CAB Minutes: October 2006

7 pm, Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The New York Society for Ethical Culture

MEMBERS PRESENT: Sallie Gouverneur, Judy Hellman, Inge Reist, Gideon Pollach, Shawn Williams, Gary Schulze, Jenn Batterton, Edward S. Sawchuk, Ken Stewart, Fred Friedland

APOLOGIES: Gina Fuentes Walker, Emily Gertz, KC Sahl, Dave Rahni, Dave Weinstock,
Absent: Alex Senchak, Lisa Nam, Basya Weissman, Mary O’Hara, Nicholas Arture

WNYC: Trustee Alan Weiler, Jennifer Houlihan, Lee Compton

NON-MEMBERS: 2 members from the general public

Minutes from the September Meeting was accepted.


Station Tour: 9th of Nov. was agreed as the day for new members to tour the station with Jacqueline Cincotta. Any old members who would like to go are welcome.

Gala: There are a few seats still available for the event. It will be held on the 13th of November. Cocktail hour is at 6pm, and Dinner is at 7pm; the final list of those attending is needed by the end of the week. Inge asked for an email reminder for the event.

Youth Outreach report? Judy suggested that we use NPR youth outreach survey in abbreviated form for the staff at WNYC and/ or Board of Trustees, including recommendations that we would make for the station. At the end of tonight’s meeting a date was agreed for a committee group to meet.

Survey other CAB's
In the absence of the two principals working on this project the topic was tabled till next meeting.

Sallie: At the last meeting, we talked about selecting some topics that the station could announce about our forthcoming meetings. We should make sure it is within 15 seconds. The station will announce the meeting and indicate a theme for the CAB meeting. Judy asked to clarify that we are not inviting guest speakers. Members were asked to rank their top 3 from a list of 11 potential topics on their agendas, including classical Music on Public radio, coverage of the arts, and science and the environment, and turn them in at the end of the meeting. The topics will be submitted to the station for approval.
Inge Reist indicated that former VP of Marketing Phil Redo didn't want the board to influence the public’s opinions and comments. He felt we are supposed to be a blank slate.
Jennifer Houlihan, WNYC Publicity, suggested that the concern was raising the public’s expectations, the idea that coming to the meeting and voicing their opinions about underwriting would result in a direct change of policy by the station. She observed that underwriting would not be a good first topic to offer to the public.
Gary Schulze asked whether there is a distinction or separation in the public's mind about the difference between WNYC and NPR shows.
Sallie said that we need to remind the public that there is that distinction between what NPR produces and what WNYC produces. Our primary focus is on what WNYC produces here. On the other hand since we are the community advisory board for the station, and the station runs all of those things, as long as everyone is clear, we can certainly pass along what the community thinks of the NPR programming. Inge observed that WNYC is responsible for all programming. There is a decision that is made by the station about what to air from NPR whether it is on the local or national level, and since they program the particular NPR show, then they are responsible. There are things that WNYC has the option to include or not.
Gary said that the public may not be able to make the distinction between WNYC reporters and NPR reporters. There are correspondents that I wasn’t sure whether or not they were WNYC or NPR.
Shawn Williams suggested that we clarify to the public between NPR and WNYC, jumpstarting the conversation by stating that this story was heard on either NPR or WNYC.
Jennifer Houlihan said, Maybe it would be a good idea to distinguish between the two by an educational meeting distinguishing between the programs on NPR and on WNYC.
Inge had a question about a new feature that is listed on the website. "There are spots on the radio for it telling you to go to some part of the website to make comments. Design your podcasting. The way that it is being hyped leads one to believe that they can actually affect programming at the station. I really don’t know what this feature is. It seems that this feature would dovetail what we are trying to do in finding out programming options that the public wants. What is it?"
Jennifer indicated that the Station is trying to make the website more interactive, trying to build communities around interactive tools; she said she needed to get a better idea from the station as to what this feature is about and would email when I get a better answer.
Jenn Batterton suggested we start a conversation on these topics and focus on youth on public radio, because it would give us some feedback from the public on how we’re doing as a group on youth programming.
Judy Hellman added that a topic like that could be addressed in a CAB meeting special event meeting, where we have experts to speak, as a part of an outreach meeting. "I would love for us to get some more insight from WNYC, from Radio Rookies. I would like to hear from people about funding for youth programming."
Sallie responded by saying that talking to people about funding isn’t really our purpose. "I’m not saying that the board can’t talk about it at all, but we can do it in steps. I think getting public opinions would be the preliminary step before an outreach meeting would be held. We even haven’t resolved to my knowledge, what we’re doing with the outreach except with the geographical areas. Sorry we are at small group tonight, and it’s hard to arrive at any conclusions about that.
I think if you’ve resolved the report that you would like to make to the station, on youth outreach, and we’re all up to speed on what that says, I think that prepares us quite nicely to have a meeting with the public to talk about what is being done, what other people are doing and what people in the public perceive as omissions and go from there."
Judy mentioned the meeting which President Laura Walker spoke to, when she talked about issues, demographics, and programming and future plans and we were allowed to ask questions, and asked if that was something that could happen again.
Sallie explained that the history on that is it arose directly out of the change of format from classical music to talk and she promised the board that she would come and speak two years earlier. A great many of people in the public and on the CAB were distressed about the change of format, and when she came to speak to the CAB two years later it was about the station's direction around music programming. "So I don’t think she’s averse to coming to talk to us, but that appearance was a long time in the making and with the move, I don’t think she could spare that kind of time. I would love it if she made me a liar."
Jennifer indicated that there is a state of flux within the departments, saying that once the changes have taken place, and the station has moved to its new space, she was sure Laura would love to come to speak to the board.
Edward Sawchuck commented that having Laura coming to speak to us at the beginning of the year after our summer break, would give us a platform on how we can move forward. What is HD in radio? What is podcasting? Where does the station see itself technologically? Where is our support base, since now if you’re on the web so much, can you geographically target an area that is of interest of the station, but still servicing the needs of our listenership? Are the legal issues to podcasting? Can someone from technology come and speak with is?
Alan Weiler said the tech people are "up to their eyeballs" with planning the new space right now.
Shawn asked if it would be fair to see what the CAB can do with the public only for this year, as opposed to relying on the station for feedback. She said she felt that the members of the station are really taxed, and we could figure out as a CAB, what to do and come back to the station later. Sallie pointed out that after the station's move, the members of the CAB would be holding meetings in the public space and then "we can come upstairs to get more interaction with the station." The planned move date is July 2007.
Shawn said we seem to want to turn to the station to help us to bring people in to talk about topics, and that this is probably a bad time for them to do that. On the topic of Arts in general, if you have friends in the art community that might want to come then we could have an exchange that way. She said she just wanted to make sure that we are not relying on the station to provide members of their staff to come out and speak with us or members of the community until July 2007 or September 2007, just because they are taxed right now. So in terms of considering topics for public meetings, members of the CAB could rely on their rolodexes and their own friends to come out to speak with us and the members of the community to come out.
There was a conversation following about the distinction between programs and programming, and the issues of what WNYC airs which is self-produced versus what it airs that comes from NPR. Among the topics that people were interested in having meetings around, international news coverage and sports came up. WNYC does not produce a sports program, which is not to say that WNYC listeners might not like one. Similarly, as Gary Schulze pointed out, Brian Lehrer's show, which is produced by WNYC, is frequently focused on local issues, but that does not prevent him from talking about North Korea as he had just done over several days. Ken Stewart observed that it is appropriate for us to give feedback from the listeners about a particular topic, for instance International news. If a listener says that there is too much programming of that topic, we should be able to give that feedback. It is the station who makes the decision of how much international news to cover.
Sallie said that she wanted to remind the members that we are doing this on an experimental basis. We are going to try to do it two or three times in the upcoming year, we still have to narrow it down to two or three topics... As Jennifer said, we don’t even know if this is a done deal or not. Don't aim for everything that's possible but something that's doable, she said, that we know something about.

New Jersey

The plan has been in the works for some time to have our next outreach meeting in New Jersey. We discussed looking for a location and it was really handy to have Brenda Williams-Butts here to advise. The way we had left it was that Lisa Nam was going to get in touch with Bob Hensley, and find out if he would be in a position to advise us. The goal was to do it in November, but because of dramatic changed that are going on in Lisa 's and Alex Senchak’s lives, it has been tabled till next year.

Outreach to other Communities Q&A
Sallie: Though we would continue the discussion on where else we could have outreach meetings but, there aren’t enough of us here this evening to come up with anything conclusive.
Ken: Another area that hasn’t been mentioned based on Geographical locations is Fairfield Connecticut.
Jennifer: We don’t reach Hartford, but Fairfield is in our listening area, which makes up for about 5% or 6% of our listenership.
Inge: We haven’t been out to Long Island, have we?
Jennifer: It is only about 8% of our listeners. We only go into Nassau County
Gary: How about Western Nassau?
Jennifer: Yes, and Queens also. When you listen in Great Neck, it starts to get fuzzy. Long Island listenership is a small percentage, around 6%, and mid Nassau is the limit. I think there is a station out of Stonybrook.
Gideon: Are we identifying the people by where they live or where they listen? Do the listen at home or at work?
Sallie: Where they listen.
Jennifer: We can't tell the number of internet listeners. The internet is a less precise number.
Gary: Do we know how long those internet listeners listen?
Jennifer: I don’t think we track that like we do with terrestrial, which is about 7 hours a week. That’s still pretty significant.
Gary: People in California can listen to us via the internet
Gideon: Spring Break outreach in California! LOL

Sallie passed around a coverage map of the WNYC radio listening area.

New Business:
Attendance was discussed. The bylaws call for people to come to the meetings. Missing two consecutive meetings can constitute grounds for removal. As a practical matter, people often have conflicts and emergencies, and absences are understood as long as the member has communicated that they cannot make a meeting. Some people don't come and don't have an excuse. If members don't show up and don’t do the work. It was agreed that we would look at this again in November. Members asked about pre-meeting email reminders and follow-up calls. Ken Stewart observed that there should be two categories of absence, excused and non-excused. It should be named.

More new business
Jenn Batterton asked if the new member gotten their new binders yet, and offered to undertake that project since the member who offered in the summer has not attended meetings since.

Shawn Williams, now in charge of Recruiting, asked who would be planning to sign up for second terms for the next three years. She said she would like to know by January for recruiting as to how many open spots we’ll have.
Sallie suggested that, since recruiting season is another time that the CAB will be on air, we might think of a better way to announce the recruiting effort. Should we re-write the announcement?
With regard to the station's announcement of forthcoming CAB meetings, Gary asked what is the time of the spot? Why is it only Fifteen seconds? Why can’t the station take a little time out of programming in order to have a little more time for the announcement of our meeting?
Jennifer Houlihan responded that we have only a certain amount of time devoted to underwriting each hour and those times are set and built into the clock. We can only devote l5 seconds to the spot; she thought some of the spots are 20.

Ken suggested that the station's website listing for the CAB indicate their term and how much time they have left on the board, also whether there was some way to show a board member's geographic location, so that a potential member could, for example, see that there are too many Manhattanites and figure that since he is from Nassau, he needs to represent on the board. It was pointed out that the website tells in percentages the geographic breakdown of CAB members.
Alan Weiler observed that the board shows that we have a broad range of locals and that is what is significant.
Shawn Williams said she did not like providing too much information about the board members because that could possibly deter someone from coming and being interested in becoming a board member. "I think you could list the person’s name, vaguely describe their occupation because if their occupation titles seem lofty, it could deter people. You should leave it relatively generic."
It was decided that, since the website was to be updated with new members' names and occupations, all members' terms would be indicated via the date they were appointed.
Gideon Pollach asked for a list of sub-committees; though Sallie has been "begging" the members of the board to identify what sub-committee they want to serve on to no avail, at present besides recruiting and New Jersey outreach, there are no sub-committees. There had been some talk on
doing research on Indie music, and of analysis of other CAB’s.
Fred Friedland suggested that am essential consideration should be programming. Members asked about the composition of the board of trustees and
Alan responded that there are a lot of committees. He reminded the CAB that
the public is invited to the board meetings at 8am, saying that there are interesting topics at the meetings, and the time for board meetings is announced on the radio.

Public Comment: A man from the public stated the society is oversaturated in sports. We’re drowning in sports
Judith Galindez, a member of the public, voiced a couple of concerns. "We need to make programs for the youth. I overheard a conversation between a young man and a teacher and mentioned youth programs. This kid, school wasn’t working for him. We don’t get it. We as a society need to think in all facets and we as the station need to address these issues. Can we get more programming for the youth?" She also discussed a time when she called in to the Brian Lehrer Show and wanted to give the opinion that communication is the key. She said her statement was a little controversial and time was running out, but she felt she was getting cut off. "During call-in how far are they willing to go? He cut me off and didn’t want to go the way I was going. Are there ever any shows when let people say what they want? How far is the station willing to go on issues? Are there any shows or times to let people say what they want?"
Sallie commented that for call-in shows, time is the issue. Who ever is running the show determines the issues and time spent on those issues. It is a totally subjective situation. She reminded the listener that email is also a great way to express your opinion, telling her to hang in there and express her opinion via email.
Fred Friedland observed that NPR has a telling and formative statement and they explain that they have a format and they follow guidelines that fit the show programming. They look for people who can extrapolate from their own experience, who are going to say something that will advance the programming. Keep in mind, he said, that radio has to be entertaining and has to keep moving along. There are judgment calls that have to be made.
Judith Galindez responded, "I never called back. I was going to a controversial situation and he cut me off."

The meeting was adjourned at 8:45pm