February 28, 2018

Public Radio in Mid America
Board of Directors Meeting
February 28, 2018

Called to Order: 2:35 pm Eastern Time

Present: Regina Dean, Tim Eby, Neenah Ellis, Nico Leone, Paul Maassen, Steve Schram, Dan Skinner

Update and Discussion of Planning For PRIMA Conference

PRIMA conference link is done, the hotel and registration info is on the PRIMA website.  The room deadline in end of April. PRIMA will subsidize the cost of the rooms to make the conference more affordable for attendees. Conference rooms will have buffet breakfast and lunch., round tables etc. Thanks to Paul for his work on that.

WWDTM tickets go on sale six weeks prior to the show, which is March 29.  They can reserve tickets for us.  After they go on sale, we probably won’t get any tickets more.  We will sit together as a group.

Tim suggests that we should personally invite PRIMA members to the conference. Tim will coordinate the effort with board members. In promotion for the conference, including phone calls, the Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! tickets and room subsidy will be highlighted.

Dan reported that conference session booking is in progress. Paul Jacobs has confirmed, as have Joyce MacDonald; Meg Miller, Ernie Sanchez, Michael Beach, Maryfran Tyler; and Kathy Merritt. Still working with Gemma Hooley to confirm participants from NPR. The board made suggestions of topics for presenter to address. The board discussed the origin and significance of the Culture of Journalism discussion suggested for the PRIMA conference.

Discussion of the February NPR Board Meeting and Harassment Issues at NPR

Dan attended the NPR Board meeting as PRIMA President. He noted that from what he observed, that he thought the NPR board and senior management are sincere about dealing with this problem.  Of the staff members who spoke during the public comment time, a number felt that there hasn’t been enough done. Some felt that their voices weren’t being heard and that they need a greater voice. Some staff members were skeptical about whether the problem will be adequately addressed and others expressed a sense that upper management isn’t being held responsible in the same way that lower level employees are. Overall, Dan was impressed with how committed the employees are to the work and mission of NPR, but the staff want a change in the culture that has lead to instances of bullying and harassment.

Nico, who is an NPR board member, agree with Dan’s those observations. The board then engaged in an extended wide ranging discussion about management/staff/culture issues at NPR and how the organization is responding to those issues. Discussion included the content of the report given to the NPR board by investigators; the role of the employee union; a perceived disconnect between management and staff; the need for better communication; systemic failures; accountability of senior management; the NPR Board’s support of Jarl; the need for better training and on-boarding; addressing generation gaps in the organization; etc. The NPR board recognizes that the problems at NPR have developed over a long time and are deep seated. There is much work to be done to correct issues in the organization and it will take time to accomplish that task. Nico also noted that dealing with these issues has been taxing for the NPR board and NPR upper management.

Discussion of Other NPR Related Topics

The board discussed if other work has slowed down because of the issues noted above. For example, has work slowed on the NPR/Station Compact?

Nico shared his impression that there should be some new thinking coming back after the conference season.  Journalism work is being done on the pilot hubs.  Texas hub might be announced soon.  There’s been a delay on the fundraising side, esp since Jarl has been out so much.  They are making progress on funding for the hubs.

A case statement is being developed by the NPR Development Committee for use with major donors and foundations. It is a work in progress and has not yet been shared widely with NPR membership. Tim noted that having this document would be useful for local stations to use in their development efforts.

A question was raised about Roger LeMay’s decision to not run again for the position of NPR board chair. Nico reminded the board of Roger’s public statement that being the board chair had become a full time job, and he didn’t have the time to devote to it because of his own station commitments. Nico did not feel there was anything else to read into the situation.

The PRIMA board also discussed whether or not our stations had received any comments from listeners about the sexual harassment issues at NPR.  The board members reported that they have received little or no feedback from listeners.

Election of Officers and Formation of Nominating Committee

Several of the board officer terms are ending and those positions will need to be filled at the next PRIMA business meeting.  Dan’s second term as President is ending; Paul’s second term as Vice President is ending; and Steve’s second term as Board Member #1 is ending. Dan will automatically assume the role of Immediate Past President.

Nico was appointed by the board to fill the unexpired term of Mike Savage as Board Member #2 until the next PRIMA election. Nico is eligible to be elected to two full terms in this position.

In accordance with the PRIMA By-Laws, a nominating committee will be formed to create a slate of officers to present at the PRIMA business meeting in May. Dan will reach out to board members, and general membership as needed to form the committee.

The meeting adjourned at 3:42 pm Eastern Time.

Submitted by board secretary Neenah Ellis

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