NY Public Radio (WNYC-WQXR) Community Advisory Board (CAB) Minutes


May 19, 2014, 6:30 pm

The Greene Space

44 Charlton Street

New York, New York  10014



Community Board Members (CAB) & Liaisons

Present:  Joyce Lannert, Chairman; Co-Vice Chairmen Judith Cholst (phone), Steve Rapkin, Lue Ann Eldar and Sarah Lenigan; NY Public Radio Board of Trustees Liaison, Ellen Polaner;  Members John Bacon, Gary Brocks, Renee Chernow-O'Leary, Andrew S. Greene, Sue Hornik, Harriet Olson, Theodore Schweitzer, David N. Sztyk; BOT liaison Ellen Polaner and NY Public Radio Station Liaison, Jennifer Mack, WNYC.   Excused Absences: Helen van der Voort, Secretary; and Members Anita Aboulafia and Michael Bauman.


Public Audience

Mr. Polaner, Melissa Williams, Jessica Miller, Khrista Rypl, Fred Friedland, Joan Saltzman, MG Duke,
Nancy Di Francesco, Josephý Rappaport (plus son) (sp) and Sydney Beverage (sp)


Chairman’s Remarks
Joyce Lannert called the meeting to order at 6:36 p.m. and asked if there were initial comments from the public.

Fred Friedland asked about a recent staff change and Ellen Polaner responded that the change was related to internal policies.

Josephy Rappaport introduced himself as a Brooklyn resident and commented that while he appreciates WNYC’s reporting in a multi-cultural city such as New York, he was concerned that his many requests for reporting on topics for the Hassidic community have to date gone unheeded. 


Approval for April Minutes

Joyce Lannert called for a motion to approve the April minutes.  Steven Rapkin made the motion and Gary Brocks seconded it.


Recruitment Committee Activities

Steven Rapkin, Chair of the Recruitment Committee (the Committee), reported that there were thirty-two applicants for FY 2014-2017 CAB membership.  All of the resumes and correspondence were reviewed by the Committee from which fourteen candidates were chosen to be interviewed.  Mr. Rapkin affirmed that his fellow committee members, John Bacon and Lue Ann Eldar, and he were impressed with the applicants who represented every borough, NJ and Long Island, but with humor conceded that having a cab driver on the CAB still eludes us.  Mr. Rapkin went on to share that there will be two more sessions of interviews in addition to the one with Melissa Williams who was in attendance and would meet with the Committee after the CAB meeting.  Wrapping up, Mr. Rapkin commented that the Committee was seeking six to eight new members and anticipated submitting recommendations around 6/2 with a request to approve the new members on 6/16 at the next CAB meeting.  Once the candidates are okayed by the CAB, Joyce Lannert will present the finalists to the NY Public Radio Board of Trustees for a final vote at its meeting on 6/25/2014. Mr. Rapkin thanked John Bacon of  NY Public Library and Jennifer Mack of NY Public Radio for providing interview space during the recruitment process.


Guest Presenter

John Keefe, Senior Editor for Data News and Journalism Technology

Upon Joyce Lannert’s introduction, Mr. Keefe began his presentation by giving the audience a historical perspective of his team’s initial mandate to provide maps to becoming the epicenter of WNYC’s newsroom to inform and grow the capacity for game-changing and investigative reporting.

Mr. Keefe informed the gathering that the principle goal for his team is: “To do one thing well,” and that rooted in the data are very compelling macro and micro stories.  Moreover, he commented that data collection should be relevant and prescient, citing fun projects that engage the public in tracking sleep patterns, cicadas and finding out the most common names for dogs, and overlaying maps as in the case of flood zone information when governmental websites crashed due to high hit volume during Sandy. 

Mr. Keefe also mentioned that the team’s data analyses are open for reuse and scrutiny and that this approach has helped journalists explore topics that are relevant for listeners, e.g., nursing homes, crime reports, drug mistake reports, moving violations, et al. as well as information for  governments, e.g., voting patterns, lobbying reports, traffic speed adherence, accidents, et al.


Presentation Q & A Highlights with CAB Members and Public Audience


“How did WNYC come up with the idea of a sleep project and traffic accidents?”  

           “We wanted to see how technology, sensor (e.g., Fit Bits, Jawbone , other Apps)  and crowd sourcing journalism could work and what could be done better.” (J. Keefe)


Joyce Lannert noted that the map’s election data indicated that people didn’t vote and not even at the primary level.  “Once you get information like that, how does the station get involved? Laura Walker herself said that news is becoming more about what people want to hear.”

          “We are a journalistic organization.  We bring information to you so that you can make your decision. WNYC also makes a strong effort to participate by hosting debates and has shared information with the Campaign Board.” (J. Keefe)


Sarah Leningan asked:  “What percentage of information gathering is from public vs. private sources?”

          “We have mostly relied on open data through the government data portal and sometimes information that we can collect ourselves.”


“What base map do you use and how do you decide on what data to look into?”

           “Whatever is useful at the moment –MapBox, Open Street Map, other Apps, crowd- and open sourced-data.  We also get lots of questions form the journalists and we attend morning and editor meetings.”



Gary Brocks wondered if it might be useful to explore why map areas that have a low percentage of WNYC listeners also show low voting statistics. 

In response to Theodore Schweitzer’s question for Mr. Keefe about what trends excite him, Mr. Keefe responded that a lot of his team’s directions are based on requests from Radio Lab and Brian Lehrer.  He went on to say that the power of statistics is a powerful and exciting trend where it is no longer acceptable for journalists to be watchdogs and say “We don’t do math.” and as such at every opportunity he encourages Journalism students to take Statistics.

It was noted that Data News is a valuable asset not only for the station but for so many levels – political candidates, government, nonprofits, corporations, et al.

In closing, Ellen Polaner said that she was impressed by the sheer number of maps and data now on the radio.  Mr. Keefe responded by saying that his team does work for so many parts of the station and that they sprinkle information throughout multiple platforms – web, staff blogs and the team’s Twitter handle @datanews.  The team has a pretty good following with a fair amount of e-mails from listeners, which allows the team to achieve its goal of being prescient in the support of breaking and ongoing stories such as Sandy and “Bridgegate, ” where Nancy Solomon and her NJ Public Radio team are more knowledgeable.


Additional Public Comments

A member from the audience asked if there were anything that could be done to stop “the cacophony of fundraising,” and that it seems that the announcements are coordinated between WNYC and WQXR.  Steven Rapkin said that this was a common issue and that the Station has reported that it is doing what it can – streaming, advance notice—but that the radio fundraising drives have historically been the most effective way to raise need funds thus far.

Lue Ann Eldar asked how members of the public heard about the CAB meeting.  The majority said they heard about the meeting through spots on the radio, followed by referral e-mails based on the announcement and the CAB’s Facebook page.

  1. Radio-4
  2. Web/E-Mail -3
  3. Facebook- 2
  4. Twitter/Other – 0


Presentations for Chair and Vice Chair Positions

Chair Candidates

Steven Rapkin, current co-Vice Chair, appointed 2012

Lue Ann Eldar, current co-Vice Chair, appointed 2013


Vice Chair Candidate(s)

Judith Cholst, current co-Vice Chair, appointed 2012


Lue Ann Eldar offered her qualifications in leadership on previous boards and nonprofits, including the imagining and execution of an arts and education center in the Bronx as well as her work in banking and information technology.   She commented she was interested in building upon the work begun under current leadership and stated that she would follow up with a statement via e-mail to CAB members.

Steven Rapkin said that he believes that the CAB has been effective in making a difference and connecting with the station by becoming more involved in the last year.  As an example, Mr. Rapkin cited the CAB working as a sounding board for Healthcare coverage and that Graham Parker, WQXR General Manager, came to depend on the CAB for the recent successful instrument drive (noting the help of Sarah Lenigan, Joyce Lannert, John Bacon and Andrew Greene) .  Mr. Rapkin said that he would like to bring his ideas, including a presentation from Elliot Forrest from the Programming side.  Mr. Rapkin further stated that he realizes that it is a sacrifice to attend meetings in Manhattan  and that he would follow  Joyce Lannert and the CAB’s decision to have a meeting in the Bronx and possibly Staten Island.

Mr. Rapkin wrapped up his comments by saying that he has co-chaired and chaired the Recruitment Committee the last two years and that with his organizational strengths, he envisions improvement of the CAB webpage as a priority and that he would give that responsibility to someone and that he would encourage increased participation by all members.

Judith Cholst said that she would run as Vice Chairman if no one else was in the running given that she is currently a co-Vice Chair. 

Various conversations followed re: availability, time constraints because of new jobs or studies and follow-up to obtain PowerPoint presentations made to the CAB.

Ms. Lannert asked the CAB to think of appropriate subject matters for our proposed outside-of-Manhattan meetings next year.  The CAB has agreed to hold one meeting in the Bronx and the second in either Brooklyn or Staten Island.   But it’s important, she emphasized, that we cover a topic of interest to those residents not just meet there.


The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:20 p.m.

Minutes submitted by:  Lue Ann Eldar for Helen van der Voort