WAMU 88.5 : Community

WAMU 88.5 Community Council Minutes, Dec. 5, 2012

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:
Laura Chambers, Council Chair; Kent Lynn, Vice Chair; Barbara Bares, Sharvell Becton, Colleen Boothby, Paul DesJardin, Maria Gomez, Patricia "Trisha" Hartge, Rawn M. James, Jr., Larry McCarthy, Margaret O'Bryon, Daniel Okonkwo, Delphine Peck, Micaela Mejia Pond, Donald Quayle, Anthony Sarmiento, and Peter Tannenwald.

WAMU/AU Staff Attending:
Caryn Mathes, David Taylor, Walt Gillette, Anthony Hayes, Cynthia Hickenbottom, Margo Kelly, Meymo Lyons, Paul Mozzocci, Carey Needham, Kristen Sorensen, Chris Teskey and Anne Healy.

Members of the Public:
Cliff Brody, Charles Kelley, Ingrid Lombardo, Cathleen O'Brien (WAMU Ambassador), Steve Peterson, Reginald Ragland, and Carolyn Rudolph.

I.  Welcome - Laura Chambers, Council Chair

Laura Chambers opened the meeting of the WAMU Community Council at 7 p.m. She welcomed Council Members, WAMU staff and guests to the final meeting of 2012. Before proceeding with the agenda, Laura said that she would like to pause and reflect a little on some of the accomplishments and highlights of the year. She noted that we brought on five new members last January (Colleen Boothby, Paul DesJardin, Rawn James, Jody Steiner Kelly, and Margaret O'Bryon) and successfully incorporated them into our Community Council family. Several life events took place including Kent Lynn's marriage, the birth of Amy Nakamoto's third child, Caryn's recovery from rotator cuff surgery, Margaret O'Bryon's retirement from the Consumer Health Foundation where she served as president and CEO, and Anne Healy's retirement from WAMU after 22 years and her transition to part-time. Laura said that she was immensely proud of all of the support Council Members have given the station over the year by providing new ideas and feedback from the community during the Quarterly Meetings and in our one-on-one meetings with Caryn, through our support of station activities, by working with the Council's Community Dialogue Committee under Kent Lynn's leadership to put together three outstanding discussion meetings, and through our 100% participation in the Council Member Match for the WAMU Membership Campaigns.

The minutes of the meeting of the Council held on September 12th were distributed to the Council Members prior to this meeting. Laura asked for a motion to approve the minutes. Don Quayle made the motion which was seconded and the minutes were approved. Laura asked Barbara Bares, Chair of the Nominating Committee, to give her report.

II.  Presentation of the Recommendations of the 2012 Nominating Committee -   Barbara Bares, Committee Chair

Barbara began her report by explaining that there are seven members of the Community Council whose terms will be up at the end of 2012. Five of these members - Kent Lynn, Larry McCarthy, Amy Nakamoto, Daniel Okonkwo, and Micaela Mejia Pond - are completing their first terms on the Council and are therefore eligible for reappointment. Barbara reported that these five members have been contacted, and that they are willing and able to serve another term. She said that the nominating committee is recommending that each of them be appointed to a second term. Unfortunately Maria Gomez has completed her second three-year term which makes her ineligible for re-appointment at this time - she will be greatly missed. Mary Briggs has moved to Pittsburgh and has already resigned from the Council. That left the committee with two vacancies to fill. Barbara announced that the Committee is recommending that Dr. Christine Berg of Maryland, who was suggested by Trisha Hartge, and Thomas F. Walls of Virginia, who was suggested by Jody Steiner Kelly, be appointed to three-year terms ending on December 31, 2015. (Their bios were distributed to the Council Members and are attached to these minutes.) Laura asked for a motion to approve the recommendations of the Nominating Committee. The motion was made by Don Quayle and seconded and the Council voted unanimously to approve the Committee's report.

Barbara announced that it was time for the Council to choose a Chair and Vice Chair for 2013. She reported that the nominating committee is proposing that Laura Chambers and Kent Lynn be re-elected as the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council. The motion to re-elect Laura and Kent was made, and the Council voted unanimously to approve it. In closing, Barbara thanked Maria Gomez, Trisha Hartge, Daniel Okonkwo, and Rawn James who served with her as members of the committee.

III.  Update on Station Activities and 2012 Highlights - Caryn Mathes, General Manager

A. Challenges Ahead

Caryn observed that as 2012 is winding down, WAMU is in an unusual place as an organization. "It is taking some effort for us to remember to pause and appreciate all that we've accomplished in the previous 12 months before yelling 'NEXT!'." Caryn explained that there are a number of reasons for this agitation. WAMU is moving to a brand new home in approximately six months and navigating the financial cost of maximizing this tremendous opportunity while facing some very lean projected operating years. The station has accomplished 90% of what was in its strategic plan and the time has come to update our road map. Several key positions need to be filled including Director of Marketing and Communications and Planned Giving Manager. "We've acknowledged - as has the rest of the public radio industry - that we cannot get to a sustainable future on the $140 average annual gift from individual listeners. As grateful as we are for increases in individual annual giving, increases in major gifts are critical to afford us the margins that allow us to grow and transform this media company." In addition, station management is in the midst of preparing a budget plan that will dictate station activities through April 30, 2015, and WAMU is also facing the challenge of navigating the "digital transition" to new media consumption platforms. Caryn concluded that, although there is a very long race ahead of us, she likes to think that WAMU's "heritage, breeding, training and skill will allow us to burst out of the gate and dominate the track."

B. Year in Review

Caryn emphasized that audience use of our content is our service mission and the measurement of our audience size during the past year showed continued strong performance. She shared the Audience Data Report prepared by Lettie Holman, Manager of Programming and Research, with the Council and went over some of the many highlights. (Please see Attachment #1 - Audience Data Report.) Caryn pointed out that WAMU is now shorthand for six frequencies and three distinct program services. Aggregating estimated audience on all of the platforms we offer - including streaming and podcasting - WAMU's weekly domestic audience averaged around 780,000 individual listeners. Our newest content 'channel,' wamu.org, also showed phenomenal growth. The number of unique visitors to the website January through November was up more than 54%, and the average duration of each visit was up by 29%.

Additional 2012 highlights included the huge success of WAMU's grant-funded venture, the Online Voter Guide. Nearly 400,000 people in the tri-state area utilized this tool to make themselves more informed voters. The station's new version of the website optimized for mobile devices kicked in and the percentage of mobile users of wamu.org doubled. And, the station's most recent combined on-air campaign for WAMU 88.5 and Bluegrass Country raised a record-setting $1,971,630.

C. New Building

Caryn reported that the design of WAMU's new home is pretty well finalized and the most important upgrades and improvements remain -"50% more space to make content, our own theater and presentation space so that we do not have to try to replicate a studio setting on 'foreign turf' and can do more and better quality special events and performances, location in a high-traffic accessible area with a ground-level studio so that people can readily observe what we do, adequate space for 'head down' work and collaboration, dedicated space for incubation of new content, better accommodations for community volunteers, and a planned space for the increasing role that digital contentmaking and distribution will play." Caryn advised the Council that the demolition work is being completed. She said that a full set of architectural drawings and mechanicals will be submitted to the DC Government next week and that the permits are expected to be granted within 60 days of that submittal. The estimated moving date is now May of 2013.

In closing, Caryn thanked the Council Members for their continued support of WAMU and for their 100% participation in the Member Match for the Fall Membership Campaign. Laura explained that while we encourage Council Members to contribute to the station at any time during the year, there are two critical times when it is important to have 100% participation from both the Community Council and the Development Advisory Council in order to leverage match dollars. She suggested that members structure their yearly gifts so that they can make a contribution to the Council Member Matches during the February and October fundraisers.

IV.  WAMU Department Directors Reports

A. Programming and News Report - Meymo Lyons, Managing Editor, News

In the absence of Programming Director Mark McDonald, Meymo presented both the programming and the news reports. Meymo began by talking about the outstanding series of reports and programs that WAMU aired during the week it devoted to the issue of homelessness in our community. She read from two of the pieces that Sabri Ben-Achour and Kavitha Cardoza produced on this topic and the overwhelming response from listeners that we received. Over 500 listeners contacted the station with offers of help and were referred to the appropriate agencies. Meymo pointed out that it took an immense amount of time and dedication to put together this mind-blowing series. Meymo also spoke about the tremendous work of the entire news team during Hurricane Sandy. She praised Bryan Russo who covered the impact of the storm as it moved along the coast of Delaware and Maryland and reported first hand on the evacuation of Ocean City, Maryland. Meymo said that our reporters love working at WAMU because we give them an incredible opportunity to develop and tell their stories. She said while other stations are cutting back their news budgets, WAMU's commitment to its local news coverage has been fantastic.

In programming news, Meymo reported that WAMU will be airing The Big Fix, a new show which will give listeners the opportunity to present their innovative domestic policy ideas to people in power. The Big Fix will debut this month and run for five weeks. The host and creator of the program is Al Lewis, an author who has recently written a critically acclaimed book on healthcare policies. Mark has recently launched an Arts Council which will assist in expanding our already robust coverage of the arts and provide contacts and information to our program producers. And Bluegrass Country recently celebrated its 45th anniversary with a concert at the Lisner Auditorium that was attended by over 1,000 fans.

B. Financial Update - Carey Needham, Director of Business Administration

Carey reviewed the financial report covering WAMU's FY 2013, FY 2012, and FY 2011 revenue and expense detail as of October 31, 2012, with the Council Members. The report had been distributed to the Council and is attached to these minutes. (Please see Attachment #2.) Carey explained that WAMU's fiscal year begins on May 1 and ends on April 30 so the station is already in the second quarter of FY 2013. He noted that this report shows the turn-around the station has made in terms of income. WAMU's Development (Individual Giving) Department is reporting a 6% increase in total income between FY 2012 and FY 2013, and Corporate Giving is reporting a 10% increase in total sales during the same period. At the conclusion of his report, Carey asked for questions. Margaret O'Bryon asked about the administrative services fee. Carey explained that it is the fee that AU collects from the station to cover the services it provides. He expects the fee to total $2,912 million in FY 2013. In FY 2012, AU recovered the entire fee in one month; however, during FY 2013 the fee is being charged monthly in equal installments. Laura thanked Carey for his comprehensive presentation and she encouraged Council Members to get in touch with him at any time if they have questions about WAMU's finances.

V.  Report on Community Dialogues - Kent Lynn, Council Vice Chair

Kent opened his report by talking about the final Community Dialogue of 2012 which was held on Thursday, November 15th. The topic was "Harnessing Data to Tell Stories of Local Impact," and the discussion was moderated by Brendan Sweeney, Managing Producer of The Kojo Nnamdi Show. There were four excellent panelists: Brian Sivak, Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Tom Lee, Director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation; Paul Overberg, Data Base Editor for USA TODAY/Gannett; and WAMU's own Patrick Madden, an investigative reporter who covers the District of Columbia. Kent said this Community Dialogue had more of an internal focus as it concentrated on ways in which reporters and program producers can access available data and how they can find the information to tell important stories. He thanked Larry McCarthy, Trisha Hartge, and Sharvell Becton for their assistance in putting this dialogue together. Delphine Peck asked if those who attended the dialogue had learned any surprising information from it. Kent said that he was surprised by the level of focus of the people who have developed an expertise in using these tools and that he was very impressed by the work of the Sunlight Foundation in making so much data available. Trisha Hartge said she was pleased to learn that there is an institute where journalists can be trained in data mining.

Kent said that he will be scheduling a meeting of the 2013 Dialogue Committee in mid-January to begin planning for the 2013 Community Dialogues, and he would welcome Council Members who would like join him. Barbara Bares, Sharvell Becton, Colleen Boothby, Paul DesJardin, Trisha Hartge, Larry McCarthy, Daniel Okonkwo, Margaret O'Bryon, Micaela Pond, and Tony Sarmiento all agreed to work with Kent in planning the dialogues for 2013.

VI.  Old Business, New Business

Laura reminded the Council Members that the annual reception to pay tribute to retiring Council Members and welcome new members will be held on Tuesday, January 22nd from 6 to 8 p.m. This will give everyone the opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contribution that Maria Gomez has made and to welcome new members Dr. Chris Berg and Thomas Walls. The dates for the Quarterly Meetings in 2013 have been set and they are as follows: February 6th, April 17th, September 18th,and December 4th.

VII.  Public Comment

Cliff Brody, a former member of the Development Advisory Council and a strong supporter of WAMU, complimented Meymo and the news department on their outstanding coverage of Hurricane Sandy. He said that he was especially impressed with Bryan Russo's reports from the Eastern Shore. Reginald Ragland, a dedicated station volunteer, also complimented the station on its local news reports and said how much he enjoyed working with Caryn and the entire staff. Carolyn Rudolph, who described herself as a avid listener and supporter, said that this was the first time she had attended a meeting of the Community Council and she was delighted to learn so much about the station and about the hard work of the WAMU staff.

VIII.  Acknowledgement by Caryn Mathes of the contributions to the station of retiring  Council Member, Maria Gomez

Caryn thanked Maria for her outstanding service to WAMU during her six years as a Council Member. She said despite Maria's extremely demanding schedule as President and CEO of Mary's Center, she has been faithful in participating in meetings of the Council, helping to put together many Community Dialogues, and working with the nominating committee to bring in new Council Members to ensure that the Council reflects the community it serves. Caryn pointed out that it was Maria who had requested that one of the Council's quarterly meetings be devoted to a discussion on audience diversity. Caryn presented Maria with a Certificate of Appreciation. She informed her that a Day Sponsorship will be aired in her name. Maria thanked Caryn and said that she treasures her association with the station and her friendship with the members of the Council and the WAMU staff. In closing, Caryn thanked all of the Council Members for participation, attendance and invaluable support during 2012. She said that 2013 will be a challenging year and she looks forward to the Council's continuing help and support.

IX.  Adjournment

There being no further business, Laura asked for a motion to adjourn. The motion was made, seconded and approved, and the meeting was adjourned at 8:25 p.m. The next meeting of the Council will take place on Wednesday, February 6, 2013.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Slattery Healy


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