WFIU Community Advisory Board Meeting
Indiana University Radio & Television Center, Faculty and Staff Lounge
September 20, 2011
Prepared by Mia Partlow
Attendees: David Bowden, Cary Boyce, Becky Cape, Marty Donnelly, Laura Ginger, Mary Hall, Nancy Krueger, Nan McEntire, Perry Metz, Lynn Schwartzberg, Ellen Sedlack, Janis Starcs, Charlotte Zietlow
Absent: Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Jane Clay, Pamela Davidson, Peter Jacobi, Mike McGregor, Leonard Newman, Walt Niekamp, Gwyn Richards, Janet Stavropoulos, Judy Witt.
Janis called the meeting to order at 4:00pm. Minutes approved.
• Bowden: Can we talk about automation?
• Boyce: We fail in several distinct ways:
o Human error: for example, on Saturday an announcer panicked, did not have the wherewithal to call someone. We are correcting this type of error with training, and are double- and triple-checking to make sure everything is correct before it goes on the air.
o NPR failure: NPR sends what are called “contact closures,” which tell our computers to stop listening for the NPR feed, and to listen to our computers instead. Sometimes they fail to do so, which is not something we can control. This creates dead air because the computer is still listening to the NPR feed, but there is nothing there.
o Hardware or software errors. A lot of WFIU’s equipment is aging; this creates problems getting programs, like Car Talk and Fresh Air, from the satellite network.
• Boyce: I’ve been coming in every other weekend; John Bailey comes in on the other weekends, to check and make certain all of the programs are in place. We’ll be doing this until we can be certain everything is running cleanly.
• Starcs: Often at 10:05, we finish the news, and then there’s nothing.
• Boyce: That’s likely due to a missed contact closure, on NPR’s side. One of our obstacles is that if a problem only happens once, we can’t figure out what caused it.
• John Shelton, the head engineer who retired in June, is coming in once a week to help trouble shoot.
• Zietlow: When I listen to Diane Rehm, very often there are gaps, it skips.
• CB: Typically that is a problem on their end. The Diane Rehm show has been one of our more problematic programs. They have a lot of errors.
• Boyce: Comments continue to come in about our new programs. We have had several positive comments about The Moth and Radiolab. We have also had several comments about Celtic Connections.
• Starcs: Fiona had a very distinct and popular voice.
• Boyce: We decided to replace Thistle because the show has remained expensive, and listeners have pointed out that it tends to feature the same artists time and again. We found Celtic Connections, which is free, and decided to take it.
• McEntire: I think it’s awful. He might as well be giving a weather report—no enthusiasm, no background knowledge, nothing. I don’t know how much Thistle cost, but she had such a great program.
• Boyce: It’s about $3,000 a year.
• Ginger: Could we fundraise to bring it back?
• Nan: I’m willing to put down money to bring Fiona back!
• CB: We might need to reevaluate after Fund Drive, depending on how well the new program does.
• Sedlack: I saw in the newsletter that there were a couple of programs that were raising money online. I’d never heard of that before.
• Boyce: We have those mini drives for a couple of programs about once a year. Each drive raised about $1,000.
• Krueger: These programs have listeners around the country. They might not become members of WFIU but they will donate to the program.
• Boyce: And throughout the year the programs bring in a little money from the Give Now button.
• This year’s goal: $360,000. We went over that last year, so it’s doable.
• Listener Reception is October 28, at the IU Art Museum. Stay tuned for details!
• Fund Drive Dates: November 4-13
• Krueger: Last year, we issued a CAB challenge. If you all would like, we can do that again this year. Some members issues their own challenges, but if you’d like to pool your money we can issue one or two challenges. Eva Zogorski will be in further touch with you about that.
• FD Shift: Members at the table agreed that they could take a shift on the afternoon of November 7.
• Boyce: we plan to expand Earth Eats to 30 minutes, so that it’s easier to syndicate.
• Zietlow: So it’s not all Daniel Orr? Will there be more food content?
• Boyce: well, it’s a program focused on sustainable living with the theme of food. It’s primarily a website, and online content, which has been very successful. But it needs to sustain itself a little more; at some level, it could attract a national sponsor.
• Donnelly: What is the growth trajectory?
• Boyce: Online it’s growing quickly.
• Ginger: If we know another restaurant person, should we feel them out to see if they are interested?
• Boyce: Absolutely. We were actually discussing Middle Way House/Foodworks as one possibility.
• Local Growers’ Guild, Slow Food Bloomington…
• Schwartzberg: It’s probably better on the web. On the radio it’s a lot of cooking sound effects.
• McEntire: I think that can be enticing, though.
• Bowden: I just hope that when Earth Eats goes to 30 minutes, that…sometimes the transition kills what makes it good. I hope this works.
• Zietlow: Are you working on it now?
• Boyce: We’re waiting until the spring.
• Boyce: The question is, are we a radio station or an online service? These days, we’re both.
• Zietlow: Have you listened to the Splendid Table? That’s a fantastic show!
• *Resounding agreement*
• Boyce: I’ll have to look into that.
• Starcs: Any luck finding a host for Ether Game?
• Boyce: Yes, his name is Tom Berich. The whole hiring committee agreed he was the right fit.
• Boyce: Another program we’ve just finished is a one hour special called Unearthing Dracula. It will air on Halloween, and features IU Professor and vampire expert Jeffrey Holdeman.
Digital Media Department
• Boyce: We have replaced Jessie Wallner, our Online Content Coordinator. Her replacement will start this week.
• The Online Content Coordinator oversees the rapidly growing website to ensure consistency, standards, style, and more. He will check in with the producers and troubleshoot.
• Metz: This problem is at the nexus of all of the future of public media. Like most places, we have TV staff, and Radio staff. If we pull back the curtain to show the skeleton of our online department, you’ll see that it’s several part-time people. It’s not sufficient to maintain a vibrant news page, program websites, and station sites.
o We need more people, but there is no revenue to fund it. Many stations have bare bones websites, with no dynamic content. We have a lot of content, but a staff that is stretched very thin.
o One of my jobs is to find money to pay for online content, because listeners expect it, and that’s where the media convergence is happening. More and more people—of all ages—are listening online and on an FM radio almost in equal parts.
o We are also interviewing for the WFIU/WTIU Director of Digital Media position at the end of September in order to help the department.
o The future will be creating content that is online-only. We should have people producing content for radio, tv, and online, on parity. We need to do that to be properly positioned in the new media landscape.
• Ricci: Have you considered combining the presence of the two stations on the web? Because eventually it seems the rest will integrate.
• Metz: Yes, and we have taken the first step with indianapublicmedia.org, and by merging the News departments. Financially, with merged stations, we will lose members.
• Ricci: On the other side, it would allow for the diversification of donor pools outside of your area. You’d gain something from the synergy.
• Bowden: Are there regulations for nonprofits with websites?
• Metz: There are no regulatory issues with merging websites.
• Bowden: But you should be careful with the web work, or the university will come knocking.
Advocating For Public Broadcasting
• Ricci: The strength of longevity in radio & TV lies in local connectedness. If anything will save public broadcasting, it will be the local connections.
• Bowden: Lewis has made the point in the past that this is the way to sell it to the government. The local connectedness.
• Ricci: With the IAC, we have been having focused conversations with Democratic and Republican state legislators to understand their perception of the arts. We spoke with one moderate Rep. legislator who is a supporter of the arts, and serves in a pre-dominantly Democratic district.
o He told us that the prospective governor is not necessarily opposed to state support of the arts—only on the national scale. But he encouraged us not to associate with things that are polarized politically, and he referred to public broadcasting specifically.
o What public broadcasting needs to do is position itself as a local product, and don’t cover up the relationship with the national org., but don’t stress it either.
o Perhaps we could find some listeners who people would receive as Republicans, talking about the local relevance of public broadcasting, and put it back in the realm of what we do for the community. They could say “I also contribute to this and believe in this…”
o You’ve got the floor about who supports you; it is bipartisan, it is the whole community, show they the real lay of the land.
• Starcs: You can emphasize music, local coverage. Those things are not partisan.
• Ginger: And a lot of business owners are conservative, and many businesses support WFIU through underwriting.
• Metz: That is a very good point, Lewis. It’s not just state support, but the key to survival in the long run is that if we’re not delivering a local product, then people have no need for us and can go anywhere for the content.
• Ricci: I suggest you find Republicans and ask them to do a testimonial.
• Metz: I circle comments from listeners outside of Bloomington, who speak passionately and articulately, and give them to the Marketing Director. These are people who should be doing testimonials.
• Boyce: The project is going very well, the website is getting a lot of hits and the project has elevated the reporting of the entire news staff. But it needs to be sustainable.
• Boyce: Because of IU Foundation constraints, we need NPR to call on the major donors on our behalf.
• Ricci: Is there a strategy at the state level, with the network?
• Krueger: IPBS is highly involved with the content, but as far as fundraising goes it can get a little delicate. That is why it is good that the NPR team is involved, because it brings it to a higher level.
• Ricci: Are you at all concerned that Lilly will become a national donor and bypass us?
• Krueger: That is a possibility, but we want to be there first. NPR is looking for big money, to fund the whole project. But if they find a major donor in our state, it will be contributed to our match.
• Bowden: Can this group have any effect, if we know foundations or a major donor?
• Krueger: If you have relationships with individual donors, it could be helpful, although of course with the Foundation it’s still delicate. But if you have a relationship with a foundation, let me know and we can approach them with NPR.
• Boyce: We are $10,000 ahead of last year for underwriting.
• Purchases of our programs through the Public Radio Exchange are up significantly. This includes jazz programs such as Night Lights and Afterglow, and Harmonia as well as our one-hour specials.
• Zietlow: So David Brent Johnson is finding an audience? He is very good.
• Bowden: How are evaluations of announcers done? With on-air checks?
• Boyce: We are in the process of creating an announcer training, and will be doing air checks. We’ve had a lot of problems lately, and a lot of part-time talent. And our training has been spotty, to be frank.
• Bowden: And I heard the Artist in the Making series, with Yael. It was very good. Yael and Annie are just superb, they are great at interviewing on air, and that’s hard. I’m delighted to see that.
Next meeting: Fund Drive Shift, November 7.