WRFI-Meeting Minutes-September 2023

WRFI Board of Directors Meeting

Tuesday September 12TH, 2023 

In Attendance:

-Peter Bakija

-Amie Herman

-Corinne Shanahan

-Theresa Lyons

-Carlos Gutierrez

-Robin Elliott

-John Young

-Joe Romano

-Felix Teitelbaum


Not in attendance:

-Chantal Thomas

-Talaya Centeno

-Fred Balfour

-Joseph Haefeli

Call to Order at 6:10 pm.

Agenda Items:

Consent Agenda: 

Consent Agenda: Motion to approve minutes from August. Second. Motion passes by majority.

Board Reflections: 

Board Reflections: Peter describes the WRFI Youth Radio Project, a program where local high school aged students are taught basic radio and broadcasting skills, and work on a weekly program doing radio, live on Wednesdays from 4-5 pm. The program has been running for a number of years now, and is reasonably successful. In the past, there have been students, such as JT Stone, who were interested in news and interviews, and they put together topical discussion shows. Peter indicates that finding students for the program is often challenging, but still the program has continued and been successful.


Felix indicates that JT Stone worked very well as a recent news intern, and is working on a special report on a member of the Youth Radio Project who passed away. Had some comments about a recent Ithaca Times article that misattributed someone as “the youngest DJ in WRFI history”, which was not correct, given the history of the Youth Radio Project. Also suggests the potential for expanding the program to extra days with more volunteers to cover it.


Amie asks a question about what was a memorable experience with youth Radio, Peter responds with a discussion about JT Stone doing his news discussion show. She also mentions getting in touch with the Rotary program to potentially get access to kids from out of the country to share their experiences. 


Robin asks how long the program has been running. Peter responds about 7 years, and it has been working well the whole time, including during the pandemic, due to a very committed student who had access to a recording studio at home.


Board Specific Issues:


Membership Drive:


Felix has reserved a number of on air slots for working with Board Members to have discussions on the air on the strengths of Community Radio. Discusses updating pitch cards. The overall goal of the membership drive is to recruit 75 new members during the week. Hopes are that since the new transmitter has been up for a while, we will start to see a response from the new area of listeners. Corrine asks what defines a “new member”; Felix responds that “if you haven’t given to the station for a long time, or you have long since lapsed”, we call that a new member. If the member donates any amount of money, they will be considered a “new member”. We want people to contact us and become involved in some way. A question about special programming for the Membership drive; currently in flux, and ideas are coming in.


Corinne asks about pitching; suggests that board members come in and participate in the pitching and support aspect of the Membership drive. Felix discusses how board members have participated in the Membership drives, including remote support via Zoom. Having board members coming in for a spot on the drive is encouraged; it is fun and engaging. It involves a single 5-7 minute pitch in a given hour, and then sporadic mentions during the hour, so probably 10 minutes total of on air discussion. Amie, Peter, Felix provide a demonstration of what pitching works like for people in the studio. Carlos discusses the benefit to the listener, and the community. Corrine discusses ways to engage listeners and get them to be involved in calling in to provide examples of things, in the name of getting engaged—“call in if you have been on WRFI!”, “Call in if you have Shazamed a song on WRFI”, etc. Discussion of various opportunities to ride along on shows for support. Felix discusses potential for working with Amie who is hosting bands for Porchfest. Potentially having some live response to the station during Porchfest, a live remote. Felix will discuss with Amie to set up some times to report from Porchfest live to the studio.


Board Member Update: 


Corrine indicates that Fred Balfour has asked for a leave of absence from the board due to various issues. Corrine shares a Leave of Absence policy, proposing placing Fred on Leave of Absence for a year, unless he returns earlier:


Motion - Board Member on Leave


 Motion to discuss on the policy made and seconded. Carlos discusses the difference between “placing a member” on a leave of absence as opposed to “approving” a leave of absence. Corrine is willing to change the wording. Corrine indicates that Fred has requested a leave of absence. The board seems to generally be in favor of a leave of absence as a potential. Question about Quorum for the board with a member on a leave of absence. Amie asks about the precedent this will set for the future and the continuity of work. Joe indicates that he is behind this sort of thing, if it reduces the total board membership, for purposes of quorum. Discussion of the reality that simply removing someone from the board is a lot easier, logistically, and everyone can simply reapply for the board. Questions come up about the legal aspects of “being on leave” from a board, as opposed to a full board member. Discussion that no one has seen a formalized “leave of absence” policy for a board. Theresa suggests that Fred could resign, or work with the “3 board meetings missed policy” process, and see where he is in three months. Corrine discusses Theresa’s idea as a solid middle ground—take 3 months and see where you are, and then if it looks like at the end of 3 months, you will be able to make a decision. The board leans into supporting this idea, as it is already a policy (3 months missed meetings before having membership questioned), and doesn’t require added voting, president setting, and new policies. John indicates that a “leave of absence” policy seems to be largely a non-policy in boards. Motion made to pass leave of absence policy, seconded, vote fails with majority. Clarification that members can miss three meetings per board policy, and after that, they can be voted off or resign or whatever is appropriate. If they resign, they are welcome to reapply for the board spot, and this is all a matter of existing policy and president. 


Committee Reports: 

Development Committee: Amie discusses a one sheet for underwriting. We are completing a grant application for the Community Foundation grant, and she and Felix will meet with a grant supporter to help with the grant. Amie also supports the idea that the board should have a 100% giving situation, and discusses matching Joseph’s donation, and we are close to matching, but still have a bit to go. Some major gift work and talking to major donors has been happening—meeting donors for coffee, etc. 

Governance Committee: No meeting in September. 


Personnel Committee: No new developments.

Finance Committee: Felix has been working on books, now that Qunitron show has passed, Felix is working with Jim on some fiscal responsibilities and spreading the workload. 

ED Report: 

Felix plans on making audio ED reports ahead of time.


The Qunitron and Miss Pussycat show at Cherry was very successful. 70 tickets sold ahead of time, 20+ sold at the door. Including insurance for the event and liquor sales, after all costs, we cleared upwards of $900 for the night. A great deal of goodwill was generated. The band had a great time, enjoyed Ithaca, is interested in coming back. Felix discusses reducing some workload for future shows. Felix discusses increased promotion for the station at future events. Generally speaking, it was all a great success.


Felix got a call via an ex-board member to meet with a member of WSKG, the context of which was potential collaboration. Given the potential for news coordination, Celia is willing to consider such a thing.


A licensing issue—Felix is asking all board members to complete a forwarded form about owning the license by 9/22/23.


We have filed an application to move our tower to a new location; the new tower possibility gives us a greater reach, and if granted, we have the ability to build a new transmitter. It cost us $850 to apply, and we have 3 years to decide what to do once the permit is granted.


Our major tech support member, Joseph, is potentially moving out of the area, and we are working on transferring knowledge to Slade Kennedy, which has been moving along well. We may need further tech support, but wheels are moving in this direction. 


Amie and Felix are meeting with John Miller about Storyhouse Ithaca for a potential collaboration. 


Felix is following up with the Community Counts initiative. 


Felix attended a Chamber event, a non-profit roundtable, and it was beneficial to meet with the Chamber of Commerce and it is helpful to be recognized by the Chamber and peers. 


Strategic Planning:

Corrine reminds folks to respond to a poll for meeting about data collection in the near future. Corrine and Felix are meeting with Sally Kane in the next week to figure out next steps in Strategic Planning. Hoping to work on a reasonable timeline.


Felix shares an underwriting one-sheet for sharing with local businesses and organizations, including packages for sales numbers and costs. Support for the design of the one-sheet. Some minor comments on design adjustments. Question about the sales process and how to reach out to businesses; Corrine indicates aiming for monthly subscribers, with a goal of 12 recurring monthly underwriters, and reaching out to local businesses that we have worked with in the past, but the exact sales process is still a work in process. Mention of in-person meetings with businesses. 

Meeting Adjourned at 8:06 pm.