WAMU 88.5 : Community

WAMU 88.5 Community Council Minutes, Dec. 4, 2013

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:

Laura Chambers, Council Chair; Kent Lynn, Vice Chair; Barbara Bares, Sharvell Becton, Colleen Boothby, Paul DesJardin, Trisha Hartge, Rawn M. James, Jr, Jody Steiner Kelly, Kim Y. Jones, Larry McCarthy, Daniel Okonkwo, Delphine Peck, Micaela Mejia Pond, and Dale Clayton-Morrison and Pat Matthews, Former Council Chairs.

WAMU/AU Staff Attending:

Caryn Mathes, David Taylor, Rob Bamberger, Brooke Bailey, James Barbour, Richard Cassidy, Sarah Cumbie, Tish Few, Debbie Galiber, Anthony Hayes, John Holt,  Patrice Jackson, Meymo Lyons, Paul Mozzocci, Carey Needham, Wendy Ponvert, Kristen Sorensen, Glenn Williams, Susan Thomas, and Anne Healy.

Members of the Public:

Todd Baldwin, Cliff Brody, Michael Clark, Glenn Ihrig, Cathleen O'Brien, Ted Peck, and Gar Young.

Welcome - Laura Chambers, Council Chair

Laura Chambers welcomed everyone to the last Quarterly Meeting of the WAMU Community Council for 2013 and the first Community Council meeting in WAMU's new media center. She called for a motion to approve the minutes of the Council's last meeting which took place on Wednesday, August 21st. Micaela Pond moved that the minutes be approved as written. Micaela's motion was seconded by Delphine Peck and approved unanimously by the Council.

Laura said that she is so proud of all that we have achieved as a Council this year — bringing forth new ideas and perspectives from our members, working with station management to broaden audience diversity, and achieving 100% participation in each of Council challenges in the station's membership campaigns. She noted that we have had four outstanding meetings and three fabulous Community Dialogues that focused on the issues involving the Affordable Care Act and its effect on health care in our community. Laura said this has been an exciting year of changes and transitions.  "We have witnessed changes in weekend programming, the exciting expansion of the web, outreach to diverse communities through the station's Public Insight Network (PIN), and, finally, the move to WAMU's amazing new media center at 4401 Connecticut."  Before turning the meeting over to Caryn Mathes to give her State of the Station report, Laura informed everyone that Caryn had been recently honored by the Washington Business Journal as one of this year's "Women Who Mean Business," and she congratulated Caryn on this richly deserved award.

II.State of the Station - Caryn Mathes, General Manager

Caryn opened her remarks by saying how wonderful it was to have everyone together in WAMU's new home.  She noted that this new facility is the realization of a dream. "For the first time in 52 years, we have a facility that will fully meet our needs - and there is room for expansion." Caryn noted that four weeks and one day from now she will be stepping into a new role as President of Puget Sound Public Radio and General Manager of KUOW in Seattle, Washington, but that both "individually and collectively none of you will ever leave my mind."  She said that the "feisty and impressive" Council Members who interviewed her in 2004 had a big effect on her decision to accept the position as General Manager of WAMU 88.5 and that since then the work of the Council has improved every year as current members have recruited committed and active new members. Caryn added "the members of the Council have been a caring and committed group which has energized and advised me - and even transported me after my surgery last year ... the service to the station that the Community Council has provided through its Community Dialogues and other activities has been outstanding and has helped us become the #1 radio station in the Washington area reaching over 800,000 listeners." In closing, Caryn thanked Laura and all of the members of the WAMU Community Council for their friendship and support, the WAMU staff for its dedication and vision, Carey for being her "right-hand man" during her entire time at WAMU and for stepping up to the plate to become the interim General Manager, and David Taylor for being a wonderful boss, mentor, and friend.

III. Next Steps for WAMU 88.5 - David Taylor, Chief of Staff, American University, and Carey Needham, Incoming Interim General Manager

David thanked Caryn for her generous remarks. He noted that Caryn as a speaker is always a hard act to follow and now Caryn herself will be an extremely hard act to follow as she moves on to a new challenge in Seattle. David said that — as he has said many times — Caryn is the most successful General Manager in WAMU's history and that he will miss her both as a highly talented colleague and as a good friend. David announced that Carey Needham will be stepping up to the position of interim general manager.  He said that he has worked closely with Carey for many years and he assured everyone that they can have every confidence in his ability and leadership.  David said that he will continue to work with Carey and for the station.  The process of selecting a search firm to assist in finding a successor to Caryn has begun, and David hopes that the search firm will be in place by the end of the year.  He has already named an in-house search team representing the various WAMU departments and they will begin their work shortly.  David said that he cannot estimate how long this process will take, but he hopes to begin interviewing candidates in the next few months and to be able to make an appointment in late spring or early summer.

Carey thanked David for the confidence he has shown in him by appointing him to the interim GM position. He explained that he came to WAMU from AU's finance department during a time of difficult transition for the station and had the privilege of working closely with David at that time. Carey was part of the search process that brought Caryn to WAMU. He said how much he has enjoyed working closely with and learning from her over the last eight years. In the days and months ahead, Carey said he will be assisting with the search to find a new general manager for the station, concentrating on making sure that all of the remaining work on the new facility is completed as soon as possible, and continuing the work that Caryn has begun to craft a new strategic plan for WAMU and update the station's Mission and Vision Statements. He emphasized four essential buckets into which our goals for the next five years will fall: 1) WAMU must attract and retain high-performing employees; 2) a realistic entrepreneurial spirit must be cultivated; 3) content must be created and sustained, keeping in mind the return on investment; and 4) WAMU must grow and diversify its revenue sources.

IV. WAMU Department Directors' Reports

A. Programming Overview - Mark McDonald, Director of Programs, and Meymo Lyons, Managing Editor, News

Mark opened his report by explaining that the transition to WAMU's new space has been extremely challenging for the programming department. The dedicated engineering and IT staff and our news reporters, hosts, and program producers have worked tirelessly to overcome these challenges and keep our high-quality product on the air. They have had to deal with new equipment, get used to new studios and space, and cope with unfinished construction in several areas of the building.  They have done so with few complaints, and WAMU continues to be the top-ranked station (Monday through Sunday (6 a.m. to midnight)) in the Washington Metro Area.  Mark distributed a four-page report from the Radio Research Consortium (Please see Attachment #1) and reviewed it with the Council.  He also distributed the report prepared by Lettie Holman on the October 2013 PPM (Please see Attachment #2). Mark noted that the weekend programming changes that were made in August have actually increased listenership to the station in the last two months.

Mark asked Meymo to talk about two of the exciting projects with which the news team has been involved. Meymo reported that WAMU's Education Reporter Kavitha Cardoza's outstanding series, "Yesterday's Dropout," has been made into a one-hour documentary which has aired on stations across the country.  Kavitha has been widely recognized for her outstanding work, and the station has received positive feedback from educators and community leaders. Teachers have used the documentary in their classrooms, and the series was discussed during a DC City Council hearing. Patrick Madden, WAMU's DC Reporter, will be assisted by graduate students from AU's Center for Investigative Reporting as he continues his work on "Deals for Developers," his fascinating series on the relationship between area contractors and the DC government.  In closing, Meymo paid tribute to her award-winning news department. She said she is so proud to be part of such a hard-working dedicated team.

B. Development News - Wendy Ponvert, Assistant Director of Development, Leadership Giving

Wendy presented the update from the development department in place of Walt Gillette who was unable to attend tonight's meeting.  She reported that the Fall Membership Campaign had been a great success despite the shutdown of the federal government which occurred just before the campaign began.  WAMU 88.5 exceeded its goal of $1.5 million, raising $1.79 million from 12,300 donors, and Bluegrass Country raised over $58,000 from 560 donors.  The importance of sustaining memberships was emphasized during the campaign, and we succeeded in doubling the number of sustainers. Wendy said that while the station did not receive the NEH challenge grant for which it applied, the collaboration between departments in putting the application together will be extremely helpful going forward and we will definitely apply again next year.  The station received a generous bequest through its planned-giving program headed by Kara Barnes which will help to build up our endowment, and we will be working to increase the number of Leadership Gifts to raise additional funds to help to cover the costs of our new facility and the $6.2 million loan from AU. In closing, Wendy thanked the Council Members for their generous support during the membership campaigns and throughout the year.

C. Financial Report - Carey Needham

Carey reviewed the FY 2014 and FY 2013 Revenue and Expense Detail by Unit as of October 31, 2013 with the Council.  This document, which covers the first two quarters of FY 2014, had been sent to the members in advance of the meeting (Please see Attachment #3).   Carey noted that revenue is running behind last year and expenses are up because of funding for our new space, an increase in the payment for services provided by the University, and the fact that we are now paying rent for our facility for the first time.  Carey said that this is the point in the fiscal year where we begin to project forward.  We are now showing a deficit of $1.4 million in our operating fund, and projections show that we will end the year with a deficit, although hopefully it will be lower.  Kim Jones asked how AU will react to the station's deficit.  David responded that AU is reviewing the financial model and will carefully monitor revenues and expenses.  He said that the University will backstop the station if necessary.  Laura asked if backstopping means that there will be cuts at WAMU.  David said he does not envision any cuts in programming or staff but he will know more after the thorough review is completed.  He expects that the costs for the search will be paid from the lapsed salary of the general manager.  At the end of his report, Carey presented a short video on the new facility.  He said that we still have a punch list of things that need to be completed before the building can be accepted from the contractor.  

V. Community Dialogues — Kent Lynn, Council Vice Chair

Kent reminded everyone that the purpose of the Community Dialogues is to provide valuable information and contacts to WAMU's reporters and program producers on issues of concern to the listening community.  This year's Dialogues focused on the timely and important issue of the Affordable Care Act.  Several members of the Community Dialogue Committee had strong backgrounds in the area of health care and were able to recommend experts who contributed greatly to the discussions.  Brendan Sweeney and Rebecca Blatt worked closely with the committee and were of great assistance in framing the questions and leading the discussions as moderators.  The final Community Dialogue of 2013 was held on October 29.  The subject was "Electronic Health Records: Promise and Pitfalls." The participants were: Dr. William Yasnoff, Managing Partner at National Health Information Infrastructure (NHII) Advisors and CEO and President at Health Record Banking Alliance; Dr. Naressa A. Mohammed Rajput, an internal medicine doctor who is overseeing the rollout of EPIC, a medical records program, for Johns Hopkins Community Physician groups in Maryland and the District of Columbia; and Rachael Fleurence, Program Director of the Infrastructure Program at the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).  Kent thanked the members of his committee for their work throughout the year.  He said that he will schedule a meeting to discuss topics and dates for the 2014 Community Dialogues early next year.

VI. Report of the 2013 Nominating Committee - Trisha Hartge, Committee Chair

Trisha thanked the members of her committee: Daniel Okonkwo, Micaela Pond, Tony Sarmiento, and Tom Walls.  She said that the committee began its work by reviewing the current balance on the Council in terms of ethnicity, gender, geography, commitment to the community, and professional background.   Six members of the Council were completing their first three-year terms and were therefore eligible for reappointment. Unfortunately, the current Council Chair Laura Chambers was completing her second three-year term and was therefore ineligible for reappointment at this time.  Trisha and Laura contacted each of the Council Members who were eligible for reappointment and all of them wished to continue to serve.  That left only one three-year term to fill and a one-year term due to the resignation of Council Member Colleen Boothby. Kim Jones agreed to take the one-year term. She will be eligible to be re-appointed to a two-year term at the end of 2014. This meant that Trisha and her committee had two three-year terms to fill.  Trisha announced that the committee was recommending the nomination and appointment of Rudy Burwell and Eugene Sofer to fill these terms.  Their bios were sent to the Council in advance of this meeting.  Micaela Pond moved that the recommendations of the Nominating Committee be accepted. Her motion was seconded by Larry McCarthy, and it passed without objection.

The next order of business was the election of the Chair and Vice Chair of the Council for 2014. Trisha reported that the Committee was recommending Kent Lynn for Chair and Barbara Bares for Vice Chair.  Laura called for a vote and Kent and Barbara were elected unanimously.

VII. Old Business, New Business

Carey informed the Council that a farewell party for Caryn Mathes will take place on Thursday, December 19th at the station.  All of the members of the Council will be invited to this reception in Caryn's honor. This will give everyone the opportunity to thank Caryn for everything that she has done for WAMU and to wish her the best as she moves to Seattle and an exciting new challenge. The dedication of WAMU's New Media Center is being planned for Friday, January 31 and Saturday February 1, 2014. Events to celebrate the dedication--including an open house, tours, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony--are still in the planning stage.  Laura reminded Council Members that the annual reception in honor of WAMU 88.5's Community Council will take place on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at Chef Geoff's Restaurant at 3201 New Mexico Avenue, NW from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.  She noted that this informal event gives the members of the Council a chance to socialize with one another and with members of the WAMU staff.  

VIII. Retirement of Laura Chambers -  Caryn Mathes

Caryn praised Laura for her outstanding service to WAMU as a member of the Community Council for the past six years and as the Council Chair for 2012 and 2013.  She said that Laura has been a wonderful representative of WAMU in the community and a strong and continuing supporter of the station and all of its activities. She also thanked Laura for the friendship and support she has always given to her. Caryn presented Laura with a gift from everyone at WAMU, and Kent and Barbara presented her with a gift from all the members of the Council.     

IX. Adjournment

There being no further business, the Chair asked for a motion to adjourn.  The motion was made and seconded and approved.  The meeting adjourned at 8:55 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Slattery Healy


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