Category Archives: Changes

Paper clips and straws.

With two days left in the NIPR GM office, there are important tasks that I’ve had to do. You know, like borrow a truck to haul home the big pictures on the walls that won’t fit into my car; make sure people who might want to find me can do that; empty out the email box and the stash of files on my desk.  And make good notes about projects, programs, fundraisers, and grants in progress (and a few mistakes that will need to be corrected –  sorry, new guy/girl).  That kind of stuff.

But there are some other things to do, things that should be done at the close of any adventure.  Things like taking stock of lessons learned and perhaps taught.  Big ones both ways here, I think.  I’ve learned about radio, its programming, its ethos, its audience, its challenges, and its unparalleled role in the life of a community.  I’ve learned that a positive attitude can overcome difficult odds and begin to turn the Titanic in a bathtub – not just my attitude, but the attitude of a remarkable staff, a dedicated board, and an invested community. I’ve learned that naysayers and bitter people do take a huge toll over time, but that focusing on those who can offer criticism in a constructive, building-up sort of way and those who cheer along side can keep you from getting utterly discouraged and overwhelmed (thank you, cheerleaders). And I’ve learned that the attitude of the people on your bus matters every bit as much as their skill set and experience.

One of the last tasks I’ve undertaken here is to do brief “evaluations” of each staff person on this bus.  They are not meant to be the nit-picking kind of evaluation where I talk about areas for improvement, five-year growth plans, or how many times somebody was late in the last year.  They are affirmations of these fine folks – of the contribution they make day in and day out to make sure public radio continues to enrich this wide community.  They are encouragements — hey, this has not been an easy two years but we’ve worked hard together.  They are advice about adjusting to another GM – patience, patience, patience, and positive, joyful expectations – and a vision of how great it will be to have someone who knows so much more than me about this industry. They are a huge “thanks” to each of these people, those who have been here for a good long time and those who’ve recently joined the crew, for hopping on this bus and not just riding along, but peddling, pushing, praying us forward.  It has been a most pleasant task to have these final conversations.  I love these people.

And so with a few final notes to people who continue to give dollars when it counts and encouragement when it’s needed, I wrap it up.

And yes, I have taken care of the thousand or so paper clips in the drawer (I always unclip things, throw the paper clips in the drawer and now have enough accumulated to supply NIPR for two years) and the stash of straws that I have collected to make certain I never ever have to drink a Diet Coke without a straw.  No trace that an unclipping Diet Coke addict occupied this space.  Room for someone new with better habits to come in and make the space their own.

I do hope they will blog a bit.

And I know the friends of these stations will continue to make your voices heard, share ideas and concerns, give a few bucks when you can, and encourage others to become invested in public radio.  When all is said and done, and it just about is for me, I couldn’t be more optimistic about the future of NIPR.  Going forward is absolutely the only acceptable direction.  Onward!

Thanks for listening, for reading, for putting in your two cents from time to time.

Peace out.

Joan

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Filed under Changes, Good Times, The Team

Perhaps we should add “can blog”.

Leadership Opportunity.
President/General Manager

Northeast Indiana Public Radio, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Northeast Indiana Public Radio (NIPR) seeks a general manager for its two-channel public radio service, providing NPR news, jazz and classical music to listeners in Fort Wayne, Indiana, and surrounding communities including northeast Indiana and northwest Ohio. NIPR is a not for profit community organization whose mission is to “engage our community with content that enriches the human experience.”

The successful candidate will possess strong leadership, management and communications skills and will exhibit high ethical standards, including trustworthiness and demonstrated fiscal responsibility.

The successful candidate will have demonstrated ability to identify, act decisively, show good judgment and solve problems.

The successful candidate will provide demonstrated ability to perform the following responsibilities.

1.  Management—Must be able to provide strong leadership and guidance to a staff of ten professionals, through the following skills.

  • Ability to establish annual operating goals and business plan.
  • Ability to effectively delegate responsibilities.
  • Ability to provide clearly defined expectations, consistent follow through and measures of accountability to staff.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with staff, volunteers and Board of Trustees.

2.  Financial acumen—Must be able to manage an annual budget of $1.2million, through the following skills.

  • Ability to provide strategic direction for annual budget.
  • Ability to monitor the operating budget monthly and make appropriate adjustments to keep it balanced.
  • Ability to determine efficiency improvements to adjust budget as necessary.
  • Ability to seek new opportunities to increase revenue.

3.  Industry knowledge—Must exhibit broad technical knowledge related to radio in general, public radio in particular, through the following skills.

  • Basic knowledge of radio broadcasting fundamentals.
  • Knowledge of FCC regulations.
  • Knowledge of broadcasting ratings and their importance to public radio.
  • Basic knowledge of radio technology and current trends in new technology.

4.  Community relations—Must be able to establish and maintain strong relationships within the communities served, through the following skills.

  • Ability to communicate effectively with community and business leaders, including written and verbal communication, and media relation skills.
  • Ability to be seen as a collaborator and as a leader among the communities served by NIPR.
  • Ability to serve as effective spokesperson for NIPR.

5.  Fundraising—Must be able to effectively raise funds in the nonprofit business model, through the following skills.

  • Ability to establish and maintain strong relationships with various not for profit organizations and foundations.
  • Ability to establish relationships with and secure funding from high capacity individuals.
  • Ability to determine grant opportunities and secure grant writing resources.
  • Ability to determine additional fundraising opportunities and implement them.

Qualified candidates should apply by October 15, 2010 by sending a cover letter and resume to search@nipr.fm  or mailing to Suzon Motz, Search Chair, NIPR, P.O. Box 8459, Fort Wayne, IN 46898.

NIPR is an equal opportunity employer. Qualified applicants are considered for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or veteran status.

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Filed under Changes, The Team

I saw it on the web site. Must be true.

I posted this yesterday on our web site.  Thought I’d share it here, too.

Dear Friends:

I just wanted to use this forum to speak to our loyal listeners and members as I prepare to end my time at NIPR. While it would be wonderful to make personal contact with each person that supports our organization, to thank you for your support and involvement, that just doesn’t seem to be practical.  I have shared with our staff, board, community advisory board and others with close connections to the station that I am planning to leave my position as GM here a bit later this fall, no later than December 1.

Changes are always challenging but NIPR has a magnificent staff (and volunteers) that will be just fine.  I’m quite certain that an accomplished, passionate professional will be found to sit in the GM chair and that the great plans that we’ve made will continue forward.  I’m feeling as if my contribution has been made and that someone else may very well be able to step in and move the cause forward from this point.

We have made some difficult decisions that I, along with our board, stand behind. I have also been so privileged to be part of adding some exceptional programming elements to our days. The board has formed a search committee and has started the important work of filling the position.

We are all grateful for those of you who have reached out to offer encouragement and support, and when needed, constructive criticism.

It has been a true privilege to serve in this organization.

Many thanks,

Joan

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Filed under Changes, The Team

On Andrew, PHIL, and what happens next.

Andrew Constantine is an easy interview, folks.  And informative. And fun.

Andrew, in case you’ve not been keeping up with culture, is the new music director at the PHIL and their 2010-2011 season begins tonight.

I’ve been watching PHIL opening nights for a lot of years and there is a wonderful excitement all around this one. They will be playing Barber’s Adagio, just like they did nine years ago, and for those of us that were there on that opening night, I’m guessing it will bring back the unbelievable feeling that we had being in that place, at that time, with that music.  But the rest of the program is spine tingling, too.  Get a ticket. Be there. (Oh, it starts at 6pm. If you show up at 8, well, it will be over.)

Phil Shaull and I talked with Andrew in the studio on Thursday and then excerpted pieces of that for broadcast in a couple of places. Including WBOI. Conversations about organizations like the PHIL and people like Andrew belong there, too.

We’ve been thinking a lot, and along with many of you, about where our area’s cultural updates and insights are going to find a home on public radio when WBNI is no longer broadcasting, whenever that might be, and we’re working on it.  It won’t be the same as when Janice had long conversations, every week, with the leaders of some organizations. That time slot and format just doesn’t exist, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t want to give attention, and space, and heart to the arts organizations, large and small, that make such a difference in our lives week in and week out and play a vibrant part in the education, quality of life, and joy of this region.

Julia Meek and Phil have given voice to many expected and unexpected arts topics, events, leaders, and participants during Midday Matters ArtCentric and that’s going to continue in some form.  We’ve got Julia immersed in the planning of our new evening local music program and she may take a break from MM, but the arts coverage will continue.  And we are always looking for ways to tell our audience about what’s happening, what just happened, and what’s going to happen on the cultural scene.

As we look at our overall programming with an eye on budgeting, even as we anticipate some changes, please do know that honoring the community, especially the arts community, is always on our mind.

Talking with the dynamic leaders of our cultural community, like Andrew Constantine, Charles Shephard, Ketu Oladuwa, Liz Monnier, Karen Gibbons Brown, Dorothy Kittaka (ok. I should not have started naming people – there are hundreds) . . .  and on forever, should be part of our “public” work.  Just going on record as saying that, so you know that we at NIPR value those relationships as an organization and want to be a good home for the messages and the missions of all arts work in our region.

Tonight, I’m not going to worry about budgets or programming or what comes next. I’m going to experience “The Love for Three Oranges” again, all of it.  And I hear, from reliable sources, that it is just pretty challenging to play.  Watchin’ you work, musicians!

Did I mention Gil Shaham?  Uh-huh.

Have a great week-end.

Joan

Oh, and Masterworks concerts, like tonight’s, will continue to be broadcast on WBNI, the second Thursday evening following the concert.

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Filed under Changes, Community, Partners, Programming

89.1 HD3 – An experiment in the alternative.

If you’re listening to 89.1 HD3 right now, you just heard a change.  Big change.  From syndicated jazz to an experiment in alternative listening – a mix of NPR programs, contemporary album music, and replays of some favorites at alternate times.  HD listeners are few and far between, but if you’re out there, give it a listen.  We’re just trying this out, to see what you think and what we think and if there’s a place in our public radio world for something a bit different.

The schedule, as it experimentally stands right now, looks like this:

HD3

If you’re tuned in and turned on, let us know.

Joan

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Filed under Changes, Programming

You’ve heard this all before, but . . .

When people take the time and energy to call me directly to talk about the direction of the station or the choices we’re making or what they hear or don’t hear on the air, I appreciate that.  I really do. I’m not much of a “call up and complain” person at all so I always imagine that if you do that, you must really care about things. So, hat tip to you for caring that much about how this organization is run. And I say that with no facetiousness. None.

But I must say over the last two or three weeks, I’ve been surprised by the tone of the calls, the quick judgments, and the vehement, really visceral comments about changes we are beginning to make as we wind down our analog delivery of classical programming, a process that was started more than a year and a half ago, with every attempt made to keep the public informed. Some decisions that are part of that just happen in a way that prevents a public unveiling.

Our two small frequencies sold last week – a move absolutely necessitated by the pressure to make good on our commitments to the lender that provided capital for 94.1 more than three years ago. We were so pleased to receive a fair price from a local broadcaster, allowing us to act in good faith with a lender that has been very patient and accommodating to us.  And, coincidentally, although not planned that way, we eliminated a position that had moved from full-time to part-time and then as cash flow continued to present an ongoing challenge, and we all felt the uncertainty surrounding the sale of the stations, moved to a position elimination.

Those are not moves made without feeling or without regret.  We’ve been letting people go here for the entire two years that I’ve been on board – our staff is about half the size it was three years ago.  That takes its toll on everybody. I’d love to have somebody to pace the floor with me late at night if anyone wants to share the worry associated with letting people go, whatever the reason.  Some of you are in the same boat.

A lot of factors go into personnel issues and generally, I think of those things as confidential, protecting the privacy and choices of the employees who are affected and allowing them to share the information with the people they choose, in the way they choose.

WBNI has been an important cultural resource in this community, but the truth is, fewer and fewer people are tapping into it.  The programming has stayed much the same over many years and while it is beloved by stalwart friends, it has not drawn a new audience.  It comes down to choices – where will the limited resources that we have be directed?  Toward a station with a small, vocal, passionate, diminishing audience or toward the programming that is growing its audience each year? Maybe if we had started five years or so ago really ramping up classical programing to attract that new audience, we wouldn’t find our selves in this position. Maybe it wouldn’t have made a bit of difference.

I think it would be great if NIPR could fund a classical station, a news/information station, an adult alternative album station, and maybe a Latino station.  We would serve more of the community that way. We would make lots of people happy. We would stop some of the demoralizing complaints.  And we would go out of business. Quickly.

The pressures that we are feeling now are a result of a changing economy and a decision that was made with great enthusiasm and promising vision several years ago.  It was a time when there was a push all across the country for public radio stations to increase their footprint, buy new frequencies, and make a mark.  And here, it was pushed even more by unhappy listeners who wanted a classical signal that served them personally better than what was being offered.  I wasn’t here, so I try to not second guess, but in dealing day in and day out with unhappy people, I can certainly see how it would seem like the right thing to do.  Buy a stronger signal and give people what they want.  The plan was to pay the entire loan off in a very short period of time, but the capital campaign, while supported by some very generous gifts, fell far short of its goal, and the expenses associated with the signal exceeded expectations.

So here we are.

Guided by a board who feels as passionate about public radio as the most passionate listeners in the community, we’re hoping to continue to strengthen the operating side of the financials by building revenue and containing expenses. We have two expenses here, primarily, people and programs and cuts to either are a concern. At the same time we have to deal realistically with the capital difficulty 94.1 presents.

There is within this organization a constant discussion about direction and decision-making, about serving the public and being good fiscal stewards. No quick and easy answers, at least not from my chair.  If it looks different from your chair, I’d be happy to talk to you. I’d really rather have you do that than flame me – or my staff or colleagues – on Facebook or another blog. Or gather a group of protestors about a personnel decision. Or stop contributing, which only makes sense if you are going to totally stop listening, and even then, some people who don’t listen much at all contribute anyway, just because they like the idea of another voice. You know, nobody has to give, but when support is withheld, it just makes everything keep getting worse instead of better and the hard decisions just keep coming.

If we don’t serve the public, we’re not doing our job.  But the public is a big, diverse thing, with lots of needs, interests, and passions. I’d like to try to provide service to as much of that as possible. I’d like to keep as many people happy as possible.  I’d like to provide incomes, steady and dependable, for a good staff of hardworking people.  I’d like to answer my phone and have a civil conversation with anybody who cares about the totality of this organization.

You can call me.

Joan

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Filed under Changes, Community, Programming

Sans Brio

That’s probably not an appropriate pairing of words, but you get my drift. This morning WBNI 94.1 fm will not have Janice Furtner’s voice saying, “Good morning, good morning, this is Con Brio.”

It’s “downsizing”, that insidious word that makes sense economically for struggling organizations and companies but makes no sense to the people involved. In two years, we’ve cut this staff almost in half, and cut salaries on remaining positions when we’ve had to hire, to try to deal with financial pressures, but that doesn’t mean much when it’s you.

Contrary to some of the comments floating around, 94.1 didn’t go off the air on Friday. Still for sale, we’re not sure what the future will be.  I almost wish Friday had been its last day, too. We keep dragging out the difficult changes and it’s taking a toll on everyone – management, staff, listeners. The other two frequencies that have carried the WBNI programming, 91.3 out of Orland and its translator 88.7, changed ownership mid-week last week as the result of a sale, so those frequencies now carry the programming of Star Media.

Lots of great things about Janice have been said over the last few days and some wonderful tributes posted.  Bob Nance made some poignant comments, reminders of all Janice has done in the community, and you can find those on Bob’s blog at MaestroNance.com.  Ricky Kemery, a great friend of both our stations, wrote a song for her called The Difference and it’s a great reminder of how people make a difference in our lives and is a beautiful way of saying so. And all through the day on Friday, Janice’s last day on air, there were phone calls and cards letting her know that she will be missed and that she is appreciated. She will be and she is.

There was a winsome and unusual loveliness about much of that morning, not unlike Janice herself.

“Good things always come from the bad . . . “.  That’s what I hope for Janice.

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