As with many public media stations and businesses across the country, WHRO Public Media recognizes the importance of reaching all audiences. With the growing numbers of millennials and their impact, on not only media but also society, four years ago the station looked to create an opportunity to engage this community. What evolved was a fun, nerdy, engage, smart, passionate group of young professionals that brought energy and excitement to connecting communities to the great work of public media: the Emerging Leaders Board, or as we affectionately call them, the ELBows. In short, this capable group of millennials has an important bond, they are PBS and NPR nerds who spend their time giving back to public media.

Going into their fifth year, the ELBows have not shied away from authentic and provocative community conversations about local issues, developments and other topics of interest around Hampton Roads. These community events, titled Emerging Talks, feature public personalities, officials and experts in a format that was playfully modeled after the French salons of the 18th century enlightenment. With themes covering “Sea Level Rise,” the “Impact of Digital Technology on Art,” and the “Impact and Experiences of Women Veterans,” the events brought in substantial crowds, but the Board wanted to extend the discussion beyond those in attendance. The solution? Record the salons and make them available in podcast form. VOILA, the Smart Pill podcast (“Don’t forget to take your Smart Pill”).

So, what is next for this accomplished group? How about a partnership with a national public media documentary company to create opportunities for community dialogues around crucial and delicate conversation? These next few months, the ELBows will be working with Independent Lens, America’s home for independent documentary film, to provide Indie Lens Pop-Ups, “a neighborhood series that brings people together for film screenings and community-driven conversations.” These events will be premiere screenings of upcoming Independent Lens broadcasts to include local residents, leaders and organizations to discuss what matters most, from newsworthy topics and social issues, to family and community relationships. Make friends, share stories and join the conversation.

Screening dates are:
The First Rainbow Coalition: January 23, 2020
Always in Season: February 20, 2020
Bedlam: March 25, 2020
Eating up Easter: April 23, 2020
Stay tuned for a special event coming May 2020

For more info on the ELBows, the Indie Lens Pop Ups, and the Smart Pill podcast, go to