State of the Station, Fall 2008
We have been fortunate to have a hard-working, collegial and stable board, staff and volunteer base this last year. We've watered the seeds for many new beginnings, and we have many reasons to be proud of our community:
* We have accomplished real change on the air. Our on air change was based on a year-long process of setting goals and values, holding community meetings, doing surveys and engaging in an NFCB Station Assessment. The first steps were moving Democracy Now! to 7am and strengthening our evening programming. In the first quarter of 2009, we will make changes between 7am and 7pm. These changes focus on the basics of making our schedule easier to follow, putting the strongest programming on during popular listening hours and improving our blocks and strips.
* We believe that treating people well is a cornerstone of our community, incorporating training, discussion, mediation and boundary setting. We are now training to others in this regard.
* We continue to do a lot with a little and surpassed budget expectations for last year.
* We are a model for other community media organizations. When we hosted the Grassroots Radio Conference in 2008 and worked closely with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters Conference in 2007, we received a great deal of feedback as to how impressed other organizations were with KBOO and specific ways in which other stations were modeling themselves based on our efforts.
DOWN Listenership: 72,000 in 2002 to a little over 50,000 in 2008.
DOWN Membership: 6,800 in 2003 to 5,400 in 2008.
DOWN Funding: $756,000 in 2006 to $734,000 in 2008 (1).
UP Expenses: $764,000 in 2007, $786,000 in 2008 and up to $862,000 in 2009 (2).
Our key issues continue to reflect the board goals for 2007-2008:
1) Improve Financial Stability: We did much better than expected this last year thanks to members, staff and community organizations, but we still ran a deficit or $28,000 and we're looking at a larger deficit this year. We have cash in the bank to cover it for now, but the trend is not sustainable.
2) Improve Programming: We're taking the steps now to make the schedule easier to understand and commit the station to high-quality programming. Next up is a closer look at our current audience, community needs, the audiences we hope to reach and how to better serve them.
3) Engage in Strategic Planning: We've done great work this past year to set goals and codify our values that serve us during a time of change. Again, we're looking forward to more robust and sophisticated work in this regard.
4) Develop effective decision-making processes that are inclusive of our diverse community members. How our staff and board more effectively hear and serve our communities?
Diversity: In a city that can seem monochromatic at times, we offer programming by and for Asian, African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and those from many other backgrounds. We put youth (with a part-time youth coordinator assisting), veterans, and the disabled on the air. Our music offerings range from bluegrass to hip hop and Latin rock to punk rock. And we bring these communities together on and off the air!
Creativity: We have the flexibility-and the drive-to go places other stations fear to tread with a grassroots, street-level perspective and every kind of music imaginable.
Volunteer Driven: Our on-air hosts are volunteers who are hear for a love of community, and they are in touch with their communities. Empowerment of volunteers at KBOO leads to participation and committment.
Strategic & Management Questions:
Life used to be simple when a small number of FM stations made up most of the media options for audiences who wanted alternative/progressive programming, but the world has changed. The good news is that we have the creative freedom to adapt in a way that is harder for the jazz, classical and NPR affiliates.
a. What is our mission? What are we trying to accomplish, in one sentence! Our program charter states that we fill needs that other media do not. This means that we are defined by what everyone else is doing, it means that it's not clear what we are doing and it also sets up a pretty much impossible goal since there is some form of media for virtually any area now. How do we define what we do in a positive, proactive manner? "Appointment listening" is fading away. That is to say that it's harder and harder to serve multiple audiences in isolation. One solution is reaching across communities.
b. What is our product? What do we offer on and off the air? If we are a training center, what does this mean for the millions of people in our listening area? If we are building community, how do we accomplish that?
c. Who are our current listeners? We don't know.
d. Who is our target market? Who would we like to reach, and how?
a. How do we balance the budget? Increasing income or decreasing staff are the two main options.
b. How can our board be involved with fundraising?
a. How can our staff work more effectively, and what is the right level of staffing?
b. All of our staff work hard, but are we doing the right work to accomplish our goals? We want more support and feedback for on-air volunteers, more live remotes, and more fundraising from a staff that is already putting in ten hour days, so what work do we cut in order to take on more?
c. Can we work more efficiently? Rather than cutting staff, can we increase our capacity so that we are raising more money and producing better programming? How much time do we spend outside our departments and when is that work helpful for the team?
d. How do we organize our staff management to work most effectively? How does one manager effectively manage 15 employees and several independent contractors, or how do we change this?
e. We have 15 staff, but only 7 are full time. Is this the best mix? What do we change or eliminate to meet demands for additional fundraising, engineering needs, increased local news coverage, on-air quality control and more?
4. Decision making:
a. How can we be inclusive but more effective? How can we develop clarity in our decision making process? How do we deal with and heal items from the past that still inform board/staff/committee work?
* First item is to complete our current round of program changes.
* We are applying for a Capacity-Building Grant. We'll start by looking at our "product": what we offer, who we offer it to, and why. We will do much deeper survey work and a comprehensive look at what we offer and how we promote it. Finally, we will address issues of fundraising, web capacity, etc.
* In response to NFCB recommendations for improving quality, we have been approved for a $20,000 grant to do one-time training, evaluation and feedback for and with our programmers.
* Finally, addressing issues of budgeting, staffing, and decision making. That's a full plate!
It's interesting being at a community organization where we share these items freely. The NFCB station assessment is posted on our website. Our monthly financials are posted on the hallway bulletin board and coming to the web this year. The other non-comm's (noncommercial radio stations) quite reasonably aren't going to divulge this kind of information. But sharing keeps us close to the community, and ultimately that's what KBOO's about.
We're living in an era where we could realistically expect to see all of our news coming through a "pipe" controlled by Comcast, Clear Channel and a handful of other corporate entities driven by the bottom line. Community radio is part of a healthy ecosystem of news & culture. If nothing else, we keep the other guys honest. More than that though, we bring openness, sharing and camaraderie to our communities, and it is incumbent on each of us to support this effort.
- Arthur W. Davis, Station Manager
1) Excluding CPB Funding which we do not currently qualify for.
2) At a minimum, a $30,000 increase for "hard costs" such as tower rentals and insurance coverage. We also plan to increase advertising and one-time opportunities for training.