WAMU 88.5 Community Council Minutes, Dec. 14, 2011

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:

Patricia Mathews, Council Chair; Lawrence McCarthy, Vice Chair; Barbara Bares, Chuck Bean, Sharvell Becton, Mary Briggs, Laura Chambers, Maria Gomez, Patricia “Trisha” Hartge, Kim Y. Jones, Judge Anita Josey-Herring, Kent Lynn, Virginia “Ginny” McArthur, Amy Nakamoto, Daniel Okonkwo, Nancy Pallesen, Delphine Peck, Micaela Mejia Pond, Donald Quayle, Anthony Sarmiento, Peter Tannenwald and Dale Clayton-Morrison, Immediate Past Chair.

WAMU Staff Attending:

Caryn Mathes, David Taylor, Walt Gillette, Anthony Hayes, Mark McDonald, Paul Mozzocci, Carey Needham, Jason Novak, and Kay Summers.

Members of the Public:

Cliff Brody, DAC Member, Cathleen O’Brien, WAMU Ambassador and volunteer

I. Welcome – Patricia N. Mathews, Council Chair

Pat Mathews opened the final quarterly meeting of the WAMU Community Council for 2011 at 7:03 p.m.  She asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting of the Council which took place on Wednesday, September 21st. Don Quayle moved that the minutes be approved with three minor corrections. (The minutes have been corrected to show that Delphine Peck was in attendance and two typos have also been corrected.)  The motion was seconded by Delphine Peck and the minutes were approved.

II. Presentation of the Recommendations of the Nominating Committee

As Chair of the Community Council’s nominating committee, Pat Mathews presented the committee’s recommendations. In addition to Pat, the members of the committee were Chuck Bean, Laura Chambers, Amy Nakamoto and Nancy Pallesen.  Pat explained that the committee members had received and carefully reviewed all of the suggestions from Council Members and WAMU staff for new members before meeting to put together their report. Pat announced that the committee was recommending the reappointment of Delphine Peck and Donald R. Quayle who are current Council Members and the appointment of Colleen Boothby, Paul DesJardin, Rawn M. James, Jr., Jody Steiner Kelly, and Margaret K. O’Bryon, to their first three-year terms.  Noting that the members of the Council had received the bios of the new members in advance of this meeting, Pat asked for a motion to approve the nominating committee’s recommendations.  Maria Gomez moved the approval of the nominating committee’s report and Larry McCarthy seconded the motion which was unanimously approved.

Pat advised the Council that the nominating committee was also recommending the election of Laura M. Chambers to serve as Chair of the Community Council for 2012 and of Kent W. Lynn to serve as Vice Chair.  Don Quayle moved that the Council vote to accept the committee’s recommendation and Micaela Pond seconded the motion.  Pat called for a voice vote and Laura and Kent were unanimously elected.

II. Update on Station Activities – Caryn Mathes, General Manager

Before beginning her report Caryn welcomed her boss, David Taylor, and thanked him for coming to tonight’s meeting. David is the Chief of Staff to the President of American University. She mentioned that Anne Healy was absent due to a death in her family which necessitated her flying to Chicago that morning.

A. NPR Board Position for Mathes

Caryn said that 2011 has been a whirlwind year and “as if there were not enough going on at WAMU, added to the plate for me was my successful bid and election to the NPR Board of Directors in July.” She has been appointed as Vice Chair of the NPR Board’s Distribution/Interconnect and she will also serve on the Finance and Development Committees. Caryn explained that as a member of these committees, she will be considering “how content is made accessible, what we spend to make it and how we raise the money to cover these expenses.”  She informed the Council that “NPR is a $162 million dollar operation with 800 employees, 43% of NPR’s operating revenue comes directly from member station dues and program fees, and NPR uses station airwaves to broadcast national underwriting credits that generate an additional 39% of its revenue, so stations are the life’s blood of NPR.” Caryn said that she is very much looking forward to gaining a deeper understanding of the critical issues facing the network, and especially those that overlap with WAMU concerns –“federal funding, a changing audience demographic, finding the resources to incubate the next generation of programming, and balancing our attention to and investment in the imperatives for radio now while positioning for a full-on digital future.”

B. NPR’s New President and CEO, Gary Knell

Caryn reported that so far, “we are all impressed with Gary Knell who has been officially on the job as NPR CEO for only fourteen days but who set to work on NPR’s behalf from the moment he was named as the choice in October. There was announcement of $2 million in Knight Foundation grant awards to NPR and member stations for the expansion of digital newsgathering and distribution capacity and digital training and the NPR Board was told that Gary Knell’s involvement was pivotal in securing these grants.”

C. AU Board of Trustees Subcommittee

Caryn announced that American University’s Board of Trustees has chartered a new subcommittee on WAMU which means that on a quarterly basis we will have the ears and attention of three members of the AU Board of Trustees including the current Chair and Vice Chair.  Caryn said that this will provide a regular and ongoing means to familiarize the Board with station objectives and current operations so that the Board can fulfill its fiduciary responsibilities for holding the license in the public trust. A primary objective of this new subcommittee which held its first meeting on November 17th is to assist the station in its ongoing success.

D. License Renewal Status

Caryn informed the Council that the broadcast license for our Ocean City station, WRAU 88.3 was renewed by the Federal Communications Commission on September 27th, 2011.  The renewal application for WAMU 88.5 is still pending and we are continuing to broadcast under our prior license until the FCC grants our renewal.

E. New CBS Owned and Operated Station coming to town

Caryn said that she had received a few questions about what the entry into the local market by another big, all news/talk station directly owned and operated by CBS might mean for WAMU.  Since it appears that this station, WNEW 99.1, will be taking on WTOP, a top competitor of ours, Caryn believes that “this is probably good news as long as we can stave off any attempts to poach our staff.”

F. Initial Impact of the Redesign of wamu.org

Jason Novak gave a full presentation about WAMU’s newly redesigned website at the September meeting of the Council. Caryn reported that since the new website’s launch we have been seeing the desired positive effects. In addition to the anecdotal evidence of listeners saying they really like the new design, the average time spent on the site has increased by two minutes, new visitors to the site are up by 8%, visits on mobile devices are up by 63%, and page views are up anywhere from 200,000 to 300,000 per month. There is also evidence of a global streaming audience for WAMU. David Taylor added that he had worked with Jason and Kay to get a link to wamu.org on the AU website and that this link should assist in generating more traffic for the new website.

G. Accolades

Caryn said that it has become a regular part of the agenda at these meetings to acknowledge the awards and achievements of members of the Council and WAMU staff.  She noted the retirement at the end of September of WAMU Commentator Fred Fiske who all told spent 64 years on the air in the Washington area. Fred was honored at the station’s 50th Anniversary Gala as one of WAMU’s founders.

Caryn reported that Bluegrass Country’s weekday morning drive host, Katy Daly took the International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Bluegrass Broadcaster of the Year” award for the second time.  Katy has been nominated for the award four times and previously won in 2009.

Council Member Amy Nakamoto, Executive Director of DC Scores, an organization that works to ensure that DC Public School Students have opportunities to play sports and express themselves creatively, won a 2011 Exponent Award for Leadership from the Meyer Foundation.  This award comes with a $100,000 grant for the organization.  

In concluding her report, Caryn said that because of all the questions she has received, she has taken to carrying around a sign.  Caryn held up a sign saying “Cannot talk about a new building” and David Taylor held up a sign saying “Neither can I.”  David congratulated Caryn and WAMU on yet another great year, and he said that American University is aggressively seeking a new space for the station. He said that he hopes an announcement will be forthcoming sometime in the first quarter of 2012 -- possibly in time for the February meeting of the Council. 

Caryn asked for any questions or comments from Council Members.  Peter Tannenwald said that he had experienced difficulty getting to information about WAMU’s shopping partners since the redesign. Caryn said that we would look into that to see if the information could be made more accessible. WAMU receives a percentage of the cost of purchases ordered through our website.  Micaela Pond said that this is important information as more and more people now do so much of their shopping on line and she wondered if the station might consider doing some merchandizing on our website.

III. Reports from WAMU Department Directors

A. Programming News – Mark McDonald, Director of Programming

Mark opened his report by saying how delighted he is to have Jerry Edwards as WAMU’s new in-house morning traffic reporter.  Jerry has been a Washington area traffic reporter for many years and brings his widespread knowledge of the area and his friendly manner to his traffic reports which now air during Morning Edition. Mark said that he plans to add news and traffic reports to Bluegrass Country which can now be heard on 105.5 as well as on our HD2 channel. Earlier this year, Mark made the decision to switch the broadcast times for Metro Connection and The Animal House on Saturday mornings. Metro Connection now airs at 7 a.m. and The Animal House at 12 noon. Mark distributed comparative statistics from official audience data measured by Arbitron to show how this change in the Saturday schedule has affected our audience. (Please see attachment #1) The data clearly demonstrates that this was the right decision as the audience for both shows has increased substantially.

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

Carey’s report comparing FY2012 and FY 2011 Revenue and Expense Detail as of November 30, 2011 was sent to the members of the Council prior to the meeting. (Please see attachment #2).  Carey explained that we are now in the second half of FY 2012 which began on May 1, 2011. He noted that while the report shows a decline in dollars and donors as compared to the same period in 2010, October and November gifts from individual contributors closed the year-to-date deficit by more than 50%. The October 50th Anniversary Membership Campaign ended with $1.649 million contributed from nearly 12,000 members and the Bluegrass Country campaign ended with a record setting $58,364 from 542 donors.  Pat asked how much proceeds from the 50th Anniversary Gala had contributed to the increases in November and Carey responded that the event had netted approximately $140,000 for the station. Laura Chambers asked about the increase in workplace giving, and Carey said that he attributed that increase to our contract with America’s Charities which enables us to participate in additional campaigns. In closing, Carey said that while it is too early in the fiscal year for any definite projections, he estimates that we will close FY 2012 with a surplus to add to the station’s reserves. 

C. Development News – Walt Gillette, Development Director

Walt opened his report by talking about the Major Gift Collaboration, an understanding between NPR and its member stations to collaborate in soliciting contributions from prospects with the ability to make six and seven figure gifts. WAMU is one of twelve NPR member stations involved in this project. Under this arrangement, Caryn and Walt work directly with their counterparts at NPR and participate in joint visits and special events for major contributors. WAMU’s entire major gift team meets quarterly with the major giving officers at NPR to review their progress. Amy Nakamoto asked Walt whether this effort is o directed by NPR. Walt responded that it was a joint project. We each maintain our own donor base. Barbara Bares asked about a possible conflict of interest when both NPR and WAMU solicit the same donor.. Caryn assured her that the donor makes the final decision as to where his gift should go. Walt said that NPR is willing to take part in these collaborative efforts because they understand that if WAMU does well, they also do well.

Walt said that Caryn had asked him to talk briefly about WAMU’s upcoming “Fund for the Future” campaign to raise between $25 to $30 million for the station’s future needs.  In March of last year we completed a feasibility study and now we are looking at hiring a professional campaign management firm to develop a theme for the campaign, help draft a case statement for our major donor prospects, prepare collateral material for marketing and promotion; and handle the nuts and bolts management of the campaign.   Pat asked for an estimate on the length of the campaign, and Walt said that he anticipates it lasting between three and five years. Maria Gomez asked if the station has a Planned Giving Officer and Walt responded that Debbie Eliason was hired in January of this year to fill that newly created position and she has been doing outstanding work.

V. 2011 Community Dialogues – Pat Mathews and Larry McCarthy

Pat asked Larry McCarthy to report on the Community Dialogue which was held on Thursday, November 17th.  Sharvell Becton, Barbara Bares, Micaela Pond and Maria Gomez worked with Larry in putting this meeting together.  Larry reported that the dialogue was a continuation of our year-long exploration of Region Forward, a comprehensive guide for Regional Planning and Measuring Progress in the 21st Century. The topic for discussion was “Working to Achieve a More Prosperous Region” and the panelists were Paul DesJardin, Director of the Department of Community Planning and Services for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments; Marc Schindler, Partner with Venture Philanthropy Partners; Martha Ross, Deputy Director of Greater Washington Research at Brookings; and Jim Dinegar, President and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade.  Larry said that it was an outstanding, meaningful discussion. And Pat added that this dialogue helped us to understand that poverty exists in all parts of the Metropolitan Washington Region and gave us an opportunity to look at equity issues and disparities throughout the entire region. Micaela said she was very impressed by the candor of the participants who talked about the uncertainty which was causing businesses to pull back on their investments. Caryn said she has really liked the long term focus on a broad topic and then breaking it up into pieces that we can discuss in ninety minutes.  Mark said it has been great to bring people from different regions together and to see how the dynamic works.  Larry said the Community College discussion clearly illustrated that. Delphine Peck asked if the Eastern Shore was included in the metropolitan region.  Pat responded that unfortunately it is not – in Maryland only Montgomery County and Prince Georges are included.

V. Old Business, New Business, Public Comment

Under Old Business, Pat asked Caryn to talk about the upcoming Community Council reception.  Caryn explained that the evening will honor the outgoing members of the Council and welcome the incoming members. Caryn said that a similar reception was held last January and it was so successful that we decided to make it a yearly event.

Micaela Pond again raised the idea of merchandizing some WAMU items on the website to raise some money and get free advertising for the station. She said that some other stations do this and NPR has an on-line store where listeners can buy items. Kay explained that we do have items and “swag” that we give away at special events and give to donors. 

Bluegrass Country does sell some items at concerts.  Caryn said we would have to look at an outside firm managing this if we decided to do it.
Maria Gomez asked if Caryn was planning to continue the discussion with the Council about ways to bring a more diverse audience to the station.  Caryn and Mark said that is something we are continually working toward.  We are tackling broader audience inclusion through diverse hiring, through our Community Dialogues, and by using many different means of distribution. Caryn said that she would make a note to discuss audience diversity and content diversity with the Council in more detail at a future meeting.

Under Public Comment, Dale Clayton Morrison congratulated Pat Mathews on the outstanding job she has done as this year’s Council Chair; and, Cliff Brody congratulated Pat, the entire Community Council and Caryn on another great year.

VI. Acknowledgement of Outgoing Members

Caryn said that since first coming to WAMU she has been impressed with the wonderful dedication of the members of the Community Council and with their support. She said that it is hard to say goodbye (at least for now) to Council Members who have been on the Council for almost as long as she has been at the station. Pat Mathews, Chuck Bean, Nancy Pallesen and Lee Kirstein have all served for six years and Judge Anita Josey-Herring is completing her third year on the Council. Caryn presented each of the outgoing members with a Certificate of Appreciation and thanked them individually for their outstanding contributions to WAMU.  Caryn also thanked Pat Mathews and Larry McCarthy for the great job they did this year as Council Chair and Vice Chair. 

VII. Adjournment

There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 8:50 p.m. The next meeting of the Council will take place on Wednesday, February 8, 2012.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Slattery Healy