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AIR Board Meeting 09 October 2003

Minutes: 09 October, 2003


MINUTES TO OCTOBER 9, 2003 BOARD MEETING

THE MEETING CAME TO ORDER AT 1:00PM ET

PRESENT:
Geo Beach
Dolores Brandon
Amy Coombs
Kathy Gronau
Maureen Jackson
Matthew D. Payne
Dmae Roberts
Steve Rowland
Barry Rueger
Sid Selvidge

ABSENT:
Kerrie Donahue
Joan Rabinowitz
Steve Robinson
Sue Schardt
Steve Spencer

AGENDA:
1. A Welcome to our new board members
2. President's Report
3. Executive Director's Report
4. Treasurer's Report
5. Proposed membership dues increase beginning January 2004
6. Development of Radio College
7. Board attendance at October Member Spotlight LIVE CHAT
8. Other Business/Topics

MEETING

1) Welcome new board members
Current AIR Board members welcomed new board members, Geo Beach and Amy Coombs who were recently elected and officially begin their three-year terms with this meeting. Maureen Jackson is congratulated and welcomed back: this will be Jackson's second term on the AIR Board.

2) The President's Report -- Steve Rowland
Rowland stressed that the board should focus on practical activities that can easily be achieved. He is currently ironing out a plan with NPR that will create an independent liaison to work with NPR. This agreement with NPR is the culmination of talks that began on the CPAG over 2 years ago with Steve Rathe, Jay Allison, Sandy Tolan and Rowland as the primary negotiators on the ancillary rights issues. Those talks lead to NPR establishing a fund of money specifically set aside for independents. It will be that fund of money that pays for this position The liaison will not act as a gatekeeper, independent producers will still work directly with editors and regional desks. Although the specifics of the job still have to be worked out (with Margaret Low Smith and Peggy Girshman) Rowland is hopeful having a person who is familiar with the independent community in a liaison position will make it easier for both producers and NPR to work together.

Also, Rowland reports, AIR is in the early dialogue stage searching to build an appropriate partnering role with Public Radio Weekend, which is currently looking for "content providers."

Rowland closed his report by stressing the importance of nurturing functional working relationships with other organizations: whether our philosophies are the same or not. He also requested that the board share with each other the ideas we think are important. In fact, each board member should send him a wish list of things that they think could be done practically over the next year.

3) Executive Director's Report -- Dolores Brandon
Brandon noted that AIR will participate in the selection of the NPR liaison: however, the liaison will be hired by, accountable to, and paid by NPR.

Brandon's report focused on the topic of funding for AIR. (She defines her job as the primary fundraiser for AIR programs and the one keeps those funded programs going.) She summarized the progress of the last three years saying when she started as E.D. in 1999, AIR had almost no money. The only revenue came from membership dues. She made fundraising a priority pulling in the three year MacArthur grant that has supported AIR's Mentor Program as well as operating services beginning 2000, NEA grants for AIRSPACE, the Mentor Program and conferences, as well as CPB support. The money raised over the course of these three years has been responsibly budgeted and spent. However, like all grants, the three-year MacArthur funding is now up. Although we have a proposal for renewed funds into MacArthur, there are no guarantees. Nevertheless, she remains conservatively optimistic, We do have NEA mentorship funds through 2004, and an NEA proposal in for continued support for both AIRSPACE and AIRMEDIA.org. We expect to get word from NEA by the end of October.

4) Treasurer's Report -- Kathy Gronau
Gronau reiterates that the money situation is tight for now, but we are not in debt and we're hoping for the best. However, given the current economic situation, it's clear we have to be thinking about other ways to earn money so, the executive committee of the AIR Board has been discussing a membership fee increase (see more below in Agenda Item 5). Consensus is, raising the membership fees is a good idea, considering the increase in AIR programs and services and the fact that there has not been an increase in 3 years.

Gronau, as membership coordinator, is currently spearheading the station membership drive, hoping to increase membership dollars overall. This drive is part of AIR's ongoing commitment to building relationships between AIR and station based producers.

Gronau's report lead to general discussions of ways to create revenue: suggestions included discreet paid ads on AIRMEDIA.org, AIR T-Shirt sales, instructional CD sales, partnerships with web commerce etc. Amy Coombs will brainstorm the revenue raising possibilities and options with Kathy Gronau.

Dmae Roberts suggested that Gronau organize all the financial information into a document for planning purposes, and said she would be willing to get together with Kathy and Dolores to work up a "Plan B" in case the MacArthur grant does not come through. Coombs agreed to join that discussion.

5) Membership Fee Hike
The general board consensus is that membership fees should be increased by about 20%. The goal is to put the new dues in place by January 2004. But it was also agreed that the rate hike not just be a simple percentage increase. Two things are decided: members will be notified far in advance that a rate hike is coming, and a committee will form (Gronau, Coombs, and Roberts) will come up with a plan outlining just how the increase will happen, and with what membership categories and incentive packages AIR will offer. That plan will be brought before the Board for final approval.

As soon as the dues increase committee decides a course of action, another committee will be formed to spearhead a membership drive, using the increase as incentive to get current members to recruit new members: one suggestion presented involved rewarding current AIR members who bring a new members by offering them membership at the current rate for a period of time after the new dues go into effect.

6) Development of Radio College
Whereas the board is delighted to have Radio College at AIRMEDIA.org we also agree it needs some work to be truly effective. Right now it is visually inconsistent with the rest of the site. The consensus is we need to integrate it more within AIRmedia.org and develop some new direction for it. We'd like be able to raise money for specific Radio College programs. Rueger and Jackson are leading the committee to evaluate how to build and position this new addition to AIRMEDIA.org

7) Board attendance at October Member Spotlight LIVE CHAT
Board members are encouraged to come to the Monthly Member Spotlight Chat, to increase visibility and credibility in the community.

8) Other topics/issues
RIAA issues. This topic came up on the AIR Daily recently, and Dmae put it on the Agenda for this meeting. Rueger has circulated an article published by sister organization NFCB on this topic: (an article which describes how the laws regarding music rights affect independents). Dolores offers to republish that article in the next issue of AIRSPACE (Winter 2004)

Payne stressed the importance of committees: he would like to see individual board members strive to create committees to spearhead new projects, to bring in volunteer AIR members to work with the Board on those projects. The more the Board can involve the larger membership in its activities, the more dynamic AIR will be as a community.

THE MEETING CAME TO A CLOSE AT 2:45PM ET