WRFI-Meeting Minutes-August 2023

WRFI Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday August 8TH, 2023 

In Attendance:

-Peter Bakija

-Fred Balfour

-Joseph Haefeli

-Amie Herman

-Corinne Shanahan

-Theresa Lyons

-Carlos Gutierrez

-Robin Elliot  

-John Young

-Joe Romano

-Felix Teitelbaum

Not in attendance:

-Chantal Thomas

-Bryan Roberts                                                                      

-Talaya Centeno

Agenda Items:

-Call to Order at 6:04 pm.

-Consent Agenda: 

Move to adopt July minutes, second, 8-0 passes, one abstention.

-Board Reflections: 

Corinne asks Carlos to give a quick recap of his recent travels, and then have 2 people ask follow up questions. Carlos indicates that returning to Chile is always a cultural shock. Takes a few weeks to adapt to the rhythm. Carlos visits his family and political friends. This year, Carlos was involved in recognizing the people killed and disappeared by the military junta in 1973. Carlos’ children had a lot of cultural shock early on, but they also adapted and had a good time. John asks about how things are politically in Chile, and how he perceives the labor issues in Chile. Carlos responds that Santiago is clogged with traffic, which is new. Carlos mentions that he is from the desert region, which is now used for mining lithium and copper, and is kind of a dead zone these days. He indicates that people don’t always recognize that the desert is being demolished. Fred asks how Chile seems to view the USA. Carlos responds that historically Chile has had an internal divide about how to deal with the USA/France/Britain accessing resources from Chile. Today, Chile has a constitution and democratic system, but they still have a major national denial about how Chile is being basically forced to mine for foreign powers. Still a very politically divided country over foreign intervention and exploitation. There is still a lot of pressure to ally with the USA, as that is where the money is.

-Strategic Issue: 

Felix discusses the Community Foundation Fall Cycle for grants. The Fall Cycle opens soon, and is looking for general support. Felix feels we have a lot to offer their system, and they are opening their Grant cycle in September, that Felix and Amie will participate in. The Community Foundation gave out many grants to many organizations (about 2 grants per applicant). Robin adds that they are a resource to connect fund donors to fund raising organizations, and that multiple grants probably means that a single sum being donated to an organization comes from multiple sources. Felix asks Robin about the Helen Thomas Howland organization. Robin clarifies that she was a recent community member who has passed away, and has earmarked money to support community organizations, and that that particular money is distributed in the Spring. Howland is very interested in Women’s issues and Community Development. Corinne asks if we commit to a specific project for this grant application, or general expenses. Robin indicates that these grants are unrestricted, general operating funds. It is likely to ask about our impact on the community and our personal connection to the community. Corinne asks how we might measure our impact with the community. Felix indicates that we have a few sources of numbers, such as outreach events and news stories produced, folks coming in to get oriented to the station, specific stories about people coming into the station. He indicates that listen numbers are harder to quantify, as opposed to stories of local successes. Joe adds that we produce local news that fills a vacuum, our election coverage is very significant, our ability to bring information to the community, our ability to interact with community members and get them on the air. Amie discusses our work with a specific community member who is disabled and helping him get on the air; she mentions our ability to give a voice to the less heard. Fred suggests our working with other local organizations like the Ithaca Voice and collaborations like that. Robin highlights that our survey results that were shared during the recent Strategic Planning session is a lot of good information, in terms of numbers. Felix suggests that the new transmitter and added listenership is a big draw, and our web based listeners are up, and are hard numbers to share. Corinne asks if we have pushed out into areas that have more grant coverage, such as Elmira , Cortland, and Corning. Felix indicates that we have moved into areas that could help here. Felix indicates that the Park Foundation application is coming up soon, and that this effort could be used to apply elsewhere as well. Fred indicates that during the COVID pandemic, WRFI was a fantastic resource for COVID information. Felix indicates that the WRFI PSA program is very strong currently due to Jim working on this as well. Joe asks about the mobile studio, and how it might be a good thing to mention in applications here, if it is a working system by then. 

-Board Specific Issues:

Corinne indicates that Bryan needs to step back from the board for work related reasons, and he has officially resigned. The board is now at 12 members. Corinne opens a discussion about adding to the board, if we feel like it is necessary. Peter suggests that we could benefit by having 13 members for quorum purposes, and Fred indicates that 13 is helpful to avoid ties in votes. Felix adds considering how much work would be able to be brought up to speed for strategic planning purposes. Amie wonders about skill sets we could benefit from, etc. and that we could benefit from discussing these things. Joe indicates that having 13 members is only really necessary if we have a full slate of members at a meeting. Corinne indicates that it would be helpful to get one or two more members, given that we have had two members resign in quick succession. Corinne asks that everyone think of people who might be interested in, and helpful to, joining the board. John suggests that having a few more people on the board would be helpful, to avoid dwindling. Corinne asks that we all come up with ideas and bring them back to the board in September. Amie indicates that people could come on and volunteer with committees and see what is going on, before joining the board, so they can see what is going on here. Theresa indicates that we could use some skills to round out the board, and things like finance and accounting would be helpful; someone who has experience in online and branding, and maybe looking at our geographic areas, and finding board members from newly touched areas. Fred indicates that Board Committees are often populated by people outside of the board, and that it is a good way to get people into the organization, without full commitment, and then some of them can be pulled into the board. Felix supports Amie’s point about committee work, and how getting people into committees allows us to get to know them, and warm them into the organization.

Motion made to adopt new bylaws as recorded in the agenda to reflect new board membership. Motion seconded. Vote passes 9-0.


-Committee Reports: 

Development Committee: Amie discusses Community Foundation grants, and that we can check with the application online if so inclined. Amie moves to the underwriting policy, asking about organizations being local or franchises; Felix indicates that there are two minor tweaks to the underwriting policy that will be suggested in a future meeting, to increase the range of potential underwriting partners. Also, potential changes to who can get discounts. Both will be proposed in the near future. Amie discusses more action items for underwriting, and putting together an underwriting one sheet to distribute to potential underwriters. Felix indicates that he met with Corinne to discuss contacting folks who have had a lot of success with underwriting, and wondering if we should send a one sheet before contacting potential partners, or contact them and then send a one sheet. Amie indicates we should narrow our search to specific organizations. Joe indicates that mailings don’t carry much weight without previous contact. Amie discusses the Board Match challenge to match $5000+ worth of recent donations. Amie indicates that the board should consider their giving, and step up to help with the Board Matching challenge. Felix suggests things like underwriting raffles to measure interest with things like the Chamber of Commerce. Amie indicates that we have 15 major donors and 15 potential major donors, and we need to come up with a plan for contacting and creating relationships and relationship mapping. Joe indicates that we could benefit from some on air spots for underwriting. Felix indicates we are working on testimonial spots with underwriting partners.

Governance Committee: No meeting in August. 


Personnel Committee: Joe reports no new information for Personnel.

Finance Committee: John indicates no new information on the Finance committee. Felix indicates that he is catching up on the new reports due to a change in system and reorganization. Felix has uploaded payroll reports to the Board shared drive for everyone to see payroll costs. 

-ED Report: 

Felix reports that things are going forward. Outreach and recruitment have been excellent; Jim has been running most of these activities. We have had a significant uptick in people coming to orientation for the station. We have a series of outreach events, including Amie getting a WRFI presence at Ithaca Porchfest. This weekend, we have a DJ event at an outdoor film screening. Felix is looking for a board member to join the event at Stewart Park. Amie, Joseph, and Fred volunteer to help out at this event. Streets alive in September, Porchfest, lots of other events such as Apple Harvest, and Cornell Student Outreach. Felix is indicating that we are getting good listenership and outreach to DJs. Amie gives a shout out to Peter doing a live interview for creatives on WRFI. Felix supports Celia doing a great deal of great news information. Felix talks about Big Scoob, a new, disabled very experienced DJ, who we are getting on the air. He has been successful in the last few days, and is going great. Probably need some support, but we will work on it. Felix suggests maybe accessing the Finger Lakes Independence Center for support here.

Felix discusses gear issues. Joseph, Curt, and Slade met with Felix to discuss hardening infrastructure, and mentions that there is a multiple year plan, and costs associated that can come from the expansion fund. There are a range of projects that can be voted on by the board in the near future, such as upgrading and securing the Ithaca tower; looking at new locations for the Ithaca transmitter. Felix spoke with folks from WVBR, and potentially pairing with them on their tower; also folks from WSKG for sharing their tower. Potential to add Trumansburg as a listening area is a goal. Power backup is another item for looking into, potentially requesting funding for a generator. Felix indicates that the county might be in favor of supporting funding for such a thing. Corinne suggests being open for emergency preparedness situations might be a good way to get access to county funding. 

Fund Drive is coming up at the end of September. Felix discusses possible ideas for fund drives. Asks about a mini-board show, or an “Ask Felix Anything” show as a fund drive mechanism. Amie discusses the idea of focusing on Board members as just regular community folks, and “Adopt a DJ” ideas. Lots of ideas for “how to help raise money during a fund drive”.


-Strategic Planning:

Corinne indicates that we plan on continuing in the Fall; Corinne will send out information about data collection, looking for volunteers to help with ideas for data collection. We will meet with Sally Kane again in September for further strategic planning focus and direction. 


Corinne indicates that some folks should contribute to the Underwriting possibilities form; please add 3-5 organizations, businesses, individuals to the Underwriting Spreadsheet. 

Also please identify 3-5 businesses that you would be willing to visit for possible underwriting. Amie indicates that if folks have personal connections with businesses, they should feel free to tag themselves on that organization front.

-Meeting Adjourned at 7:51 pm.