WAMU 88.5 : Community

WAMU 88.5 Community Council Minutes, April 17, 2013

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:
Laura Chambers, Council Chair; Kent Lynn, Vice Chair; Barbara Bares, Sharvell Becton, Paul DesJardin, Patricia "Trisha" Hartge, Rawn M. James, Jr.,  Jody Steiner Kelly, Ginny McArthur, Larry McCarthy, Amy Nakamoto, Daniel Okonkwo, Micaela Mejia Pond, Donald Quayle, Anthony Sarmiento, Peter Tannenwald and Thomas Walls.

WAMU/AU Staff Attending:
Walt Gillette, John Holt, Doreen Hodge, Meymo Lyons, Melanie McCarty, Mark McDonald, Paul Mozzocci, Carey Needham, Brendan Sweeney, Kristen Sorensen, Jerad Walker, Anthony Washington and Anne Healy.

Members of the Public:
Cliff Brody and Cathleen O'Brien (WAMU Ambassador)

I. Welcome - Laura Chambers, Council Chair

Laura Chambers welcomed everyone to the Spring Quarterly Meeting of the WAMU Community Council.  She informed the Council that Caryn Mathes was ill and unable to be at tonight's meeting and she wished her a speedy recovery. In Caryn's absence, Mark McDonald and Carey Needham will give the update on Station Activities assisted by Brendan Sweeney, Managing Producer of the Kojo Nnamdi Show and John Holt, Director of Engineering and Operations.  Laura said that she is constantly amazed by how much she learns from the powerful stories she hears on WAMU.  As an example, she said that she woke up last Friday morning to Kavitha Cardoza's outstanding report on "Yesterday's Dropouts" and learned that there are entire generations of families that are functionally illiterate.  Later on Metro Connection she heard Rebecca Sheir's interview with our own Cliff Brody and learned about his years in the military and his service in Vietnam.

Laura asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting of the Council which took place on Wednesday, February 6th. Don Quayle moved that the minutes be approved as written and his motion was seconded by Tony Sarmiento and unanimously approved by the Council.  Following the approval of the minutes, Laura asked Mark and Carey to give their report on the upcoming move to 4401 Connecticut and other station activities. 

II. Update on Station Activities - Mark McDonald, Director of Programming and Carey Needham, Director of Business Administration

Move to 4401 Connecticut

Mark informed the Council that Brendan Sweeney has been spearheading the effort to document the progress on 4401 Connecticut with assistance from Anthony Washington, Volunteer Service Coordinator.  Brendan presented a series of slides showing what WAMU's new facilities will look like and how work on each of the floors is progressing.  Mark then introduced John Holt and asked him to talk about some of the state-of-the-art equipment which is being installed in the new studios and control rooms. As an example of some of the new equipment, John brought along an AXIA Audio IP Digital Console (the leading brand of Audio Digital Consoles) and gave a brief demonstration of how it works. He said we will have several of these new consoles at 4401.  

Carey talked about the proposed schedule for the move to our new facilities which will take place in two phases. JK Moving Services, a WAMU underwriter, has been hired to handle the entire move. The first phase will involve the non-broadcast staff and will take place over the weekend of June 1st and 2nd.  An all staff meeting will be held later this month with representatives from the moving company to explain the packing process and move captains have been appointed to coordinate the efforts of each department.  Carey explained that the second phase of the move involving the entire broadcast staff is tentatively scheduled for the end of July, but it will depend on when all of the construction and the build-out of the studios is completed. (The final move is now anticipated to take place in mid to late September.)

Don Quayle asked about parking and Carey responded that there will be about 75 available spaces in the building but AU's Development and Marketing and Communications staff will be occupying the 5th and 6th floors of 4401 and will share the parking spaces with WAMU.  The University is looking into alternative parking sites close by.  Several Council Members inquired about proposed uses for the Black Box Theater. Mark said that it will seat 100 people and we envision it as a cultural hub for the neighborhood and a way to reach out to the community.  He anticipates using it for some theater productions such as those produced by Lean and Hungry Theater and also for Bluegrass concerts.  Barbara Bares asked what will be visible to someone walking past the building.  Brendan responded that the newsroom will occupy the first floor and will have a studio visible from Connecticut Avenue.  There will also be branding to identify 4401 as the home of WAMU 88.5.

Highlights and Accolades

Mark noted that audience for Bluegrass Country continues to increase both on-line and on 105.5.  He asked Jerad Walker, Production Coordinator for BGC to talk about the videos the Bluegrass team has been producing and putting up on YouTube.com.  Jerad explained that they have been producing live concerts of some the musicians who come into the studio and putting videos of their performances on line. They now have over 100 videos on the Bluegrass Country website http://www.youtube.com/user/bluegrasscountry and are now putting up five to six per month.  The number of viewers has increased from a few thousand to almost half a million. 

Meymo Lyons, WAMU's Managing Editor, News, informed the Council that Education Reporter, Kavitha Cardoza, received an Award from the Education Writers Association for her series on the high school dropout crisis and an Edward R. Murrow Regional Award in the "Hard News" category for her story "D.C. Kids Prep for a Summer with Far Fewer City Programs."  Investigative Reporter, Patrick Madden was honored with a Murrow Award in the "Audio Investigative Reporting" category for "Nepotism in the Gray Administration."  Meymo announced WAMU 88.5 News and 88.3 Ocean City will be receiving a number of awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association (CAPBA) which will be announced at CAPBA's annual convention in June. (Please see attachment #1)

Special Events

Mark announced that among the WAMU events coming up in the next two months will be a Lean and Hungry Theater production of "As You Like It" which will be presented at the AU Amphitheater on the main campus and carried live on WAMU.  In May there will be another Salon Series Event for donors at the $5,000 and above level which will be held at the home of Steve and Cokie Roberts, and later this month a Volunteer Service Reception will take place at the Hamilton.

III. WAMU Directors' Reports

Programming Highlights - Mark McDonald

Mark distributed two handouts prepared by Lettie Holman, Manager of Programming and Research.  (Please see attachments #2 and #3)  He briefly went over the highlights of each with the members of the Council.  The first report was a summary of the Winter 2013 Arbitron PPM for the DC market. WAMU 88.5 was once again the #1 station in the Washington DC market. Mark noted that the station showed double-digit growth in most metrics when comparing Winter 2012 to Winter 2013 even though the market as a whole experienced 5.7% less listening than one year ago. "In a time of static audience numbers for public radio, WAMU has continued to grow." The second handout was the "Vital Signs Report" which covered a 6 month period from November 2012 through March of 2013 for the Washington-DC Metro.  This report included data on gender, age and ethnic composition. Larry McCarthy asked why there seemed to be a decline in the Black and Hispanic percentage of our audience over this six month period.  Mark said the percentage varies from month to month and is hard to measure accurately as it may depend on how many Black or Hispanic listeners are included in the group measured by the PPM during a specific period.  However, he said that we are putting more effort into increasing our audience in the minority communities.  Laura suggested that this is something the Council may want to explore further in an upcoming Quarterly Meeting or as the focus of a special Community Dialogue.

Overview of Major Gift Philanthropy Efforts - Walt Gillette, Director of Development

Walt distributed his report on Philanthropy and Fundraising. (Please see Attachment #4) He included quotes on the philosophy of fundraising, the multiple roles of philanthropy and the challenges for philanthropy in the 21st Century. He also talked about the Donor Bill of Rights which WAMU fully endorses and which is displayed on our website.

Walt informed Council Members that WAMU's fundraising consultants have identified about 2,000 listeners in our data base who are capable of donating at a six or seven figure level, and we are working to galvanize their support. 70 naming opportunities have been identified in our new facility, and Caryn and members of the development team have begun taking potential top level donors on hard hat tours. Walt said that we are also working hard to increase the support we receive annually from our mid and upper level givers.  He noted that the recent Leadership Circle reception for annual donors at the $1200 level and above was a great success. More than 250 people attended -- a 72% increase over last year.  Kent Lynn and Barbara Bares agreed that it was a wonderful event and said they were surprised and pleased to see so many younger people in the crowd.  Amy Nakamoto said that she had attended the station's Young Professional's Reception last year, and she asked if similar events were planned in the near future. Walt responded that because of our upcoming move we have not scheduled another Young Professional's event for this summer, but we are definitely looking forward to holding another event for this group in the near future. (An event for the "Young Informed Professionals" was held in June.)  Barbara asked about the relationship between AU Development and WAMU and whether the station is permitted to solicit some of the University's larger donors.  Walt said that the relationship has greatly improved now that WAMU has its own data base. He said that we have worked closely with the AU Development's planned giving team and with their prospect research group but that the AU Board of Trustees and other very high level donors are off limits. Walt added that the University concentrates on raising very large amounts from a small pool of donors while we raise smaller amounts from a much larger base. Carey added that a gift to WAMU is considered a gift to American University and that the University encourages our fundraising efforts.  Laura thanked Walt for his report and congratulated him and his team for their ability to leverage support in so many different ways.  Walt said that Caryn and Carey had fully supported him and made it possible for him to hire the team he needed to do the job.

Financial Update - Carey Needham

Carey distributed his latest financial summary which compares FY 2012 and FY 2013 Revenue and Expense Detail by Unit as of March 31st and he reviewed it with the Council. (Please see Attachment #5) Carey noted that Development revenues showed an increase of 3% in gift income over last year at this time and Corporate Giving revenues increased by 8%.  FY 2013 ends on April 30th and Carey estimated that total revenues for the year will top out at about $20 million while expenses will total $19.5 or $19.6 million. This will leave the station with a surplus of $50 to $100 thousand, which will be put toward the purchase of some additional equipment for our new facilities.  On May 1st we will begin FY 2014, the first year of another two year budget cycle. Carey said that our two year budget has been approved by the University. Our revenue target is $22.1 million for FY 2014 and $23.4 million for FY 2015.

IV. 2013 Community Dialogues - Kent Lynn, Vice Chair of the Council

Kent reminded everyone that the Community Dialogue Committee, which he chairs, had decided to focus the three Community Dialogues planned for this year on health care, and specifically the Affordable Care Act as federal, state and local authorities begin to implement this complex law.  He reported that the first dialogue entitled "ACA 101: Local Impacts" took place on March 19th. Brendan Sweeney moderated the discussion and the panelists were Leighton Ku, Professor of the Department of Health Policy and Director of the Center for Health Policy Research at George Washington University; Bruce Wolff, Partner at Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP and former VP and Senior Counsel for Health Operations at Aetna Life and Casualty; Dr. Joseph L. Wright, Senior Vice President, Child Health Advocacy Institute at the Children's National Medical Center; and Steven Galen, President and Chief Executive Officer, Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County.  Several members of the Council attended this meeting. Trisha Hartge said she found it an engaging discussion and Sharvell Becton noted that it was a terrific springboard for going forward.  Laura said that she had been elated when the ACA passed but learning about all the possible implications left her a bit scared.  Larry McCarthy added that he realized that there are still a number of problems which need to be addressed.  Brendan said the Community Dialogues continue to be of great assistance to WAMU producers and reporters.  For instance, The Kojo Nnamdi Show will be doing a number of shows in the upcoming weeks with health care officials in Maryland and Virginia and this discussion has given the producers a framework which will be very helpful in informing them as to what questions need to be asked.  

Kent said that plans are already well underway for the next Community Dialogue which will take place on Tuesday, June 18. The discussion will focus on some of the problems with the current healthcare system; the economic and medical incentives embedded within the ACA; and the challenges of covering health care topics on a local level.  The title will be "Carrots and Sticks: Healthcare Delivery under the ACA."  The committee is in the process of confirming the panelists.

Kent thanked the members of his Subcommittee and Brendan and Rebecca for their help with these dialogues and he invited other Council Members to join him in the planning meetings for the two remaining dialogues on the ACA.

V. Adjournment

There being no further business or public comment, Laura thanked everyone for their participation and asked for a motion to adjourn the meeting.

The motion was made, seconded and approved, and the meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Slattery Healy


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