July 9, 2013

Public Radio in Mid America
Board of Directors Meeting Minutes
July 9, 2013

Called to Order: 11:02  AM EDT
Board Members Present: Tom Hunt, Christina Kuzmych, Karen Olstad, Regina Dean, Kit Jensen, Dan Skinner

1. Discussion with NPR Board Chair and ideastream COO, Kit Jensen 

  1. Kit is running for reelection and asks for fellow PRIMA members’ support.
  2. NPR Board just had annual retreat, scheduled earlier this year in order to coincide with donor recognition events for new building. The board and senior management has been spending a lot of time working on strategic planning, very important for all media organizations, including detailed information about NPR and the emerging trend of media fragmentation. We are beginning to see evidence of the impact on traditional terrestrial listening which is slowly declining, but overall listening is growing when you add in streaming and other kinds of listening. Nevertheless, Radio is still a ratings behemoth as is TV. The board is also looking at deep dive into revenue potentials for NPR—new products and new ventures, including NPR Digital Services. New idea Project Carbon—invent a digital player for public radio that would allow a listener to always be geo-connected to a station, be portable, be part of connected cars  (like Pandora) that we would do for ourselves, aggregate content (not just NPR). The project has grant funding and Kinsey Wilson is heavily involved. It is a competitive move for public radio because on-demand listening is going to be the next big thing and increasingly more important for the way people consume content in the future. The project is in the very early stages.  There will be a presentation on this at the Super Regional meeting.
  3. NPR deficits.  No actions/decisions made at recent board meeting (wasn’t appropriate for that meeting), but good understanding of the issues and the value of the brand. New marketing vice president, Emma Carrasco is fantastic; she has some plans that are going to benefit all of us. Board members requested more information as to how NPR’s marketing research and initiatives can help stations. Kit will take this back to management.
  4. NPR development department is doing very well under new leadership from Monique Hanson, is working with stations on collaborative gifts. Ideastream has worked with them on a joint proposal, reports that they were a delight to work with. A lot of learning happens as a result of the process which will hopefully lead to bigger gifts than either organization could obtain individually. New board chair of NPR Foundation, former Starbucks executive Howard Wollner is a great addition and has contributed a lot to NPR’s strategic planning.
  5. Question re: NPR Digital –Does NPR Digital roll into overall NPR budget at end of third year? Answer: Kit’s understanding is that it will be a fee based service going forward.  Bob Kempf is having monthly conference calls so that GMs understand where things are heading. Bob is very station-centric, is all about service. Kit encouraged GMs to make time to participate. He wants to make sure that stations keep up. Question: Will the fees be sufficient to keep it going, self-sufficient, or will it be competing with rest of the organization for resources? Answer: Kit’s understanding is that it will be a fee based service, that stations that participate will fund. Need to discuss further at Super Regional. Kit sees it as something that ensures that all stations have a minimum level of basic services and those that can afford more can invest more.
  6. It will be important for NPR to continue to be transparent with stations about how resources are allocated, what priorities and strategies are. Gary will have been on job 2 years by then and fully up to speed on issues facing us.
  7. Satellite distribution system-we are facing some difficult choices as to whether we can maintain current system if Congress will not fund the replacement. Radio and TV have separate systems; many people think that doesn’t make sense. Can we develop new systems using new technology and working together? Public radio stations have been so isolated from the true costs because of the Federal investment and the commercial subsidization. Something that we all need to grapple with. Given the political and economic environment, Congress may say “take it out of your current appropriation.” We have a responsibility as stations to ensure its future. Kit thinks that the date for needing to have a new system in place is FY16, TV is working toward a FY15 date. We need to decide what is NPR’s responsibility in this. They have done a good job of managing it in the past, but the issue is bigger than just NPR stations. Kit said to Gary that “we can no longer afford two different systems.” She believes that Paula Kerger feels the same way. CPB is willing to help, but they are not willing to drive this.
  1. Update on Super Regional—(Christina) Moving along but registration pages not ready yet. Registration fee will be same as last year. Working on sponsorships from national organizations. Booking outside speakers, but PRIMA representatives have requested that speakers be kept to a minimum in order to facilitate industry discussion.
  1. PRIMA Meeting in February—should we do our own separate PRIMA meeting again in the spring in years when there is a Super Regional? Consensus on the board is that smaller, informal discussions that were a key part of PRIMA conferences have been lost with Super Regional. We will discuss at next meeting and ask for a significant block of time (minimum 2 hours) at this year’s Super Regional conference.
  1. Next meeting will be August 13 at 11:00 AM EDT

Meeting adjourned at 12:01 PM EDT

Respectfully submitted,
Karen Olstad

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