Give Now  »

About Support

WFIU Community Advisory Board Meeting

The Virgil T. DeVault Alumni Center, Upper Conference Room

January 9, 2017 at 4:00 p.m.

Notes Prepared by Shayne Laughter


Attending: Lewis Ricci, Miah Michaelsen, Laura Ginger, Mary Hall, Lynn Schwartzberg, Alain Barker, Charlotte Zietlow, Pam Davidson, Daren Redman, Sara Peterson (phone), Janet Stavropoulos, Matt Pierce, Catherine Hageman, Carolyn Calloway-Thomas, Lacy Hawkins. Staff: Will Murphy, Eva Zogorski, John Bailey, Shayne Laughter, Brent Molnar, Perry Metz, Nancy Krueger, Marianne Woodruff, Laura Baich.

Absent: Beth Watson (stepped down), Alain Barker.

Miah Michaelsen called the meeting to order, 4 pm.

  1. Welcome & Introductions – Miah

    1. Quick Introductions around the table.
    2. Approval of October Minutes –

Pam D asks that “Hoosier boy” be changed to “Hoosier” to describe Steve Inskeep, to stay dignified. Laura G moves to approve October Minutes, with this change; Charlotte Z second. Minutes are unanimously approved, pending this change.

  1. Board transition and nominations committee discussion --

John B reports Beth Watson of Greencastle has stepped down from CAB. The Board needs new blood, representing communities and listeners from outside of Bloomington. Columbus and Terre Haute are represented now, but we need a Kokomo member as well as representation from smaller communities like Greensburg, French Lick and Seymour. John B asks for suggested names.

Miah M notes that her term as Chair is coming to an end. CAB will need new officers as well as new members. She asks for someone to lead the search committee. Charlotte Z volunteers. Pam D and Daren R join. Their search goal: to have new members and a new slate of officers (Committee Chairs) by the April meeting. Miah M recommends that they include Staff in that conversation, especially John B, and that they search among donors in the out-of-Monroe County towns.

  1. Report from the Chair – Miah

This was skipped, in order to keep the meeting to one hour.

  1. Weekend in Washington – John Clark

2016 was John C’s third year going to Weekend in Washington. The event exists to get individual stations’ boards, staff and donors involved in NPR, and expand fundraising and development. It is governed and organized by the NPR Foundation – not the NPR Staff. John C says the event has been so successful, tension is starting to rise between the NPR Governing Board and the NPR Foundation, as to how much more engaged in NPR the Foundation can be without butting into Governing Board functions.

Early on, individual stations would come to the rescue of the National network, and so came to control the Governing Board. Now the Foundation is poised to get more engaged in the decisions & actions of the national network. Weekend in Washington has been the Foundation’s main activity, but they want to do more & enter into programming issues, looking for a major new role to play.

Weekend in WA takes place at the Willard Hotel, which is very nice. There were breakout sessions, a plenary, dinners, receptions, and presentations by NPR stars. John C said that to him, the presentations were the most valuable, best reason to participate, but were weak, low-energy.

John C reported he was disappointed by the program, the weakest in 3 years. He had hoped for a first-rate analysis of the election, but this was just 3 days later, so it was an unrealistic expectation. Lynn S said they were all still reeling.

Laura G said 2016 was her second year attending, and she found the content heavy on how broadcasting decisions are made. You learn from the people you listen to on the broadcasts. The fundraising element was not overt, thus it felt really classy.

Just being in the presence of NPR people and seeing the building encouraged the aspiration to help NPR. Lynn S was inspired by reporter Kelly McEvers. Nancy K said that each station is allowed to send 6 participants, including staff. This year WFIU sent 2 people from Columbus. However, it is very expensive. Just attending is $1500, not counting the hotel room. WFIU does help attendees with their costs a bit.

Pam D observes that when people give money to the NPR Foundation, they are giving nationally, not locally, so no wonder individual NPR stations are tense.  Nancy K replies that the NPR Foundation fundraises to support their own endowments, but if there’s a big gift pending, the Foundation will share that with the network of stations. Charlotte Z notes that NPR promos always talk about gifts from prominent families.

Miah M says that looking down the road, Indiana Public Media plans to model something similar to this event, Statewide. This will be brought up at a future meeting.

  1. Advocacy Committee Report and Statehouse Day Preview – Miah

Miah M reminds that Wednesday, January 11 is IPBS advocacy day at the Statehouse, 8:30 – 10 am. Miah M sent contact info via email. She will be there most of the time. Brent M advises people to get there ahead of 8:30, to get through security screens.

Miah M provides copies of a PowerPoint document from Ice Miller about lobbying – how-to, why and best practices. Miah M will be in touch with CAB members about specific messaging & steps to take, timelines, when speaking with State legislators.

  1. Manager’s Report – John Bailey


  1. Fall fund drive recap –

John B reports that Fund Drive was quieter this fall, possibly because regular donors were already making political campaign donations. WFIU took in $158,000 against a $175,000 goal. Â Roughly 3 gifts per day were identified as 2nd channel gifts, totaling about $2,000 support for WFIU2. Janet S says WFIU2 is a good channel and donations should improve.

John B said the Drive had lots of pledge breaks; WFIU will keep that up and see what happens. There was no pre-drive campaign this time. The Sustainer base has grown, so the money is there but the phones don’t light up. Evidence from other markets indicated that election fatigue had set in by mid-October – people were just sick of the news. Audience numbers for the second channel will be clearer in March. His hope is that it will turn around. Eva Z said that donors not giving as much as in the past. Daren R says she had a lot of fun answering phones.

John B’s good news is that the End of Year Giving campaign was good, pulling in $22,000, including $10,000 on Dec 31.

The Spring Fund Drive is set for April 6-12. CAB meets April 3, so CAB members should set up their challenge prior to the next meeting.

  1. WFIU2: engineering, programming, fundraising updates –

John B reports that the Engineering team is still working on making the WFIU2 sound comparable to WFIU1. It is still quieter, but they’re tracking links in the audio train. Charlotte Z says that sometimes speakers are cut off on FIU2. John B asks her to contact him the next time she hears that.

Sara P says that over the past two weeks when she’s been streaming, the two channels dropped into each other a lot. Also, announcers are talking about the “main channel.” John B agrees that that should change, so that one channel is not presented as superior to the other.

Janet S praises “1A” and its host, Joshua Johnson. Matt P says the broadcast signal seems to be about 2 minutes behind the stream. John B replies that it’s a digitization delay, as the second stream requires a minute to be digitized and routed to 101.9.

  1. Says You! –

Ticket sales have been brisk since the show’s announcement on December 1, and the Brown County Playhouse is now just about sold out – only a few $75.00 VIP ticket packages remain. VIP packages include a pre-show meet & greet reception at the “Out of the Ordinary” venue across the street. Using the Playhouse has drawn people from Columbus and Brown County.  Will Murphy & Miah M will participate in the show.

  1. Station renovation update –

News moved to Room 120 in mid-December. Work will finish on Room 136 later this month. Further renovations will happen this spring and summer, creating a new Reception space in room 175/169 and relocating staff in TIU and the Business Office.

  1. Syndication update –

WFIU began to distribute A Moment of Science on PRX, for a fee. No satellite is involved, so it is less expensive than Content Depot. We are charging $500 for new Stations to carry AMOS for 1 year. Ongoing stations are charged $250/yr. So far, no one has dropped AMOS or migrated from FTP to PRX. If this goes well, Earth Eats, Afterglow and Night Lights are likely to move to PRX. Discussion is still underway about syndicating Harmonia on PRX.

  1. Prospective programming –

John B reports that plans are in motion to expand Brother William’s presence on the air, considering that his 2-hour show on Fridays during Just You & Me is highly popular.  Positive response from CAB members upon hearing this. Brother William will voice-track a pre-recorded 2-hour show to air 10 pm – midnight on Saturdays, in March. A second 2-hour show is possible for Friday nights – in addition to the Just You and Me show.

More positive response to learn that John B is talking with Sylvia McNair about her return to WFIU, to develop and host a jazz standards show. She has just retired from teaching at JSOM, and is still performing. The show is still in development – it needs to be different from Afterglow, might be more like Standards by Starlight.

  1. Discussion Items

    a.  BBC vs. NPR newscasts –

John B says, the BBC presence on WFIU1 is spotty. FIU1 runs 45 NPR newscasts a week, and 27 BBC newscasts at odd times. He asks CAB, How visible do you think BBC should be on FIU1? How much value does it have? Pam D replies, Lots! Charlotte Z says we all need different perspectives now. Pam D says, Many listeners are turned off to US media of all types, and the BBC is more palatable.

Miah M asks whether the question is about station identity – is WFIU all about NPR, or BBC? John B agrees and asks whether there brand dilution. Is it confusing? Pam D says, No. WFIU goes out and looks for the best programming there is. Carolyn C-T says, If it were not for BBC, I would not know what is going on in the world. She is a huge fan. John B says BBC is run for 60 hours a week on FIU2. Charlotte says she gets a much bigger picture from BBC news. Lewis R asks whether the two channels are defined by the amount of local news. Is FIU2 more international? This is about identity, not “main” & “Subordinate.” Lynn S says we need a message on FIU1 that more BBC news is on FIU2. Lacy adds that FIU2 doesn’t reach Lawrence Co, so she appreciates what BBC programming there is on FIU1. Carolyn C-T asks, How do other regions react to FIU2? John B replies that coverage is spotty.

Miah M notes the obvious passion for BBC, and says WFIU probably should leave it as is on WFIU1 for now, until we get more power and reach on FIU2. Charlotte Z asks why is that differentiation of NPR/BBC important to the station? Miah M replies, why have 2 stations if they don’t have distinct identities? Charlotte Z counters that the distinction is time. The listener can go back and forth for preferred programming depending on the time of day.

Lacy H appreciates being able to switch from FIU1 to 2. Lewis R notes that Broadcast channels are still bringing more listeners than online streaming, though this will probably change over time.

John C asks whether how people listen can be tracked thoroughly now? John B replies, We have streaming metrics and twice a year we get audience numbers. Later this year, 101.9 numbers will be reflected for the first time. We will see these in March. John C restates his question. Is there a danger of steering more people toward streaming online than tuning in for a broadcast?

John B says WFIU has at its peak roughly 8,000 concurrent listeners to the terrestrial broadcast, and never more than about 200 online streaming at any time. Ninety percent of the listener impressions we make are still made via FM radio.

b.  The future of Directions in Sound –

Discussion: How can WFIU improve Directions in Sound? How can it evolve to be more relevant to our listeners? It’s hard to promote shows through DoS due to the publishing schedule. We can’t use a monthly guide to talk about what’s happening on Morning Edition next week. Perhaps the two Guides could be combined into one print book for the month, and weekly emails could provide details on show content for the week. E-mailed details is a common tactic for many stations. The IU Cinema does this, too. This was also suggested at a recent WTIU advisory meeting. People want something in their hands when they’re sitting next to the radio. But would a donor to one station choose not to give to the other, since they already get the Guide? Or would that convenience actually encourage donations and membership growth?

Sara P says she likes that you can opt out of receiving the guide.  Laura G prefers a weekly bulletin email to remind her about the closer details on schedule. Miah M asks if the drive to change DoS is about better use of staff time. Laura B says that as Marketing Director, her goal for the survey on DoS is to get data that will inform this decision – so please respond to the survey. Lewis R asks if DoS has current value for an audiophile -- is that who would feel hurt by losing DoS? John B answers, Yes. Lewis R asks if the station has a database of music selections and other program notes for operational purposes? And would there be a non-sexy way to make this info available online for audiophiles? John B agrees that it can be done.

  1. Next Steps & Other Business

    1. Next meeting: Monday, April 3, 2017

Charlotte Z has one more question about the Weekend in Washington. She has heard from a lot of disgruntled regular listeners who found NPR coverage of the election just as bad as anyplace else. How do we reclaim those listeners? How do we not sound as if we are only talking to ourselves?

John B replies that WFIU just got survey results forwarded to us today. Pat Butler surveyed Trump voters, and 53% said they were in favor or increasing funding for Public Broadcasting.

John C says he didn’t sense that NPR had been any less on top of things than anyone. Pam D notes that none of the media has said “We did a bad job.” Nobody self-examines.

Miah M warns that this can be a treacherous rabbit hole for discussion. But it could be an agenda item in April.

Lacy H asks about the DoS survey - - is it online? Laura B replies that it was included in the Guide. Miah M will send the link out to the group.

  1. Adjourn

Monday, April 3, 2017 was set as the next CAB meeting date.

Miah M adjourned the meeting at 5:10 pm.