The meeting itself was, as you might expect, not terribly exciting. The board was gathered around a large table made of smaller tables, and there was talk of "financials" and "amortization" and "all in favor say, 'Aye,' " the like. (A couple of interesting notes from the financial discussion, though: Membership revenue was projected to go up by 15 percent, in part due to their new acquisition. And the board projects a net loss of roughly $118,000 due to "not ownership but responsibilities" associated with 91.1 FM.) There was someone taking pictures, and about 15 of us non-board members sitting in chairs at one end of the room. I'm not going to lie: It felt a little weird watching people have a meeting. I'll also admit it was pretty boring, overall. Well, until that one guy started yelling.
Out of the blue, he stood up and shouted, "This meeting is bullshit!" much to the astonishment of everyone in the room. "All you guys care about is money and media consolidation," he continued rather angrily before being interrupted by outgoing board chair Michael Koban, who gave him the requisite warnings about the potential for police involvement, etc. The fellow continued on, calling Koban a "white-haired old man" or something to that effect. All I could make out in the ensuing yell-fest was "bullshit," "media consolidation" and, if my notes serve me right, "bullshit" again. And then the boisterous fellow was escorted out of the building by WPLN VP of finance and technology Carl Pedersen. I asked around during a break in the meeting — the board asked us to leave while they discussed salaries — and no one knew who the shouty lone wolf was.
During that same break, I chatted with some WPLN employees. "How many people usually show up for these meetings?" I asked. "The board," one of them replied, adding, "One time we had one guest, and he wanted a job."
If the name Carl Pedersen sounds familiar, you might remember his appearance in Pete Wilson's account of WRVU's final moments on the FM airwaves: "It appeared I'd only be able to work until 2:30, though — VSC's electronic media adviser Jim Hayes told me that station engineer Carl Pedersen was scheduled to take over the studio for some maintenance then. ... With Hayes standing by, I gathered my things and got out of the studio just as Pedersen arrived. I told Hayes that while I knew the news would be bad, I was curious about the details — for example, I assumed we wouldn't be turning over the station tomorrow. He responded with an embarrassed chuckle."
Speaking of Pete Wilson, the beloved Nashville Jumps DJ spoke up during the (official, non-shouty) public comment portion of the meeting. He told the board that WRVU was "more public than you are" — I believe he used the phrase "radically public" — and as such catered to a much wider audience than Nashville Public Radio's current talk/classical dual axis. He asked the board to consider how it might take on some of WRVU's freewheeling spirit and its inclusion of community DJs. Board chair Koban encouraged Wilson to talk with station president Rob Gordon. "Rob's an open-minded guy," Koban said. "I can't guarantee that we'll make you happy, but we're glad to listen."
After the meeting, board member Sandra Roberts approached Future of Jazz host Chris Nochowicz (who also spoke briefly) about the new WRVU HD signal, and whether college-age listeners were listening to HD radio. "I've had an HD radio for a year," Nochowicz replied. "I've never taken it out of the box. ... HD radio is dead."
A pure coincidence of glitchiness, I'm sure, but as I was driving back to the Scene office, I had WPLN on my car radio. After a promo (for Talk of the Nation, I think), there was suddenly this super-low-pitched, Cookie Monster/demon voice coming out of the radio. At first I couldn't even tell it was a voice, until I finally managed to recognize a few words: "Thhhhhiiiiiiiissssss iiiiisssss Bbbbllllaaaakkkkke Ffffaaaaarrrrrmmmmeerrrrrr ... " It was pretty surreal. I managed to record a snippet before they switched over to a clip of Peter Gabriel's "Steam":
And that's pretty much that. I'm pretty sure the Tennessean had a reporter there, and if I'm not mistaken a WPLN intern interviewed some folks as well, so there might be some coverage of the Most Exciting WPLN Board of Directors Meeting Ever forthcoming.