Category Archives: The Team

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

Dancing.

Some days around here seem sort of like Dancing with the Stars.  Without the stars, I guess.  Dancing with ordinary people, maybe.

We come out (sans costumes, most days), we learn new things, we make mistakes (which everybody hears), we help each other, we do our best, we try to follow the music that’s going on around us.  We don’t always get all tens, but we dance.

In the last few days, we’ve broadcast political debates, launched a fabulous new music show, sifted through news from around the world, produced a week’s worth of lunch time talk, wrote and recorded promos about our upcoming pledge drive, installed an entirely new way of recording pledges from our great listeners, christened a web redesign that has involved changing almost everything about everything, interviewed PHIL Music Director Andrew Constantine, shared information about bed bugs, handled a few complaints, accepted some awesome compliments and encouragements, partnered with some new businesses, and thought more creative thoughts than could be listed.

It’s a really good kind of dancing, certainly more cha cha than Viennese Waltz, seems to me.  And we do go home tired some nights, or discouraged that everything didn’t go quite right, or that we added something new that isn’t doing exactly what we thought it would do.  But I will tell you this, when things here don’t go quite right, you can be very sure, it isn’t because people aren’t trying.  And we are not standing still.

We start our fall pledge drive on Saturday, this Saturday, and pledge drive is the time when I think the dancing is the most beautiful.  It’s a ton of work, especially for membership manager David Hunter and also for Lea Denny, who coordinates volunteers (and just about everything else) and program director Kevin Kreigh, who has to make sure everything gets plugged into the right spot at the right time, and for engineer Ed Didier, who has to make sure that all the things that literally have to be plugged in are running smoothly.  So, it’s work for everybody.

But the spirit here during pledge drive is just incredible.  One, because we know we can count on each other, and we do, and we know it will all get done and be good.  Because we do not want to let each other – or you, listeners – down.

Secondly, and most importantly, it’s incredible because we know we can count on the listeners, on you.  It’s a busy time but we’re not overly stressed once we get started, because we know those phones are going to ring (and that web pledge site is going to be humming) and it’s going to work.  We’ve got some big goals (we’d like to have 1200 donors) – because we continue to have challenging needs – but we’ve got a big audience. And once we get out onto that dance floor and start the music, you really do know your part.  And we love watching it all come together.

So we’ll keep broadcasting the news (BBC will do rolling news all night tonight to cover the emergence of the Chilean miners, just so you know), great music, ME & ATC, Ricky Kemery, and the Car Talk guys.  And starting Saturday we’ll mix it up a bit for a week or so.

C’mon.  Let’s dance.

Joan

PS – If you make a contribution anytime between now and Monday morning at 9am, you’ll be entered to win an iPad. It makes us nervous when people wait until the last minute to donate, so we’re offering a little encouragement to join the fun early.  You can give at nipr.fm or call us during office hours at 452-1189.

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Filed under 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

Legacies.

In the public radio world, music programs that are hosted by volunteers that have been around forever, many since stations began, are called “legacy” programs. And they are, as you might imagine, a mixed blessing for most stations.

It is a wonderful thread of continuity to have programs that have been aired through time with an audience, a station, a community.  They are familiar voices, treasured genres of music, predictable patterns, and reminders, often, of how a public station began.  And at the few stations that still have volunteer hosts, those programs don’t change much as the years roll by.

One of the challenges is that, over time, those legacy time slots often have a sense of ownership about them.  One of my colleagues shared that when one of their legacy music announcers passed away, he willed his program time to a friend.  Now, that is ownership. As stations try to stay relevant and forward moving, that ownership sometimes conflicts with new directions, but the pride and commitment is always appreciated.

We have wonderful volunteer announcers on both our stations.  You may listen to particular jazz or classical programming just because you like the way one of our volunteers picks music.  These musicologists give the stations their unique blend and flavor and there is great value in that.

Changing technology poses a real challenge for some legacy hosts and we are experiencing that here.  Changing regulations about reporting the music we play (and particularly, the music we stream) have changed just about everything that needs to happen in the studio during a music program.

Doug Gruber, Jazz Coordinator

For some, what’s now required takes the joy out of what was once a few inspired hours of spinning records for an appreciative audience on a Monday night or a Saturday afternoon. In fact, records, and even CDs are kind of problematic as we move to digitized music libraries.  Now every song has to be logged in, start and stop time, label, artist, title . . . and logged into an interactive electronic database — that’s not too difficult, if you’ve been working with electronic databases all your life.  Doug Gruber, our jazz coordinator (a legacy all by himself!) and Kevin Kreigh, program director, continue to work on the systems for our volunteers, but the fun is gone for some who’ve been doing this for years. I hate that, but totally understand it.

So if you hear some changes in the volunteer host line-up, you’ll have some sense of what’s going on.  And you’ll appreciate that those who continue are working a lot harder than they used to, doing some things they really aren’t crazy about, just to help us stay compliant with the people who give us the right to be on the air.

Nobody’s just spinning records.

Joan

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Filed under Technology, The Team

The “baby stations” sign off.

We closed today on the sale of 88.7 and 91.3 so sometime in the next day or two, those two frequencies will cease to broadcast the programming of WBNI and will begin to broadcast the programming of their new owner.

While this doesn’t effect a great percentage of our listeners, but certainly it does change the airscape for some who have enjoyed classical music on those frequencies for some time.

And it is an ending. Just like Janice having her last day on Friday.  We’re feeling that, those endings.  But every ending, I hear, is a new beginning and I am thankful for the hopefulness we feel for the future.

Thanks for hanging in there with us,

Joan

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Filed under Changes, Programming, The Team

More serious changes.

After lots of documents, conversations, and negotiations, we will most likely have a closing this week on the sale of our “small frequencies” – 91.3 and 88.7 – and they will cease to broadcast the classical programming that we refer to as WBNI.  When you turn the dial to those numbers (we don’t really turn the dial much anymore, do we?) you will hear the programming of the new owners, Star Media.  We hope this acquisition helps them achieve their mission in the world.  We know some of our listeners are going to be disappointed, but most listeners access classical programming at 94.1 and that frequency will continue to be WBNI.

It’s been a year and a half since we announced that all the frequencies that carry our classical programming would be put up for sale — and if anyone had told me that we’d just now be selling, and only selling two of the frequencies at this point, we might have looked at the whole process differently.  It’s the market, primarily, and that couldn’t be predicted. Listeners have enjoyed the classical stations much longer than we predicted, which is a plus for them, it would seem, even while it has created a difficult financial situation for the organization.

The sale to Star will allow us to pay a small chunk on the loan taken out in 2007 to purchase 94.1.  We’ve been paying interest on that loan, but not much principal, and this sale will allow us to improve the positioning of that loan with our lender.  We’re grateful to be able to do that right now.

We have also been, as you might have noticed, removing all programming from the classical stations that require us to pay fees.  Those have been difficult decisions, but armed with the knowledge that one way or another, we will divest ourselves of 94.1 in the near future, we’re cutting all costs associated with the station in order to keep our commitments to our lender and avoid draining more resources from the general operating budget to pay for this capital acquisition.

The most difficult decision, however, is the one to eliminate paid positions in the organization that are associated with WBNI.  Janice Furtner, long associated with WBNI’s classical programming will be leaving the station at the end of this week.  These are difficult endings, most assuredly for Janice, who has invested a great deal of herself into WBNI and into the community on behalf of WBNI.  We’ve been talking about this as an eventuality since we announced the stations would be sold, so it doesn’t come as a surprise, and after a year and a half of uncertainty, it seemed time to make some firm decisions.  WBNI will sound different and it’s a significant loss, without a doubt. The volunteers that host programs on WBNI will continue to do so.

It’s always difficult when established staff members leave, whatever the reason, and I’m always so aware that it’s most difficult for the colleague who’s forced to make a change at a time that may not be of their choosing.  And I also know that sometimes it looks like management (that would be me, I guess) cares most about the bottom line and in a way, it’s true that we’re forced to care very much about the bottom line and to put the overall health of the organization in front of the interest of any one person. Caring for the bottom line is, in fact, caring for the mission and working to ensure that the organization is able to continue carrying out its work.  I don’t even begin to think that it’s consolation to a valued colleague moving on or to listeners who will miss a morning friend, but it is, as we all say, what it is.

Don’t hesitate to contact me directly, any time. I’m here for questions, complaints, and encouragement, if you feel so inclined.  My direct line is 918-1099.

Thanks,

Joan

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Filed under Changes, Programming, The Team