CAB MINUTES: MAY 2018
COMMUNITY BOARD MEETING (CAB) MINUTES
Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at The Greene Space, 44 Charlton St, NYC
GUESTS: Kathy Tu and Tobin Low, co-hosts of the podcast Nancy, a narrative documentary LGBTQ-themed podcast focusing on queer stories and conversations; it’s about “how we define ourselves and how we got there”.
- Presentation from Kathy Tu and Tobin Low
- Q&A with Kathy u and Tobin Low
- Public Comment
- Community Advisory Board business
CAB Chair Barbara Gerolimatos opened meeting with a welcome to listener attendees. The CAB approved corrected minutes from April 18, 2018 and Agenda for today. Co-Hosts Kathy Tu and Tobin Low were introduced.
Kathy Tu and Tobin Low discussed how they first met at a workshop and bonded over shared experiences. They discuss their career paths, both having diverged from backgrounds in law and music studies (Kathy and Tobin, respectively). Following the workshop, the hosts developed their podcast independently, eventually pitching their idea to WNYC through WNYC’s Podcast Accelerator program.
- Nancy has published ~40 stories to date, ranging from recovery in Orlando (Pulse nightclub shooting), to queer folks in the workplace (i.e. how ‘out’ you can be at work, which garnered +3000 listener responses). Recently it started the How to Make a Gaggle project, a weekly challenge to expand listeners’ network.
- Tobin introduced two story samples to demonstrate the kinds of stories Nancy covers:
o The first focuses on Kim Davis, the county clerk of Rowan County, KY, who denied marriage licenses to the LGBTQ community. One of the gay men who was denied a license by Mrs. Davis is running against her in the upcoming election. Tobin emphasizes the need to find both sides of the story for balance & perspective. Tobin found Kim Davis’ one gay friend, Dallas, and interviewed him, sharing an excerpt of that interview for the audience.
o The second story focused on Kathy’s trip to an adult summer camp that’s set up for the gay community. In audio, Kathy confesses to a new ‘crush’ at camp, and further relates personal details about a previous breakup]. Kathy goes on to say that the ‘crush’ didn’t ‘go as expected’. (
- Tobin described how he and Kathy try to find an angle that sheds new light on the LGBTQ experience, breaking down assumptions of a specific story or narrative or opening-up a story in a new way. They try to be vulnerable in their show because it helps their audience to open up to them. They are both committed to creating a safe place for their audience and strive to have that connection be authentic.
- Kathy discussed how open she is in relation to her peers, and how personal the host’s stories are in most of the episodes. Kathy related a story about coming out to her mother, as well as how she processed her anxieties. They both signal their aversion to identity and stereotypes. For example, Kathy dislikes the word ‘butch’, while Tobin questions gay men’s ideals about body image, which resulted in an episode about gay men and their relationship to their bodies.
During the Q & A that followed the presentation, many questions about how Nancy was conceived and how it is produced were answered. Nancy was originally pitched as GayDio (play on Radio), but since this name was already taken by a streaming platform in the UK, a new title was then chosen. Nancy has history and connotation in the LGBTQ community, and it was chosen, appropriated and redefined. The subject matter for the show is rooted in both Kathy’s and Tobin’s experiences and explores what makes them and their community unique. Other subjects come from direct pitches to the team, i.e.’ the queer teenager in Alaska. Pitches can be submitted online and all are tracked. There are about 40 episodes now as they enter the third season with about 15 episodes/season and episode runs about 35~45 minutes. Some episodes come together in a month, some episodes require 3 to 4 months to piece together. Nancy debuted in Top10 on iTunes shortly after launching and now has 1000+ members, showing good engagement. CAB members expressed interest in the gaggle episode. The idea for Gaggle came during a brainstorm session, asking questions, such as: “where is my chosen family/group? This started with trying to find a 25-year-old man some friends. The tools/learnings from that episode informed the Gaggle Project. Because the 2016 election was important to a lot of LGBTQ folks (there was an episode on Gay Republicans), topics are chosen without being overly political, and they often include local political coverage to shed light on issues/platform. Most importantly, Nancy works by developing a safe space for queer people to share. Both Tobin and Kathy expressed that had something like Nancy been around when they were growing up, it would have been meaningful in different ways to both. For example, Tobin was impressed with one Will and Grace show when a gay Asian character confidently walked across the screen and said nothing. To him, it demonstrated that POCs could be represented on TV. Nancy is a podcast where gay POC have a voice.
- The cohosts noted that WNYC Studios has been very supportive of Nancy. From the beginning, it had a decent on-ramp for creatively testing the format, which found early on that podcasting was a more malleable medium content-wise then traditional radio. WNYC supports all ideas, even the more risqué topics (like sex toys). One of the missions of the CAB is to determine if WNYC is meeting the needs of the community. In both Kathy and Tobin’s experience, lots of people at the station feel there’s a good momentum for the show now; they are reaching more people and fulfilling a need.
- Comments were received on the new Takeaway host. The first day was so touchy-feeling, and the listener expressed being very disappointed by that. She hopes the show moves to more hard line news coverage. She was also concerned that the same stories are being replayed, i.e., same headlines on WNYC News, BBC, The Takeaway, etc.
- Concerns expressed about the city being destroyed by developers and the shocking lack of coverage of this by NYPR.
- In response to the CAB letter to Mayo Stuntz and Laura Walker posted on May 4 on CAB Facebook, an interest was expressed in the ombudsman model in public radio. CAB response: Although BBC has an ombudsman, these roles exists in the public broadcasting sphere, but specific examples are few and far between.
- Concern expressed about the decision to replace Todd Zwillich at The Takeaway, with a request for an explanation for his disappearance. The CAB is not involved in staff and personnel decisions made by NYPR.
- Listener requested more information on how the feedback process works at CAB meetings and in other area. CAB explained feedback is received through CAB meetings, listener services, speaker hosts, BoT meetings, emails to CAB mailbox, emails to NYPR, Tweets, etc.
- Concerns expressed about grammatical/usage lapses, stating that it’s a disservice to have mixed metaphors, subject-verb disagreements, idioms, etc. Attendee requested the station hire someone to oversee these issues.
- Interest expressed in the number of people listening to the Nancy or any podcast and in how this is measured and monitored. Attendees were encouraged to use WNYC app to download their podcast so that WNYC Studios can better track podcast downloads.
- Concern expressed about NPR's April Fool’s Day joke that Will Shortz crossword puzzle show was ending. Although it was a good joke, considering the current environment, concern expressed that jokes can be misconstrued.
- Interest expressed in NYPR policy re providing 'balanced news': if you hear opinion A, you need to find opinion B. It’s a practice that’s okay to play with theoretically, but it’s being normalized. For example, white supremacists; it’s a lie to find balance in that ideology. Where does the station lie on the political spectrum (rational vs. irrational)? CAB response: WNYC seeks to provide radio content that introduces other voices into the national dialogue and tries to provide an outlet for multiple perspectives on a variety of issues. This is a space where dialogue is encouraged. Local stations try to reflect the local community. At one point in time, there was an equal time rule where most corporations had to commit to allotting an equal amount of time to opposing viewpoints. That’s no longer the case.
New CAB member nominees were reviewed. Grace Clarke, Chair of Nominating Committee summarized the recruitment process (24 applicants per open seat which emphasizes the enthusiasm of WNYC’s listeners). The nominations for membership for Julia D. Field, Jane Tillman Irving, Alex Hu and Curry Sloan were approved for forwarding to the Board of Trustees (BoT) for approval on June 14.
Erica Johnson and Katherine Tornelli self-nominated for the open Vice Chairs positions. Barbara Gerolimatos and Jake Wojnas renewed their positions, Chair and Vice Chair, respectively. Chad Bascombe stepped-up to become Recording Secretary. The slate of new officers for the 2018-19 CAB session was approved by the CAB. The slate will also be approved by the BoT at June 14 meeting. Erica Johnson made statement expressing an interest in seeing more community involvement and wanting to see the CAB grow and become more of a presence in the community. In this way the CAB scan bring more voices and perspective to the proceedings. Katherine Tornelli agreed with that goal. CAB agreed to the goal of reaching out to community groups and inviting them to attend and participate in the CAB’s monthly discussions
- Thursday, June 14, 2018, 6:30 PM, The Greene Space, 44 Charlton Street, New York (Google map)
- Hosts, Kai Wright, editor and host, WNYC Narrative.
CAB MEMBERS (ALPHABETICAL)
- 25 members of the public; Judi Williams, NYPR CAB Liaison; Mary White, BoT Liaison