From the Archives - "Professionalizing PRNDA - Hiring an Executive Director"

Dec 21, 2018

As seen in the PRNDA Newsletter, July 1991 - Note:  PRNDA was the original name of what is now PRNDI.  In the early 1990s, the A for "Association" was changed to I for "Incorporated."

By Fay Mitchell Henderson, PRNDA Member Services Committee

The Member Services Committee of PRNDA believes it is time to take a major step to professionalize the organization.  Committee chair Peter Iglinski, WSKG, Binghamton, NY; members Maryanne Zeleznik, WNKU, Highland Heights, KY, and Fay Mitchell Henderson, WUNC, Chapel Hill, NC, see three compelling reasons for that recommendation.  They include providing a stronger voice in relations with NPR, APR, CPB and others, helping local news departments improve their operations and keeping news directors up to date with pertinent information.  It may be managing students and interns, controlling conflict in the newsroom, effective coverage of natural disasters, plane crashes, or political elections, or how to maintain integrity and good relations with our licensees. 

It seems inescapable that we need an executive director to compile and coordinate distribution of this information and provide the other services we need to be an effective professional organization.  We have to decide if we really want to do this, and if so, how?  How much will this cost?  Who’s going to pay?

Craig Oliver is executive director of the Public Radio Program Directors Association and is based in Laurel Maryland.  He suggests we get a lawyer to look at the various tax codes, forms of corporations and related matters.  He advises that we remember costs like health insurance, fax machines, computers, telephones, and of course, rents.  He suggests membership dues to PRNDA will have to go up if we want to provide more comprehensive services, and suggests stations should pay memberships, as they do for the PRPD members.  That would not only get more money, but make it more likely that stations would remain members even if individuals fell out.  He suggests we use some system wide formula for determining station dues, such as the Non-Federal Financial Support Formula of market size. 

Kevin Singer is president of the Association of Independents in Radio, based in Philadelphia, although they are incorporated in New York (a convenience for the incorporators).  He advises PRNDA to incorporate and be in the Washington area.  He feels he’s missed some things, even though Philly to DC is a fairly short commute by air or train.  He says you can’t casually drop in on someone and get information or advance your case, but concedes rents in DC can be double other places, and that there are a lot of other agencies competing for dollars there.  He also says a 501C non profit has to stick closed to the constitutions and mission statements with goals benefitting the public at large.  Unlike PRNDA President Tripp Sommer, Singer does not edit his organization’s newsletter.  He’s a part-time law student and says it’s more of an advantage to their organization if someone else frees him up from the newsletter, so they also pay a part-time office person.   He’s in communication with members a lot, and relies on the computer, modem and fax machine.

Where to get the money…Maryanne Zeleznik is working on a rough budget to present at the PRNDA conference.  Fay Mitchell Henderson is looking for funding sources.  Loretta Hobbs says CPB cannot provide seed money for project like this.  She suggests seeking underwriters, advertisers for the organization’s newsletter, maybe equipment suppliers, or a grant from commercial newspapers or humanities organizations.  We plan to begin some initial work with some potential funders, and would be interested in hearing suggestions from you.

What is Public Radio News Directors Association doing for you?  Do you want more than an annual summer conference?  Do you have expertise, skills, or beneficial insights to offer your peers?  Will you be in Atlanta for the Public Radio News Directors Association conference in just a few weeks?  Let’s talk.

See you in Atlanta – or at least send comments to the Member Services Committee if you can’t be there.  For PRNDA, the future is now.

Website Editor’s Note – there were some minor typographical errors in the original article.  Those have been corrected here.