Board Meeting Minutes – 9/10/20


Date and Time: Thursday, 9-10-2020 @ 6:15pm

Present: Lisa Loomis, Liz Levey, Rob Williams, Ilse Sigmund, Ned Farquhar, Keith Berkelhamer, Tony Italiano, Roger Nishi, Rob Perry

Present by Proxy: Dan Eckstein (Ian)

Location:   via Skype Video call.

Welcome/Additions, changes to Agenda

  • Lisa opened the meeting @ 6:15pm
    • no changes to agenda

Public Forum

No public present

Approval of minutes of 5-7-20 board meeting

 Ned made motion to accept the minutes as written, Liz seconded. Motion passed unanimously.

Open Board Seat Elections

Ian Sweet and Rob Williams are up for re-election and willing to serve another term.


Ned made a motion to re-elect the slate, Liz seconded. The motion passed unanimously. 

Introduction of Rob Perry, our next Executive Director

  • Rob Perry was introduced to the group. He will begin training for the Executive Director position which he will assume at the end of the month.
  • Ian suggested that the Board should have been introduced to Rob prior to the meeting. There was agreement that this should have been done – although tight timeline was a factor.  Liz will share out Rob’s resume so Board can get more background. Group expressed excitement to have Rob P. aboard.
  • Keith has been prepping for departure and has set up training videos for Rob. Tony is ready to help bring Rob along as well.


DIRECTOR’s REPORT (please see report to get all the details)


Top Videos for 2020 – Webcam at the top, followed by Tiger Auto repair and tree hitting bridge

  • Covered bridge webcam is an enormous success!
  • Keith suggested that it may be time to charge more for the Webcam sponsorship – or structure the whole thing differently.  Given the viewership the opportunity for the Sponsor is huge.
  • COVID might have driven viewership since people were stuck inside.  Maybe watch rates will go down with end of pandemic someday?

Facebook like video campaign.

  • We exceeded 10,000 likes (see report).  Once we exceeded 10,000 Keith suspended for now.  New ED can decide next moves with FB campaigns

Discussion of Webcam and Video likes

  • Ned suggested we get a national reporter to feature this webcam and tell the story of how people from all over the world are watching it. 
  • Keith shared that is running the webcam on affiliated TV channels across the US. We are letting them do this for free in exchange for branding on the webcam. Prior to this an ABC News Digital person reached out about potentially including the webcam on the ABC News Digital website. This person had to pitch the idea to his superiors and subsequent emails sent to him asking about the status were not answered. 
  • Liz suggested that every video could have a “like this video” request.  Most video producers include this in the clip – and in the info for the clip.  It might drive likes, which drives views and eventually drives people to our website.
  • It was suggested we could take edits from School Board or Town Meetings and make a video to tease people (i.e. click here to see the full meeting).


4th of July Parade Marathon Live Stream-

  • We got plenty of views on the MRVTV YouTube channel even without a live parade (just re-runs)! The stream was shared also to the Sugarbush and MRG Facebook pages .  Total views were about the same as the live streams of the parade during the past two years.
  • We sold $2,000 worth of sponsorships for the two-day live stream event.
  • Tony shared that the stream was available live on our TV channels, as well as online.


Social Media

  • Growing – FB and Instagram are good. 
  • Stagnating – Twitter. We don’t- post enough.  Lisa admitted too hard to keep it up with her other responsibilities. Previously the Board agreed that if nothing is posted to it, we shouldn’t have it. Management and plan for Twitter account should be revisited with Rob P. 
  • Since Keith began his efforts, we have significantly improved our online presence – with more people accessing our content online. The point of social media effort was to expand our audience and drive traffic to the website.  It is working and the effort has really paid off. 



  • Total projected sponsorships nearing $5K.  Excellent.
  • Potential opportunity – bust out 4th of July, Webcam, and most popular items.  Sponsorships could be packaged differently.

There was a discussion of best way to present packages, best way to approach folks.  It was agreed the ED needs help to make the right contacts, and where possible have background on prior attempts.  The Board can support the ED by stepping up here and create connections for the ED, and/or approach contacts directly about Sponsorships, or any other fundraising.


LIVE streaming

  • We lost a couple episodes, but charged more so it worked out.
  • MRG and Eric/Chamber not likely to host a combined show again, but Sugarbush and MRG should be approached again for either individual shows or a combined MRG/Sugarbush show.


Production Services

  • Ahead of Budget.  We have 3 more MRV Reality episodes to do. Eric F. and the Chamber may need a push to get finished.  COVID need not prevent these episodes from getting to air.  Keith will follow up with Eric/Chamber. 

Ned made a motion to formally Thank Keith for his service, and applaud his success in building our social media profile and online presence – Liz seconded. The motion passed unanimously.


Re-Opening the Studio

  • The Board discussed the pros and cons of reopening the indoor studio space to producers.  We have taped outside this summer, but that won’t be possible in the colder/wetter months.  Rob W., who produced shows outside, expressed confidence in being inside the studio and skepticism around what the World Health Organization has said about COVID and what is safe. 
  • Liz noted that national TV is still “remote” so why should we change – or be possible source of transmission in our community. Given the airborne nature of COVID and the lack of fresh air in the taping room it cannot be considered a safe space to congregate in.
  • Tony added that he can handle any ZOOM meeting and convert to video to create a program. Because he would not be in the room during a shoot, he did not worry too much about two people in the studio at once.
  • The Board had mixed views, but determined to remain cautious and wait for State or Federal guidance to shift.
  • In the meantime, Lisa suggested we look into an air exchanger for the studio.

Ned made a motion to ease our COVID restrictions and expand our studio services to permit single person shows to proceed taping at the studio. Ian seconded.  The motion passed (6 in favor and 1 opposed).

  • After the vote, Rob expressed further concern about the lack of in-person connection during these times and that this policy is counter to what MRVTV is about – helping people connect. Keeping people at the center of our work is essential. He also added thanks to Tony and Jasper for helping with the outdoor shoots which went well.


Program/Technical Update: Tony

  • With no live meetings to cover, Tony shifted to recorded ZOOM meetings. Tony has been working a split shift so he can record the ZOOM meetings and push them to live TV in the moment.  As of today, Tony has worked on 56 events YTD just to cover the School and Town Board meetings.
  • Tony has been grabbing Governor’s press conferences from ORCA and sharing live on TV
  • 12 studio ZOOM shows
  • Several shows with Rob W. shot outside
  • With OBS – open broadcast software-Tony can grab video remotely and then play on MRVTV. Tony doesn’t need to be in studio to push a ZOOM file onto the TV
  • VT legislature gave $500K to VAN members.  We are eligible for up to $18,600 of that grant.  Key aspect is determining how many hours were affected by COVID – what it took to keep the channels going.
    • The State wants us to spend that money.  Two rounds are expected. First round we got $2200.  Keith says we could be a lot more aggressive on how much COVID has impacted us.
  • In closing, Tony gave Keith his hearty Thanks.  Keith made MRVTV stronger and better.  Production services have grown.  It’s been a fun and exciting time! 


Waitsfield Cable Update – Roger

  • Budget for the cable grant this year was $119K.  Expecting that to be down to $112K this year with fewer subscribers.
  • Keith says our cable grant is meeting budget.  Roger thought we may have budgeted this on the low side to be ready, but will coordinate with Keith to make sure the numbers are all correct.
  • Discussion around diminishing revenue for Waitsfield Cable, and the growing expenses of bundled channels. Small cable companies are getting hurt.
  • Liz asked if it would be possible to provide free basic cable to ED and Tech Director so they can turn on the station at home when needed.  Roger said he would look into it.


Financial Review – Keith (see accompanying notes for full detail)

  • Balance Sheet is in great shape. Roger pointed out that the $15K PPP loan is still showing as a liability – that will come off when the loan is forgiven and the balance sheet will be even stronger.
  • Some revenue is down.  We couldn’t do our fundraisers this year.
  • Capital Equipment Purchases – our plan was to take $5K out a year thru 2022.  But the balance sheet is so strong we should consider ending that draw and putting the HD upgrade behind us.


Other Business

  • Lisa advised that we will have a new bookkeeper in 2021 as Deb is stepping down at the end of the year.
  • In closing, the Board again gave a round of thanks and applause for our outgoing Executive Director, and for the extraordinary efforts both Keith and Tony made to keep the station up and running and relevant during the pandemic.



Rob made motion to adjourn. Ian seconded. Motion passed unanimously

Meeting was adjourned at 8:13pm