On one hand, public radio stations are being told that if they don't respond to digital threats quickly and effectively that they will suffer the same fate as local newspapers. On the other hand, they are being told that local news is their future. In other words, the future of public radio hinges on content that is no longer commercially viable. It's like the 70s and 80s all over again.
Funny how that worked out. The dead commercial radio formats curated on public radio didn't fuel the industry's growth. Public radio's growth was driven by inventing something new... news for intellectually curious people who view themselves as citizens of the world and entertainment programs with a complementary appeal.
Public came to public radio because it was't local. That's a big part of the appeal.
Local presence is important. Local news that lives up to the NPR standard is too. That will make a station locally relevant.
But the future of public radio stations remains doing what they do best... providing a window to the world to people who think beyond their personal geographies. Anything less will send those listeners somewhere else.