West Virginia Public Broadcasting offers educational and community outreach programming, and news and information statewide via radio, television and digital delivery. WVPB estimates that there are at least 11,000 veterans in West Virginia who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, part of a population of more than 170,000 veterans.
The organization wants to provide a mechanism for these vets to tell their stories by developing a mobile app. WVPB feels it is particularly important to provide a vehicle for these young vets who, unlike older veterans, have most of their lives ahead of them.
Moreover, this storytelling has the possibility of becoming a transformative experience that might not otherwise be available to them because there are significant obstacles to veterans who wish to share their personal wartime recollections. This is an untapped audience for the most part—millennials with low audience representation in the public media demographics.
The app, Stories for Service, will be designed for both Android and Apple iOS devices, and will be based on the Library of Congress’ memoir project, which currently is only text-based.
Veterans will be able to use the camera and recording features to record their story. Partnerships created for this project include the West Virginia Department of Veterans Services for promotion, and the WVU College of Media Studies, from which students will help curate the stories and prepare them for airing.
The project will also create an opportunity to solicit more businesses as sponsors due to the subject matter, as West Virginia as a whole has a strong attachment to its veterans, evidenced by multiple community events surrounding military observances across this mostly rural state.
What knowledge will be gained from this experiment?
With this project in motion, WVPB will seek to gain expertise with the use of technology as a means of reaching a target audience such as veterans and potentially replicate its hypothesis with other audiences. It also seeks to increase its ability to successfully market and fundraise around niche audiences.
The experiment is also an opportunity for WVPB to enhance its ability to create fruitful partnerships with other organizations and agencies in ways that expands its reach, and ultimately identify new donors and underwriters.