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WFIU Community Advisory Board Meeting

Via Zoom

Monday, January 10, 2022, 4:00 p.m.

Attending: Adrian Starnes, Sharon Sung Andrews, Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Michele Bergonzi, Samantha Johnson-Helms, Brent Molnar, Matt Pierce, Judy Stewart, Lauren Dexter-Burns, Abby Henkel, Miah Michaelsen. Staff: John Bailey, Brad Kimmel, Marianne Woodruff. 

Absent: Nathan Watson, Alain Barker, Sarah Taylor, Catherine Winkler, Quincy Robinson.

Abby Henkel calls the meeting to order at 4:01 p.m.

Welcome & Introductions

Abby Henkel introduces herself as incoming board chair, and leads introductions of all in attendance.

Public Comment
No members of public are present to comment.

Board Composition
Abby Henkel introduces new member Karen Gahl-Mills, who has been approved by the CAB via survey.
Abby recaps a recent committee meeting with new board leadership, which also includes Lauren Dexter-Burns and Adrian Starnes. Ideas for support of station staff include station tours for CAB, thank-you notes, donor stewardship, presence at community events, and assistance with initiatives that appear within the strategic plan. Also suggests a CAB directory so board members can become more acquainted with one another. Carolyn Calloway-Thomas suggests using the CAB to help make introductions between staff members and minority-focused organizations with whom the station does not have a strong relationship.

Strategic Plan Update  
Brad Kimmel recaps the Radio-TV strategic plan process to date. Each unit within Radio-TV has met for SWOT/PEST sessions, and each station’s CAB has met as well, to lay the groundwork for a three-year strategic plan. Radio-TV managers have identified four organizational goals, each of which will be complemented by a set of goals, strategies, objectives, and tactics for each Radio-TV unit. John Bailey adds that WFIU’s main goals are likely to focus heavily on renewing a commitment to localism in programming and events; diversifying staffing, audience, and programming; and being a leader in technology. The report will be finalized early this year, and will be shared with the CAB so that the board might assist in fulfillment of the report’s action items.   

CAB Reorientation and State of the Station and System Report   
John Bailey offers these notes about different aspects of the health of the station and the public radio ecosphere:


In the first half of FY22, the station took in an estimated $402,797 (versus $412,814 for the first half of FY21). The one-day Giving Tuesday drive was a success, reaping some $27,859 (exceeding the goal of $25,000, and oustripping 2020 and 2019), bolstered in part by some $8,300 in match money derived from unmet fall challenges. The station stands at about 3,900 members (down from 4,100 last year); 44% are sustainers (up from 40% last year, with an average monthly gift of $16.27). The station is seeing the same trend that is evident across the non-profit world: fewer donors giving more each year.
WFIU on pace to meet or exceed the FY goal, as occurred in FY21. Currently stand at 58% of FY22 revenue goal.

Corporate Support did meet and exceed its budget in FY21 ($282,010 total receivables). FY21 was an entire budget year in a pandemic without regional fiscal security for corporate partners. Partners died, lost staff, struggled to survive and shuttered their businesses. Performing arts entities and regional events disappeared and only recently, Fall 2021, have cautiously returned. The Team was creative and nimble participating in community engagement, showing the stations’ support. It was a tough year for partnerships. 

Federal funding
In 2020, public broadcasting enjoyed the first CPB hike in 10 years: it was forward funded through the current FY to the tune of $465 million, up from the $445 million at which it was level for close to a decade. FIU’s share is about $225,000. The CPB’s current request would find it funded at $565 million by FY24; the House is likely to approve that, with the Senate likely to counter with a little less. Bottom line is that, even though the political winds could shift in Congress after the midterms, the federal appropriations outlook for public media seems to be on steady footing for now, with at least a modest increase for annual funding slated for at least the next couple of years 

State funding
Zeroed out by Mitch Daniels, but has steadily worked its way back up in the Pence and Holcomb years; IPBS lobbies legislators and state execs with the help of the Taft firm one-on-one and at events such as Statehouse Day; as the next two-year budget is constructed in the next FY, we expect to be requesting an appropriation of about $3.675M; that money is routed through the Department of Education and is shared equitably among the 18 public stations in the state; FIU’s share is about $55,000. 

University funding

About 35% of Radio-TV’s revenue is a direct disbursement from IU, achieved in a competitive process involving annual presentation to the campus budget office. In a lean year, Radio-TV is not immune to University cuts: we lost 4% of our IU appropriation via attrition last FY; and an IU hiring freeze in effect for the duration of the pandemic has made it difficult to create a FT job; however, we are working with the IU Foundation to fill a newly-created Development Director position that will oversee all development activities within Radio-TV (membership, corporate, planned and major giving, grants) – that search is in its end stages, with one finalist flown in for a visit last week, and the other slated to occur this month.

Audience reach
Terrestrial audience numbers had varied from one ratings book to the next, as they always have, but did hit all-time Spring and Fall peaks at times in the last three years; our last book (Spring 2021) found us with 27,000 unique weekly listeners over-the-air; the average book finds us at about 40,000. Streaming figures are holding at about 10% of the OTA average-quarter-hour audience, with a monthly cumulative audience of about 10,000 on the main channel and 3,500 for WFIU2 (about 55,000 monthly listener hours total). Nationally, streaming accounts for about 12% of all AM/FM radio listening (in time spent), with AM/FM accounting for the other 88%. 
Smart speaker use is on the rise: in 2020, it accounted for about 30% of our streaming hours; in 2021, it was up to 44% 
NPR One has a steadily declining base – has lost 20% since the beginning of 2020, and now stands at about 400 monthly users, each spending on average almost 9 hours with the app each month.
Web has consistently enjoyed more than 5 million visits since topping that mark for the first time in 2019; News, which before the events of 2020 enjoyed about 40% of the traffic, has remained in the 50% range; AMOS claims about 30%; about 25% of the stations’ overall web traffic is from Indiana.   
Social: almost 8,000 on FB and gaining; about half that number on Twitter; the newsroom has 5,000+ Twitter followers and about 200,000 impressions per month.

Health and culture of the system
As always, haves and have nots; University licensees are healthier, as are stations in major college towns and in educated, affluent larger cities. NPR has threatened to upend the balance with a revised NPR-station compact that alters the annual due structure; newsmagazine pricing now based not on listener hours, but on membership revenue. Our NPR station dues for on-air and digital services increased about $23K, or about 12%, from FY20 to FY21, and another 3% for FY22, which began in October; other stations’ are skyrocketing and may force program cuts. 
Numerous stations in the system, including some in this state, have no licensee support and little or no reserves – there’s always a risk that a major change in fees, or a loss of public funding, could force those stations into joint operating agreements with healthier stations or off air altogether.
And, NPR is witnessing a kind of brain drain, having lost a good deal of prominent talent in the last year: David Greene, who was part of the Great Resignation, stepped away a year ago without a Plan B; Lulu Garcia-Navarro, who announced in September she was leaving WESUN to explore new vistas, then three weeks later was named the anchor of a new podcast from the New York Times “exploring the personal side of opinion”; Noel King, who announced her departure from NPR a month ago, then the next day was named the co-host of a daily news podcast from Vox Media; Audie Cornish, who announced her departure from ATC last week, and just today was named the host of a weekly program on the new streaming service CNN+.

Manager’s Report
John Bailey offers an update on a WFIU/NPR podcast collaboration. In April 2021, NPR selected WFIU News to participate in the 2021 NPR Story Lab Editorial Training Workshop, designed to support producers from all backgrounds in developing a show concept into a pilot. NPR received more than 200 program proposals from the U.S. and beyond. WFIU News was one of five teams chosen by NPR.

Throughout 2021, the WFIU News team worked with NPR Story Lab to develop Rush to Kill, a podcast about federal executions during the Trump administration. In July 2020, after almost two decades without a federal execution in the United States, the Trump administration put to death three times as many federal inmates as in the previous six decades combined. The WFIU News team covered each execution in person at the federal penitentiary in Terre Haute. Their year-long investigation reveals how the Trump administration’s rush to carry out these death sentences before leaving office upended a century of legal precedent, contributed to the outbreak of a deadly virus, and damaged the lives of far more Americans than the 13 it set out to execute.

The podcast team is led by editor Sara Wittmeyer, researcher Cathy Knapp, and host and lead reporter George Hale. As of January, work continues on the pilot. Soon, Sara and George will be meeting to structure a companion series of on-air features derived from the podcast reporting and production. No timeline yet for release of the podcast or broadcast product.

Also, a weekly arts magazine, Inner States, debuted this past Sunday at noon. It’s produced and hosted by Alex Chambers, who previously had worked on Earth Eats and as an independent producer on projects such as the Indiana Humanities podcast, How To Survive the Future. This program is the successor to Profiles, which had been lying fallow for much of 2021 as the station sought the successor to its producer. The hope is to fashion it into a sound-rich magazine with multiple elements each week, thanks to contributions from full-time colleagues around Radio-TV and to dedicated assistants who have yet to be recruited.  

5:00 p.m.