslow, although he won’t come out and say it, being a modest person. He also knows that he isn’t alone in this, and says that he thinks that FCPM has improved since he joined the organization ten years ago. With him helping to move the organization over to high definition, setting up the new studio, and being the main producer, the work is ongoing. But the most important thing to Winslow is the organization itself, “If it’s doing well, I’m doing well.” 

Fort Collins Public Media is located at 200 Mathews Street in the Carnegie Building next to the library. The board of directors meets the second Wednesday of every month unless otherwise noted and is open to the public. You can contact FCPM for more details at communityrelations@fcpublicmedia.org, fcpublicmedia@gmail.com or go to fcpublicmedia.org. 

Mental Health Resources: 

Not an emergency service: allianceforsuicideprevention.org 

In case of mental health crisis, call Colorado Crisis Support 1-844-493-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

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