New York Public Radio - | | |
Community Advisory Board (CAB) Meeting
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
St. Francis College, 7th Floor
Brooklyn, New York Attendees

CAB Members:  Chairman, Steven Rapkin;  Co-Vice Chairmen Lue Ann Eldar and Sarah Lenigan; Members, Catherine Arcure, John Bacon, Gary Brocks, Renee Cherow-O’Leary, Barbara Gerolimatos, Andrew S. Greene, Merwin Kinkade,  Joyce Lannert, Harriet Olson, Theodore Schweitzer, David Sztyk and Adam Wasserman.  Excused Absences: Anita Aboulafia, Judith Cholst, Stephanie LaFroscia, Matthew Ormsbee, Daniel Rath, Melissa Williams and Helen van der Voort, Secretary

Public Attendees:   Marilyn Berlson, Audrey Doyle, Timothy Fanacy, Judy Gorman, Anne McKay, Catherine Kinkade, Paul Ness, Earl Zimmerman (WGBO Community Advisory Board), David Sokol and Michael D.D. White

Guest Presenter:  Manoush Zomorodi, NY Public Radio Host and Managing Editor, New Tech City


The November 2014 NY Public Radio Community Advisory Board (CAB) meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by  Steven Rapkin, who welcomed CAB members and the public audience to the first CAB gathering outside of Manhattan in the group’s recent history. 

As an introduction, Mr. Rapkin offered a primer on the existence of the CAB stating that it was a congressionally-mandated independent group with the purpose of sharing public feedback to station management and reiterated that the CAB had no authority to elect trustees or change programming.  Mr. Rapkin further commented that there are nine monthly CAB meetings throughout the year with the exception of December, July and August.  Mr. Rapkin closed his introduction by thanking St. Francis College’s Robert A. Oliva for his coordination with CAB members Sarah Lenigan and Renee Cherow -O’Leary to make the auditorium available for the CAB meeting.

Approval of November 18, 2014 Agenda and October 2014 Minutes

Motion to approve November 18th agenda and seconded.

Motion to approve October 15th minutes with spelling correction and seconded.



Manoush Zomorodi Presentation

Mr. Rapkin introduced Manoush Zomorodi, Host and Managing Editor of New York Public Radio's New Tech City, the show that puts heart and the human experience into tech coverage. New Tech City recently entered the “Top 10 Podcasts” rankings on iTunes and took the #1 slot in the Tech category. Ms. Zomorodi was named "Best Host 2014" by the Alliance for Women in Media. A graduate of Georgetown University, Zomorodi has been a producer, correspondent and presenter for the BBC, a reporter and anchor for Thomson Reuters Television, and a media consultant to non-profits including the Council on Foreign Relations, Human Rights Watch and the Gates Foundation and is a resident of Brooklyn.

At the top of her presentation, Ms. Zomorodi asked whether the CAB members would prefer hearing an upcoming speech or just having a conversation.  The consensus was for a conversation, in the beginning of which Ms. Zomorodi explained how New Tech City came into being.  

Zomorodi explained that she had been working in the background at the BBC in foreign news for ten years – Washington, Berlin and Brussels.  While in Berlin after 9/11, Mt. Aetna started erupting. By happenstance, she was the only one in the area and was asked to cover the eruption live.  At this seminal point, Zomorodi discovered that she liked being on the air.   Fast-forward to 2012, she had the opportunity to meet with WHYY and WNYC in NJ with the business editor to discuss the stations’ needs and plans.

“I wanted to engage audiences.  The economy was changing, technology was at the center for the Bloomberg Administration in New York -- scientific/bio-tech research through a joint institutional effort between The Technion and Cornell and tech start-ups in New York like Tech Crunch, Digiday, and others were becoming topics of the day.  The business editor needed someone to cover technology. He had a seven-minute slot on Tuesday mornings and I was given freedom to do what I wanted. WNYC wanted a program that went beyond analysis to explain why we should care -- new skills that needed new schools; how parents were managing around gadgets, the Internet and social media.  I am very grateful to Dean (Cappello), Laura (Walker) and Jim (Schachter) who said, ‘Let’s do On-Demand digitally and then broadcast.’  The goal for me was to help people understand the new computational world, and then confront some of the moral dilemmas around privacy and personal data addiction…”

Ms. Zomorodi then began to field questions from both CAB members and the audience, leading off with information that would be in an upcoming segment in which she will appear as a guest on the Dr. Oz Show on the role of Internet chat rooms and eating disorders.  Upon referencing a popular website, Thinspiration, where people gather information about their height and weight, and sometimes competitively, Ted Schweitzer asked Ms. Zomorodi whether the chat room was just teenagers.   Ms. Zomorodi said her findings indicate that all ages are represented, which led her to another story about a recent study about ‘brain bifurcation’: the part of the brain that we use to read on paper is not the same as what we use when we read digitally. “If this part is not exercised, Maryanne Wolf, an expert in the field, said that that part of the brain goes away.  This explains why I shouldn’t read while running.  I need to read on paper,” to which she got a big laugh from the audience.  She went on to talk about other upcoming segments and encouraged people to follow New Tech City and share comments and spent some time about the first Varsity video game squad called League of Legends at a college in Chicago (Robert Morris University?).

 Steve Rapkin, Gary Brocks, Renee Cherow-O’Leary and a public audience member chimed in about college chess teams (citing the University of Maryland) in the past, how video game tourneys started in the college and whether these electronic video game teams were under the auspices of athletics departments.  Ms. Zomorodi responded that a podcast would be available about the subject, that this highly competitive game started in South Korea and that it was featured in last Sunday’s New York Times.  As an interesting sidebar, Ms. Zomorodi said that when she asked students how long they thought this game would last, they said that they expected it to be short-lived, and also mentioned that more people watched the League of Legends than tuned into the NBA Final. 

Other topics that followed in this rapid-fire interactive exchange included: 

  • Aging out of video-gamers
  • Dexterity and application to operating drones
  • Smart phone usage increasingly becoming addictive
  • New Tech City from a sociological lens
  • Women and Technology (Harvey Mudd College quadrupling women enrollment; Ada Lovelace)
  • Walter Issacson of The Aspen Institute
  • National Security Administration (NSA), Babbage, Binney, Snowden
  • Listenership:  streaming, radio, et al.
  • Math anxiety and creative thinking
  • Children and families – dissociative effect vs. the experiential
  • Technology and brain development

Mr. Rapkin thanked Ms. Zomorodi for her attendance and presentation.

The agenda continued around the discussion of future meetings in 2015.  Mr. Rapkin said that the next meetings would be held in Manhattan with a meeting in the Bronx in April to which Lue Ann Eldar gave a brief update and thanked fellow CAB member John Bacon for his assistance in obtaining a room at the Bronx Library Center in Kingsbridge (near Fordham University) and said she would welcome suggestions given that a panel discussion was not preferred. 

Committee Reports were given by 1) Sarah Lenigan for the Digital Committee (members include Ms. Lenigan, Adam Wasserman and Matthew Ormsbee) re Facebook, an update of the CAB website and upcoming usage of a Twitter handle, 2) Catherine Arcure for the Public Response Committee (members include Ms. Arcure, Melissa Williams and Daniel Rath),  where two handouts were offered about suggested approaches, including getting suggestion cards from attendees and CAB members to partner with everyone on topics and future speakers), and 3) Barbara Gerolimatos volunteered to be on the Nominating Committee with Lue Ann Eldar and John Bacon. 

Mr. Rapkin, who quoted from the congressionally-approved bylaws, fielded questions about the CAB and its mission, and reiterated that the group is advisory-only.  Members of the audience suggested that the advisory group consider strengthening its role given the public nature of NY Public Radio.

When asked by Mr. Rapkin if audience members saw an improvement in CAB communications over previous years, almost all agreed by a show of hands that announcements had improved (Facebook and WNYC radio announcements).  In response, Mr. Rapkin directed accolades to the community division under Brenda Williams, and Jennifer on her team, as helpful in making information timelier and more readily available.  Ms. Lenigan asked that members of the audience and CAB encourage their Facebook friends to “like” the CAB Facebook page and if anyone wanted a particular subject covered to send the link and comments to the Digital Committee.

Mr. Rapkin said that there was room on the Program Committee, to which Andrew Sztyk and Gary Brocks expressed interest.  Catherine Arcure reiterated that it was the Public Response Committee’s goal to partner with everyone – the listening audience, the Program Committee, and those making public comments.  Renee Cherow-O’Leary added that she felt the CAB is a real resource for Listener Services – marketing, strategies and research. 

Members of the audience expressed concerns about sponsors who seem antithetical to the mission of a public radio station (citing a fracking sponsor) and that listener services is not being as responsive as they would like – “It’s just an answering machine. I almost dropped my membership because of that.”  Mr. Rapkin stated that “We (The CAB) are here to advise the station and see whether they meet cultural and educational needs.  We can give advice. We can have a pithier one (mission statement).” Sarah Lenigan suggested that the Digital Committee’s definition of “creating a space for dialogue about NY Public Radio” might be a good start.   Susan Hornick suggested that the CAB be informed of programming goals and individual programs earlier in the station planning process.  Mr. Rapkin said that Board of Trustee CAB liaisons typically address that.   “Trustee Ellen Polaner, who sent her regrets, has been very active and complimentary about the CAB.” He went on to say that he as well as members of the CAB, namely Joyce Lannert, Lue Ann Eldar and Barbara Gerolimatos have attended NY Public Radio Board of Trustee meetings.


  • Recommendation that the CAB provide alternative communications and advice on policy
  • Concern over the commercialization of Board of Trustees assignments
  • Concerns  and “dismay” about policies that the station is no longer “listener-supported” due to seemingly increased corporate sponsorships
  • Stack removal from NY Public Library (Citizens Defending Libraries)
  • Compliments on Brian Lehrer and Leonard Lopate and the evening’s presentation by Manoush Zomorodi

Wrapping up at 9:04 p.m., Steven Rapkin thanked everyone in attendance for taking part in the discussion, and adhering to the three-minute per speaker rule.  He stated that comments would be reflected in the Minutes.

On behalf of CAB Secretary, Helen Van der Voort, these Minutes were respectfully submitted by               Lue Ann Eldar, Co-Vice Chairman, NY Public Radio Community Advisory Board on December 1, 2014.