CAB Minutes: November 2008

November 18th, 2008

New York Society for Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street

Ceremonial Hall, 7:00PM

Board members in attendance: Basya Mandell, Gaye Leslie, Gary Schulze (GS), Shavonne Johnson, John DeWitt, Gabriele Schroeder (GAS), David Tereshchuk, Dalia Ratnikas, Monica Strauss

Noreen O'Loughlin, WNYC

Alfred Friedland, CAB member emeritus in audience

Ilene Richman, taking minutes

Meeting commences at 7:10PM.

BM: Regarding the outreach meetings, January 20th is reserved for political coverage at Fordham. Is that fact that this is Inauguration Day a problem? (Short discussion ensues. It is agreed to try for a different date.)

GL: I caught up with Dr. Maloney at St. Francis. It's in downtown Brooklyn, and he's the dean of students. They're very interested. I suggested the bailout business, which is on everyone's mind. He said he would ask the faculty and get back to me within a week. We're looking at April.

BM: Our music program is also in April, on the 1st. I think we should aim for March.

GAS: Easter & Passover are in April.

GL: March sounds better.

BM: I think we need to ask if we want to have two back to back meetings in downtown Brooklyn. The April event is at BAM.

AF: The May event is also in downtown Brooklyn.

GL: Dr. Maloney asked if the event would be open to the public. I said yes, and they can help publicize it in their newspaper, which is distributed throughout Brooklyn, if we give them a press release.

(Discussion of whether consecutive meetings in Brooklyn is a problem.)

BM, to GL: Perhaps we could consider February, then we'd have alternate locations.

BM: I discussed via email creating questionnaires for the outreach meetings. Do you have any thoughts on content for their content?

GAS: When is the Fordham meeting?

BM: Right now it's scheduled for 1/20, but we don't think that�s a good date and are going to try for another.

JD: Are we going to stick to 2nd Wednesdays? (Discussion of other obligations, merits of a fixed date.)

BM: I think it�s important to make the meetings work with our schedules, but in terms of outreach, I think accommodating the public should take precedence.

BM: So in terms of the questionnaire..

GAS: I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish with them.

BM: At the end of the year, we're to report to WNYC, and I don't think limiting that to only our opinions is valuable. I'd like to bring in the opinions of the public. We can gear each meeting to a specific question. I think at a political meeting we could ask about Brian Lehrer and The Takeaway.

DR: I suggest having the 2 programs side by side to compare.

DT: Are we talking about national political coverage? What about local & international?

GAS: Also how the BBC covered the presidential campaign. I also think with the questionnaire, I think we should come up with similar questions, so that when we do our reports it�s easier to collate our results.

JD to GAS: Have you developed a questionnaire?

GAS: No.

GS: It seems to me it doesn't have to be long or complicated. What do you like, what do you dislike, favorite guests, etc.

GAS: It could be very similar for music.

DR: Will they be only open-ended, or ratings & specifics?

GAS: I think we can have both.

AF: Also which would you if you could [?]

GS: What about people who don't listen to us in the morning?

AF: They're unlikely to be there.

BM: While we wait for Ken, let's open the floor to the public.

Female member of public #1: I'm here to mourn the loss of To The Point. I understand that they wanted to have more women anchors. But they threw the baby out with the bathwater. [To The Point] is a superb program. I respect Michele Martin but The Takeaway and Tell Me More are chatter chatter with discussion, too. To The Point was head & shoulders above all of them in terms of content & his skills. I think WNYC is diluting themselves to the point of self-destruction.

GS: Does anyone know why they dumped it?

Female member of public #1: It's a magazine format. The content is dependent on the questions asked. I want information, not conversation. I can form my own opinions.

Female member of public #2: I have a feeling that, certainly in music, they've made a fetish of personality, rather than of the music. I think the music and the hosts need to be separate. I enjoy the new kinds of music being played on Evening Music and Overnight Music, but the hosts have become too prominent.

GL: You don't find it interesting when they tell you something about the music?

Female member of public #2: If only they did. They talk about everything else including their discomfort on the subway. Terrance McKnight seems to be aiming at a certain demographic, which seems to be K through 6. And he always sounds as if he�s about to mount the pulpit. I came here to find out if the reach toward a new demographic has succeeded.

JD: Do you feel the same way about David Garland?

Female member of public #2: Even he has changed. He's brought me a new type of music, and even has become a little...

GL: Did you like him better before? I found he was getting boring. He seems to have gone back to his earlier performance, now that they've split the schedule.

Female member of public #2: Maybe he was getting bored. I found David Garland's blog delightful to read. These are new things to me. They might be useful to new people. I've been listening since the 1930's.

JD: Radio is no longer just what goes over the transmitter. Maybe you're suggesting that the reach to a different audience is permeating the "radio" part of it.

Female member of public #2: It is an aspect of radio that I hadn't explored.

JD: I've noticed that the BBC has immediate feedback from their audience. Brian Lehrer does that superbly.

Female member of public #1: Lopate hasn't changed. I hope that show doesn't change. By the way, when Bob Edwards was separated from Morning Edition, that show became better. It has become a quality program. The Takeaway is pathetic.

BM: I'd like to throw this question to Noreen. At what point does WNYC look at listener feedback to a show like The Takeaway?

NO: We look at it all the time. We get calls and e-mails, we have ratings from Arbitron, which is currently in transition from diaries to people meters. It's difficult to compare those two forms of data. But we look at all the data we have access to. The ratings on The Takeaway are fairly stable. Media in general has seen an uptick due to the election cycle. That might be a bit of a mask. Morning radio listenership tends to be habitual; you don't see many changes.

GS: Why did they take the BBC out and put The Takeaway there?

GAB: It's still on the AM station.

NO: The aim was to try to get more people to listen to public radio. And we can offer a choice, because we have 2 stations.

AF: Is that information that you collect available to the public?

NO: It's proprietary. It's available to ad agencies because they pay for it.

Female member of public: I had a concern that you'd be getting rid of Morning Edition because it's expensive.

NO: It's a very popular show. I don't see us getting rid of it.

JD: Would you rather produce your own shows than purchase them?

NO: I think a combination is what we strive for. Our goal is to serve the community. We don't have a specific formula.

Female member of public #3: I'm just interested in this body and how the feedback system works. How do your reports fit in?

BM: Our report is submitted once a year. We have no way of knowing how the Board of Trustees handles it.

JD: The CAB is required by public radio stations. They are organized differently at different stations.

BM: It looks like Ken isn't going to make it. Are there any other issues? We won't be meeting again until January.

BM to MS: Since your background is in the arts, do you think you might organize something for March or May?

MS: Sure.

GAS: What kind of arts?

BM: Music. The focus would be on music programming.

Meeting is adjourned at 9:00 PM.