CAB Meeting - Sept. 2014


New York Public Radio
Community Advisory Board
September 15, 2014

In attendance: Steven Rapkin, Harriett Olson, Joyce Lannert, Matthew Ormsbee
Adam Wasserman, Sue Hornik, Judith Cholst, Renee Chernow-O’Leary, Merwin Kinkade, Lue Ann Eldar, Catherine Arcure, Sarah Lenigan, Theodore Schweitzer, Anita Aboulafia, Barbara Gerolimatos, Stephanie LaFroscia, Daniel Rath, David Sztyk, Melissa Williams, Helen van der Voort

Also in attendance: Laura Walker, President and CEO of NYPR, Kathleen Drohan representing WQXR and Brenda Williams CAB liaison.Members of the public in attendance: William Kelley, Burton Batson, E. Lios, Maren Lankford, Sydney Beverage, Catherine Kinkade, Fred Friedland, and Carlo Miani.

Judith Cholst moved approval of agenda and was seconded by Renee Chernow.

Joyce Lannert moved approval of the minutes of August and Theodore Schweitzer seconded. Minutes were approved as presented.

Steve Rapkin welcomed the new Board members and distributed the New Board Member Orientation Packet.

Kathleen Drohan from WQXR updated the Board on the recent instrument drive. The station worked in conjunction with Sam Ash and the Mr. Holland Opus Organization to match instruments with schools. They had expected 1000 instruments but got 3000. 128 schools with a music teacher on staff applied for the application for instruments, 108 were selected for the next step and 105 responded. Because the drive was so successful, the repair budget did not meet the needs. Consequently, there is an Indigogo campaign to meet the gap. Ms. Drohan showed a video asking for support and asked the CAB specifically to help spread the word. The campaign will run through October 8. She also shared a special story of a holocaust survivor’s donation. The station is looking forward to doing another drive again in 2016 with a “really ambitious” goal.

Laura Walker spoke next.

She started by thanking the CAB and Joyce Lannert for her prior service as Chair. She then discussed goals. Each brand (radio stations as well as NY produced programs like The Take Away, Radio Lab, etc.) has set goals to strengthen their brand. It’s a very exciting time as the podcasts have exploded, and traditional radio is still booming.

WNYC – programming highlights: Schedule changed to introduce the TED Radio Hour, replaced Tell Me More and added Here and Now. Only seven listeners called with complaints. The stations are striving to make sure content is integrated across platforms to create community. As an example, the Sleep segment led many thousands of people to track their sleep using an app or FItbit. Ms. Walker wants to get the word out that Twitter now has audio snippets. Future projects include a gubernatorial debate, election coverage and a series covering six months of the City’s new Pre-K program that will look at trends, what’s working with the program, etc. A new and improved school-oriented website, SchoolBook is being rolled out and will be translated into Spanish. Starting October 13th WNYC will be running a series on climate change. There will be a series on the impact of ObamaCare in Newark with a forum at NYPAC on October 14th hosted by Brian Lehrer. Brian Lehrer will be celebrating 25 years on WNYC, and he will look back at momentous shows starting September 25. Finally, Leonard Lopate will be celebrating his 30th year in 2015.

WQXR – A new app was introduced last week and they would like to enhance it by providing curated lists. There is a new Berlin Philharmonic series on air for 12 weeks and a new series called “The Sopranos” hosted by Deborah Voigt who will be the first Artist in Residence. Also on the horizon are a Bach Festival in November, Bach and yoga playlists, organ concerts and Greene Space events.

The Greene Space - There will be 85 events (TGS 30, WNYC 30, WQXR 25) including fourteen live events for WNYC representing new programs, brands and partnerships. There will be WQXR festival programming, community events, and an effort to engage artists with TGS original programs to expand audiences and diversity.

NYPR is investing in new content with specific focus on health, especially cancer. There will be live events on RadioLab. New podcasts available in 2014 are “Death, Sex and Money”, “The Sporkful” and “The Longest Shortest Time”.

Digital innovation – MAD Mobile (apps, mobile web), Audio (podcasts, distribution), Data (knowing audience better).

There is a focus on the audience and getting the word out. How do we grow the audience and engage them? And then of course get them to become members.

• Huge increase in mobile listening. How do we “atomize” pieces, and then how do we make them work for apps?
• Developing new podcasts on health, This American Life…
• Music – want to partner with Spotify and Pandora but also figure out a way to do it better. “Curate” since we know classical better.

Q and A
• How do you think about investing in old tech vs. new in response to question about strength of broadcast signal. The signal strength is not strong because when WQXR was purchased it had to move up the dial – it was too expensive to buy a station with a stronger signal.
• Growth in technology? The stations are looking at how we can “leapfrog” as fewer people are actually listening to a radio, relying instead on internet connections.
• How do you decide which podcasts? It is difficult, but the station uses a combination of top-down and bottom-up, internal “bake offs” and scouts looking for creative podcasts.
• Station would like to expand participation of women and more diverse voices in podcasts, as well as increase health-field reporting. WQXR would like to do more education.
• As stations have become more national, is NYC becoming less important? No, it is filling a void for local news coverage.

Comment from a member of the public: He suggests Brian Lehrer invite opposing viewpoints on controversial issues at the same time, rather than at different times. He is not a fan of Jonathan Schwartz, and doesn’t like speech pattern of “like” and other verbal tics. He would like “verbal detox”.

Joyce Lannert suggested that we get a copy of Ms. Walker’s presentation and put some items on the CAB FaceBook page.

Steve Rapkin handed out dates for upcoming year, including a date in Brooklyn although, we are still looking for a space. The CAB agreed to the schedule, and dates will be posted on the website.

A member of the public was concerned that the station not lose track of its history of serving the public. It needs to reach out to all backgrounds and cultures, and not become too elitist. He said that not everyone can afford or choose to get new technology and that traditional broadcast is efficient. He is also concerned that the underwriting may be directing the programming and gave an example of a Brian Lehrer show on telephone contracts that he felt wasn’t questioning enough.

Joyce Lannert moved to adjourn and Merwin Kinkade seconded.