Embattled Radio Station Rallies The Troops

https://www.flickr.com/photos/isfullofcrap/26242797539/in/photolist-K6W7ou-Kks9C-RBYQXq-7YPmoR-7zgLXa-9fqFFa-FYZcqx-ek6hBV-KnKwWU-98EyR8-vLg9Mc-KuauXW-P3VkWe-EqgrZB-NWqi5g-Kuav7d-NWqp2B-NtQQos-NWqrDR-NWrNiV-NL7T39-MYCWRQ-NtRvzy-MYDhQh-NTeDHw-NL7vhL-NNCnRF-MYjfW4-NtSjYw-MYCZcm-NL6rnd-MYCKJQ-NtQN5E-MYCEGL-NtRhRY-MYDx59-NND6Xz-NNDnoK-NTeiV5-NNC3gP-MYCTL1-NL7pMs-NtRxgj-MYje9B-26tezJJ-MYk5ot-NL73E7-NtQGRy-NWqQrV-MYBVEJ

pic: R Crap Mariner

LGBTI radio station Joy 94.9 faces strong headwinds as it begins its annual fundraiser, with key staff resigning, long-time presenters pushed out, morale plummeting, and downloads on the slide. Updated 21st March.

Every year Joy runs a “Radiothon”, usually with big prizes like holidays and cars, if you renew your annual membership and/or make a donations. The Radiothon generates around one third of the station’s entire annual income, so it’s crucial to get it right.

This year the station has set itself a massive target of $350,000, but that’s not the only reason it faces an uphill struggle this year. Volunteers currently working at the station claim morale is at rock bottom, management is struggling to find enough experienced on air talent to fill the rosters. And in the last few weeks, three paid staff members have resigned.

Staff Walk Away

Operations Manager Josh Pearson, Production Manager Jason Gipps and Volunteer Coordinator Alice Berkeley have all resigned. These are crucial roles within the organisation.

The Operations Manager is responsible for the day to day running of the support functions. They have accountability for all aspects of the management of our volunteer program as well as all facilities and support services provided for the station.

The Production Manager provides creative and effective production services, producing and coordinating station promotions, sponsorship announcements, community service announcements. They also manage the production of the podcasts.

The Volunteer Co-ordinator is responsible for managing and developing the volunteer program, rostering and co-ordinating shifts (detailed job descriptions are at the end of this post).

Posts on social media by a current volunteer suggested that these departures had no connection with the current turmoil at the station. Instead it was claimed that the departures were due to illness and other personal issues.

The stirrer has confirmed that Pearson is not ill, and Gipp’s departure is, in his own words, ‘not due to any external issues’, but that he is tired and needs a rest. At the time of writing no information has come to hand regarding Berkeley’s reasons for departure, which she has reportedly asked volunteers to keep private.

To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, to lose one manager in a month may be regarded as misfortune, to lose two looks very much like carelessness, but losing three strongly suggests some deeper malaise.

Critics Silenced

Sources have confirmed to the stirrer that the station is attempting to shut down critical comment on social media. Leaders of LGBTI bodies have been receiving angry calls from a Joy director demanding they have criticism coming from people connected with their organisations removed from Facebook and twitter.

One such critic told the stirrer that their Chair responded by telling Joy that people were free to say whatever they liked in their capacity as private citizens, exercising their freedom of speech.

Presenters Dumped

A large number of popular station presenters say they have been forced out of the station in recent times, as the stirrer has been reporting. A group calling themselves Save Joy is attempting to collect enough signatures to force a Special General Meeting, with the aim of holding the board and management to account.

To date they have fallen short. Many volunteers and members who agree with their aims say they dare not support Save Joy publicly, for fear of retaliation. A few signatories have even been persuaded or coerced to withdraw their signatures, lending credence to the argument that all is not well at the station (see below for previous posts).

As I wrote in Sunlight is a Great Disinfectant, a community radio station depends utterly on nurturing, growing and maintaining a first class roster of producers, researchers and presenters. All the rest is a support mechanism… A station so adept as Joy at driving away passionate, intelligent and committed people is clearly a toxic workplace (more post on this topic are listed below).

Podcasts A Measure of Station Health

Management rightly trumpets the large number of podcasts as evidence of strong community engagement with the station. But a closer look at Joy’s own statistics paints a less than rosy picture.

As Program Manager Chris Tait  said on Saturday Magazine May 5, and in the radio trade press, podcasts are essential. Joy cannot afford to remain a little local FM station with a sub-metro licence: it needs to reach out above and beyond to the rest of the country and even the world.

A proposition with which I think we can all agree. Joy’s very restricted broadcast licence means it currently services most those who need it least: inner city Melbourne LGBTI folk living in relatively benign circumstances, working for relatively open-minded employers, renting from relatively unprejudiced landlords, among largely accepting neighbours. For us, it’s a ‘nice to have’, but for others, it’s crucial.

The crying need is to connect rural and regional LGBTI folk outside the cities and major towns, where the environment is likely to be much more hostile, to one another and the wider LGBTI community. These potential listeners are far more likely to access Joy via the internet, either live streaming, or downloading podcasts.

As Tait pointed out to radioinfo.com, during the marriage equality vote podcast downloads reached 77,000 per month, a pretty healthy figure. When Joy produces relevant, engaging content not available elsewhere, people devour it hungrily.

August 2017
“Combined with the fact that JOYs podcast downloads have doubled since the beginning of the year (to 77,000 a month), online listenership is at an all-time high, which suggests that JOY is not just on the up and up, but is spreading its reach wider.” Program Manager Chris Tait

But the station has been unable to sustain that growth. It proved to be a temporary ‘blip’ in the statistics. The long term trend tells a very different story.

Here are the podcast download figures for one year ago, showing a total of 48,684.

Station email to presenters

Most downloaded at 3,680 was Word for Word, presented by longtime volunteer Dean Beck.

(Earlier this year Beck was removed from on air presenting and told to take a six month break, during which time he would not be allowed access to station premises)

Now take a look at the stats one year later.

Station email to presenters

Word for Word (without Beck) dropped from 3,680 to 772 downloads. His other former show, Hide and Seek, dropped from 2,116 to 1,504. 

Total downloads dropped to 36,227, a fall of more than 25% year on year, to only 16% of the peak achieved during the marriage equality vote. These are very worrying statistics, not least for the sponsorship sales team, who must persuade businesses to buy slots on the station. These are not the signs of a healthy radio station.

High levels of downloads mean high levels of audience engagement. Low levels mean the station is failing to produce the kind of content they want and need. Joy is no longer ‘spreading it’s reach wider’, but shrinking back to its core territory. Save Joy is concerned to arrest and reverse this decline.

Rallying The Troops

Clearly this is not lost on CEO Tennille Moisel. In an attempt to gee up the troops and restore morale, she has called a Town Hall Meeting of all Joy volunteers for this Wednesday, May 23.

She says, “While attendance is not compulsory we do hope that you will take the opportunity to come along and hear about how JOY is performing.”

We hope so too. We also hope that an accurate picture is presented of the extremely tough situation the station now finds itself, entirely of its own making, and how those who got it into this mess propose to get it out.

It should be an interesting evening. Sadly, as I am no longer a member or volunteer, I will not be able to attend, but recollections (or even better, recordings) of the proceedings would be welcome, should you feel inclined to send them along.

Doug

Disclosure

As a former long time volunteer and presenter, I can attest that this toxic culture has existed to a greater or lesser degree since I first walked through the station’s doors in 2002. It has from time to time been beaten back, but never entirely rooted out, and is now flourishing once again. However, for many years many of us have kept silence for fear of damaging the station, just as many are doing now. In hindsight, this was a bad mistake for which I, for one, am very sorry. Please don’t repeat it.

Further Disclosure

A Joy Director contacted the stirrer prior to the publication of this post, claiming the stirrer had misrepresented the situation and published statements which they claimed were untrue. the stirrer offered them the opportunity to post a refutation, which they declined. They asked if we could instead have an unquotable off the record discussion, which the stirrer declined, inviting them instead to be interviewed on the record. This invitation was also declined. The director was told that the invitation would remain open, but to date no further contact has been made..

_________________________________________________________________________

EMail from Joy CEO

From: Tennille Moisel <Tennille.Moisel@joy.org.au>

Date: 16 May 2018 at 9:48:04 pm AEST

To: volunteersteam <volunteersteam@joy.org.au>

Subject: Invitation – JOY Town Hall Meeting

On behalf of JOY President Melinda Rich and the entire board, I invite you to our first Town Hall meeting for volunteers. Volunteers are critical to our success as an organisation and as a media entity and we want to make sure you have the information you need to help us achieve the strategic objectives we have developed.

We will be scheduling these meetings at least every 6 months to provide JOY’s volunteers with updates on how we are tracking against our strategy plan and to also provide an opportunity for volunteers to ask questions about our progress.

The Town Hall meetings are being established to increase our communication across the organisation and to ensure that we are all aligned with JOYs goals, challenges and achievements.

In attendance for the 23rd of May will be JOY’s President Melinda Rich, board members Ian Graystone, Andrew Thorp, Andy McNamara, Marcus King and Jane Smith as well as JOY CEO Tennille Moisel. While attendance is not compulsory we do hope that you will take the opportunity to come along and hear about how JOY is performing.

Please RSVP to this event to help us ensure we have enough space by registering here. I look forward to seeing you there.

regards,

Tennille Moisel Chief Executive Officer

 

___________________________________________________________________________

Stirrer Coverage

Rescuing Joy

Sunlight is a Great Disinfectant

A radio station depends utterly on nurturing, growing and maintaining a first class roster of producers, researchers and presenters. All the rest is a support mechanism for what they do, which is inform and enlighten the LGBTI community. A station so adept as Joy at driving away passionate, intelligent and committed people, is clearly a sick place.

Truth & Justice for Joy

Sign Now to Save Joy

Everyone Deserves Respect

Let’s End The Unfairness

I know personally a number of people who have been affected at the station in the way that’s outlined in the letter calling for an SGM. I have heard their reasoned side of the story and in my view the characterisation presented in the board’s recent response is not a fair representation of their plight.

For example, the board has asserted that there is no will, on the part of the aggrieved volunteers, to resolve the issues that have brought this situation to a head. I’d consider this is an unfair characterisation of what I understand to have been a drawn-out, frustrated process that has not been handled with the veracity it deserves.

The depiction that bullying behaviour by management as just mistaken respectful / professional direction, also seems to me an unfair characterisation.

Letter to Joy President

The groundswell of a lack of confidence in the CEO by volunteers has been around for all that time, if not longer. Her management style and techniques are ones used in a call centre, not a volunteer and membership-based organisation. Some of those volunteers you mention as a small group have described the environment in which they give their time willingly, as a toxic space since her appointment.

Voices of Joy

The station was no longer a place or culture I recognised. I was placed in a position where ‘my’ product wasn’t being supported and we were sounding worse and worse and no one cared enough to fix that. After 8 years I no longer have the patience ‘to wait out’ another cultural shift that may or may not occur.  So I decided that I should leave now and at least be able to do it on my own terms

Joy in Deep Denial

Joy Founder Resigns, Calls for Independent Enquiry

________________________________________________________________________

Paid Staff Job Descriptions

The Operations Manager is responsible for the day to day running of the support functions within the organisation. They have accountability for all aspects of the management of our volunteer program as well as all facilities and support services provided for the station. https://www.seek.com.au/job/36235817

Key Responsibilities include:

Manage our end to end volunteer program

Oversee the delivery of all support services including IT, Facilities and Systems

Lead support team to ensure day to day station operations

Consult with Program Director, Production Manager, Sales team and CEO to determine requirements

Develop and maintain key policies that support our culture and purpose

Champion OH&S policies and standards for the station

Oversee special projects as required

The Production Manager has overall responsibility for:  https://www.seek.com.au/job/36247052

Providing creative and effective production services that fits the station formats and comply with the Broadcasting Act and the CBAA Code of Practice

Directing and mentoring the production team

Assisting to achieve and maintain the JOY Melbourne purpose, values and mission

Head JOY’s corporate podcasting services and future production ventures

Responsibilities include:

Providing creative and effective production services to ensure a seamless on-air sound that fits station formats and comply with the Broadcasting Act and the CBAA Code of Practice under the direction of the, Program Director

Ability to multitask and coordinate the production of various services, from station promotion, sponsorships, CSA’s and podcast production

Maintaining a close working relationship with Sponsorship Account Managers, Operations Manager, Volunteer Coordinator and other functional managers to achieve creative and effective production outcomes

Manage, coordinate, and monitor all audio production activities

Manage, coordinate, and monitor all traffic management activities

Maintenance and record keeping of all forms of production media and sound library

Monitor all produced and live-read on-air scripts to ensure fit to station formats

Act as mentor to production (and when required presentation) team, including – training, consultation, advice, provision of feedback, effective flow of communication, and performance management

Briefing the Volunteer Coordinator to source volunteers with specialist skills (as required)

The Volunteer Coordinator is responsible for managing and developing the volunteer program and has broad accountability for human resource management tasks as they relate to the overall volunteer program and to maintain JOY’s purpose, values and mission. https://joy.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Volunteer-Coordinator-Ad-August-2016.pdf?5425fd

KEY SELECTION CRITERIA:

 strong computer literacy

 ability to roster and coordinate shifts

 excellent interpersonal skills

 experience working with volunteers

 ability to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds

 empathy, sensitivity and understanding of the GLBTI community and the values of JOY 94.9

 good understanding of community radio

 good working knowledge of the Station policy and procedures and Constitution

Responsible for managing and developing the volunteer program, with broad accountability for human resources tasks as they relate to overall volunteer management.

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)