NYPR Community Advisory Board

CAB Meeting #2 2019-2020 Season

Wednesday, October 16, 2019 | The Greene Space at 44 Charlton St, New York, NY 10014


Guest: Andrew Golis, Chief Content Officer - WNYC


  • Conversation and Q&A with Andrew Golis
  • Public Comment
  • Community Advisor Board Business

 - Conversation with Andrew Golis

 Andrew introduced a presentation that outlines WNYC’s programming initiatives for the upcoming year, and how the station’s content offerings serve its news and non-fiction storytelling goals. The presentation covered:


  • Industry Trends
  • Culture Trends
  • WNYC’s Local Programming Perspective
  • WNYC’s Mission

 A quick summary of each section below:

 Industry Trends: The presentation highlighted the continuing collapse of local newspapers, and how these closings negatively affect the communities newspapers serve. Andrew spoke of the deceleration in VC-funded investments in the media landscape and how this relates to the growing number of consolidations seen across the media industry in recent years. This coincides with the more broadly observed growth in audio content, which continues to shape how companies reorient their content offerings, including WNYC. These trends, coupled with growing smart speaker adoption, compel WNYC to continuously reassess its core relationship with the listening audience.

Culture Trends: WNYC remains committed to serving its audience by connecting listeners to the larger issues of the day in a relevant and truthful manner. The station acknowledges that its audience is diverse, educated, and exposed to wide variety of news and entertainment content offerings throughout the day. The station seeks to occupy an important role in its listeners’ daily lives.

City Focused Programming: The station consistently attempts to showcase what makes NYC unique, leveraging its proximity to, and perspective of, New York’s many institutions and organizations. Andrew emphasized that the station is aware of the shifting trends in culture happening within the city. Serving a multicultural and multiethnic city requires adept and fluid programming teams, and Andrew’s group closely monitors how quickly trends in culture tend to occur and how culture leaders tap into shifting interests/priorities.

Mission: WNYC aims to be a leader in media journalism and audio programming. WNYC endeavors to be NYC's primary news source, hosting conversations that explain what’s happening and why. By promoting trusted voices through non-fiction storytelling, WNYC attempts to serve its listening audience with conversations that matter regarding topics of local interest. The station is committed to empowering journalist and storytellers to creating content that builds habits (such as programs that have a clear premise and delivered via a disciplined publishing schedule) and showcases unique events (such as short-run series that have a specific argument or idea).

Andrew concluded his conversation by discussing the recently reported decision to end the New Sounds radio program, and why the decision to strategically end the program was made. He introduced Shannon Connolly, SVP and General Manager of Music at NYPR, who reiterated Andrew's perspective on the music community’s passion for these programs but acknowledged that the station’s management team ultimately felt it was time to end the New Sounds program.

- Q&A with Andrew

Note: It was reported on October 11th that WYNC was planning to close the New Sounds radio program at the end of 2019. In response, many listeners attended the meeting to voice their concerns regarding this decision. Since this news coincided with Andrew’s scheduled appearance, some of the following questions from the audience directly address the intended closure of New Sounds. As it happened, the following week, incoming President and CEO, Goli Sheikholeslami, announced that the station had reversed its previous decision and will keep New Sounds on WNYC. New Sounds will continue as is—on WNYC-FM and online at—seven nights a week; Gig Alerts, Soundcheck, and the Weekly Music Roundup will continue on-air as well. Given the news, comments from the audience expressing their frustration and concerns over the previously announced cancellation have been reduced for summation purposes.

Question: I’m distressed that weekend news coverage recycles weekday programming. The weekend stories are seldom updated from their earlier broadcasts during the week. Also, the weekend sound bites are too short, and broadcasts would be better served with more airtime. Answer: We're thinking a lot about weekend programming, both locally and nationally. The station is in the process of adding positions to better address this issue, but, unfortunately, there are resource constraints preventing the station from fully address this concern. Greater weekend capacity in the newsroom will help alleviate this issue.

Q: Why is the station choosing to focus more on news and non-fiction storytelling, and not, say, music? Are these decisions data driven? A: We've been focusing our resources on news programming, and gradually it has become the station’s core service for the community.  

Q: I have a two-part question: 1.) [the decision to end New Sounds] took a lot of people by surprise, and it was done so without a lot of specificity. As head of content, do you take ownership? Was it above or below you? Who is going to embrace the specifics of the decision that was made? A: It was a shared leadership decision, by me, Shannon, and the rest of the leadership team. And it was made prior to the new CEO’s arrival.  (Question continued) and 2.) how do you reconcile the reruns of content on terrestrial radio and the amount of undifferentiated syndicated national programming on air with the fact that the station is cutting original non-syndicated content? A: We're focused on news and storytelling as the thing that people turn to us for, and it’s what we can offer the community most uniquely. Playlist music is not something we think is core to WNYC’s offering.  

Q: Was there any part of [the decision to end News Sounds] that could have been coordinated with, or received by, WQXR? A: Management agreed that putting New Sounds on the classical music station was not the best decision at this time.

Q: I’m interested in the news selection process. Through my own investigation, I’ve learned that judges invent their own arguments to settle cases. They selectively cite cases to support their own desired rulings. I write to journalists asking them to cover this issue specifically, but no one is interested in covering the fact that we don't have due process in our legal system. Judges are corrupt & malicious, and the judiciary obstructs justice, and I wish the radio would devote more time to covering these topics. Why don't journalists at WNYC want to cover these stories? A: We have a very significant investment in criminal justice and legal reporting in our newsroom that cover these kinds of key questions, such as events taking place at Rikers Island and the city’s Stop-N-Frisk policy. I’m willing to investigate your argument if you want to send me more detail.

Q: Why is WNYC phasing out New Sounds when the show’s purpose aligns with the radio’s mission to ‘make the mind more curious, the heart more open, and spirit more joyful’? A: That NYPR’s overall mission statement, and both WNYC and WQXR have their own respective mission objectives.

Q: What are you replacing New Sounds with?  A: When we're ready, we'll announce the new programming slate that will replace New Sounds.

Q: In your presentation you mentioned NY stories, identity, and community. Homelessness is a problem in this city and the reason for that is real estate development and unaffordable housing. It’s the central NY story, and development and unaffordable housing deserve more investigation by the station. It’s a major story that is under covered by WNYC. A: I agree with you that it’s a big story. We just produced a big special series on homelessness. One of the more powerful segments of that piece is about how people struggle with degraded empathy and how we feel guilty about exposure to homelessness. We currently have a metro desk reporter focusing on this very issue. No doubt, given the inequality of the city, it's an important story to tell well.

Q: You WNYC wants to be a part of the city, but one of the more distinct parts of the city is modern music. You're saying that New Sounds will be cut off, and maybe it will find a new home elsewhere. Why was the decision made to get rid of the program and then perhaps find the program a home? Why did you decide to end the show before you had a home for it? A: We see this as a transition, and the fact that the news came out before we had everything figured out is unfortunate. At this point, our goal is to make this a successful transition.

Q: How are you planning to involve the community with this decision? A: We invite the community to help us transition the program. Right now, we’re working closely with John to determine what the transition looks like.

Q: I'm curious why was launched with such verve and vigor just to be taken down two years later? A: We haven't announced that is closing. We are committed to new music, and we do plan to announce new music initiatives in the coming months.  

Q: Are music royalties a problem with archived music? A: At this time, no, royalties are not a consideration point.

A significant share of the audience voiced their frustrations with the announcement to discontinue to New Sounds. Audience members throughout the evening recited personal anecdotes that conveyed their passion for New Sounds and John Schaefer. One public commenter noted that the attendance of New Sounds supporters would’ve been greater if the 10/16 CAB meeting did not overlap with the Steve Reich show at the Winter Gardens.

End of Q&A.


- CAB Business

Meeting minutes from previous CAB Session (9/23/19) approved, unanimously.

Nancy Walcott began by summarizing, in more detail, WNYC’s decision to sunset New Sounds based on news reports and information received from NYPR employees. She noted that more detail will be shared with the CAB when it becomes available. (As noted earlier, this was ultimately followed up with news that New Sounds had been reinstated at WNYC.)

It was suggested that the panel discussion for November will likely not happen due to timing and other related conflicts. It was decided that the intended panel discussion should be postponed to 2020; it’s still not certain which panel topic will be chosen for the event. CAB proposed that the panel topic lean towards culture and entertainment reporting, rather than news and non-fiction.

It was also mentioned that listener feedback from this session’s Q&A could have been mitigated if the decision to close New Sounds had been reviewed with the CAB prior to being released publicly. As a step further, it’s felt that both the CAB and the station could benefit from a closer partnership that engages the CAB’s perspective on various proposed programming changes. In the case of the New Sounds closure, the station could’ve asked the CAB outright to serve as a focus group since the CAB represents the listening community’s diversity of interests. CAB leadership will look to communicate this suggestion to NYPR station management and the Board of Trustees.

The CAB’s Social Media Outreach Committee presented their objectives to the rest of the CAB, outlining their preliminary discussions around strategy and how social media can support the CAB’s larger mission to the community and NYPR. There are several open issues that still need to be discussed amongst the committee such as social media usage guidelines and how content should be managed across the CAB’s social media accounts. More updates will be shared with CAB as they become available.

Discussions continued related to business cards and the associated costs of having them produced for members of the CAB. No decisions were made regarding the content that would be printed on the card. Nancy welcomed proposals if the CAB had suggestions. 

Board of Trustees: Mary White, BoT Liaison

Members of the Public in Attendance - 45

CAB Members in Attendance

Barbara Gerolimatos

Jacob Wojnas, Vice-chair

Maggie Stapleton

Carole Chervin

Jane Tillman Irving

Marie Nachsin

David Lowenstein

Julia Fields

Marlene Birnbaum

Deborah Ruffins

Kathryn Tornelli, Vice-chair

Michael Brown

Erica Johnson, Vice-chair

Lauren Filler

Nancy Walcott

Grace Clarke

Lisa Nearier

Sindjua Sriviasan

CAB Members Excused

Alex Hu


Liz Buffa

Curry Sloan


Mary White

Donna Blank


Stan Ince

Emily Hacker


Valerie Dent