June 21, 2022

June 21,  2022

Meeting convenes at 2:30 pm

In attendance: 

Paul Maassen
Nico Leone
Neenah Ellis
Dan Skinner
Regina Dean
Myrna Johnson
Steve Schramm

Letter from John Lansing came in today  regarding a board meeting this week to consider moving forward on the NPR Network concept.  

Lots of info coming about the concept, finding ways to collaborate on fundraising, esp in the digital sphere around podcasts, membership – getting donors from the NPR website.  Very little revenue comes from those who visit NPR.org

“The board codification” relates to how we can fundraise together – a proposal will be voted on this Friday to suspend those provisions for 5 years while we work on the digital fundraising together.  

There will also be conversations about how to share fundraising dollars.

Regina – we (her station) have a possibility around this – a retired Pepsicola exec the president of our University – he met Jarl while was serving on a different board and loves NPR.  My hands are tied politically, but NPR could go after him.  

Nico – we’ve been discussing this all along.  We were talking about the complexity of all the things are  trying to tackle.  Build a new member acquisition engine for stations.  There’s a lot of work that will go into that.  The board will provide some oversight and transparency around that. 

Paul:  I talked to Gemma about having PRIMA do a session on this topic.  Decided to have the managers talk about it at a PRIMA meeting, see how they are digesting it.  One session without an NPR person there and then a follow-up with someone who can answer questions from NPR. 

Nico – present the current situation to the members and ask for their concerns.  

Regina:  we talked about doing something in the fall.  Just do a fall meeting around this topic, to get everyone on the same page.  

Paul:  if we do a fall meeting, we can do one, but I have concerns.  It’s a scheduling nightmare.  Perhaps its important enough to do that.  Perhaps at Kansas City station to keep the costs minimal.  Offer a remote participation option as well.  I’ll talk to Sarah Morris at KCUR.

Regina:  We have some money to spend.  I’m wondering since we have the money, and we’ve done it before, we could offset costs for the PRIMA membership to be able to participate.  Make everyone feel like they know what’s going on.  We could do it.  We have $40,000 in the bank.  The last 2 years have been so weird.  Let’s not feel like the world has passed us by.  Something like what we did in St. Louis. 

Nico:  If Gemma thinks it could be useful, I think it would be great. 

Myrna:  leaves at  2:54.  

Paul:  should we do super regional again?  

Myrna:  in principal, I think it’s good.

Paul:  Did NPR pay for the fly-in?  They got their own folks there.  Gemma and Lauren were there.

Nico – I think it was less than 10k for 30 to 40 folks.  

Paul:  I like this idea.  Let’s have a virtual meeting first, for just the managers, take temperatures on the topic, then schedule an in-person meeting in the fall and have NPR there.  

Nico – that probably works, but Gemma will know better.

Paul:  how has the feedback been from stations in general to the NPR Network concept? 

Nico – the response has been all over the place. There are concerns, but big picture, a lot of folks are glad that we’re trying to drive membership to stations.  We’re good at criticizing things.  

Schramm joins at 2:59

Nico – super regional is useful every 2-3 years, not every year.

Nico leaves.

Paul:  welcomes Schramm who talks about budget cutting at Michigan Radio.

Paul recaps what the board vote will be this Friday.  

Regina thinks there will be a lot of pushback about this.  

Schramm hasn’t read the email but he thinks the outcomes of this fundraising change are yet to be clarified.  

Paul says the concept is sound, but the execution will be touchy.  Make sure there is a fair and reasonable accountability mechanism.  It’s important for the station managers on the board to be unequivocal in stating that they will be overseeing this.  The board should make a statement that leaves no daylight about how this will be done.

Schramm:   the compact had no financial outcomes.  NPR wants to take this into its own hands. The  STRIPE discussion is difficult.  (payment platform) Michigan Radio can’t use third-party processors. There is no other authorized payment processor allowed by the University, That’s the impasse that I’m at.  We’ll sign deals to inventory our stream.  You won’t get a lot of money, but it’s not nothing.  Lansing’s statement about fundraising vis a vis STRIPE leaves me on the sidelines.  I can’t take part in it because of the University.

Regina:  Del Lewis used to think if we could just get the a-reps together, they will agree to do something.  He didn’t understand that we don’t own these radio stations. 

I think that’s where we are.

Schramm:  NPR doesn’t understand because they don’t run radio stations.

Paul:  This is a big step forward.  I like that there is a time limit in case it’s a train wreck.  I think the concept is good, but there will be rough discussions.  I’m interested in more revenue. I hope NPR is committed to success.

Schramm:  if NPR can keep development continuity, this could work.  If I was in Lansing’s  chair, I probably would do the same thing, but I can’t easily receive the money, it’s a technicality, not a philosophical problem.

Paul:  So let’s take a two pronged approach.  A virtual meeting with just managers but no official NPR person there, and  talk amongst ourselves.  

Regina says we can do a fly-in thing, help with expenses, in the fall.  

 Paul/Schramm: This decision will be effective after the board meeting on Friday.  Seems like they have the votes.   Let’s give them the tools they need and see what they can do.  Talking with the development folks,they  seem committed to it.  All the indicators are good.  This might be the time to try it out.

Schramm:  they repackaged the NPR Compact failures – and they are taking the initiative to get it done, unshackeled by those fundraising rules. 

Paul:  In other business, there will be a candidates forum. I will host it.  The 29th .  

There’s a PRRO call coming up to discuss the super regional.  None has been booked for next year. We are evaluating whether or not to do it.  Is there value? 

Neenah:  I didn’t attend due to Covid.  Do fewer.

Dan:  not every year.  Make sure it’s dynamite. I want to go to PRIMA.  If I got to another conference it will PMDMC, practical info there that’s valuable.

Paul:  partnering with another org has been discussed.  Does that really work?  If we did partner, how would that work?

Schramm:  Greater Public did a “CEO day” prior to PMDMC.  Formatically that works.  I haven’t been compelled to go.  PMDMC was my first priority, then PRIMA.  The intimacy and agenda is comparable.  Super regional is a repeat of PRIMA.

Regina:  every year is not necessary. Super regional never lived up to what we hoped it would be.  I have not been to one. 

Paul:  Georgette Bronfman retired and Particia Cervini took over. The pandemic really hurt the super regional.  I think Patricia Cervini would have elevated it to something better if it hadn’t been for that. 

Schramm:  PRPD is reenergized.  Super regional doesn’t feel essential.

Paul:  thanks for the input on super regional.  Virtual meeting in about a month, then  schedule a fly-in type event in the fall.  I’ll send around an email to parse dates.

Meeting ends at 3:40

Submitted by Neenah Ellis, PRIMA Secretary

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