Stephen Yasko

Towson University Public Media

Description

WTMD's growth required a new way of thinking about how the station functioned in the community and as part of Towson University.

When we moved into the new facility, Towson University assumed a significantly larger financial contribution to the station through in-kind rent and utility payments. WTMD had received about $100,000 from the University in general operating funds annually.

As part of the Strategic Plan, we clarified how the station/university relationship should evolve.  The plan also called for the station to be operationally self-sufficient.  WTMD would, in exchange for rent and utilities, phase out the annual operational support.

But that money -- and more -- had to be replaced in order for the station to meet the mission laid out in the plan.  The station also needed to meet the requirements of the agile radio industry while the University needed to focus on student education.  The overlap was community engagement and much of the pre and post TUPM were identical.

The University of Maryland System allows for affiliated foundations to be formed to manage assets of behalf of the individual universities.  We began the process of forming a 501c3 to manage and fundraise for WTMD.

I recruited 12 highly resourced individuals with differing areas of expertise to form the board plus three university officials as mandated by the System's policy.  I looked for people who understood the role of a board as an overseer of management's accountabilities.  We had 100% financial participation at the suggested giving level.

I created the Articles of Incorporation, By-Laws, engaged an HR firm to write our employee handbook and advise on policies. We formulated a conflict of interest policy. I hired a law firm to help file our non-profit application with the IRS and negotiate the agreement between TUPM and Towson University.

Once formed, my role changed significantly.  I managed the Board's activities and meetings, assigned staff to support Board committees and solicited their advice on financial planning.  I met with each member every month to chart their feelings and perceptions about the direction of the station.

The result was a more mature organizations able to make consensus decisions based on multiple perspectives.  I believe this greater accountability to the community is what changed the perception of WTMD from basement college station to respected cultural institution.

We gained a greater respect and notoriety in the business community as well.