WAMU 88.5 Community Council Minutes, Feb. 8, 2012

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:

Laura Chambers, Council Chair; Kent Lynn, Vice Chair; Barbara Bares, Colleen Boothby, Mary Briggs, Paul DesJardin, Maria Gomez, Patricia “Trisha” Hartge, Rawn M. James, Jr., Jody Steiner Kelly,  Kim Y. Jones, Larry McCarthy, Amy Nakamoto, Margaret K. O’Bryon, Daniel Okonkwo, Delphine M. Peck, Micaela Mejia Pond, Donald Quayle, and Anthony Sarmiento.

WAMU Staff Attending:

David Taylor, Caryn Mathes, Jim Asendio, Kavitha Cardoza, Joelle Costello, Kamille Davis, Heather Dannenfelser, Debbie Eliason, Walt Gillette, Anthony Hayes, Harris Handwerker, Doreen Hodge, Lucy Horn, Seth Liss, Mark McDonald, Paul Mozzocci,  Karen Munson, Carey Needham, Fran Perpich, Kristen Sorensen, Steve Williams and Anne Healy.

Members of the Public:

Dick Kaufman, DAC Chair; Dale Clayton-Morrison, Past Chair of the Community Council and DAC Member; Cliff Brody, DAC Member; Cathleen O’Brien and Glenn Ihlig, WAMU Ambassadors and volunteers; Charles Kelly; Ted Peck; and, John Reel.

I. Welcome – Laura Chambers, Council Chair

Laura Chambers opened the first quarterly meeting of the WAMU Community Council for 2012 at 7:05 p.m. Laura said that she wanted to get the meeting off to a quick start as there was so much exciting business to cover. She asked for a motion to approve the minutes of the last meeting of the Council which took place on Wednesday, December 14, 2011. The motion was made and seconded and the minutes were approved.  Following the approval of the minutes, Laura introduced Kent Lynn, the Vice Chair of the Council, and she welcomed the five newly appointed Council Members to the WAMU family: Colleen Boothby, Paul DesJardin, Rawn James, Jody Steiner Kelly and Margaret O’Bryon.  She then turned the meeting over to Caryn Mathes and David Taylor for their presentation.

II. Presentation of Plans for WAMU’s New Home – Caryn Mathes, General Manager and David Taylor, Chief of Staff, Office of the President, American University

Caryn Mathes informed the Council that this had been a very exciting week for her and for David following the official announcement to the WAMU staff and to the press on February 2nd that American University was going to buy a building at 4401 Connecticut Avenue, NW which would become the station’s new home.  Caryn thanked David for all of his hard work in helping WAMU to obtain this new facility.  She noted that it had been a long journey for both of them, and she asked David to explain to the Council how we had reached this point. 

David said that the search for a permanent home for the WAMU began shortly after Caryn arrived to become WAMU’s General Manager seven years ago. A needs assessment of the station’s present needs and anticipated future growth was initiated and a number of scenarios were explored over the years including totally redoing the Brandywine Building.  However none of these options turned out to be viable. Then late last summer the University had the opportunity to purchase a building at 4401 Connecticut Avenue, NW. David and Caryn looked at the building and came to the conclusion that it could meet all of WAMU’s present and future needs. The decision to purchase the building was approved by the officers of the University and the AU Board of Trustees and the closing will take place this spring.  David said that WAMU will be the anchor tenant and there will be WAMU signage out front. The building is currently vacant and some work has already begun. A firm to assist with the design/build out will be hired in the near future. It is AU’s desire to have WAMU moved in by the first quarter of 2013. 4401 Connecticut is conveniently located in Cleveland Park and the Van Ness Metro station is directly across the street. There are currently two tenants on the first floor of the building – Subway and UPS – both of which will be remaining. David said that finding this new home for WAMU was a well deserved reward for all the hard work that the station’s employees do and have done over the years.

Caryn reported that 4401 Connecticut has approximately double the usable space of the current WAMU building. There are eight floors, including a basement level, and WAMU will be occupying five of the floors. The remaining floors will be leased out with the understanding that any tenants will have to vacate if WAMU needs the space to grow.  The total building size is slightly over 96,000 square feet with WAMU occupying over 40,000. Connecticut Avenue runs along the west side of the building, which is the front, and Windom Place is to the south. There is a U.S. National Park in the back of the building and many of the windows overlook beautiful green areas. American University is planning for the building to be Gold LEED certified.  Caryn went on to go over the blueprints floor by floor with the Council. The blueprints for each of the floors WAMU will occupy were displayed on easels around the room. She cautioned that these were simply preliminary drafts which would be subject to changes once the internal rennovations began.

In closing their presentation, David said that he wanted to give a special shout out to AU Vice President Don Myers and President Neil Kerwin who realized that this was a great opportunity for WAMU and who pursued it even though they were in the midst of complicated negotiations and zoning hearings involving the Campus Plan for the entire University. 

III. Reports from WAMU Directors

A. Programming News – Mark McDonald, Director of Programming

Mark began his report by reviewing some of the highlights from the Fall 2011 Arbitron report which he distributed to the members of the Council. (Please see Attachment #1).  Mark said that he was pleased to see that the audience for Coastal Connection, the weekly public affairs program focusing on the Eastern Shore is growing steadily.  This program airs on WRAU at the same time that The Politics Hour airs on WAMU 88.5, and it is hosted by our Ocean City reporter, Bryan Russo, and produced by Tara Boyle. Mark noted that according to the fall 2011 ratings, WAMU was the second most listened to station during morning drive. He believes that a good part of the reason for the increased listening during Morning Edition is the improved presentation which we offer with our local news content and the up-to-the-minute traffic reports by the “number one traffic reporter in the metropolitan area”, Jerry Edwards.  Jerry is now broadcasting from our station every weekday morning. In addition to the statistics from last fall, Mark included in his report some exciting ratings information from the first week in January which showed that for the first time ever, WAMU was ranked #1 in the market during morning drive!

Mark informed the Council that WAMU is participating in a nationwide initiative proposed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) involving public radio and television stations across the country.  This project is called the “The American Graduate Program”, and it was proposed by CPB to draw attention to the crisis of the alarming high school dropout rate.. Mark introduced Karen Munson, Manager of Content Operations, who is coordinating this effort for the station, Kavitha Cardoza, Education Report, who is producing and broadcasting long form pieces showing how this crisis is affecting the DC area, and Seth Liss, Online Managing Editor, who is handling the on-line aspect.

Karen explained that WAMU is partnering with WETA and WHUT (Howard University TV) on this project.  WETA’s charge is to build a website with interactive lesson plans and other relevant content and WHUT is putting together tutoring groups which will target five at-risk area high schools.  WAMU is responsible for producing and airing nine long form reports covering many aspects of the dropout crisis and nine Community Minutes targeting non-profit organizations that are working at the grass roots to decrease the number of dropouts. Kavitha said how much she is enjoying choosing her topics and putting these reports together. WAMU is also taking the lead in putting together an hour-long “Teacher Town Hall” which The Kojo Nnamdi Show will help produce and which Kojo will host. The program will be broadcast on WAMU and WHUT-TV. Teachers will register in advance and participate by cell phone. Karen announced that Monday, April 30 through Friday, May 4, WAMU 88.5 will be “American Graduate – Let’s Make it Happen Week”.  All of Kavitha’s reports will be re-broadcast during that week along with the Community Minutes targeting the local non-profits and there will be special programming on this subject throughout the week. 

Seth Liss showed Council Members the website which he has developed as a component to the on-air part of the American Graduate Program.  Seth said that this project has presented him and his team with a great opportunity to work with and fully utilize WAMU’s new website. He explained that he has been able to include content from all of Kavitha’s reports as well as extra material that was not aired due to time constraints.  The website also contains videos, maps, photo galleries, etc. which offer an added dimension to the stories and give people a companion piece to what they are hearing on the air. Seth said that using the new updated interactive system was a great learning experience for him.

Caryn thanked Karen, Kavitha and Seth for their presentation, and she said how proud she is of this project and the work the entire staff is doing.  She said that this shows how everyone can pull together to try to make a difference in our community.

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

Carey distributed his report on FY 2012 and FY 2011 Revenue and Expense Detail by Unit as of January 31, 2012.  (Please see Attachment #2) He reminded the Council that WAMU’s fiscal year begins on May 1st and ends on April 30th so this report is as of the end of third quarter of Fiscal Year 2012.  Carey said that income continues to be relatively flat with a 1% increase over where we were one year ago at this time. However, individual contributions were on the rise between October and January and the number and amount of gifts over $1,000 has significantly increased.  Corporate Giving has had some challenges with the poor performance of National Public Media which was responsible for selling corporate sponsorship packages outside of DC, MD and VA. Effective January 10, 2012, WAMU ended its contract with NPM, and Anthony Hayes, Director of Corporate Marketing, has established a new in-house two person national sales team. Anthony introduced Harris Handwerker, who has been promoted to the position of National Account Manager, and Fran Perpich, whom he recently hired to serve as the second National Account Manager.  Anthony said that he has also hired two local account managers, Kamille Davis and Glenn Williams, to fill openings on his team. In closing his report, Carey said that we have been keeping expenses under control and postponing some initiatives so he expects to see a small surplus at the end of the fiscal year.

C. Upcoming Winter Membership Campaign- Walt Gillette, Development Director

Walt talked about the membership campaign which begins this Saturday, February 11th for both WAMU and Bluegrass Country. He announced that the goal for WAMU is $1 million and BGC’s goal is $75,000. ( WAMU surpassed its goal raising $1,418,489; and Bluegrass County also surpassed its goal raising $78,354.)

IV. Development Advisory Council (DAC) Update – Dale Clayton-Morrison, DAC member and former Chair of the Community Council and Dick Kaufmann, Chair of the DAC

Dale explained that members of the DAC and the Community Council traditionally offer a Member Match during the station’s fall and winter membership campaigns. The matches serve as an added incentive to listeners to donate as they feel that the value of their contribution will be doubled. Dick encouraged each of the Council Members to make a donation towards the match as a way of showing their love for WAMU and their support for the programming and service the station provides. Dale added that while gifts at the $1200 Leadership Circle amount would be wonderful, a gift at any level would be most welcome as they would especially like to see 100% participation from both the Community Council and the DAC.  Walt said that the match will be offered on the final day of the campaign and that it has always generated a very positive response.  Laura thanked Dick and Dale for coming to the meeting.

V. Community Dialogues – Kent Lynn, Vice Chair of the Council

Laura asked Kent Lynn to talk about the Community Dialogues which the Community Council sponsors with community leaders on a variety of issues as part of its mission to ascertain the needs of the community. Kent explained that the dialogues are off-the-record discussions which provide information and valuable contacts for WAMU’s news reporters, editors, online journalists and talk show producers. Last year’s series of dialogues explored the goals of “Region Forward”, the comprehensive planning guide of the Metropolitan Council of Governments. Kent said that he would like to put together a subcommittee to consider the recommendations for topics which Mark had gotten from the reporters and Kojo Nnamdi producers and come up with topics and dates for this year’s meetings, and he asked for volunteers. Barbara Bares, Mary Briggs, Trisha Hartge, Kim Jones, Daniel Okonkwo and Tony Sarmiento all agreed to work with Kent on the Community Dialogue Subcommittee. Since holding the dialogues in the morning proved successful last year, Kent suggested that the discussions take place from 8 to 9:30 a.m. with breakfast beforehand beginning at 7:30 a.m. 

VI. Old Business, New Business

Laura said that she and Kent had met with Caryn to set the dates for the three remaining quarterly meetings.  The meetings will take place on Wednesday, April 25th, Wednesday, September 12th and Wednesday, December 5th.  Laura encouraged everyone to put those dates on their calendars and plan to attend the meetings.  Caryn said that before everyone leaves she would like to pay tribute to Jason Novak who transitioned WAMU into a new Digital Media Team and who oversaw the development of the station’s new website.  Jason is leaving at the end of February to pursue other interests. She said she would also like to thank John Reel, a friend of Tony Sarmiento’s, for coming to this meeting.  John was an AU student in the 1960’s and recorded the concert from the Phillips Collection which aired on the station.

VII. Public Comment

Cliff Brody said that as a member of the public he would like to welcome the new Council Members.  He said that the work of the Community Council is very important and he also praised the station -- and especially the news department – for its outstanding coverage of local issues and events.

VIII. 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, September 12, 2012.

Respectfully submitted,

Anne Slattery Healy