We’re pleased to announce four candidates for two open slots on the AIR Board of Directors. The voting process begins today, Tuesday, November 28, 2017. This is a vital process ensuring our leadership reflects the diversity of voices, values, and interests of the AIR network. Please take a moment to read the statements each candidate has thoughtfully prepared and consider your choices carefully. You’ll need about five to ten minutes to read through them. Voting will close on Friday, December 8, 2017 at 5pm P.T.

PASSWORD (Please don’t share it!): AIRONLY

PLEASE NOTE: The password to the ballot is not your member login. It’s the one above. One ballot per IP address.

Would you like to campaign for yourself or advocate for a candidate? You are welcome to post to the AIRdaily, but please refrain from posting on social media platforms. We ask that you keep this process within the network. Thank you in advance for your understanding!

The candidates:

Neenah Ellis (President and incumbent)
General Manager, WYSO-FM, Yellow Springs, Ohio

Statement: The work being done by AIR producers is changing the public media landscape and this is a thrilling time to be involved with AIR. More and more, especially through Localore and New Voices, I hear about stations that understand the need to reach out into their communities, to reach underserved audiences and to better represent the “public” in public radio. I want to continue this work on the board, helping to open doors and make opportunities for independent producers through the AIRdaily, the mentoring project, Better Edit and Full Spectrum. I’ve tried to lend my energy and provide leadership where I could. I’d love to serve for another term on the board.

Bio: I’m Neenah Ellis, the general manager of WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio since 2009. At WYSO I’ve focused on creating giving voice to new producers with a training project called Community Voices and we’ve trained nearly 200 producers since we started. For 20 years before that I was an independent producer, working out of Washington, DC. During those years I free-lanced NPR and for independent production companies. I interviewed holocaust survivors for the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and in 2000, aired a CPB-funded series on NPR called “One Hundred Years of Stories,” which became a book called “If I Live to Be 100.” I joined AIR in the early 90s and I’ve been on the board since 2014, serving as Board President for the past 2 years.

Susanna Capelouto
Senior Editor, WABE, Atlanta, Georgia

Statement: I’m running for the Board of Directors because I feel that I can make a difference and contribute to the future of our changing media landscape, helping foster new standards, opportunities, and avenues for public media and its producers. I bring to the Board a unique and broad perspective that can contribute to the diversity and craft of our profession, as well as a regional diversity beyond the two coasts.

As an immigrant, I seek out immigrant stories to give a voice to those not born here. As a reporter, editor, and producer at a local station, I’m all about local, local, local, but I approach local stories with an eye to a broader regional and national context.

We never stop learning our craft, and we need to expand training opportunities for all levels of producers, especially mid-level ones. That includes innovative training: self paced study modules, webinars, and seminars to teach and sharpen skills.

I’ve mentored reporters and producers of all ages and their love of storytelling by sound must be nurtured and supported almost as strongly as telling the story. Realizing many of us work alone, without the network and support of a nearby group of like-minded colleagues, if elected I’d like to champion 1) increased networking between producers and those paying for stories and other content, 2) more training opportunities, and 3) increased outreach and inclusion of producers living outside major cities.

Bio: When it comes to radio, Susanna Capeluto has done it all: she’s been a station-based reporter, a freelancer, a news director, podcast producer, and senior editor.

Born in Germany, Susanna also lived in Spain, worked on a Kibbutz in Israel and eventually wound up in the U.S. as a student in Atlanta. She attended Georgia State University, where she was bitten by the radio bug while working at WRAS, GSU’s college station.

After graduating cum laude with a journalism degree, she joined Georgia Public Broadcasting, a network of 18 NPR member stations, as a reporter and producer. At GPB, she produced features, documentaries, and an award winning weekly public affairs show. Her stories continue to appear on NPR, German Public Radio and podcasts including SFA’s Gravy. In 2005, Susanna became GPB’s news director, managing a staff of 9 reporters across the state. As news director, she was instrumental in securing grants to expand GPB’s reporting on health and on rural Georgia.

In 2011, she joined CNN Radio as an editor where she developed a daily news podcast. While at CNN, her reporters won three Murrow awards. Since 2013, she’s worked at CNN’s International Desk, CNN Digital and is currently Senior Editor at WABE, where she edits and mentors 9 newsroom reporters. She’s also served as a story consultant on podcasts including the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s “Breakdown” launch.

Rachel Hubbard
Associate Director and General Manager, KOSU, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Statement: After working with AIR as a station collaborator during the most recent round of Localore, I believe it can be an excellent medium for adding to the dimension of the radio story. Our project focused on the way Oklahoma culture is influenced by indigenous citizens. However, many times people may drive by the same street sign for years and never realize that street bears a tribal name. I am running for the AIR board because I believe independent producers have a unique role in bringing these ‘hidden’ stories to the forefront.

Public media was built on creativity and innovation, and those two qualities will help create the next generation of our craft. In stations, it often takes outside voices to help with that innovation because it is easy to get stuck in the day to day management of a station and forget the reasons we came to public media.
If I am elected to the AIR board, I hope that I can help continue to cultivate voices that can tell unique versions of our common story. We all have interesting back stories that can lend texture and depth to storytelling. For example, I grew up in rural America, my parents struggled with addiction and my mother spent time in prison. I believe my personal experiences lead to me to notice things others may not, and I think your unique experiences, whether they be race-based or socio-economic help you tell a part of our story. I hope that as a member of the board I can advocate for this diversity and help us tell stories from everywhere.  

In addition, I’m very interested in cultivating independent producers in rural places. I believe indies can be a useful tool for small stations like my own who might not be able to hire a full-time employee but could do more special projects and tell different versions of their community stories by amplifying their existing staff with independent producers. I firmly believe that independent producers are part of the new public media economy and will become more important in the coming months and years. I just hope that we can get more producers even in the far-reaching places.

Bio: Rachel Hubbard is the Associate Director and General Manager of KOSU, the public radio station licensed to Oklahoma State University. She has worked in radio for 20 years after developing her love for a good story in high school while reading obituaries on KTJS, a community radio station in rural Oklahoma. Rachel has worked as a reporter covering the Oklahoma statehouse, natural disasters and telling far-reaching stories. That reporting has garnered her many awards including the Scripps Howard Sigma Delta Chi Award, a regional Edward R. Murrow award for innovation, and an innovation award from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. She loves to cook and is fond of non-traditional travel destinations including Timbuktu, Mali and a pygmy village in Uganda. She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband, two stepsons and her two dogs.

Brendan Sweeney
Managing Producer, Local Content, KUOW, Seattle, Washington

Statement: As a Localore “Inside Collaborator,” I have seen firsthand how partnerships between stations and independent producers can catalyze change across public media. I am excited to join the AIR board because I believe my fifteen years of experience within stations—including five years in management— equip me with a unique perspective to help further the organization’s goals.

I currently work as Managing Producer at KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, where I supervise local shows and podcasts. Like many stations around the system, KUOW is adapting to a rapidly evolving media landscape. We rely on independent talent to bring unique voices, innovative storytelling techniques and technical skills that we simply do not have in house.

But stations  are also confronting major obstacles and learning curves: Bureaucracy and inertia continue to stifle innovation and alienate independent talent in stations across the system. Stations have been slow to embrace pro-active recruitment and staff development, slowing momentum towards diversifying our staff, while leaving us vulnerable to poaching from private podcast companies.   

To survive and thrive in this new environment, stations must become better collaborators, while embracing experimentation. And they will look to organizations like AIR to serve as a bridge with independent producers, while providing insights, training and tools for improving our journalism.

As a board member, I would be particularly excited to work with AIR to:     
* Move the needle on staff diversity: Most stations are genuinely committed to staffing diversity. They want to amplify voices that have traditionally been underrepresented. But many managers lack the tools and / or commitment to move the needle.

Programs like Localore and New Voices serve an important “talent scout” function, highlighting up-and-coming voices that might not otherwise show up on our radar. I am eager to help build upon that work, strategizing how AIR can make a bigger impact in hiring decisions across the system.

* Provide inspiration through ambitious editorial projects: Localore Finding America created buzz around public media because it showcased new creative possibilities in community-facing storytelling.

I am particularly excited to work with the team to further develop the Localore Live and Localore SWAT concepts to increase the dissemination of best practices to stations around the country.  

* Help Set “rules for the road” for station / independent relations: AIR’s resources—especially the freelance and popcast production rate cards—are invaluable at the planning stages of new projects. When we negotiate new podcast pilots with outside talent, we start by sharing the AIR rates. We ask producers to use them as a baseline for contract and compensation discussions. It is incredibly helpful to have a third-party resource as a reference as we grapple with budgets and resources.

Bio: Having recently launched new editorial projects with different staffing models, I am eager to share insights about what we have learned about what works and what doesn’t. I also believe there are leaders within organizations who want and need guidance for best practices in attracting and retaining independent talent, myself included.

Brendan Sweeney is Managing Producer, Local Content at KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio, where he supervises the station’s shows, including local broadcasts (Morning Edition, All Things Considered, The Record) and new podcasts. He has leveraged new editorial projects (including the podcasts terrestrial, Prime(d), and Second Wave) to experiment with new approaches to storytelling, editorial workflow, and audience development.

Before moving to Seattle, Brendan was the Managing Producer for New Content and Innovation at WAMU 88.5, where he was “Inside Collaborator” for “Anacostia Unmapped,” the Localore/ Finding America project led by independent producer Katie Davis. He previously served as Managing Producer of the Kojo Nnamdi Show, WAMU’s local news/ talk magazine.

Brendan got his start in public radio as a freelance producer at WBAI Pacifica Radio in New York.

He received a Masters of Science in Development Studies from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelors of Arts from New York University.

Board priorities:

  • Station-based producers, inside collaborators who understand the importance of working in partnership with indies.
  • Folks who get why freelancers are so vital to the public media landscape and want to help build bridges between the two.
  • Forward thinkers who want to play a role in advocating for AIR & our producers.
  • Leaders who are diverse ethnically, geographically and generationally. We want our Board to continue to reflect the diversity of our network.
  • Those who actively want to serve. As in, ‘Ask not what AIR can do for you, but what can you do for AIR?’ (A board term is for 3 years minimum and you can serve 3 terms.)

AIR members who’ve been part of the network for at least one year, have demonstrated engaged participation with AIR, and have some knowledge of non-profit governance.

Election timeline:

  • Did you miss our annual all-members meeting? You may access it here
  • Tuesday, Nov. 28: Election period opens
  • Friday, Dec. 8: Election period closes
  • Thursday, Dec. 14: Election results announced

I’d like to give a HUGE shout out to AIR’s election committee members: former AIR Board member & producer of the new podcast, Stepping Up: Surprising Stories of Climate Activists, Claire Schoen. And to audio ‘magician’ Danny Bringer who comes to us from KQED Public Radio and On The House with the Carey Brothers. Thank you for vetting the nominations and selecting the ballot.

A GIANT thank you to AIR’s Community Liaison, An Uong, and to the rest of AIR’s staff for their support, time, and enthusiasm.

Thank you so much to all the candidates who took the time to run this go-round.

Finally, thanks in advance to you for participating in this important part of running our awesome network. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions.

Tena Isabel Rubio, Secretary & Election Chair, AIR Board |
Claire Schoen|
Danny Bringer|