GUEST: Kai Wright, WNYC On Air Reporter, Narrative Unit



  • Presentation from Kai Wright
  • Q&A with Kai Wright
  • Public Comment
  • Community Advisory Board business




  • Kai discussed the gentrification of Bed-Stuy as seen through the lens of his block and its surroundings and played the trailer for the podcast There Goes the Neighborhood.
  • He expressed surprised at the level and direction of frustration expressed by those interviewed while noting the need to explain events from as far back as the 1940’s to understand the changes taking place today
  • Mr. Wright noted the ability of the podcast to respond to coverage of “Change” (ex. The ability to pivot to Suffolk County for The United States of Anxiety) exploring the “2nd Generation of ‘White Flight’ ” (from Queens to Long Island)
  • Kai described his intention to cover New Jersey for the Midterm Elections in the way that Suffolk County was covered for the Presidential elections and his desire to explore “Gender and Power Movements” as well as the history of Ida B. Wells.
  • Mr. Wright also described Caught,  a podcast made from narratives collected by giving tape recorders to individuals in juvenile justice facilities. This was rare access and originally intended as a Radio Rookies Project


Q & A

  • Tio Louie of Prime Latino Media asked if the Narrative Unit described “scripted media” similar to the idea of “chronicles” in Latino media. Kai responded that there is an ongoing discussion about how best to delegate resources among WNYC Studios (purchase, production/distribution of podcasts) and WNYC News whose mission is to respond to news. The “Narrative” name is a byproduct of the efforts to define the news department.
  • Questioner #2 was moved by description of gentrification in Bed-Stuy and wished to hear more about coverage at CAB meetings. Additionally, a recommendation was made for WNYC to publicize Rent Guidelines Board meeting dates. Regarding United States of Anxiety the questioner noted that given the rise of “Out Nazis” the hoped for demise of Trump does not seem forthcoming. Kai noted that he was more interested these days about the reaction to the rise/reality of Trump, having answered most of his questions about what led to the election results. He is also interested in Stacey Abrams’ rise and her groundbreaking development of the electorate in Georgia noting that there’s been no real investment in the politics of South Georgia since the “Albany Movement.”
  • Questioner #4: How was access gained to juvenile offenders? Sound design seems to dramatize the stories. Query also referenced a Jon Letzin, sound designer, and added that sound designers need to be credited. Kai described a 20-year involvement with the juvenile service facility featured in Caught but did not know how the initial entry into facility occurred. Initially, the program was designed to have students feel less isolated from the community. He likened these facilities (Federal prisons to juvenile systems) to fiefdoms, observing that people who ran facilities are predisposed to tell “their stories” Kai disagreed with questioning the roll of sound design in audio broadcasts, and noted Casey Meems, the sound designer for Caught. He asked if the use of nice pictures or fonts are manipulative, or if they aid in telling a story. He described the intimacy of audio stories, noting you are entering the listener’s space. When you’re asking people to wrestle with hard stuff it helps to manage the experience and sound design helps this.
  • Questioner # 4 noted “top-down” process of selecting stories wondering what the role of ordinary people is, describing a personal story of a bogus decision in which a judge falsifies arguments.  He believes journalists are the ones who decide what story to tell, but he would like the public to have editorial input. Kai replied that journalists aim to make stories that are useful the world over. Before one can assess the importance of an issue, journalists need to substantiate/confirm facts, and then can decide to tell the story in a chosen medium; WNYC stories oftentimes start with a neighbor or someone he met, although not all stories make it through the process.
  • Questioner #3: Do Podcasts make it on air?  Kai noted that Indivisible and other shows (ex. United States of Anxiety) had 30-minute call-in show after the election. Live segments were sometimes appended to All Things Considered. A follow-up comment noted disappointment that WNYC took The Gothamist but left DNA Info unsupported, while noting the importance of local coverage of school board meetings, etc. and this creates a rarified audience that leaves out casual, occasional listeners. Kai agreed but believes that WNYC’s audience is less “rarified” than others’.


CAB questions:  Erica Johnson asked about “Caught, and wondered, as a black person, what was it like reporting on this topic and asked if Kai wonders if people are REALLY listening to these stories. Kai responded that this was a challenging question, often asking himself, “Why am I telling this particular story?” He noted that sometimes feels like vampirism given the multitude of black/brown faces. On bad days he questions why he does this work. Merwin Kinkade asked about staffing.  Kai described a collaborative newsroom that “beg, borrow and steal” to gain contributors. Four people contributed to There Goes the Neighborhood. Nancy Walcott asked if Kai’s focus was primarily on the NYC area, given that Stacey Abrams was mentioned.  How do you seed the listenership of WNYC and what do you see/project regarding the listening patterns of your audience? Kai replied that the broadcasting tower is atop the Empire State Building, and the News department largely follows that market. While Kai’s story choices are of New York, they are not only NY. He uses a unique cultural and intellectual lens to make stories become alive. Audio listeners tend to be listeners.  There is a change in podcast listening habits, too, whereas people pick podcasts to listen to versus subscribing to news print.



  • “Caught” was the best podcast ever heard and noted the concern about Williams as a sponsor. Chair Barbara Gerolimatos noted that once the contract was over, Williams was no longer a WNYC sponsor. Additional concern was noted about Wells Fargo as a sponsor, given the halo effect of being a sponsor contrasted with the impact of their policies on poor people.  It was further noted that Richard Hake, during fundraiser drives, says, “It matters where the money comes from.”,
  • Public Commenter #2: Was disturbed to hear nothing more about CEO Laura Walker and that nothing more is happening to rectify the storm that resulted from the three firings. The public stated there needs to be a reckoning for Laura Walker given the harassment incidents under her watch and believed the Board of Trustee investigation was a joke.
  • Public Commenter #3: Prime Latino Media knows that reporters were wrestling with how to address the fact that 3 males were fired.  He lauded WNYC for replacing John Hockenberry with a Latina Woman, women of color and he is happy to see Laura Walker’s vocal desire to hear from more women of color. He is very interested in knowing who the Mid Day host will be, noting many viable candidates. Kai noted that getting Tanzina Vega as the host for The Take Away was a coup for WNYC.  The CAB Chair noted that after 4 weeks with Vega as the host, LA picked up show for the first time ever.
  • Public Commenter # 5 noted that the last two Rent Guidelines Board Hearings on June 12, July 26. She also asked about follow-up on elderly gentleman in trailer who had been in neighborhood for years and was not going anywhere. Kai noted that his neighbor did not want to be more involved because he was annoyed at the coverage of teacher strike in the 80’s. Kai promised to ask Brian Lehrer to mention the Rent Guidelines Board dates.
  • Public Commenter # 6 asked about Kai’s pay grade for reporters’ comments.  Kai stated that he  would love to see NYPR be less top heavy, and that everyone at station would be making a decent living.






  • Barbara recommended formation of committees and suggested committee Vice Chairs to lead each committee, including one for Bylaws (Jake Wojnas), Community Outreach (Erica Johnson), and Social Media/ Communication (Kathryn Tornelli) with a Newsletter and Facebook subcommittees (Grace Clarke and Anita Aboulafia, respectively).  Tentative dates for the 2018-19 session were distributed.  The Chair reminded CAB members that with use of The Greene Space, meeting dates may need to be rescheduled sometime in 2019.
  • Grace Clarke noted that Jake Wojnas was interested in conducting a survey to assess how we can best work together with the station and do better community outreach.
  • Nancy Walcott requested clarification on the meaning of a “Community Panel.”




Tuesday, September 12, 2018

Meeting: 6:30 PM, The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, New York (Google map)

Guest:  Laura Walker, President and CEO, New York Public Radio



Adam Wasserman

Andrew S. Greene

Anita Aboulafia

Barbara Gerolimatos, Chair

Carole Chervin

Chad Bascombe

David N. Sztyk

Donna Blank

Erica Johnson

Grace Clarke, Vice-chair

Jacob Wojnas, Vice-chair

John Bacon

Julia D. Fields (as of 91/18)

Jane Tillman Irving (as of 9/1/18)

Kathryn Tornelli

Lisa Nearier

Liz Buffa

Marlene Birnbaum

Merwin Kinkade

Michael Brown

Michaela Balderston (excused)

Nancy Walcott, Vice-chair

Peter Kentros

Samantha "Sam" Pedreiro (excused)

Stan Ince

Theodore Schweitzer


*italics = not present


  • 17 members of the public
  • Mary White, BOT Liaison