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WAMU 88.



Wednesday, May 9, 2018

WAMU Community Council Members Attending:

Eugene Sofer, Susan Weiss, Dr. Christine Berg, Navroz Gandhi, Peter Tannenwald, Huda Asfour, David
Nemazie, Manuel Ochoa, Avis Thomas Lester, Matt McCormick, Paula Jimenez, Maura Brophy,
Lucinda Crabtree, Armele Vilceus, Kumera Genet

WAMU/AU Staff Attending:

JJ Yore, Carey Needham, Andi McDaniel, Dawnita Altieri, Jeffrey Katz, Sasha Ann Simons, Ally Schweitzer
Patrice Jackson, Bec Feldhaus Adams, James Coates, Tish Few, Mike Scher, Ingalisa Schrobsdorf, Wynde
Priddy, Kim Boone

Members of the Public:

Maria Luisa Rossel, Cliff Brody, Elenore Gette, Gar Young, Steve Kaffen

I. Welcome – Eugene Sofer, Council Chair

Eugene Sofer called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. The chair told Council members that Donna
Wilson was injured in a serious car accident and is recovering at home; he also shared that we are trying
Mindy’s, a new caterer for the evening’s dinner.

Mr. Sofer reminded council members about the May 30 Business and Development breakfast briefing.
The WAMU newsroom team and staff are working to devise event formats for the “Community
Briefings” formerly known as “Community News Briefings.” The purpose of the event is to “launch” the
new Business and Development beat, get insights from experts on the issue, and provide networking
opportunities for the guests. The proposed format for the May event is to have individual tables hosted
by newsroom staff and have reporter, Ally Schweitzer visit each table and meet the guests for 10-15
minutes. The interaction will provide Ally an opportunity to meet guests, build resources and receive
feedback on topics important to the DC/MD/VA business community. Council members were asked to
give feedback on the proposed format of the event, members did not object to the proposed format.

II. WAMU Beats: Vision for 2 Beats - Business & Development/Race & Identity
Jeffrey Katz introduced reporters Ally Schweitzer and Sasha-Ann Simons and described their beats and
the regional aspects for each beat. The goal for these two new beats is to serve the audience in as many
ways possible and provide a rewarding online presence.

Each reporter shared their interest areas and gave a short presentation featuring their recent online

III. Station Updates - JJ Yore, Carey Needham, and Mike Scher

JJ began his presentation with a slide to illustrate the new interim branding. WAMU is moving away
from the colored “basket” brand and using a bolder, simplistic style. Over the coming months, this new
branding will replace the “basket” design online, on stationery, business cards and other deliverables.

JJ Yore, General Manager reported that WAMU received a $1.1 million gift from Mr. Thomson, a Loudon
Valley High School Choir teacher. The Development office first learned about the bequest more than a
year ago, and at that time WAMU expected to receive about $750K. Mr. Thomson requested that half of
the funds be donated to WAMU, while the other half would be donated to the Washington National
Opera. Mr. Thomson was a public-school teacher and gave small annual contributions to WAMU. This
bequest will fund most of the renovation of the tower/antenna and help us reach more people,
especially in Virginia, as well as, improve the strength and quality of the signal to most of the region.
We are looking for a way to honor Mr. Thomson’s gift properly. JJ also shared that, Caryn Mathes,
former GM of WAMU, completed her $50k pledge to the station.

Joshua Johnson has been a guest on several talk shows including Meet The Press, he was also recently
featured on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.


WAMU staff were given an anonymous climate survey conducted by AU HR and had a 95% participation
rate. We were pleased at the high participation level since the industry standard of 25% for survey
completion is considered adequate. The high staff participation means the results are an accurate
reflection on WAMU’s culture to-date.

The survey asked 44 questions in total. We identified the key areas where staff report the organization is
excelling, where we saw repetition in remarks in the comments fields, and where attention should be
placed to show more progress. The complete results were provided on the Intranet for staff to review.

As a general overview, WAMU has some big positives. JJ reviewed the key results with the Community

In the areas of Engagement, Pride, Values & Culture.

• Staff are excited about public radio
• Staff feel good that WAMU will be good for their career
• Staff feel good about the future of WAMU
• Staff enjoy day-to-day tasks
• Feel their ideas are heard

Pride registers very highly and the brand is received favorably in the market. Staff recommend WAMU
as a great place to work.

When it comes to the values and culture of WAMU:

• They share the same values
• Understand policies and commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
• Understand policies against Discrimination and Harassment

The areas that require improvement:

• Resources for people to do their jobs
• More opportunities to grow professionally within the station
• Trust in HR is low – how can we improve?
• Just over half the staff believe that harassment and bullying will not be tolerated, and that
WAMU can be trusted do something about it

Just under ½ feel undercompensated and just under ½ aren't satisfied with how well their contributions
are recognized.

In addition to the survey, JJ met with all staff members in meetings called Food for Thought (FFT). Food
for Thought meetings were 13 small, inter-department meetings held over the past 2 months. They
provided an opportunity for staff to give direct input to the General Manager. The groups were carefully
constructed to include staff from different departments in response to providing more opportunities for
interaction. In each meeting, the groups gave information about how the leadership team can do better.
Part of the improvements include bringing on new hires. One of the recurring themes in the meetings
was the need for more staff; and after more than 3 years of work strengthening our finances, for the
first time, we can grow staff substantially. We’ve already added 30 new staff members to our team.

We intend to make the following changes in response to staff feedback:

• Hire an HR Director
• Hire an office manager – to manage supplies, onboarding materials, resource support
• Compensation review – look at market compensation, starting in News & Content but
extending beyond
• Create Professional Development Advisory Committee when HR manager starts to do the
• Welcome volunteers
• Expand research; staff survey
• Possibly help with mentoring, career ladders, training
• Manage a buddy program for new staff

• The HR Director will also help steer a Rewards and Recognition program for staff.
• Develop a Social Committee, chaired Bec Feldhaus and directed by Audrey Johnson.
• Continue FFT small group discussions, 1x month beginning in the Fall
• Work to develop and empower managers
• Explore ways to engage this layer more frequently/collaboratively
• Regular Info Sharing sessions in team meetings – updates from LT
• Report at each All Staff meeting and make the meetings more meaningful:
• Regularly report progress from this action plan
• Hear from other non-LT members
• Distribute presentation deck
• Provide virtual access to meetings

We will continue to work with our Diversity and Inclusion Committee across the board to improve the
forecast here. This means adding diversity in every unit, no exceptions – from the LT, support staff, on-
air talent, and even volunteers/interns.


Carey Needham and Mike Scher gave the financial report and began the multi-year trend report
5-year trend line: Revenue & Expense– last 3 years final, current year and next year
$22M in FY15 to nearly $34M in FY19, grown by 55% between FY15-19

Individual Giving dollars and donor counts were flat and under-performing for several years prior to
FY15. Since FY15, Donations are up 40%, member count went from 50K to now close to 80K (end of
Underwriting: Huge increases since FY15. Was also under performing prior to FY15, now up by nearly
Grants & institutional giving historically around $200K, now we are in the high $ millions
FY18 Revenue – ends on April 30 - $31.4M
Underwriting is forecasting that it will hit and likely exceed $14.6M, or $5M ahead of budget – ahead of
the FY19 target.
Membership - $12.9M; $1M over stretch goals.
Major Giving: nearly $5M (all giving, institutional giving, unrestricted bequests, grants)
FY 18 Surplus and Expense - $28M
Above budget spending in technology/capital items (transmitters); increased investment marketing and
engagement; content (DR podcast; new local hosts); one-time spending to celebrate and publicize the
success of 1A, (PRPD and anniversary event). We are forecasting a $3.4M transfer to our reserve.
Currently at $1.1M, our reserve balance will be approximately $4.5M. It had been as low as $415K just
two years ago.
FY19 Budget:
Overall income budgeted to reach $33M, up by nearly 7% -given recent trends
Membership – target of $14.1m, 10% more than this year; realistic given member growth, sustainer
Underwriting - 6% budget increase (very conservative); stretch goals in place
Projecting a surplus of $5.1M

Allocation - $5.1M

$1.5M – antenna project, total project cost around $2.4M, jointly funded by AU’s tower reserve & WTOP
antennae on the AU Tower. The plan is for the antenna to be installed by the end of 2018. Mr.
Thomson’s bequest ($1.135M) is WAMU’s primary source of funding.

$1.25M – built in transfer to our reserve, this will take our reserve balance to approximately $5.7M as of
next year. The goal is to grow our reserve balance to between $12M and $15m over the next several
years; which will fund roughly 4 – 6 months of operating expenses.

$1.4M – contingency (this is different than our reserve as it is built into our operating budget to cover
unexpected costs & dips in income. While we have not allocated this funding, the LT will meet quarterly
decide on what investments we can make given our needs– we have a working list of un-funded

$1.035M – new spending

Content Update:

Guns & America

Andi McDaniel shared information about the Guns & America project with Council members. The
purpose of the Guns & America project is to create journalism that is surprising, unique, fresh, new. The
logo reflects that freshness. We will share information at and we’ll be updating the site
with more information, especially as the process begins to hire reporting fellows. The project will also
host Facebook and Twitter pages. Coming soon: Instagram and a website at Guns and America dot org.
Andi reminded Council member that the project intends to cover the wide array of ways that Americans
interact with guns.

We’ve chosen our 10 partner stations to reflect the diversity of voices on guns. Each of the stations has
strengths in terms of the issues that are important to their community and will be able to bring in
different voices on the issue.

Lead station: WAMU

• WNPR in Hartford, Connecticut
• WUNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
• WABE Atlanta
• Ideastream in Cleveland
• KCUR in Kansas City
• KERA in Dallas
• KUNC in northern Colorado
• Boise State Public Radio in Boise
• OPB in Portland, Oregon

We’re also introducing the Audion Fellowship. Through this fellowship, we want to nurture a diverse
generation of talented, multi-platform journalists. There will be 10 Reporting Fellows – our reporters in
these newsrooms across the country. WAMU will provide training, with a focus on skills for digital
journalism. We will also help with professional development. An audion, invented in early 20 century
is technology that allows for the amplification of sound

Andi provided a quick update on DCist, they have hired 3 full-time staff members and will round out the
team with a few part time staff member. The Kickstarter campaign was a success and many people
joined the team for the DCist launch party.

The Pod Shop initiative has launched, and a call was put out for ideas of proposals. 2 of the shows
WAMU incubates will ultimately become podcasts with a pilot, but resources are needed to support.

A57 has been working with WAMU leaders to determine digital roles and strategize the process for key
roles, so the team can grow operationally.

IV. New Business

Navroz will chair the nomination committee.

A reminder that Lucinda is hosting a reception at her home on June 29 for Community Council members
and friends from the Northern VA region.

V. Public Comments

There was a public comment about the $1.4 million in reserves and how long it took to build

VI. Adjournment/Announcements

The meeting was adjourned at 8:58pm

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