WAMU 88.5 : Community

WAMU 88.5 Community Council Minutes, Aug. 21, 2013

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:
Laura Chambers, Council Chair; Kent Lynn, Vice Chair;  Dr. Christine Berg, Rawn M. James, Jr., Jody Steiner Kelly, Ginny McArthur, Larry McCarthy, Margaret O'Bryon, Daniel Okonkwo, Delphine Peck, Micaela Mejia Pond, Donald Quayle, Anthony Sarmiento, Peter Tannenwald and Thomas Walls.

WAMU/AU Staff Attending:
Caryn Mathes, Kathleen Allenbaugh, Rob Bamberger, Kara Barnes, Brooke Bailey, Kavitha Cardoza, Walt Gillette, Anthony Hayes, Lettie Holman, Seth Liss, Meymo Lyons, Michael Martinez, Melanie McCarty, Paul Mozzocci, Carey Needham, Kojo Nnamdi, Liam Sullivan, Louisa Swain, Susan Thomas and Anne Healy.

Members of the Public: 
Kristina Anderson, Cliff Brody (former Development Advisory Council Member), Michael Clark, Cathleen O'Brien (WAMU Ambassador), and Gar Young.

I. Welcome - Laura Chambers, Council Chair

Laura Chambers welcomed everyone to the Third Quarterly Meeting of the WAMU Community Council for 2013. She remarked that she was feeling a bit nostalgic as this will be the last meeting of the Council to be held at 4000 Brandywine. The final phases of the station's move to 4401 Connecticut are scheduled to be completed by the end of September, and the Council's next meeting, which will take place on December 4th, will be held in WAMU's new home. Noting the large number of station staff members in attendance, Laura asked everyone to briefly introduce themselves.  Following the introductions, she called for a motion to approve the minutes of the Council's last meeting which took place on Wednesday, April 17. Don Quayle moved that the minutes be approved as written and his motion was seconded and approved by the Council.  

II. Station Overview - Caryn Mathes, General Manager

Opening Remarks

Caryn opened her remarks by noting that this summer has been one full of activity, planning, concentration on big projects, and even some fun! "But it is definitely a summer that has made me acutely aware of the passage of time, change, and transformation, and of taking that deep breath and stepping through yet another emotional portal to the What's Next?" She explained that the public radio family at WAMU and at NPR headquarters has been battered of late, emotionally.  Caryn said that "Our hearts and condolences have gone out to our colleagues and friends Anne, Kent and Ginny for the loss of loved ones, and we miss our dear friend Donal O'Connell, a member of our Development Advisory Council. We lost Scott Simon's mother and Cokie Roberts' mother, and Tell Me More's lead producer, Teshima Walker, who passed away last Friday at the age of 44."

Caryn noted that her first phone call of this week delivered the news that NPR President & CEO Gary Knell is leaving his position to take the helm at National Geographic.  She said "There has been so much life change that can shake us down to our shoe tops that it can make running a public media enterprise - even one of our size - seem small, but then you force yourself to get back into the swing of things ... you reengage and you are reminded that what we do here also looms very large in people's lives.  We are airing a promotion right now asking our listeners to tell us about our impact on their lives.  The breadth of our audience's engagement with us still amazes me.  Our mission to inspire their curiosity, foster understanding, create wonder in their lives and to speak authentically to our common humanity does resonate, and it matters.  We are striving to make it matter even more."

Change and Transformation — The Move to 4401 Connecticut Ave.

Caryn informed the Council that this is the last time we will be gathering for a Community Council meeting in this building.  "One Metro stop away is an amazing new media center and it feels as though our spirit has already transferred there.  The bulk of the bodies may be here, but the spirit of who we are and what we do is hovering there - just waiting for us to step into the driver's seat." 

Caryn continued "the news room furniture was installed today . . . and I could hear in my mind the sounds of action, energy and activity of a proper news room fully integrated for digital platforms - same thing on the third floor when you walk into that gorgeous wood-floored music studio. We have four requests in queue to use our black box theater - which isn't even finished yet for lack of an Angel Investor, but we'll get there. The dedication and doggedness of our content creators and our technical and support staff have allowed us to make silk purses out of the sows' ears of facilities we've had over the years and we have managed to do amazing work in the space we were dealt, but imagine what we will do with our first space in 52 years designed exactly for what we do.  That 'What's Next' is going to knock your socks off." Everything except the talk shows will be broadcasting from the new facility by September 15th, and the talk shows will debut in the new space on September 23rd. Nineteen days later, WAMU will do its first on-air campaign from the new building.  Formal grand opening activities for the new building are being planned but will not take place until after the first of the calendar year. 

Caryn advised the Council that "In order to have relevance and resonance and support in a media landscape where the company that auto-delivers my batteries and cleaning supplies now owns The Washington Post, means having to rethink everything.

  • How do you find WAMU if you are in the "Audience Next" that isn't aware of anything that does not reside on a smart phone or a tablet?
  • How do we engage you — the Audience — in our storytelling when research tells us you're more cynical and skeptical than ever of journalism?
  • How do we transform wamu.org into a true content channel and not just a mirror held up to the broadcast signal?
  • How do we speak to the 50-somethings that we have now and the 20-somethings in "Audience Next" and manage to keep both?
  • How do we ask you for money and expect you to maintain a long-term relationship with us in a "Kickstarter" and "Text to Give" world?
  • How do we meet audience demand for the ability to curate and create their own media experience and to "Talk Back" to us on any platform and any time of their choosing?
  • "But for those of you who have invested in WAMU ...Thank you, thank you. 4401 is the house that members built. And, just watch what we do."


    Caryn said that she was so proud of all that WAMU had accomplished in FY 2013 and has continued to accomplish during the first three months of FY 2014. In June, the WAMU news team received fifteen awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association. In addition, WAMU News and 88.3 Ocean City received a total of four regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for news documentary, use of sound, and feature reporting.  (Please see Attachment #1)  The audience ratings for the station continue to be outstanding. Lettie Holman will talk about this in her report.  Bluegrass Country's audience is increasing both on-line and on 105.5, and BGC's You Tube channel is drawing increasing numbers of viewers.  Caryn reported that direct operating support is up nearly 5% over last year, major donor contributions are up by nearly 13%, and we have $1.5 million in planned giving intentions. Underwriting also had a banner year. National sales are up by double digit percentages, and Caryn said she was extremely pleased that WAMU's two national sales account representatives are outselling the twelve people at National Public Media,  the sales team the station previously used.  In concluding her report, Caryn said "We are heading in strong and we are going to get a wonderful boost with this new building."       

    WAMU Department Directors' Reports

    News Update — Meymo Lyons, Managing Editor, News

    Meymo said that she was so proud of WAMU's award-winning news department and delighted that it had been recognized for its outstanding work.  Meymo noted that she has been a journalist for a long time but had never before been a part of such a dedicated, hard-working team. "Even with a small staff, we are able to give our listeners extensive, reliable local news coverage."

    Meymo was recently appointed to the Board of the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association.  Education reporter Kavitha Cardoza has won many awards, and NPR will be running four pieces from her series on "Yesterday's Dropouts." The station is producing a documentary entitled "Breaking Ground with Kavitha Cardoza" which includes stories from several of the series she has produced.  WAMU's Marketing and Communications Director, Kathleen Allenbaugh, is putting together a sales kit to go with it, and Meymo will take this to the Public Radio Program Directors  conference in Atlanta next month to market it to public radio stations across the country.

    Weekend Programming Changes - Audience Data - Lettie Holman, Manager of Programming Research

    Lettie opened her report by talking about the weekend programming changes that went into effect on Friday, August 16th.  She reviewed each of the changes with the members of the Council. (Please see Attachment #2)  Lettie explained that the changes are being made so that we can add some excellent new programs, which we have already tested in our "open space" slot on Sunday evenings. These new shows have been performing very well in the public radio system, and they tend to appeal to a younger, more ethnically diverse audience. She said that station management takes any changes to our programming schedule very seriously - there has not been a change to the weekend lineup since August of 2010 - because we understand that radio creates strong listening habits and any change is bound to be disturbing to some listeners.  However, given the speed of the today's news cycle and the wide availability of recorded programs onlineand in podcasts and elsewhere, it was decided that it no longer makes sense to repeat our talk shows recorded earlier on the same channel, and this opened up space for some of the new programs.  In addition, now that listener numbers for Bluegrass Country at 105.5 are showing up in our ratings, WAMU is planning a major on-air and marketing initiative to drive up listening to the Bluegrass station.  Moving Mary Cliff's Traditions and the Sunday repeat of Prairie Home Companion to 105.5 should help greatly in this effort and give us room to add new programs on our main channel.  Laura Chambers said she was very excited about the new weekend lineup and looked forward to listening to the new shows.  Kent Lynn agreed with Laura and said that having access to multiple channels makes it possible for our listeners to listen to their favorite programs at whatever time works best for them.

    Lettie distributed her report on the Spring 2013 Arbitron Ratings and went over the highlights with the Council Members. The Spring Survey measured listening from March 28th through June 19th. WAMU's total weekly audience (not including web visits or streaming statistics) set a record for the station at 806,200 weekly listeners. The station continued its market dominance as the #1 station in the Washington, DC metro area with a 8.5% share of all radio listening.  (Please see Attachment #3) Lettie pointed out that WRAU in 88.3 in Ocean City is doing well.  The station has surpassed both WSDL and WSCL (Salisbury University-owned public radio stations) in weekly cume audience, and the year-to-year growth in weekly audience is up 54% from Spring 2012 to Spring 2013.   

    Special Programming Projects - Michael Martinez, Producer, The Kojo Nnamdi Show

    Michael explained that he was substituting for Brendan Sweeney, the managing producer of KNS, because Brendan was home helping care for his new son, Eli, who was born at the end of last week.  And he shared the exciting news that our own Kojo Nnamdi will be throwing out the first pitch at the Washington National's game on August 30th, which is officially AU Night at the ballpark.  Turning to programming news, Michael reported that The Kojo Nnamdi Show will be continuing its series on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act in conjunction with the Council's Community Dialogues on this issue.  He said that the producers have gotten a number of really good ideas from the dialogues.  On December 4th, KNSwill be doing a two-hour broadcast from the National Geographic's Grosvenor Auditorium in connection with the Future of Information Alliance of which WAMU is a partner.  Kojo and his producers are also working on a series they are temporarily calling "Local/Global Voices" which will show the connection that local communities have with their international counterparts.  As part of this initiative, and thanks to a generous donation from a friend and supporter of WAMU and KNS, the show will do a live broadcast from the United Nations early in 2014.  Michael reported that KNS and the news department are working together to provide the best coverage of the upcoming Virginia statewide elections and  hope to interview all of the statewide candidates this fall.

    Update on PIN (WAMU's Public Insight Network) - Seth Liss, Online Managing Editor

    Seth explained that PIN was launched in February of 2012. (Please see Attachment #4)  It is WAMU's way of getting past the pundits and regular news sources and reaching individuals in our community.  It is web based, and listeners can sign up by going to wamu.org/PIN. The PIN database enables people to share their experiences directly with WAMU reporters and producers, who use the database to stay in touch with these potential sources and ask for their input and for suggestions for stories to pursue. . Seth said that we are now in the process of reaching out to community groups to expand the diversity of PIN sources.  Laura thanked Seth for his report, and she encouraged Council Members to sign up as sources if they had not already done so.  Kent said that Rebecca Blatt had found a source for one of the Council's Community Dialogues from PIN.

    Efforts to Reach New Audiences - Kathleen Allenbaugh, Director of Marketing & Communications

    Laura reminded the Council that at the April meeting, Mark McDonald had shared the "Vital Signs" report for the six-month period of November 2012 through March of 2013. This report included data on gender, age, and ethnic composition and seemed to indicate a slight decline in the African-American and Hispanic percentage of the audience.  Laura said that she was delighted that WAMU was making an effort to attract new audiences with its programming changes, and she was looking forward to hearing from Kathleen about additional efforts that the station is making.  

    Kathleen distributed a WAMU Competitor Analysis covering Winter 2012 through Winter 2013, which she reviewed with the members of the Council. (Please see Attachment #5) She said that WAMU's strong market position, when broken out by locale, demonstrates opportunities for audience growth and helps us determine where to concentrate our marketing efforts.  WAMU also reaches out to different communities through its media sponsorships and Community Minutes.  Our Community Minutes provide a local nonprofit an opportunity to tell about the service it provides to our community. We air three of these 60-second spots three times a month --twice on WAMU and once on WRAU.  

    Rawn James pointed out that the military is ethnically diverse and that reaching out to local servicemen and women on-air and through other efforts would certainly help to increase the diversity of our audience. We could also use the PIN network to connect with service personnel and tell stories that would be of interest to them as well as to our entire listening community.  Laura said that she was delighted with the outreach efforts the station is making and suggested that the Council continue to monitor this.  Caryn said that we will continue to keep the Council Members informed about the progress we are making in bringing in new listeners and increasing our audience diversity.

    Financial Update - Carey Needham, Director of Business Administration

    Carey distributed his latest financial summary comparing FY 2014 and FY 2013 Revenue and   Expense Detail by Unit as of July 31st, and he reviewed it with the Council. (Please see Attachment #6). He pointed out that FY 2013 ended on April 30th. Price Waterhouse, the auditors for American University, are currently reviewing all of the revenues and expenses for FY 2013, and the audited statements should be up on our website in October.  Carey expects that we will have ended the year with a surplus to add to our reserves; however, we have a large number of expenses to cover, including almost $2.7 million in equipment for our new media center at 4401 Connecticut.

    Development News - Walt Gillette, Development Director

    Walt began his report by introducing the two newest members of the development team - Kara Barnes and Louisa Swain.  Kara is the new Manager of Planned Giving.  She previously worked in development at NPR and the Kennedy Center.  Louisa will serve as a Major Giving Officer along with Melanie McCarty.  Walt informed the Council that with these new hires, his department is now up to full strength. The Fall Membership Campaign begins on Saturday, October 12th.  Walt said that a major focus of this campaign will be to encourage our listeners to contribute on a monthly sustained basis - the gift continues until the donor asks that it be stopped. He explained that sustained giving is efficient and gives the station a year-round source of income.  Recurring giving also tends to boost major and planned giving.   To encourage listeners to give on a continuing basis, a new $5-a-month contribution amount will be introduced. Walt announced that the goal for this campaign will be $1.5 million.  (The final total was over $1.7 million.)

    Community Council Member Match - Virginia McArthur,  Liaison to the DAC

    Walt introduced Ginny McArthur and asked her to talk about the member match for the upcoming campaign.  Ginny explained that the role of the DAC is to work with WAMU's major giving team to encourage donors to increase the amount of their contributions to the station.  All the members of the DAC are Leadership Circle members -- that means they contribute $1200 or more to WAMU every year.  She asked those Council Members who have not already done so to consider making a donation that would qualify them for membership in Leadership Circle.  During the two on-air membership campaigns, the DAC and the Community Council traditionally offer Member Matches to encourage listeners to contribute.  The most important goal for the matches from both Councils is to have 100% participation. (The Community Council reached 100% participation for the third campaign in a row, contributing a combined amount of $11,720.)

    IV. 2013 Community Dialogues - Kent Lynn, Chair of the Council's Dialogue Planning Committee

    Kent explained that the committee decided at its first meeting on January 16th to focus this year's dialogues on the Affordable Care Act.  The first dialogue, which was held on March 19th was entitled "ACA 101: Local Impacts."  The participants were experts from different parts of the care-delivery pipeline who discussed the likely local impacts of the ACA rollout.  The second dialogue, "Carrots & Sticks: Healthcare Delivery under the ACA," was held on June 18th and explored some of the problems with the current health system and the economic and medical incentives embedded within the ACA.  The third and final dialogue, "Electronic Health Records: Promise and Pitfalls" will take place on October 29th in the community room at WAMU's new home.  The participants will be Dr. William Yasnoff, Managing Partner at National Health Information Infrastructure Advisors; Rachael Fleurance, Program Director of the CER Methods and Infrastructure Program at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute; and, Dr. Nareesa Mohammed-Raiput, who is overseeing the rollout of EPIC, a medical records program for Johns Hopkins Physician Groups.  Kent encouraged the Council Members to join him at this dialogue.  He thanked the members of the committee members and WAMU staff members Rebecca Blatt and Brendan Sweeney for their assistance. 

    V. Old Business, New Business

    Laura asked for any Old Business, and Don Quayle reminded everyone that August 28th will be the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington. He said that WGBH is putting together a special program from the live coverage that the Educational Radio Network provided of the March in 1963. The coverage was produced by the staff of WAMU at that time including Susan Stamberg, Nate Shaw, and George Geesey.  Don noted that this was the final broadcast of the Educational Radio Network which went off the air that day due to the withdrawal of support from The Ford Foundation.  Lettie Holman said that we have audio from that broadcast stored in the WAMU archives and we have been able to retrieve some clips for use in our upcoming coverage of the anniversary of the March on the website and on The Kojo Nnamdi Show.

    Under new business, Laura announced that it was time to select a nominating committee to review all suggestions for new members and present its recommendations to the Council at the final meeting of the year on Wednesday, December 4th.  Laura said that she had asked Trisha Hartge to serve as the Chair of this year's nominating committee.  Micaela Pond, Daniel Okonkwo, Tony Sarmiento and Tom Walls all volunteered to work with Trisha on the committee.  

    VI. Adjournment

    Tony Sarmiento made the motion and it was seconded and approved. The meeting adjourned at 9:05 p.m.

    Respectfully submitted,

    Anne Slattery Healy


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