CAB Minutes: September 2005

The New York Society for Ethical Culture

7 pm, Wednesday, September 14, 2005

MEMBERS PRESENT: Neal Zuckerman, Barbara Genco, Nick Arture, Alex Senchak, Shawn Williams, Fred Friedland, KC Sahl, Inge Reist, Chris Small, Ed Sawchuk, Toby Butterfield, Emily Gertz, Lisa Nam, Sallie Gouveneur, Judy Hellman, Jenn Batterton, John DiBlasi, Basya Weisman, Simran Sethi, Dave Hall

APOLOGIES: Mary O'Hara, David Rahni, Dave Weinstock

WNYC STAFF: Laura Walker, Phil Redo, Lori Ann Krushefski, Elena Park, Jennifer Houlihan, Naomi Person

MEMBERS OF PUBLIC: Approximately 10 members of the general public attended.

Opening Comments from Members of Public:

One member of the public said he felt a debt of gratitude to public radio, citing that the stations are not dependent on commercial or government interests or on mass appeal. He cited Oscar Brand 's show as one that allows public radio to make listeners aware of traditions and history. He felt this program, along with Schickele Mix and The Infitinite Mind, was underexposed. He would like to hear them offered more frequently and in different time slots.

Ken Stuart said that at a previous CAB meeting, he'd commented on his interest in hearing more diverse voices on public radio. He said he'd recently heard a few. He further commented that while he finds them totally charming, and that these spots bring a smile to his face, he feels he hears the same spots repeated too frequently.

Another member of the public said that his vision was impaired, and he relied on radio moreso than TV for his news. He said it's helpful to hear at the top and bottom of each piece who is reporting, and their exact location. He said NPR does this better than other stations, but that he'd like the idea to be reiterated.

Meeting Business

Neal Zuckerman asked for approval of the May 2005 minutes and for an approval of an addendum to the April 2005 minutes. Both passed unanimously.

WNYC's President, Laura Walker, then gave a presentation on how the station has fared following the format change that took place in April 2002, and how the station is keeping its connection to classical music.

Laura began by citing the five pillars of WNYC's strategic plan. First, the station strives to be rooted in New York. The perspective, values, approach and state-of-mind must be inspired by the unique attitudes and energy of New York . Further, WNYC wishes to embrace the city's diversity, cultural richness and powerful intellectual, creative and economic resources. Second, the station seeks to provide excellence. WNYC wishes to be New York 's preeminent broadcast news provider, unique and in depth. WNYC wishes to be the leading classical music and cultural provider, with a NY point of view. In terms of audience growth, WNYC wishes to be indispensable to a larger, more diverse audience. WNYC is setting benchmarks to track audience growth, loyalty and diversity. WNYC is taking a radio first stance. WNYC will be a New York radio broadcaster and producer first and foremost, but will allow broader audience exposure to their efforts via new platforms, particularly HD, satellite and internet. WNYC is also focusing on securing the future, seeking a permanent home, maintaining a commitment to financial discipline, and launching a capital campaign to fund the future.

Next, Laura Walker talked about the factors that led to the format change in 2002. The events of 9/11 forced WNYC to simulcast for several months, and during those months, the station saw a substantial growth and broadening of the audience. At the same time, WNYC had noticed a substantial erosion in its classical music audience. It became clear that the city's population had a thirst for unique, in-depth local news coverage, and so a decision was made to change to the format currently in place.

Laura explained that the station still maintained a substantial commitment to classical music, and that it had sought to integrate music offerings throughout the station's schedule. She highlighted the increased resources the station has allocated to the music and culture department, and introduced Elena Park, WNYC's Executive Director of Music and Culture.

Elena Park spoke about the specific initiatives the station has recently undertook and gave a preview of highlights of the upcoming season.

A question and answer session followed.

One member of the public asked why Schickele Mix had been taken off the air. Elena Park answered that the show had been on in repeats on WNYC for six years. Peter Schickele had been approached about producing more shows, but felt he couldn't take it on. WNYC has approached him about being a guest host on Soundcheck, and to get involved in other music programming on the station.

Another member of the public asked why Oscar Brand is not paid. Elena Park answered that he sees that as a badge of honor.

In response to a question about From the Top, Elena explained that the producers of the show had asked us to drop the show in order to give QXR exclusivity.

Performance Today was removed from WNYC's schedule because the station felt there was too much talk and not enough music. It was also felt that Performance Today appealed more to just musicians and composers than it did to a wider public. WNYC feels Soundcheck is appealing to a broader public, and that it doesn't just reach people who love classical music. Soundcheck often tries to cover the same topics as Performance Today, but does it in a way that a broader audience will find accessible.

CAB member Barbara Genco asked if WNYC had explored making an all-classical webstream available. Laura Walker responded that WNYC does want to make a stream available, and is looking at both web and HD radio options.

Inge Reist asked if WNYC has quantified use of WNYC's existing streaming and internet archives. Phil Redo responded that during peak times (11 a.m.-Noon), 3,000 to 4,000 people use the service simultaneously. He also stated that about 800,000 people downloaded WNYC podcasts in the month of August, and that WNYC was on track to exceed that number in September. Phil reminded the group that while 3,000 people seems like a large audience, we need to keep in mind that 90,000 people are listening on air at that same time, so it should be understood that web use is much smaller than use of terrestrial radio.

Judy Hellman asked what WNYC is doing to reach 12-18-year-olds. Laura Walker responded that WNYC played a role in developing the music curriculum for the city of New York, and that John Schaefer had in fact written a great portion of the curriculum. She also cited WNYC's resident chorus, The Young People's Chorus, and Radio Rookies as initiatives that speak to teens.

Dave Hall asked if there were any plans to include Indian, Arabic or Afro-Cuban music in WNYC's offerings. Laura Walker said that Soundcheck had in fact already expanded their offerings, and that there was a significant amount of world music in both that show and New Sounds.

Next, Toby Butterfield announced that the group would hold elections to fill the positions of Chair and Co-vice-chairs. Neal Zuckerman was elected Chair, and Sallie Gouveneur and Ed Sawchuk were elected co-vice-chairs.

Ed Sawchuk then provided an update on the group's outreach meeting to be held on November 17th from 7-9 p.m. in Harlem . The event will be held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at 515 Malcolm X Boulevard. The venue accommodates 315 people and is handicapped accessible from their entrance on 136th Street . Brian Lehrer has agreed to moderate the meeting. A keynote speaker will provide a 5-10 minute keynote address discussing the diversity of the community, its history, and some of the challenges they see going forward. Brian Lehrer will then lead the town hall.

Jennifer Houlihan suggested having a segment during the event to let the Harlem community know about what WNYC is already doing to cover their community.

The meeting was adjourned at approximately 9:20 p.m.