KRBD’s annual meeting was Sunday, Nov. 15th. We broadcast the meeting live over the air and our board participated via Zoom.
If you missed it, below are written versions of the reports provided during the meeting. Thank you to all of our supporters, and welcome to our new board members, Peter Amylon, Joey Jean Tillson and Jai Mahtani.
President’s Report by Vicki O’Brien:
Many adjectives could be used to describe 2020, some more colorful than others. But when it comes to looking back on 2020 in regards to our community radio station KRBD, the adjective I’m thinking of is somewhat unlikely: encouraging.
I say encouraging because through all of what this year has brought us, I am encouraged by the dedication, support and appreciation the listeners, volunteers and staff have shown this station. I’m encouraged that, though revenue streams have changed significantly this year, the station remains fiscally strong due in large part to frugality and careful planning. With an eye toward the future, we are working to maintain and even expand our financial goals, choosing to work toward growth with the establishment of pseudo-endowment account to provide for future needs of the station. If this year has taught us anything, it is that we need to be prepared for the unexpected.
I’m encouraged that, through innovation and technology, station staff were able to monumentally alter key facets of day-to-day operations virtually overnight, and the quality of both the on-air and web-based products remained excellent. It was no easy task, but we have some mighty creative people at KRBD who put their heads together to figure it out. I want to take this moment to acknowledge and thank our staff – Leila, Maria, Stuart and Eric. The four of you have shown remarkable strength and resilience this year – applying for grants, exploring new avenues for revenue, amending event and fundraising plans even including cancellations of some flagship events such as the annual skiff raffle and the Halloween party, developing and implementing creative solutions to programming challenges, and continuing to bring relevant, current news and information to our listeners and electronic media users.
I’m also encouraged that our community continues to support and value KRBD. The response to both the spring and fall pledge drives was outstanding this year, demonstrating the worth YOU, our listeners, place on this station. It is gratifying and humbling, and we thank you all very much. It is further encouraging that volunteers continue to come forward to host music shows, help with maintenance around the station, assist with events, and serve on the Community Advisory Board and the Board of Directors. It takes the embrace of a community to make a community radio station thrive, and we certainly feel that embrace from the listeners who support this radio station.
Though we are facing challenges unlike ever before, KRBD continues to keep a steady focus on our mission statement: “to inform, engage, enlighten and delight; to make a positive difference in the lives of the people in Southern Southeast Alaska.”
Tribute to Kent Colby (read by Leila Kheiry):
Before we start, we want to give a special mention to Kent Colby, who died Oct, 18 after a battle with cancer. He was a dedicated and passionate member of KRBD’s board. He was a talented radio engineer who provided advice and expertise to this station. We miss him, and send heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.
His wife, Nicole, sent us an obituary that is published on our website, along with some great photos of Kent. Please go read that to get a better idea of who we all lost. I’ll give a summary of that obituary now:
Kent was born Nov. 12, 1944, in Utah. His introduction to journalism started in his youth, when we worked as a paper delivery boy via bicycle with his brother.
Kent’s interest in media remained throughout his life. He was a projectionist at a movie theater in high school; and caught the radio bug early at KSVC AM 930, which he would later purchase and operate.
Kent studied engineering and psychology at Utah State University. His first big adventure came with a job at KBLL-AM/TV in Helena, Montana, which led to a half-century career in broadcasting in Montana, Minnesota, Michigan and back to Utah. Along the way, Kent married Jean Davison. They had three children: Corie, Karie and Lance. Kent and Jean later divorced.
At a city council meeting in 1990, Kent met fellow journalist Nicole Alix Bonham, who would become his partner in crime for the next 30 years. A bicycle adventure from Anchorage to Homer along Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula prompted them to pull up stakes in 1994 and move to a remote island in Alaska’s Panhandle, where they were married.
In 1995, an opportunity to manage commercial radio stations in Ketchikan arose, and Kent and Nicole moved to Alaska’s First City. They hosted a morning show on KTKN/KGTW; and worked for the Ketchikan Daily News, Alaska Business magazine, Alaska Journal of Commerce, and other publications. Another fluke encounter resulted in an opportunity to work in Antarctica, and the two packed their bags for the southern hemisphere, enjoying more than a decade with the U.S. Antarctic Program.
The pair relocated to Denver in 2006, and then in 2012, they moved back “home,” dividing their time between Ketchikan and Utah, where Kent started an orchard and raised bees.
A lifelong volunteer and community promoter, Kent served as a board member of KRBD community radio in Ketchikan, Historic Ketchikan, and First City Council on Cancer.
The family is planning a celebration of life in Utah and in Ketchikan at a later date.
Silence is generally frowned upon in radio, but we’re going to have a moment of silence now in honor of Kent.
CoastAlaska report by Janice Walker:
Brief over view about Coast Alaska: It is a separate non-profit that operates as the administrative department for member stations. It was formed in the late 1980’s. It currently includes the 5 original statements and a station in Unalaska.
There were several big items during the fiscal year ended June 30, 2020.
One of these was that KTOO TV (Juneau’s public radio and television station) split off into its own corporation. The governing compact of CoastAlaska did not include the operating results of KTOO-TV so it won’t have a major impact on the operations of CoastAlaska. CoastAlaska does to the administrative duties for KTOO-TV on a fee for services basis.
Another big item is the merger with Alaska Public Broadcasting, Inc. (APBI). The merger is still in motion but we are starting to work out the fine points and hope to have it completed by June 30, 2020. APBI provides state wide radio engineering services, manage the health insurance trust for the public radio stations in Alaska, handles the group buy for programming from NPR and other national sources, and manages the ARCS satellites. The ARCS are state property but the state has not been interesting in funding the satellites.
A third big item in Fiscal Year 2020 was COVID-19 and its effects on the member stations. With the restrictions from COVID-19 mandates and guidelines, the member stations were not able to hold their raffles, dances, and other fund raising events. The membership drives have been successful, which has helped with the funding deficit. CoastAlaska received PPE money from the CARES Act for payroll and occupancy costs. The amount received is still included as a loan on CoastAlaska’s books because it hasn’t been formally converted to a grant. The expenses incurred have been properly documented and are eligible so it is anticipated that it will be converted to a grant. If that happens, there will be work with the station managers to figure out how to divide the money – or keep it at CoastAlaska in the savings account. There was another unexpected source of revenue related to COVID-19. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting disbursed COVID related funding to CoastAlaska, who then divided it among the member stations. The money can be held to cover future expenses and each station is able to determine how they will spend the money.
General Manager’s Report by Leila Kheiry:
The theme of my General Manager’s report this year is – Stay calm and carry on.
FY20 ran from July 2019 through the end of this past June, and it started out pretty well for KRBD. Our summer and fall 2019 fundraising was excellent, with a record number of skiff raffle tickets sold, and an amazing response to our fall and December pledge drives. Thanks to our generous local supporters, we were on track to end the year in the black despite that big, scary cut in state funding. But as you all know, COVID hit Ketchikan in March. That was right before our big spring pledge drive, and other fundraising events.
We went into lockdown mode here at the station, told volunteer DJs to stay home, had two of our four staff members work from home, and used conference calls for much of our communications. We later switched to Zoom, which is a much better audio quality for broadcast.
March and April were particularly rough. Reporter Eric Stone was working 100-percent from home, reporting news stories and recording news casts remotely, and putting in massive overtime to keep the community informed about local pandemic response efforts. Maria Dudzak and I, but mostly Maria, recorded countless hours of music to fill in for all the volunteer shows. Some volunteer DJs eventually learned to record shows remotely and send them to us, which was helpful.
And, like everyone, we figured out ways to adapt to this new reality. When pandemic concerns calmed down a bit locally, Eric and I returned to the office and we carefully started letting DJs return to their beloved shows. Some creative thinking and the magic of Zoom allowed us to have a Live Day like no other in the history of KRBD.
We also cooperated with other groups in Ketchikan to help them reach out to the community and fulfill their missions in different ways. For a couple months, teachers recorded stories, poems and messages to students, which we compiled into a semi-regular radio program. We aired First City Players’ live radio-theater-style performance of The Importance of Being Earnest. And we had our spring pledge drive, which ended with us exceeding our goal for membership donations.
That support from the community and a small grant from Ketchikan Community Foundation allowed KRBD to end FY20 ever so slightly in the black, despite the pandemic.
FY21 started on July 1st. When we were drafting the FY21 budget two months prior to the start of that fiscal year, we guessed – correctly – that the Fourth of July parade would be canceled. That and the inability to set up sales tables at local stores meant our annual skiff raffle would have to be canceled as well. That’s a major fundraiser for KRBD, so it was not an easy decision to make. But, federal COVID relief funding specifically for public media made up for that revenue loss, and we could absorb it without making cuts that would seriously affect our service to the community.
The budget was based on a lot of guesses and hopes. One hope was that the pandemic would calm down and we could have an event or two this fall. That’s not really panning out, but again COVID relief is coming to our rescue. The Ketchikan Gateway Borough, Alaska Community Foundation, City of Craig and City of Ketchikan all provided relief funds to KRBD so we can continue our vital services to the communities we serve. We are grateful for these funds that will help us make it through such challenging times!
Individual community members also stepped up and showed their appreciation for KRBD. Our recent fall membership drive was a huge success, and we have only a few thousand dollars to go to hit the fall campaign goal for membership donations. That fall campaign ends on Dec. 31st.
We are optimistic that things will improve, but we’re making rather pessimistic plans when it comes to our budget. We are applying for grants wherever we can, and keeping a check on spending. We are a radio station, though and up-to-date technology is key to our operations. We need to maintain, and sometimes replace equipment to continue providing the service. In late summer, for example, we had some expensive but critical maintenance performed on our transmission tower; and we’re in the process of replacing some outdated computers and other equipment. I want to get that accomplished this fiscal year, so we can head into FY22 with what we need to keep doing what we do best.
Like many of you, I’m looking forward to the end of 2020, and a fresh start in 2021.
Meeting minutes from previous annual meeting of November 2019:
KRBD Board of Directors ANNUAL MEETING
Sunday, November 17, 2019, 5:00 pm (On-Air)
KRBD Studio/Broadcast Room
Present: Kim Simpson, Gene O’Brien, Vicki O’Brien, Janice Walker, Glenn Brown, Mike Gates, Gail Slentz, (telephonic); Staff: Stuart Whyte, Development Director; Guests: Bob Kern, Lois Kern, Hunter Davis, Deb Davis.
5:01 PM – Vicki called meeting to order.
Approval of Agenda – M/S to approve: Gene/Mike. All in favor.
Approval of Minutes of Previous Annual Meeting – M/S to approve: Janice/Glenn. All in favor.
Introductions: The board members in attendance introduced themselves, and shared their interests in and motivations for serving KRBD.
President’s Report: Vicki presented her report. She explained that 2019 was a year of transition for the station. She shared the mission statement of KRBD to “inform, engage, enlighten and delight” the people of Southern Southeast Alaska. Vicki explained that the board is a working board, actively engaged in a range of activities including raffle sales and other fundraising, providing food and other support during on-air pledge, performing maintenance around the station, staging and hosting public events, and providing some technical assistance. Vicki reviewed the impact to the station of the FY2020 state budget cycle, including a loss of $76,000 in funding. Some of this funding loss (nearly half) was offset by CoastAlaska, but that help was a one-time benefit. Future cuts will require that KRBD shoulder the entirety of the impacts. Vicki reviewed the ongoing priorities of the board which include increasing revenue, expanding partnerships to increase and expand content and community involvement, and inviting more diversity in programming content and membership representation.
Vicki identified the board’s 2019 imperatives as having been absorbing the state funding losses and hiring a new general manager upon the retirement of Deb Turnbull. On the hiring front, with the assistance of human resources staff at CoastAlaska, a nationwide search was conducted and garnered interested candidates from as far away as Florida and Texas. In the end, the best fit in the board’s view was one of our own, former newsie and existing News Director, Leila Kheiry. Leila was offered and accepted the position in June, 2019.
On the issue of fundraising and budget priorities, Vicki provided a status of the 2019 fundraisers. She shared that the spring and fall pledge drives both exceeded expectations with existing donors upping their contributions and membership renewals being accompanied by supplemental donations. Vicki attributed the encouraging response from members to the frankness of the board and management in explaining the true impact of the state budget cuts. This candor, delivered with pluck and a ‘can-do’ spirit, set the tone that there were obstacles to be overcome, and that all was not lost.
Lastly, Vicki highlighted the start of a second annual year-end 50/50 raffle, as well as several other initiatives that were commenced in 2019 and served to further aid the balance sheet, namely the ‘cruise with Marian Call” fundraiser, and a collaborative deal struck with the Alaska’s Energy Desk.
Coast Alaska Report: Janice Walker, KRBD and CoastAlaska board member presented the CoastAlaska report to the board and membership. Janice’s written comments are attached hereto as presented.
Janice’s comments began with a review of the role and function of CoastAlaska in assisting five stations in Southeast Alaska (and one station in Dutch Habor joining as a full member this year) with financial management, engineering and grant reporting support.
Janice provided updates on new signals being added recently in Juneau, and a review of the financial impact of the state budget cuts to the six member stations of CoastAlaska. She further explained efforts that CoastAlaska had commenced years ago to generate additional sources of revenue. These activities include providing ‘ala carte’ support services to non-members stations including administrative support in membership, underwriting, accounting and grant reporting. Janice further reviewed CoastAlaska’s role in buying the license for and keeping KSTK in Wrangell operational when in FY18, they faced an existential threat due to more stringent federal grant requirements. As a result, the station remains on the air through the work of existing KSTK staff and advisory board.
Lastly, Janice explained an ongoing transition underway between CoastAlaska and Alaska Public Broadcasting, Inc. (APBI) wherein the two entities will merge. The entities’ joint activities, first commenced in 2017, began as a group buy of health insurance for the benefit of public radio stations. At present, the executive director of CoastAlaska simultaneously serves as the executive director of APBI, and the final completion of the entity merger is anticipated to be by June 30, 2020.
Manager’s Report: The manager’s report was provided in audio format with comprehensive contributions by several staff members including Deb Turnbull, Maria Dudzak, Leila Kheiry, and Eric Stone. The content included a 2019 year-in-review operational update with emphasis on points similarly addressed in the President’s report to include staffing changes, budget woes, and emerging causes for fundraising euphoria. The staff highlighted potential changes in federal funding due, in part, to the level of federal funding being pegged to the level of non-federal funding. The tone was sober regarding financial challenges ahead, but with hopes buoyed by the enhanced financial commitment shown by station membership and the community at large.
Open Floor for Public Comment: None.
Adjournment: M/S to approve: Glenn/Gene. All in favor, at a precise moment unknown to the Board Secretary.
Glenn Brown, Secretary