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Principia College’s sixteenth Annenberg Scholar, Bill Siemering, spoke to students Thursday night in his talk, “Where Do Ideas Come From?” He discussed his involvement in public radio that included developing the National Public Radio and empowering a global audience.
Siemering’s vision is to use “radio for social good.” He differentiated NPR from public radio stations and established that listeners would not be treated as “disposable income” but as “curious individuals.” When shifting NPR’s show, All Things Considered to a national stage, he hired women which was an unprecedented decision at the time.
His NGO, Developing Radio Partners, makes news accessible to remote parts of Africa and aids in community development. Integrity and objective reporting are key to his international workshops that teach basic radio skills.
Mass Communication professor, Joan Wesman, was an integral part of bringing Siemering to Principia College. She knew of Siemering through her days as working as a producer for NPR in Philadelphia. “I always thought he would be a perfect match for Principia,” Wesman says. “Mainly because he answers the question, ‘How can I make the world a better place?’”
As a catalyst for social change, Siemering shared that he views respect as essential. He said that it is important to celebrate diversity because we have all felt like outsiders. He sees radio as a unifying force that transcends these differences.
One of the main anecdotes that stuck with the crowd was the story of children in Sierra Leone being schooled through the radio after the Ebola outbreak prevented children from the local community going to school with one another. “I feel like the solution that the station came up with in that scenario was so unique,” says Freshman Quinn Heignbaugh. “It was such a dynamic way to solve a difficult issue.”
Junior Truett Sparkman felt that Siemering’s message was inspiring to hear, especially considering how many different walks of life he reaches into with his social work. Sparkman enjoyed the theme of managing various solutions to your problems and being patient enough for them to work out. “He had a lot of opportunity to find amazing solutions to large problems,” Sparkman says, “and it is all because he had the courage to keep on trying and persevering with his team members.”
Junior Anna Litwiller appreciated his tone of good and its application to instituting permeable change. “I think that when we oftentimes think about climate change or social issues, we tend to be negative since things don’t seem to be going all that well. I appreciated that his attitude was an attitude of progress and good.”
Siemering will be around Principia College, for the next week, teaching in classes related to Political Science, Sociology, Sustainability, African Studies and Mass Communication. His primary goal is primary goal is, “to be available to any student that has an interest in this field.” Siemering says that his “heart is overflowing with gratitude for the opportunity to be here.”