WFIU Community Advisory Board Meeting
The Virgil T. DeVault Alumni Center, Kelley Dining Room
July 1 at 4:00 p.m.
Notes Prepared by James Gray
Attending: Will Murphy, Nancy Krueger, James Gray, Annie Corrigan, Eva Zogorski, Perry, Metz, Eoban Binder, Phil Meyer, Marianne Woodruff, Janis Starcs, Charlotte Zietlow, Ellen Sedlack, Peter Jacobi, Marty Donnelly, Janet Stavropoulos, Laura Ginger, Pamela Davidson, Mike McGregor, Lynn Schwartzberg, David Bowden, Rebecca Cape
Absent: Walt Niekamp, Lewis Ricci, Mary Hall, Raina Polivka, Catherine Hageman, Nan McEntire, Gwyn Richards, Laura Baich
Janis called the meeting to order at 4:00pm. No minutes available to approve, so that was review was postponed to the next meeting.
Janis Starcs: First, I want to give Will a few minutes to speak, and then, open up the conversation to the board and public. Then, Will can address some more of our concerns at the end.
Will Murphy: Thank you. Before I begin, I want to do some introductions.
(WFIU/WTIU staff introductions)
I want to break this into two conversations. First, the process by which this decision was made. Second, the decision itself.
As for the process, nobody seems to believe it was handled well. Our hands were forced by a few outside factors to make some changes. Among those are the end of the fiscal year, the national program calendars, and a few other timing related issues.
At this point, I had two choices. I could meet with the board or go forward with the changes. I believed that I knew where the CAB would stand, and so, I went forward with the changes.
There is a silver lining. It is the engagement of all of you and so many members of the public. The attendance today is much higher today than at previous meetings. The conversation begins now.
Now, let’s address the changes. The primary concern seems to be the Met. The Met requires us to air the program Saturday afternoon. There is no way around it. We cannot record the program and air it later. The audience drops Saturday as the Met begins. Is it the Met? Is it Saturday afternoon? The Met starts its season in December. Let’s evaluate.
I want to share a few statistics. Of approximately 100 responses we have received so far:
9 are for dropping the Met. 49 are against it. 14 are against dropping Pipedreams. None are for it. 2 are for Morning Edition at 5:00am and 2 are for BBC at 5:00 am. 4 are for Says You. 1 is against hearing Fresh Air Weekend. 1 called for jazz instead of opera on Saturdays. 1 person called for my resignation, and 1 fought against that- not me!. 1 wrote about concerns over Sound Medicine’s time. 1 person write in support of the Thistle and Shamrock’s return.
Wrapping up, this is a question of mission versus numbers. We’re always straddling that this line. We want to inspire, but as our consultant said, “lofty programming is not effective without listeners.”
From crowd: Did finances play a large role in the decisions?
Will Murphy: For me, the BBC did. They did not figure into our decision with the Met.
From the crowd: Why did you make the decision before meeting with the CAB?
Will Murphy: I could have called a meeting first. I am confident much of the CAB aligns with the Met.
Janis Starcs: I think the board members are eager to speak. Let’s turn the stage over to them.
Peter Jacobi: I already had my say yesterday in the H-T.
The Met, despite audience, is a vital part of WFIU’s mission. Bloomington honors the arts. The university honors the arts. WFIU should reflect that.
I understand that opera is not for everyone but to add talk, games, and the like…it is a shame. It is not a service. I am appalled by how this has been done.
Perry, you know how we came into being. It was from a situation before. We should have been consulted. We should have been warned.
Charlotte Zietlow: The Met and Pipedreams were serious changes. There were too many changes, but no too many to have gone over with the board. I am concerned as much with the process as the changes.
Lately, I’ve been thinking, “Should we do what people want?” I chose what I wanted to study in high school. I never got over it. We do not know what we want. We have an obligation to provide high quality programming.
David Bowden: I love WFIU. I love it.
I don’t want to tell them what to do. I want to thank them. My best training since being a student has been from listening to WFIU.
I do not want WFIU to become a cookie cutter station. We are moving closer and closer to talk programming. I looked into the consultant, Peter Dominowski, and his station in Fort Wayne. They are doing similar changes in Fort Wayne.
A lot of you are very angry. I am not one of those. I am sad. I am deeply banged up. I agree with what Laura Ginger wrote about the decision being made: “Without even pretending to consult us. If you would have consulted me I would have told you three things.
I don’t want us to lose support. So, let’s move slowly.
The decision seems to have been made using inverse reasoning. The proposed changes were made from streaming data. However, it is likely that people streaming do not listen to the Met. The Met audience is elsewhere.
I am unhappy that you did not contact us because you felt you know how we would feel. I support adventure. I support things many would not expect. Once, I programmed a concert with an unexpected piece of music for Annie Corrigan. Annie was excellent, and the piece was a a surprise that people told me they enjoyed.
I would also have equated chasing youth listeners to chasing the wind. Youth do not listen on the air. They listen online. They may not be an audience that can be caught.
Janet Stavropoulos: More than angry, I am disappointed. I have questions about the consultant. People of all ages are out during Saturday afternoon. Public radio needs to create a quilt of listeners. The Met equates in upscale listeners. We don’t dislike Will and Perry, but this will hurt support. We don’t need more talk.
Let’s not displace the Met for trivia.
Janis Starcs: The last time changes were made, they were made from pressure being sent down by NPR. NPR was afraid of losing federal funding. They tried to grow their audience with more human interest stories and trivia. The classical music programming remained at a high quality.
What makes FIU special is the classical music. I looked into Peter Dominowski. The programming at his station is talk driven. The evenings are not even programmed with classical music.
The fund drive listeners will go down even if the listenership goes up. I think it was unwise, and we’ll reap the consequences during fund drive.
Marty Donnelly: I want to start with a piece of trivia. It is from the Communications Act of 1934, the act that provides funding to NPR, basically. This act states that the board should be able to review programming and significant changes.
What’s the point of the board if we are not consulted?
Lynn Schwartzberg: I grew up in a home filled with classical music….I understand….Change is hard.
However, when I’m in the kitchen with my cooks, they play garbage. You would not want to hear their music. On Saturday mornings, I show up early and turn on public radio. I get to listen to my Weekend Edition, but as the morning goes on, we are all laughing with Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. I love Saturday morning radio, and my cooks do as well.
In my office, I work with women in their early 20’s, who will vote. I play WFIU on my computer, and they all listen to it. They listen to Diane Rehms and Here and Now. One woman said, “I listen to NPR” even when you are not in the office.
Public radio can be fun. Change is hard, but we can work through it.
Pam Davidson: My family loves opera. My 25 year old son loves it. Many generations of my family have come to love opera.
I know this consultant is experienced, but I do hope he has acknowledged the Jacobs School of Music.
I like the talk, and I think this situation is similar to one I faced many times when my kids were attending Montessori schools. One teacher would leave, and we would all mourn. Then, the new teacher would come and offer something we were unaware we were missing.
WFIU is the best radio ever. I’m not taking them out of my estate plan.
The Met is a big loss. Let’s stay vigilant.
Ellen Sedlack: In what offices were these decisions made?
Will Murphy: They were from conversations between Perry Metz, John Bailey and me.
Ellen Sedlack: And have you been in conversation with the Jacobs School?
Will Murphy: Alain and I have been talking about possibilities. There is one that I hope comes to fruition this month. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag.
Alain Barker: I didn’t expect to be speaking today. We plan to continue our close relationship with WFIU. We are constantly exploring technology and ways of sharing our content. WFIU is a part of that. Opera is essential to our values. We have to be careful, as the Jacobs School, not to interfere with WFIU’s decisions.
Ellen Sedlack: If anything as trivial as programming for one individual’s weekly routine comes up today, Will, ignore it.
Rebecca Cape: I like talk, but I like it mixed with music. I do not like the idea of all talk.
Janis Starcs: Let’s now open up the chance to speak to the public.
Henry Upper: These statements are impromptu and are not reflective of the Jacobs School of Music. Herman B. Wells decided to bring culture to the young of Indiana, and he brought the Met to IU.
Andrew Bacher: My name is Andrew Bokker, and I teach a course on the physics of sound. Opera is in my heart. I feel betrayed by the last fundraising session. I feel crushed.
Vicky Felton: I’m from Meadowood. I started listening 70 years ago. I worry about the young singers who won’t be able to hear the Met live. There is a benefit to hearing these performances live. I grieve for the students.
Unidentified: The Met is 1st class. A whole opera live is wonderful. I want to ask about The [World] of Opera? What is its content? Is it to replace live opera?
Will Murphy: World of Opera is a presentation of live operas from around the world. This is a presentation of whole operas. We are not dumping opera.
Finklestein: You are cheapening the station. You are a good music station for south central Indiana. Meet the people.
David Keppel: I appreciate WFIU. My parents moved to Meadowood. The opera was an important joy in my mother’s week. We’re talking about more than numbers. It’s people’s lives. Let’s not be bashful-this is important to the elderly.
Change is important and not easy. I’m inspired by the passion of youth. It is a great disrespect to ignore them. I listen to NPR national news, but it is choked by congressional dragons. I look forward to a difference in opinions. I want to hear more youth voices.
Sarah Clevenger: I have considered myself a permanent Bloomington resident since 1946. I supported opera and Ether Game. I stopped supporting Ether Game. Now, I support opera. I don’t know if I can go on without it. I want to read some of WFIU’s objectives.
Promote the quest for knowledge and beauty
We encourage listeners to be lifelong learners.
Promote civic discourse
We encourage listeners to participate in government as citizens of their communities, nation, and world.
Reflect the nation’s cultural fabric
We help listeners discover their national heritage through music, literature, and the arts.
Provide a window to the world of knowledge and culture
We select programs that reflect the best in critical thinking, music and the arts, drawing from global offerings.
Introduce our unique Indiana voice to national and global audiences
We produce programs that highlight the intellectual and cultural resources of our area.
Build our communities
We serve as supporters and promoters of public service organizations, helping their message reach the public.
Contribute to the betterment of society
We participate in initiatives that promote individual development and social responsibility.
I would like to say as a scientist. Some people communicate verbally, and some people communicate with symbols. The world is run by the verbal. We should share the station with the non-verbal by programming with music.
David Belbutoski: What is special about the Met? It’s live. As organ lover I hate to see Pipedreams leave.
Hill Trubitt: I am an avid fan of where we are right now. Everyone has vented. Where do we go from here?
Janis Starcs: Tele-Comm’s last problem came from D.C. I’m afraid the yuppies and casual listeners will not pledge.
David Bowden: Will, a question. I missed last meeting, but I read in the minutes that there was talk of a survey. Can we have a survey? Can we reinsert some music and the Met?
Also, With Heart and Soul-many of us are religious. We want to hear this program at a time that allows for us to hear it.
I am willing to help with monetary needs for Pipedreams.
I don’t think we have the best data. I want to see a survey.
Janis Starcs: Will, what will be done? Have you listened?
Will Murphy: There are a couple of things I want to correct for the record. Fort Wayne has two analog stations. One is for talk, and one is for music. I do not agree with everything Dominowski is doing. He is gutting some of the local programming. I believe more local programming is good.
I said to Marty, with regard to this being a “fait accompli” that in radio it is almost never a fait accompli. Yes, these decision go into effect today, July 1, but the Met season does not begin until December. We have time to talk. We will have numbers from streaming data and the fund drive.
I too have a great appreciation for this station. We will decide if we should meet again before October.
Janis Starcs: We can set it up via email.
Will Murphy: Of the 100 or so comments we received, they varied greatly. I can’t program around many of the comments I received, such as what time someone drives to the pool. I will not program to comments that dismiss other programs. But questions that speak to mission, those comments are effective to me.