Content Advisory Committee Minutes, March 24, 2021

Content Advisory Committee Minutes, March 24, 2021

In Attendance

Committee Members: Jess, Jay, Umar, Mellissa, Benjamin, Brendan, Chris W. (late), Chris Z(late)

KFAI Staff: Mason, Daniel

Board Members: TJ

Other Attendees: Crystal, Danielle, Ethan, Rhonda, Sara, Chris M


6:39 Meeting called to order, attendance, introduction of guests and committee members.

6:42 Request that the meeting agenda be publicly posted with the meeting registration, suggestion approved.

6:45 Minutes from 2/17/2021 approved

6:45 -7:05 Spring Pledge Drive.

– We are very pleased that we exceeded our fundraising targets for the spring drive, raising almost $66,000 for the station, and exceeding projections based on the 2019-2020 drives. Many thanks to the program hosts for their work. Reports are that hosts enthusiastically and creatively promoted the station, often weaving the drive into the context of their own program and emphasizing KFAI’s historical and local importance. 

– Umar and others noted that the training provided by the station was very helpful. As a program host, he was able to connect the talking points from the slide show into his show’s particular perspective on history and culture. 

-Daniel also encouraged ‘cross-pollination’ – hosts helping the cause by taking guest spots on each other’s show – as something that could play a stronger part in future drives.


7:05 Open slots

– Sunday, 11am – Mason reported that La Voz del Pueblo was originally approved as a Spanish-language program that focused on migrant workers in Minnesota and nationally. Historically this show had been led by a rotating team of hosts, however, recently one of the hosts (Jose) has individually taken the show in his own direction, using the slot to deliver apocalyptically-tinged Pentecostal sermons in the absence of the other hosts. Mason spoke to a co-host (Jovita) about this change, she spoke to Jose, which led Jose to take to the air to denounce the station. Brendan notes that he, and Eve, have chronicled this series of events on basecamp. The upshot is that Jovita will continue to periodically produce content for La Voz del Pueblo as a podcast, and the 11 AM Sunday slot is open.

– Sunday, 6am – Al B. Ware, the host of KFAI’s long-running legacy program, Songs of Praise, has decided he will not continue to host the show, citing personal reasons.  The 6 AM slot is currently being filled by episodes of Kingdom Praise, a Christian hip-hop/r&b program, but we are looking to make a permanent selection for the 6 AM Sunday gig.

– Jay asked if the station wants to make a specific attempt to appoint programming that continues to represent the communities served by departing hosts and shows. For instance, Songs of Praise was oriented towards Christian listeners, should we look to replace this show with a Christian program, etc. Daniel notes that setting specific targets can be tricky. It is one of many factors used to make programming decisions, but we need to deal with the specific people and shows that apply, not categories in the abstract. 

– Daniel added that the station is looking to find funding to work on recruitment in Minneapolis communities. Chris W. added that this had come up in a previous meeting, in the search for a Hmong language program to replace Hmong American Radio Reachout. In this case, we considered how the station might work on recruitment and outreach with Hmong organizations.

– Jay asked if the Board had guidance on this matter. Mason replied that this might be problematic – it might be prudent to maintain a ‘firewall’ between the Board and the CAC. TJ said that the board considers if they are honoring the mission statement, which calls on them to apply the principle of equity. Daniel wonders how the CAC can look at the whole station schedule, and come to a shared understanding of how all the programs work together. 

– Danielle asked if the current openings are all from programs formerly hosted by people of color, the answer was negative, pointing to the 2-4 AM Thursday slot. It was mentioned that this spot has been offered to Starlight Serenade, the launch of which has been delayed due to the host’s health problems. 


7:20 New shows in Basecamp.

– As of Tuesday morning there are new programs to consider, in addition to the already pending applications. The plan for the committee will be to listen and respond in basecamp by April 7, and continue conversation at the April CAC meeting. Some applications are currently incomplete; we will request further audio from Karl Folk and from Sounds of the Black Diaspora and a full application from The Be.Mix. 

– Benjamin noted that Reverend Billy’s application is from a nationally syndicated show, produced in Brooklyn. This could come into conflict with KFAI’s mission to amplify local voices from Minnesota. Daniel says that KFAI is unique among Twin Cities broadcasters in the amount of local programming, which is central to its democratic potential.


7:30 Staff directions/conflicts of interest

– The station has been cutting back on staff over the past decade; currently there are only 4 (!) paid staff members. Daniel informs us that the station would like to add a paid Program Manager next. Currently with nobody hired for the role, Mason has been multitasking and taking on the responsibilities of a PM. Mason clarifies that in his opinion in his expanded role he has not taken on an editorial/programming role, but that he does his best to get people on the air, and the GM has ultimate discretion. 

– The question was then raised of possible conflicts of interest arising from Mason’s multiple roles, as host, engineering manager, and specifically his role on the CAC. Mason clarifies that he is not paid to host AM Drive – that portion of his role is as a volunteer. Ben says that it is common that the program director has a show, giving the example of Freddie Bell on KMOJ. Umar opines that there is not necessarily a conflict, that there needs to be staff representation on the CAC. TJ recommends a flowchart that would show the roles, and make decision making transparent. Brendan said that the only conflict of interest would be if the CAC was asked to make a decision about AM Drive, or another show Mason happened to be on, but in this case, he could recuse himself. 

– Sara brings up the issue of ‘toxic environments’ at non-profits. She says that healthy volunteer spaces have clearly defined roles, while unhealthy spaces often ask volunteers and staff to juggle two or three roles, which creates conflict. Mason responds positively to this comment.


7:45 Questions from the public

– The conversation about ‘conflicts of interest’ carries over– Crystal asked if it is a conflict of interest that a staff person has a 10 hr/week flagship show (AM Drive) as opposed to BIPOC volunteers that have 1 hour of air time a week. It is clarified that the question is not necessarily about ‘conflict of interest,’ but issues of racial equity at the station. Mason responds that the history of AM Drive begins with the Board’s 2018 decision to replace the Morning Blend,  which had rotating hosts, with one M-F show. When Miss Britt left the show (her husband took a career opportunity out of town and they moved away), Barb requested Mason as co-host.  Their show also brings guests, including other volunteers, into the studio. 

– Crystal asks if this is just the station’s spin on systemic issues of racial equity. Daniel responded that the National Federation of Community Broadcasters will be visiting the station to give insight into the appropriate industry standard around individuals possessing multiple roles. Danielle asks if the station has conducted exit interviews with hosts who have recently left, Daniel says that is not current station policy but we could revisit. 

– Chriz Z says that AM Drive has a diverse set of guests, that Mason is very aware of the privilege of position, and that Mason does a lot of work to serve the public interest. After confirming Chris Z was white, Danielle responded that this did not answer her questions about equity. 

– Umar reiterated the need to hold space for these issues.

– TJ thanked the participants on the call for their courage in participating in a difficult conversation, and reiterated the need to come up with a specific action plan about issues of historic and systemic racism. 


8:15 Meeting dismissed, with reminder to listen to applications pending on basecamp.


Respectfully submitted by Brendan McGillicuddy