CAB Minutes: February 2007
7 pm, Tuesday, February 13, 2007
The New York Society for Ethical Culture
Gina Fuentes Walker, Emily Gertz, Sallie Gouverneur, Judy Hellman, KC Sahl, Ed Sawchuk, Alex Senchak, Ken Stewart, Shawn Williams, Fred Friedland, Gary Schulze
Absent: Basya Weisman, Nicholas Arture, David Rahni, Gideon Pollach
Alan Weiler (WNYC Trustee), David Caplan (WNYC Trustee), Noreen O'Loughlin, Shira Rosenhaft
MEMBERS OF PUBLIC:
Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Ellen Pall, Ken Erickson, Gaye Leslie, Donna Garde, Allegra Allen, Ken Kenisberg, Janus Adams and two others
Minutes from the January 10 Meeting:
Minutes were not read aloud but distributed for review by individuals.
Sallie Gouverneur started the meeting by asking the public to speak. She invited them to make any comments they’d like to make or to wait until the end of the meeting
One member of the public asked, "What is the CAB? Who are you?"
Ms. Gouverneur explained that CAB is a group mandated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It is a group separate from the station, of volunteers, who function as a conduit from the public to the station. The CAB reports to the board of trustees once a year. There are roughly eight meetings a year to discuss programming and outreach, among other topics.
David Caplan added by saying that he is a member of the board of directors. He said that the station was currently conducting the winter fund drive, and so welcomed any comments from the public about ways to make the fund drive "more fun." He said he would email Laura Walker with any suggestions that come up, to be considered in future drives.
Another member from the public said that he pays all his bills monthly and paid WNYC in the same way. "I want to pay for WNYC monthly. But, WNYC seems not to know that," and he said he gets mailings asking for money all the time. "Just as I pay my gas bill, I pay my WNYC bill." Though he has sent two emails to listener services, nothing has changed.
Sallie Gouverneur shared that during a fund drive she waits to donate until it’s a two for one match. She has discovered the station gives special notices when they have a deal, or an offer. "I was particularly impressed by an email I got that told me the 2 for one match was coming up. That attention to detail is very important."
The member of the public than stressed that it wasn’t just that he was still getting reminders, but that it was a terrible waste of paper to keep sending him the reminders. Ms. Gouverneur noted that this was exactly the kind of topic that should be followed up on, and made note to follow up on this.
Another member of the public noted that "I think the fund drive seems shorter and therefore better."
KC Sahl said that his wife came to public radio through him. He said she would get so excited when the fund drive was on, because it was about reaching goals. In the end though, it was upsetting because it was never announced whether the goals were reached.
Mr. Caplan pointed out that at the end of a drive, Laura Walker comes on the air to thank everyone and to say if the goal has been reached.
A member of the public noted it was a big mistake not to have an hour or two hour goal every day. People were encouraged to give to each program. It should be personal. It adds excitement "Gee, did they make it?" Part of the fun is hearing this personal plea by the hosts to the listeners to give money to the station.
Ms. Gouverneur reminded us that up until a few years ago there was the thrill of hearing the volunteers at the phones in the rotunda. You had a sense that the community was participating in an obvious way. The technology has done away with that. She said she gets the sense that people miss that active participation. There are no volunteers working the phones during a fund drive.
Noreen O’Loughlin, WNYC’s Director of Marketing says "It is important to note that over half of all donations come in online. So the whole process has changed. It has shifted. It is very efficient."
A member of the public suggested that it would be great to have some "old-timers" on during the fund drive like Steve Post to bring back the personal touch. The public concurred that it seems like announcements are being repeated a lot on the air for the fund drive, which is not very personal.
Emily Gertz added that what "we’ve been told about the station repeating information over and over again is that they know from studying listener patterns that most people listen in brief bursts, instead of listening to it all day long." If you listen for many hours in a day, you will hear it repeated more.
Ken Stewart thinks this is an important topic. He suggested that maybe in the future we should make an agenda item to talk about these fundraising issues. A suggestion was for this to happen before the drive, not during, so the station can take these concerns into consideration. He also suggested that the timing of the drives be looked at, wondering if WNYC times it along with the Albany station etc. It seems that the stations would want to have drives at the same time, so people wouldn’t be switching stations. David Caplan reported that in his experience most stations have their fund drives at roughly the same times in the year, though not necessarily the same exact weeks.
Sallie Gouverneur asked if the minutes from the January meeting should be accepted into the record. A correction needed to be made to January’s minutes: Gary Schulze was marked absent, but was present.
Mr. Stewart said "These are not minutes, these are a transcript. Very conscientious and very detailed but they are long winded. Could we instead list them as summary, not minutes? That’s a great objective, to have a summary, but they are not minutes. Minutes should be a list of the decisions, and actions decided on."
Ms. Gouverneur noted that the production of the minutes in the last six months has been trial and error. She would rather include too much than too little. It’s a public meeting, so the goal is to make as much information available as possible. The temp also mixed up some of the speakers, and corrections should be suggested and so they can be changed. She wants the meeting minutes to convey what we talk about in as much detail as possible. A new addition is that there is a list of follow-ups from public comments at the end of the minutes. Shawn Williams has taken responsibility for all of this follow-up.
Shawn Williams stated that now all these answers to concerns and questions from the public will be available when the minutes are posted online. Some changes will be made to the January Minutes, and then they will be posted online.
Ms. Williams began by asking the public and CAB if they have heard advertisements for the CAB seeking members on-air? Everyone on the CAB had heard them. Not all the public had.
The recruitment schedule is as follows:
February - promos seeking board members are on air
March - Team of the CAB will come together to retrieve and review applications
April - Interviews will take place
May - Final decisions will be made
June - Submissions for approval by the board of directors.
Because of departed CAB members there should be between 5-6 spots open. There are currently 20-25 CAB members at any given time.
Alex Senchak and Sallie Gouverneur went to Newark Academy to look at the venue. It was a positive meeting. They were energetic about the process and the event.
The speakers for the New Jersey meeting are currently:
- Head of the Dodge Foundation - David Grant
- Howie Meyers - First Aid Council, President - volunteer organization of ambulance workers NJ
- Port Authority Spokesperson, head of special projects including The Tunnel Project
- Possibly - Bonnie Mont, Artistic Director Shakespeare Theater of NJ - contacted Alex Senchak and was interested in participating in the panel
- Faculty member and photographer of Newark Academy - on Waterways
Mr. Senchak then laid out the other issues of the event. There is a desire to keep the panel to a few as possible. The idea is to run the meeting similar to the way the Westchester and Bronx and Harlem meetings were run. "We want to solicit information from the public and hear from these people who represent large parts of New Jersey." The Star Ledger will be publicizing the event, they have a huge circulation. This plus the terrific panel should be able to attract an audience to the event. Gina, KC and Gideon will be working on issues related to publicity. Dave Weinstock will be heading up transportation for the CAB. The database of contacts is now online, instead of sending all information through Alex Senchak, now contacts can be added through the website. Enter someone you know in NJ who could be sent information. The New Jersey Meeting will be April 24 at 7 pm and there will be refreshments afterwards in the lobby.
Judy Hellman asked if there is to be a moderator.
Sallie Gouverneur said that until there are a fixed number of speakers, and clear idea of the shape of the event, and what they will talk about, it seemed ok to plan that the CAB will moderate it themselves.
Ms. Hellman pointed out that at Westchester there was a new format - select speakers made presentations and select members of advisory board asked questions of the speakers. Each member of the panel was able to contribute.
Ms. Gouverneur pointed out that part of the point of an outreach meeting is to have the public ask questions.
Alfred Friedland suggested that one of the CAB should act as continuity monitor. The public should be able to express themselves as they wish to without using the CAB as mediators. Questions should be asked as they come up.
Mr. Friedland pointed out that the station is interested in diverse audiences, . to see what they have to say and what they want.
Alex Senchak stated that the tone of the speakers should be understood in the first few minutes of their speaking. The CAB must be able to give speakers enough time to say what they want to say, though audience should too. It would be a shame for them to get their word out and then have nothing come of it. There should be a continued relationship.
Judy Hellman suggested that in regard to recruiting, we may want to look at who may have attended Westchester, Bronx or this New Jersey meeting to see who might be interested in being on the CAB.
The April 11th meeting will be dedicated, in part, to finalizing the planning of the New Jersey meeting. Alex Senchak will develop a final schedule and program for the event.
Judy Hellman introduced the ways in which WNYC was approaching youth outreach.
- Programming for youth
- Existing Programming - how it can be packaged and presented to youth by educators A youth outreach committee was formed this year to give feedback to the Board of Trustees. They are to come up with recommendations in regards to these issues, investigate what other radio stations are doing and what WNYC has been doing, and has done in the past. The committee met for the first time in November with 7 members of the CAB. They talked about highlights that other organizations are doing that are interesting models for WNYC to look at. Research of WNYC’s programming including the Radio Rookies; research on their website just led to more questions. A meeting with Kaari Pitkin (producer of WNYC and Radio Rookies) and Brenda Williams-Butts (Director of Community Affairs) and the Youth Outreach committee of the CAB took place to discuss outreach to youth in general but also Radio Rookies specifically. One of the findings was that Radio Rookies received funding from the Time Warner foundation to develop a long range plan. It brought the staff involved in Radio Rookies, and former Radio Rookies together to evaluate the program. One of the major questions was, ‘Does WNYC have an overall philosophy about youth outreach?’ Right now it just isn’t on WNYC’s "radar". Radio Rookies is a satellite program from the station. It is the one area in WNYC whose efforts are concentrated towards youth outreach. We will submit minutes from that meeting to the entire board. Members of the committee are going to meet later this month to talk about next steps.
A member of the public requested a clarification as to the definition of 'youth'.
Ms. Hellman stated that the committee was looking at range of approximately 8-21 years of age.
Alex Senchak suggested that in Board recruitment younger members should be considered. He joined when he was nineteen, and is still the youngest member of the board.
Judy Hellman pointed out that of the Radio Rookies, sixty have completed program, and about 50% have maintained some contact with the station. She suggested that the recruitment committee go to Kaari Pitkin and see if anyone could be interested and being on the CAB. Though it is not a requirement of the program that Radio Rookies listen to WNYC, by the end of the program most Rookies, as well as their families, listen. It is interesting how Radio Rookies raises visibility of WNYC among not just young people, but also their
Gina Fuentes Walker- "I think the only times children are addressed is when something inappropriate is going to be on. That they should turn off the radio. This makes them feel it is for an adult audience."
Sallie Gouverneur suggested that this discussion continue at future meetings.
OTHER CAB PROJECT
David Weinstock was not in attendance, and was scheduled to talk about it. The topic is an ongoing survey project to other CABs for other stations, talking about best practices, boards of trustees, relationship to stations and other matters.
CPB FUND CUTS
Ed Sawchuck was asked to do research about the current petition asking Congress not to cut funds to NPR. The caption on this petition from moveon.org is "Don’t let Congress cut funds for NPR and PBS." He found that it was really the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that was at risk. The budget proposal from Pres. Bush for FY2008 cuts the funding for CPB by 50-63 million. There will be no cuts for FY 2007; the amount given is $460 million dollars and that will stay the same. Sallie’s question was, why does this always happen? In the last four or five years this seems to keep happening. The moveon.org email is legitimate.
Sallie Gouverneur added that the cutting of funds was for the digital conversion project. Money is given to stations that do not have the funds to distribute their programming digitally. It doesn’t affect WNYC, because we are already doing it. A member of the public wanted to know what the digital conversion is to or from.
Mr. Sawchuk continued by explaining the process of digital conversion. He recommended crutchfield.advisor.com or ibiquity.com for more information about digital broadcasting. Ken Stewart added that there is substantially increasing amount of the population with decreasing eyesight which should be taken into account. "At a dinner with the heads of public broadcasting last year," Said David Caplan, "They told us that every year the administration wants to cut back, but there is so much protest it doesn’t happen. When you hear that something might happen, keep emailing or calling local congressmen, and so forth. It usually stops them from cutting." Mr. Caplan also indicated that NPR would insures the radio receivers made for the HD signal be easy for listeners with diminished eyesight to use. Most of the $650 million from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting goes to TV, while WNYC gets $2 million a year. Emily Gertz adds that really it is small stations which would be affected. They don’t have the populations to sustain the cost of digital
Postponed till next meeting because of time constraints.
COMMENTS/QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC
A member of the public said that during the fund drive, and even at other time of the year there seem to be a lot more "full blown commercials." Ms. Gouverneur answered that there are two minutes per hour of underwriting, which is what is needed for funding. David Caplan said that the Board of Directors gets a report about this subject every year. As a result of a meeting like that, WNYC has toned down ads like "Sloan Kettering is the best cancer care in the world" Along the same lines, another member of the public said that she was especially concerned about Cargil underwriting ads. There are too many debates about their ethics. They "should not be on public radio."
A member of the public asked, "I’m curious about the relationship between this board, and the board of directors and the people who do programming?" Ms. Gouverneur answered, "The trustees are very supportive. Two are here today. They usually arrive at the same place as us about the issues; they just get there a different way." The CAB is all volunteers. The CAB structure is necessary for the station to get money from the CPB, it is a requirement. In many cases the general manager of programming serves is on the CAB, in others that is not the case at all; "this is why we are interested in doing the survey to see how other CABs operate."
A member of the public revealed his distaste for the new show "Fair Game," and how its addition to the programming has shifted the programs he likes, "On Point" and "Open Source" around. He is unhappy that WNYC is playing "info-tainment" He has sent two emails to Listener Services about this. Shawn Williams and Judy Hellman both agreed, Ms. Fuentes-Walker added that she thought PRI’s programming seemed "undeveloped" and "under-construction."
MEETING ADJOURNED 8:50pm
Followup report to January question about "Radio Lab" from Dave Hall: "Radiolab", in answer to questions about the show's past and future raised in last month''s meeting. Regarding the past: The name "Radiolab" has been around for a few years, and the show began as a documentary-style offering. it has only existed for two seasons in it's present incarnation as a science-oriented program. Both seasons are available in the archives. Regarding the future: Because of an increase in funding, it is hoped that there will be 8 - 10 new episodes in this year's season, up from last year's 6.
Followup issues raised by the public to be attended to in future meetings: underwriting (KC Sahl) and the new program "Fair Game" (Gina Fuentes Walker)