Torey Malatia, Jerome McDonnell, Ira Glass? If you recognize those names, admit that you spend a fair amount of time listening toWBEZ, Chicago's excellent public radio station. A few weeks ago, I was listening during one of their frequent membership drives. The message the on-air personalities kept delivering was that it is great to be a listener. They love listeners. Everyone starts out as a listener. In fact, 90% of WBEZ's audience is made up of listeners.
But the community radio station is made possible only through the actions of its members.
The members comprise a meager 10% of the station's overall audience. They are the people who take action to support public radio for themselves and everyone else through volunteerism and donations.
Recently, master software craftsman and Rubyist Dave Astels tweeted that he is starting work at DRW, a Chicago-based financial company. Dave is one of the co-authors of The RSpec Book, along with fellow Chicagoan David Chelimsky and several others.
Dave's tweet got me thinking about the Chicago Ruby on Rails community and how awe-inspiring it has become. Along with Dave and David, we have many talented developers, authors, bloggers, startups, and consultancies based here.
As it is with public radio, communities are built and nurtured through the actions of its members. Listening and lurking is fine. But, some portion of the listeners need to take action to move the community forward. Otherwise, stagnation.
Through lots of hard work by members of our community, particularly Ray Hightower, and the serendipity of 37Signals being headquartered here, we have a lot to celebrate in the Chicago Ruby on Rails community. But, imagine how much more diverse and vibrant it would be if we had more listeners electing membership by taking action:
So my question to myself and all of you is, in 2011 are you going to be a listener or an action-oriented member?