Content Advisory Committee Minutes, January 20, 2021

Content Advisory Committee Minutes, January 20, 2021

In attendance: Chris “Felix” Wilbourn, Christopher Robin Zimmerman (CRZ), Jay Armstrong, Brendan McGillicuddy
For KFAI: Danny Banks, Mason Butler
Board liaison: Michael Milligan
Others: Umar, host of Latino Alt Rock!; Savannah, AM Drive producer
Absent: Benjamin Raye, Jessica Bunz, Melissa Olson

Meeting was called to order at 18:37.

December minutes were approved.  (They had already been posted soon after the meeting to the website)

Earlier this afternoon on the day of this meeting, one of the election winners Ed Hilbrich emailed the Committee to say he would no longer be available to participate.  We’ll follow up to confirm this was a resignation.  There are no “runner-up” candidates from the election who could be promoted in his place.

1. Introduction of new committee members

Brendan McGillicuddy (newly elected): Hi, I’m Brendan – looking forward to doing this work!  Currently unemployed, worked for U of M in the department of cultural studies before there wasn’t a pandemic.  Looking forward to meeting artists, activists, people doing interesting stuff.  I’m interested in operations, management, and learning about that side of KFAI.  I listen to KFAI a lot and signed up after hearing the announcements seeking candidates.  Nice to meet everybody – I’m here to take it all in and contribute where I can!

Everyone else did brief re-introductions.

18:45 3. Recent suspension and resignation of show hosts – Danny brought us up to speed.

Lydia Howell (Catalyst, Friday 1PM) is currently suspended indefinitely for making insensitive comments online.  The time slot is currently being filled by Counter Stories (AMPERS), an intersectional conversation about identity, social justice, and culture in Minnesota.  We’d like to devote this slot to Black History Month programming in February.  No decision yet on the length of the suspension beyond February.

Margaret Sullivan (Ms Margaret Live, Friday 6PM), citing diversity and systemic station issues, has resigned from her volunteer slot as well as from the Board of Directors.  Danny still wants to follow up with her to try to address those issues but it doesn’t change the immediate fact that this slot is now open.

Danny reiterated that we need to do work to reflect the true diversity of KFAI, which includes working to make sure we keep the people we do have.

Mason adds that this isn’t new, but it needs to be reiterated that we need to recommit to communicating to all communities that everyone should feel they have a home on KFAI and we can find places for them now instead of asking them to come back in six months.

19:03 4. Current show openings

Open time slots:

Thursday: 2-4AM (formerly Gothic Underground)
Friday 6-7PM (formerly Ms Margaret Live)

Felix asked if there was direction from the Board or the GM for specific instructions on how to fill slots, especially the Friday slot.  Danny says “we have something to prove now” and we need to restore some faith in KFAI.  We have good programs to choose from that will allow us to uphold our ideals and confirm our commitment to the community.  We should prioritise BIPOC representation in this slot.  Umar and LAR had a good partnership with Ms. Margaret Live and it would be great if we could select a program to help keep that block strong.

Umar shared his concerns and hoped that whatever lands in the slot could have seamless integration from their music show to a public affairs show appealing to the LAR! audience.  A black or brown woman’s voice would be ideal, if we have the right applicant.  “We’d like this to continue to be a showcase for our community.”

Felix says if we have a talk program, it would be better to have a host who could speak as authoritatively as Margaret did.

Mason says he would advise we not decide on filling the spot at this point despite the current applicant pool until the Committee itself is more diverse.

Jay brought up that existing shows may want to move slots and we should take that into consideration as well.

Mason says the 6-8PM time period has been devoted more to public affairs shows on weekdays of late (as has 1-2PM), yet Ms Margaret Live didn’t always feel like a public affairs show but more like a conversation, due to her strengths as a host.

Brendan said ordinarily he may not have gone out of his way to listen to Ms Margaret Live, but as a Latino Alt Rock! listener, he got a good intro to the show and stuck with it.  Having one lead into the other was a definite strength.  What’s in the slot now?

Mason mentioned that we had filled last week with indigenous content (from Robert Pilot and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan) which led into Native Roots Radio at 7PM.  The shows are available through AMPERS and could be found outside KFAI if/when they were replaced.  Danny likes the idea of having a Native focused block “but in the long term it doesn’t have to be Friday evenings.”  Since they are all prerecorded it’s not vital they air in those particular Friday time slots.

We are going to push harder to make sure everyone is aware of these open slots so that we cast the widest net.

19:19 5. Progress on development/recruiting of new Hmong programming – with Hmong American Reachout’s retirement at the end of November, we have been seeking new hosts and new ideas.  Mason has been in touch with Marlin Heise at the Hmong Archives in the East Side Freedom Library – the folks at the Hmong Archives are putting out their own call for content AND a host.  Mason has also been in touch with Ka Vang at American Public Media who may be able to help us find some of the younger generation.

Felix says he put out feelers after December’s meeting and is aware of two groups of younger folks putting together Hmong show demos, but is unsure of their timetables.

Mason says the more, the merrier – if we find many groups have interest but perhaps not all/none of them would want to produce weekly content yet WOULD be interested in being part of a rotating series of Hmong programs in the slot.  Danny says “one slot” isn’t hard and fast, either – if we have more shows, we can create more slots, both on air and streaming.

19:28 6. Review of existing show applications

Just today we received an application for a new podcast, Sticks & Stones, which looks very promising.  Content is solid but they will need help producing and Mason will put them in touch with one of our long-time producers.

Felix asked if it’s automatic that any abstract will be asked to join online immediately?  Mason said in general for FA2/Mixcloud that should be considered the case – podcasts are a little different due to their destinations (podcast platforms, where music shows can’t be considered).  CRZ said unless a submission is truly awful or unprofessional, every applicant should be encouraged to create and submit content.  Mason added it’s a good way to determine who can stick to a schedule and who might give up after a few outings.

The Cart Crew will start working on newer (and a LITTLE more matter-of-fact) announcements about the alternate streams now that our web player has three dedicated buttons to bring up each stream in the web player.  The app also has a new interface with buttons for every channel.

19:41 2. Discussion of the need to appoint additional members

Felix asked will we hold elections again?  We talked about the previous election and the low interest in candidates.  Danny suggested we run carts asking interested people to contact the GM indicating their interest and that may help build candidate lists for appointee positions.  Umar and Jay said it could help if the program hosts would underscore these announcements as well as bring their own suggestions to the GM.

There was a lot of discussion around reaching people – what we have available, what’s working, what might work.

Sam will be invited to the next meeting to help us discuss how to “market” these types of requests to get more and higher quality of response.

Jay asked if we could get some program synopses for the newer folks to learn more about the history of some of our programs.

CRZ asked if we could include a questionnaire in the programmer’s guide for programmers to tell us more about their shows, which we could then convert to on-air copy and web content.

Did Savannah have any comments?  She asked if AM Drive could do a better job promoting other shows.  This kicked around a few ideas as well.

Mason said “Get Out of Your Bubble!” which sounds like a great idea for a new promotion for listeners (and program hosts!)

Felix asked if we were ready to move on filling the Thursday 2-4am slot.  Mason said we couldn’t decide tonight, but we can move the discussion to Basecamp and try to reach a consensus before the next Zoom.  CRZ said he believed we probably had our next show within the current crop of applicants and hoped others would arrive at the same opinion after checking out the demos.  In the meantime, encore programming is airing in this slot.

Brendan had some more questions about Basecamp.  Mason explained that anything posted there would only be seen by CAC members and that we all should feel free to post candidly.

Mason called the meeting at 20:17.

Respectfully submitted,
Christopher Robin Zimmerman