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Advisory Board Minutes - September 2015

ATTENDANCE:  Mary Sue Barrett, Bethany Jaeger, Dave Kohn, Diane Lopez Hughes, Karen Witter, Eric Hadley Ives, Lawrence Msall, Corrine Wood, Cindy Canary
Ex-Officio:  Sean Crawford, Jamey Dunn, Randy Eccles, Rachel Lattimore, David Racine
Phone:  Kathleen Dunn, Kent Redfield, Dick Schuldt, Alysia Tate, Jay Travis, 

Welcome:  Randy Eccles welcomed the board.  Roll call was completed.

Call to Order:  Vice-Chair Cindy Canary began the meeting with discussion about the agenda, bylaws and how the combined board moves forward.

  1. Management Update -

    Illinois Issues Strategy:  Intention was to keep print but with budget uncertainty it has been discontinued.  Illinois Issues mission and brand will be maintained by producing an in-depth digital report each week on Thursday with a radio component.  Illinois Issues editor Jamey Dunn is working with writers to deliver reporting for digital and audio presentations.  The digital distribution includes WUIS.ORG, social media and an email list of over 10,000 recipients.  This strategy allows other public radio stations to pick up the stories.  Long-term focus is to build digital reach and revenue to sustain costs.  The Roster of State Government Officials will be developed into an app.  The current graduate assistant is adapting the Roster to a digital format.

    Illinois Edition Strategy:  One-hour radio news magazine presents strong audience growth in Nielsen Audio ratings.  Program will continue emphasis as a showcase for our journalism.  The program's statewide, Illinois focus make it ideal for distribution to other public radio stations throughout Illinois.  Two to three other stations are interested in carrying Illinois Edition.  Program will also be delivered as podcast and on-demand.

    Branding update:  NPR | Illinois Public Radio will be our primary name, NPR Illinois will be the shorthand.   

    Illinois is our primary geographic affiliation. We reach more than Springfield, owing to the distribution of our Statehouse coverage to other public radio stations in Illinois whose audiences already know us as Illinois Public Radio. The merger with Illinois Issues also drives “Illinois” as our geographic focus. 

    NPR, rather than WUIS, is, in fact, the way listeners already refer to us most frequently. Non-core listeners, the ones we want to grow, struggle to remember the call letters. Is it WUIS, or WISU, or WSIU? The change to NPR Illinois avoids the confusion. 

    NPR is one of the most trusted brands for news in the U.S. It says succinctly what we stand for, which is an advantage that call letters can’t provide, particularly in expanding our reach to non-core listeners.

    We are still WUIS. Those are our call letters and legally must be identified at the top of each hour on the radio (“From the Springfield Campus of the University of Illinois this is WUIS…”) We also continue to identify our frequency during on-air breaks as “91.9 UIS.” Note that here we drop the “W,” helping to strengthen the association of the university with one of the most trusted news sources. Dropping the “W” also reduces the difficulty people have pronouncing “double-you-you…”

    We have been gradually transitioning the branding with listeners, readers, and donors. They are now hearing and seeing it enough to ask questions and embrace the change. The only concern is that WUIS not be usurped by an external entity. We reassure them that we continue to be their capital-based public radio station. To most, it makes great sense.

  2. Board Management & Bylaws Discussion - After a discussion it was decided to keep the bylaws broad in nature.  Operate the board with simple procedures.  The board should form a committee to broadly define how it will serve WUIS/Illinois Issues.  A survey for board members should be developed to identify needs and define meeting format and board member roles.  Maybe one meeting a year in Springfield and one in Chicago with the other two quarters conference calls.  No current procedure for  emeritus status so this board should establish it – the status of emeritus is a point of honor and a continued resource to WUIS and the board.  As board attrition takes the number of members below the maximum, a focus on diversity is essential.
  3. Editorial Discussion - Story ideas can be shared anytime by contacting Jamey Dunn or Sean Crawford.  Story tips included:  school board elections and HB 4268, climate change in Illinois, academic civic education requirements, urban flooding, township consolidations and citizen committee reporting, state policy on accountability in communities with diversity, gunshot deaths in the city of Chicago, MacArthur grant made in Cook county, Syrian refugees in Illinois, regarding budget issues -- no organization is safe – it has become “normalized” and who is in charge?
  4. Committee Reports - No Committee Reports.
  5. New Business - None.

Next board meetings are scheduled for:

  • December 10 at UIS PAC-E, Springfield, IL from 2:30-4:30 PM with Thank You Fest holiday reception following at the studios from 4:30-7:30 PM.
  • March 10, conference call, 3-5 PM.
  • June 9, conference call, 3-5 PM.
  • September 8, Chicago, time TBD.
  • November 22, Springfield, 2:30-4:30 PM.

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