by Andrew Norman
As an organization and content provider, Hear Nebraska takes a huge step today. Just over a year since we launched on Jan. 24, 2011, we’re now an official employer. That’s “job creator” in current parlance.
Michael Todd begins his tenure as our managing editor today. He’s in charge of our day-to-day content delivery through hearnebraska.org and our social media channels. He’s now our contributors’ first contact and my first lieutenant as I add the critical role of chief fundraiser to my position of editor-in-chief.
Some may call how it happened predetermination. Others destiny. I call it an all-Nebraskan story. An Alliance native, Michael cut his teeth in this big, ugly professional world as a culinary artist at KC’s Short Stop/Hot Stuff Pizza, and as a “wannabe caddy” at the Alliance Skyview Golf Course. Hardened like rusty rebar by microwave radiation and divot duty, he moved to the city to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Once there, he did all the things required to make a young journalist a sought-after, multimedia reporter. He worked as music director at campus radio station KRNU
and as the features editor at the Daily Nebraskan
newspaper. He learned how to tell stories and edit through digital, print, audio, video and photo. He understands how to use social media effectively and how to navigate his way around the backend of a website.
He worked, no doubt epically, as an intern touring with Journey and Foreigner for Rock the Earth
, an environmental advocacy group that partners with musicians to support select causes. And he interned for us last summer, producing some 50 different stories and posts and proving his mettle as a savvy editorial producer. After graduating with his bachelor’s in news-editorial, he worked as a copy editor/page designer/reporter for the North Platte Telegraph
He has a band called Elijah Jett
(whose debut album you can download here
), and he loves music, the scene and its players. Most importantly, he’s passionate about this state and believes in what Hear Nebraska is and can be. I couldn’t be more excited to have Michael on board.
After a year of managing, editing, assigning, posting and sharing 11 a.m. daily stories and Facebook posts while working around a full-time job, I wouldn’t be able to hand off this job if I didn’t know Michael was going to kill it. The work means too much to me. I think you’re going to see increased consistency and variety in our stories, and, hopefully, a handful of new contributors. You’ll also probably notice a slight change in voice on our Facebook posts, though he’s already been handling our Twitter for some time.
Aside from knowing there’s new blood behind this wheel, our readers and supports should be excited that our new managing editor means I can now focus the majority of my HN time on fundraising, which we’ve simply not done in a sustained, effective way. I’ve never fundraised before, but I also had never run a nonprofit. So I’m going to throw the same energy, passion and intellectual curiosity into this position as I did into creating and building HN editorial.
Growing up in southwest Nebraska, I certainly never learned how to avoid feeling awkward asking for money. And maybe I never will feel completely comfortable doing it. But I was taught how to work hard and to be confident about a worthy product. My dad has worked for Midwest Farm Equipment in Imperial, Neb., for about 25 years. He’s not blindly loyal, but he believes strongly enough in what he’s selling that our dog, Lucy, was buried in a John Deere collar.
In its first year, Hear Nebraska provided plenty of reasons for confidence:
• We produced 750 original, multimedia stories;
• We booked and promoted 17 concerts, featuring more than 50 different bands;
• And we had about 100,000 unique visitors to our site.
We did a lot in year one, but we can do even more in year two. I’m confident in Hear Nebraska — in its demand, mission, execution and contributors. We have something special here, and I believe it has the potential to be the most productive and appreciated cultural organization in the state. I believe Hear Nebraska can help change the way the rest of the country — and the world — thinks of the state in a tangible, fundamental way by highlighting and providing resources for its growing, thriving creative class and small businesses. And I believe it’s worth investing in.
With Michael now in charge of editorial, it’s my job to find donors who believe the same.