WFIU Community Advisory Board Meeting
Monday, July 6, 2020, at 4:00 p.m.
Attending: Alain Barker, Nathan Watson, Judy Stewart, Sara Peterson, Miah Michaelsen, Abby Henkel, Lauren Dexter Burns, Sarah Taylor, Alexandra Chamberlain, Sharon Sung Andrews, Hilda Andres. Staff: John Bailey, Rob Anderson, Marianne Woodruff, Eva Zogorski.
Absent: Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Lacy Hawkins, Daren Redman, Matt Pierce, John Clark, Adrian Starnes, Brent Molnar, Quinton Stroud, Quincy Robinson, Catherine Winkler.
Alain Barker seeks motion to approve April 2020 minutes. Abby Henkel moves. Motion passes.
Alain Barker calls the meeting to order.
Welcome & Introductions
No members of public are present to comment.
The COVID Effect – John Bailey
John Bailey offers a note regarding the general manager search. The candidate conversations occurred in April; the search committee finished its work that month, making its recommendations to the Provost’s office. No word since. Alain Barker suggests, seconded by Miah Michaelsen, forwarding a note of concern from the CAB.
a. Spring fundraising
Two-day drive in May took in just shy of $45,000, despite numerous handicaps: no thank-you gifts discussed on air; breaks limited in length; very few audio elements; no host banter, Pet Day, or other “fun” things; more automation than usual; pitch partners in separate studios; no pledge studio with volunteers; no hourly or daypart goals; no challenges, and only one match.
Following was a more conventional three-day drive in June. Including some pre- and post-drive email-driven giving, the station finished the fiscal-year-end campaign in the range of $31,000 on about 225 pledges. Against an ambitious goal of 70 new members, the station saw 60 sign up, with well over 40% joining as sustainers. (Last spring the station recruited 90 new members; this spring, from March through Giving Tuesday Now, May, and June, saw more than 100.)
Overall for Fiscal 20: more than $6,000 collected beyond the fiscal year goal of $650,000, an increase of 2% from the previous FY. The station now has approximately 4,100 members, 39% of whom are sustainers.
Next drive is slated for September 22-28.
How did the CAB receive the May and June fundraising efforts? Alain Barker expresses concern about shifting habits causing the core audience to shrink, and about WFIU reaching listeners properly across platforms. Sharon Sung Andrews advocates for measuring online audiences’ response to appeals. Sarah Taylor recommends focusing on messaging related to enhanced tax deductions and credits.
b. Budget concerns
Station is expecting a 5% cut to IU’s general fund appropriation to trickle down to RTVS – and has received no word about when the hiring freeze will be lifted; and a cut to the state appropriation to IPBS (to recoup the state’s lost General Fund revenues) that could be in the range of 15%. (Lobbyist Mark Shublak is trying to arrange a conversation with Tim Brown of House Ways & Means Committee, and has encouraged IPBS station stakeholders who are acquainted with the Gov to be in touch with him.) National program fees are expected to remain flat. All of this is being taken into consideration as RTVS budget construction occurs in July.
c. Programming changes
Last month APM announced Live from Here would be ending production by July, and that reruns would continue into September. This puts a cap on a 45-year franchise. And, with the loss of an anchor show, it’s an opportunity to rethink what Saturday nights look like.
Should the station reimagine Saturday nights on WFIU? Alain Barker says the station should consider whether there is an opportunity here to reinforce its local identity, and questions whether weekend appointment listening is still as crucial a consideration as it was prior to podcasts. Miah Michaelsen advocates for reinforcing the station’s value proposition to its stakeholders, and for diversifying the voices heard on the station. Sarah Taylor suggests the station might fill the current void in live music.
Station had tentatively been planning a rescheduled Jazz in July (Swing in September), and an October 1 birthday celebration with Sylvia – in-person versions of both have been scrubbed due to an inability to make plans.
The station has forayed into online events, including listening/viewing parties for The Ernie Pyle Experiment and vintage Jazz in July performances.
e. Production adjustments (and re-adjustments)
In March the station had suspended production on programs requiring the presence of multiple guests or vulnerable participants. Beginning this month, the station is in “dark” operations – work that can be done remotely, should be; essential tasks, though, can be accomplished in the offices or studios, following distancing/sanitation guidelines. Planning to be close to full steam ahead in August, when visitors can enter the building. Noon Edition continues to be delivered via Zoom, with no timetable for in-studio resumption.
National and local COVID coverage has waxed and waned: City Limits expanded to a daily web feature in April, and is scaled back to a weekly feature as of this week. The newsroom chose to sunset the daily coronavirus newsletter in the last week of June. NPR ended its National Conversation hour of ATC about a month ago. Noon Edition is no longer devoted entirely to the topic, as other subjects, such as this summer’s civil unrest, have begun to share the front page.
How well has our coverage of this year’s crises met community needs? Alain B asks whether it would serve the station to make an anti-racist statement. John B responds that no pubmedia station has come out with a pro-BLM statement. Considerations for this station include how consonant the point-of-view is with the University’s, and how any advocacy statement would reflect on the integrity of the station’s news coverage. As with everyone else in the NPR ecosphere, WFIU tends to let its content speak for its core values. Alain B suggests, and Sharon S seconds, a call for community conversations about race, and how about how public radio is serving a cross-section of its potential audience. Alain asks how the public radio system is responding to diversity and equity issues. John B says internal conversations are reportedly being had at WNYC, WAMU, KPBS, WBEZ, and some other large market stations where the staff is fairly well populated with POC, but the management is not.
Manager’s Report – John Bailey
CAB referred to the agenda notes for more information about The Ernie Pyle Experiment and audience research.