Network Proposal: Governance and Management

This proposal represents an initial attempt to create a framework for development of the Northwest Community Radio Network Structure including how the Network will be governed and managed.

Rationale: In order for a centralized network of community, college, LPFM and non-commercial, non-religious radio stations to become a functional entity, this entity must define its core operational functions. Decisions made with regard to values, ethics, governance and management need to be guided by a collective vision. Processes need to be formulated for effective communication and facilitation of network members needs.

The idea of a network of this kind is not new. Much work has been done in recent history to move the revival of this idea into real practice by community radio stations in the Pacific Northwest region. In May of 2005, community radio activists, representing radio station volunteers, staff and independent producers met in Bellingham, Washington where the nucleus of this idea took form. A survey of participants overwhelmingly revealed that folks in the Pacific NW wanted an opportunity to do the following:
* Share News and music Content
* Share Skills
* Collaborate in a easy and effective manner

Perhaps the reason that earlier attempts did not yield the best results is because there was no ongoing facilitation of network “maintenance”- communication and facilitation of the network participants needs on an ongoing basis.

This proposal attempts to build a system wherein all participants of the network have a clearing-house model of participation-where information and opportunity is routed throughout the network.

This model engages regular communication with network participants and the ongoing development of mentor opportunities, peer-to-peer skill sharing and regional convening opportunities which allow participants to engage in the network as fully as possible. Additionally, the network provides for the development of regional ‘power of the collective’ to build true media democracy through the use of radio.

Proposal:
The NWCommunity Radio Network will be organized as a voluntary network of community and college radio stations and web radio stations based in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia, sharing common values and resources.

Network organizing will begin with two phases: an Organizing phase in which initial participants work to develop network structures, governance and management systems; and an Operational phase. A steering committee of participating station representatives shall be the basic decisionmaking body during both phases, and a part-time network coordinator position shall be created to help move network organizing forward, and to assist with station/volunteer recruiment.

Membership:
The basic membership of the network will be partcipating community and college radio stations in Northwest states and provinces, including unlicensed stations and Internet broadcasters. This definition is intended to excludecollege stations, religious stations, and large NPR affiliates more inclined to identify as "public radio" rather than "community radio." Network affiliation may also require the following, if decided by the network: endorsement of a common vision/values statement; financial contribution to network operations; participation in network campaigns or initiatives.

Another category of network affiliation will cover independent, non-station-affiliated organizations or producers who generate content distributed to network stations. These producer members will not have a "vote" in network governance and will not be asked to pay dues. The steering committee will set requirements for affiliation, which may include endorsement of a common vision/values statement, and including network IDs in recorded content.

Organizing Phase: Building our vision, governance and operational structures

A Steering Committee of station representatives will identify themselves during and/or following the Seattle summit. Steering committee membership will be open to any station expressing interest in participating and meeting any membership requirements as outlined above.

The steering committee will meet monthly (via conference calls or other methods) to continue network development work, including but not limited to:
* overseeing the implementation of content-sharing mechanisms, network promotional literature etc.
* creating a long-term governance policy that reflects the vision and values and other policy decisions made at the Seattle summit
* continuing to work on network proposals and work plans discussed at the Seattle summit
* overseeing the work of the network coordinator position
* developing a financial plan for network sustainability

In order to "hold the process" of network development, to make sure that key tasks are accomplished, and to give regional stations a single contact for network questions during the organizing phase, the network will create a part-time network coordinator position, reporting to the steering committee.

The network organizer position will be hired and financially administered by Reclaim the Media during the organizing period. The organizer would report to the steering committee, and be a liaison between the steering committee and Reclaim the Media. To date, Reclaim the Media has played the lead organizing role in the network project, and is administering the funds for the Community Radio Summit, network outreach, and is commmitted to convening four additional regional gatherings in Alaska, BC, eastern Washington and Oregon.(Principal funding for this project was provided by a Threshold Foundation grant shared by Reclaim the Media, the Prometheus Radio Project, KBCS and the Future of Music Foundation.) During the organizing phase, Reclaim the Media will continue to serve the network in an advisory capacity.

The organizing phase will last a minimum of six months, after which time the steering committee may decide to extend that phase, or bring it to a close and initiate the operational phase.

Operational Phase

Once the steering committee has made decisions about long-term network systems and structures, they will be ready to launch the operational phase of the network. Any structures or systems from the organizing phase may be continued or abandoned at this point, including the steering committee structure and the organizer position. Details will be determined by the steering committee, but should include a system for assuring diverse and international representation on the steering committee, accountability to member stations, and a financial sustainability plan.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey