Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Former Board Member's Confession--No Diversity On The Board, And I Put Up With It!

Another reason I resigned (there are four main reasons), is that there was and is no diversity on the Colorado Public Radio Board of Directors. I put up with it for four years, and I am embarrassed by that. When I joined the board of Colorado Public Radio four years ago, there was one Hispanic on the board. He left or his term was up, after attending one or two meetings.

In the four years I served on the Board, there were no other Hispanics, no African-Americans, no Asians, no Native Americans. I think that is appalling in this day and age. The size of the board had been increased several times--finally to 27 total members. A year go, 24 of those slots were filled, but still no individuals of color served on the Board. The Board is now down to 11 members, but that was really Management's plan all along, to reduce it to 9 people who could give or get $25,000

The President of Colorado Public Radio, Max Wycisk, will not even let the Committees meet (Nominating Committee, Development Committee, and Programming Committee), unless he can also attend. No wonder not much new radio content gets created at (micro-managed) CPR MEETINGS. Even after the Nominating Committee "suggests" candidates, the CPR President has to meet with them personally to make sure they pass muster. Of course, none of the folks of color, or even the younger candidates, make the cut. So now you understand why there are no people of color on the Board, and why I am really annoyed with myself--that I put up with it. My friends (and enemies) will tell you, I am not usually that easy on this subject.

And then those pesky "draft" governance rules came out in June 2007. The Chair of the CPR Board, Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Vice Chair, Virginia Berkeley of Colorado Business Bank, wrote that they had "spent a lot of time working them" with Mr. Bill Charney of Charney Associates. These draft rules included provisions that the board be reduced to 9 Members (Now I understand why we were not filling vacancies), and that a prerequisite for service on the Board was to give $25,000 yourself or get $25,000 from your rich friends. I thought this fundamentally took the public out of public radio, and turned it into rich people's radio. I never thought that if you decided to become a teacher, a policeman, a civic servant, that your opinion should not count. I also I thought it insulted good people serving on the Board who simply could not give $25,000, so I sent a fiery letter of resignation to the Board. However, I did attend the June board meeting to explain why I was so furious and why I thought the organization was in serious need of intervention by its major donors. Some of the good folks on the Board moved to withdraw these draft rules, and the motion passed. I have been told that my "methods" in going to Westword were questionable and that CPR needs to "move forward," but I am still a bit suspicious about what is going on over there, so I plan to keep track of CPR Management, Officers, and the Board.

I hope you will help me do that by attending the next Colorado Public Radio Board Meeting in September 2007* where they (not you) will discuss their plan to go to HD Radio in Vail, Colorado. The CPR Board was also going to vote on that in June 2007, since Management had already bought the equipment and begun the conversion, but I put up another stink (we trial lawyers do know how to stand up to argue for what is right), and they tabled discussion on the conversion until September 2007.

You will want to hear about the HD Radio plan, because it will cost you! And if you do not have $200 to spend on a new HD Radio, you are not going to get both classical music (KVOD) and news (KCFR), if they proceed with Management's plan. What will you hear on your drive time in the car? I guess you will have to buy another HD radio and install it in your car, but we can discuss that later.

*By the way, this is not an actual public session, as Colorado Public Radio only holds two sessions per year open to "the public."

A New Mission Statement for Colorado Public Radio--yet another reason I resigned.

One of the things that Mr. Bill Charney, CEO of Charney Associates, "helped" the Colorado Public Radio Board do was to come up with a new Mission Statement. Here is the current one:

"The mission of Colorado Public Radio is to create and distribute public radio programming for the people of Colorado, to be an educational and cultural resource for our audiences, and to reflect the ideas and concerns of listeners throughout the state."

I thought this original mission statement was pretty good. It was a bit long, but said the mission was to "create and distribute public radio programming." Of course, CPR has not done much of the creation part and does not seem to have a plan to create content. How can you when you spend thousands of dollars and six months of times in "governance" that is so bad it is withdrawn.

Mr. Bill Charney, for I assume thousands of your dollars, helped the board develop this proposed new mission statement. It is so long, I do not quite know what it means. I think nothing. But isn't that what happens when you use the passive voice and use three quarters of a page to say what the old mission statement said in a few lines?

If I remember my Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E. B. White, the passive voice is rarely a good idea. How do you like "is made available" rather than "create?" You should be interested in knowing that management and the officers of Colorado Public Radio and Mr. Bill Charney "requested" that each Board Member fill out a questionnaire (it took about thirty minutes for the 16 or so on the Board to complete). We then spent a whole evening discussing it and another whole day, and this new mission statement is what we got.

But there is more. Wait till I tell you about the "draft" Governance Rules for the Board. I do not think in the pages and pages, the draft rules used the term "fiduciary duty" at all! Nor did they mention a responsbility of the board as being wise stewards of the resources of CPR. These rules, which were withdrawn in June 2007 after I raised a stink, were (in my opinion), created to give CPR Management close to unfettered control, and to keep the Board busy with process, and to distract us from the fact that Colorado Public Radio was creating very little new radio content.

"Why I Resigned," by Frances Koncilja.

I love public radio! Of all of the boards and committees on which I was asked to serve, the Board of Colorado Public Radio excited me the most. In fact, I was so excited, I made a commitment to contribute $75,000 to CPR ($62,500 of the pledge is paid.) But after four years of service, it was clear to me that current management cannot deliver local news or local culture, even though the Board committed $500,000 a year to the "KCFR News Initiative."

That resolution was adopted on June 22,2005. So, where is KCFR over two years later? Is there much new content besides promotions about new content? Is there new content during the morning and evening drive times? No. Just recycled pieces of Colorado Matters, the weather, and some "rip-and-read" from the Associated Press wire service. I do not think such a paltry bit of content is worth the expenditure. And, I do not think that current management is using donors' dollars responsibly.

Rather than deal with these problems, and a couple of others, board and management (President and Ex-Offico member of the Board Max Wysick, Board Chair Barry Curtriss-Lusher, Vice Chairs Virginia Berkeley of Colorado Business Bank, and Ron Cooper) decided to embark on a board governance process. I am a lawyer, and I love process as much as anyone, but only if it has a purpose. Even though we spent thousands of dollars on a consultant (Bill Charney of Charney Associates), they would not tell me how much; and even though the Board spent hours upon hours on the process, the result was such a debacle that it was withdrawn in June 2007 (I will give you more details on that later).

As my friend Judge Monroe McKay, former Chief Judge of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals used to say, "Just because they put honey and butter on a horse biscuit, does not mean you have to eat it." I got tired of being forced to eat the horse biscuits, so I decided to go public to let you know what is going on, and to give support to the current Board Members who have reservations about all of this.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Radio is Next to Get Disrupted.

This commentary in Current.Org, by Jim Paluzzi of Colorado Public Radio, is well done. Of course it also begs the question, "Why hasn't Colorado Public Radio developed any new or compelling news programming since the beginning of the Colorado Public Radio News Initiative?" Also {temporally speaking}, how long can a 'News Initiative' really last before it becomes a 'News Process?' Just wondering . . .

Has KCFR "[d]evelop a strategy for innovative programming that recognizes that 'local radio' means something new in the Internet-connected world?" If KCFR has developed a strategy for "local programming," what is the actual product? Is more "inserting of local headlines and weather and traffic reports or covering a segment of Morning Edition [or any other NPR show for that matter] with a locally produced package" really all that KCFR News can do, while simultaneously promoting the "filler" with more frequency?

Has KCFR News actually "[thought] about making radio that will compel new audiences to listen?" If KCFR has thought about it, what about their actual broadcasts are "new or compelling?" The Public Insight Network (PIN)? Is this "Network" really going to provide, discover, or reveal innovative content for new listeners? For younger listeners? If so, how so?

From the actual sound of Colorado Public Radio's news broadcasts, it seems like the Vice President of New Media & Technology (Jim Paluzzi) should leave a copy of his very coherent article under the door of the Vice President of Programming (Sean Nethery). Maybe then he'd learn something about what the programming department needs to do on the content side. Or perhaps, Colorado Public Radio should just realize some further "back-office efficiencies" by getting rid of the bureaucratic fat. Which Vice President would you cut? It seems obvious to me. Oink!

KUVO Looking for New President/CEO.

Denver, Colorado.

Denver Educational Broadcasting Inc. seeks a President and CEO to oversee the operations and activities of 89.3 KUVO, a not-for-profit public radio station broadcasting from Denver, Colorado, and one of the nation’s foremost jazz stations.

The President will report to the KUVO Board of Directors and be directly or indirectly responsible for all station operations. The President plans the yearly budget and manages it to ensure that the station’s financial goals are met. An important objective for the position will be to increase fundraising by the station. Together with the Board of Directors, the President will be responsible for developing a strategic plan for KUVO.

Candidates must have at least a bachelor’s degree (or experience equivalency), preferably in communications or a related discipline, and at least 5 years’ experience in public radio broadcasting. The position will require strong management experience and communication skills. A demonstrated understanding of the broadcasting needs of a multicultural listener base and community is essential. Salary will be commensurate with experience.

Denver Educational Broadcasting Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Please send a hard copy of your resume to: KUVO President Search, c/o Prime Plus LLC, 426 Pearl Street, Suite 207, Boulder, CO 80302.

Frances Koncilja Joins "Colorado Public Radio Blog."

Please welcome attorney Frances Koncilja, former Board Member of Colorado Public Radio, to the Colorado Public Radio Blog and learn what astute insights she has about public radio in Denver and throughout Colorado. Besides CPR Governance Under Fire in public broadcasting's trade magazine, Current.Org, find out what else she has to say by checking back soon for her pithy posts and critical comments about our valuable community resource--public radio.

Dan Drayer to Guest Host "Colorado Inside Out."

Dan Drayer, former Host & Executive Producer for KCFR's Colorado Matters, will be guest hosting Colorado Inside Out on July 20th at 8:00 PM. Please join him on Rocky Mountain PBS (KBDI Channel 12, in Denver), with with panelists Patricia Calhoun, David Koppel (Craig Silverman sitting in for David), and Dani Newsum, as this past public radio voice shows Colorado his current public television face. Who knows, maybe you will learn something about public affairs in the process!

Recent Public Radio Press.

"This little radio voyage has made me recommit to varying my news diet whenever possible. It's the best way to stay informed and open-minded. And it's entertaining. --Jason Salzman, President of Cause Communications and Board Chairman of Rocky Mountain Media Watch, is the Author of Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits.

"This is the closest that radio comes to cataract surgery." --Jim Paluzzi, Vice President of New Media & Technology at Colorado Public Radio.

Local Stations Taking a Look at Online Classified Sites

"Local, Local, Local," --Joanne Ostrow, Denver Post TV Critic.