Board meeting minutes — April 30, 2021


Date and Time: Thursday, 4-30-2021 @ 5:30pm

Present: Lisa Loomis (with proxy for Dan Eckstein, Brian Shupe), John Daniell, Ian Sweet, Liz Levey (with proxy for Rob Williams and Ilse Sigmund), Tony Italiano, Rob Perry

Location:   via ZOOM Video call.

Welcome/Additions, changes to Agenda

Lisa opened the meeting @ 5:35pm

    • no changes to agenda

Public Forum

No public present

Approval of minutes of Jan 14, 2021 board meeting

Minutes should be amended to show John Daniels in attendance.

 John Daniell made motion to accept the minutes as amended, Ian seconded. Motion passed unanimously.




(please see report for the details)

HD Payback:

  • Rob did a lot of digging around to try to understand what the plan was and what happened in 2019-2020.  We can’t find where anything was paid back in 2019, 2020.
  • Keith later provided input that this was not a formal pay back, but a way to show the equipment was being paid for through future capital funds and future additional income. It appears there may be nothing to actually pay back.
  • We need to verify capital reserve funds and how they may be used, coordinate with 802 accounting, and then document it all.
  • Update will be provided at the next Board meeting.
  • Future equipment needs briefly discussed: Tony added that we may need new equipment to live stream meetings– should we end up trying to live stream all government meetings, for example.
  • Rob highlighted that we used to transfer $300 a month into 101-NSB which was used to save up for Telvue bill – which hits every 3 years and is approx. $12,000.  Board determined we should not continue this practice since we are already budgeted to run at a deficit this year.

Survey Results

Rob walked us through the results from the community survey he put out since the last Board Meeting

Q1: Are you a subscriber to Cable TV from Waitsfield Cable

33% yes

67% no

Q2: Do you have other sources for subscription television?  If so, check all that apply

5.3% Dish Network

10.5% DirectTV

68.4% I don’t receive any subscription television

15.8% Other

Q3: How do you stream TV over the internet

9.3% Roku

9.3% Hulu

18.6% Apple TV

4.7%  AmazonFire

34.9%  I don’t stream TV

23.3%  Other

Q4: Are you familiar with MRVTV Public Access TV Station (Channel 44 and 45)?

79.1% yes

20.9% no

Q5: How frequently do you watch MRVTV?

2.4%   I have access but don’t watch

9.8%   I rarely watch MRVTV

12.2% I watch less than once a month

12.2% I watch once a month

22.0%   I watch every week

Q6: Would you watch MRVTV over internet?

70.7% yes

29.3% no

Q7: Would you support MRVTV with a donation in order to access MRVTV?

21.4%  yes, for less than $5

9.5%   yes, for $5 or more a month

42.9% yes, I would make a contribution now and then

26.2% no, I would not pay

Q8: What do you like to watch on MRVTV?

64.7% Government and town meetings

37.2% Local sports and school productions

34.9% Locally produced shows (The Mend, Plan-V)

67.4% Programming about the Mad River Valley

48.8% Lectures from Vermont experts on social issues, history, etc

9.3%  Other

Fiscal Review


  • Reviewed income to date.
  • Cable grant through April is tracking $6,000 below last year YTD.
  • Google ad (YouTube) revenue is $100 helpful and growing
  • Sponsorships are $0, packages need to be thought through some more and Rob is working on this.
  • Applied for 2 grants, Bissell Foundation (for MRV Chamber series)
  • HUUSD is contributing $1000 towards meeting coverage, “check is in the mail”
  • Sponsorships: Jamieson renewed community bulletin board, Waits Telecom did not renew spot.
  • Registered for Amazon Smiles. – Spread the word!


Expenses on or under budget, any savings are mostly due to not using so many shooter hours. We may need more shooters we can tap – sports and such – are happening more.

Online / Social Media review:

  • YouTube has +1000 in the last quarter
  • Candidate Forum was a big hit with 666 views
  • MRV Reality MRV Eats at 486
  • MRV Reality Mad River Riders at 445
    • We should use these great view rates as leverage in marketing and selling spots.
    • We could tout views as way to show how we make important contribution to citizen involvement
  • Rob showed data related to click throughs from the Covered Bridge
  • Parade – will it be live? Yes there may be a parade. Many may still choose to stream this year.  This is a key sponsorship spot and Rob should look to sell it.
  • Rob shared newsletter data and we have an open rate of 32% – Rob will see if this is good for a rate.


  • Need to raise $2500
  • Agreed we will hold annual community party in the fall with an eye to outside venue.
  • Music acts have not yet been lined up
  • Maybe Big Pic will be open?
  • Raffle options being considered
  • Hoping Board will be involved with supporting event – or ancillary efforts like raffle
  • Committee needs to meet again soon.

Streaming MRVTV

  • Rob walked us through pros and cons to streaming the TV station live.
    • Pros: cable grant going down, access to younger generation, could expand viewership, could help connect folks outside of valley to live events and programming, we already have a lot of the hardware to do this, could generate income if we create a paywall to see LIVE
    • Cons: Thumb in the eye to Waitsfield Cable, there are some meaningful startup costs $6000-7000, we may need more bandwidth to pull it off. We may also need more cloudcast storage?
  • More than ½ of VT AMO stations offer streaming – but none have tried to monetize.  We could try to require subscription for live viewing – $5/mo?
  • Pandemic has shown us that more people will participate in meetings if they can watch from home.
  • Rob showed a mock-up of what streaming page would look like.
  • Applied for $5000 grant from Vermont Connecting Community to support this effort
  • We will see if we get the grant – and bring up again for discussion at the next Board meeting

Re-Opening studio for Public

  • We are required to stay masked until July 1 – Lisa will ask at press conference if we can create our own standards – even after state of emergency is lifted.
  • Tony needs to know when he can take the sign down regarding masking.  (He will remain masked).
  • If guests want to be in the studio room – that is up to them. 
  • We will also have outside studio if folks are not comfortable.
  • Maybe we have a check in sheet for people who use studio?  Name contact info, vaccination status, whether they have symptoms, etc.
  • Re-visit at June meeting when State guidance on July 1 re-opening will be clear.

Program technical update (Tony)

  • Tony has been very busy
  • Winter sports boosted our numbers
  • The one-off shows – Mad River Path strategic plan, Mad River Valley Care, MRV Pedestrian Watch group., Story Slam, etc. – have been successful and people are watching!
  • Camera has gone out 17 this year already.
  • Feels like we are getting closer to normality

Financial Predictions

  • Liz presented some slides showing scenarios for the Station over the next few years, Do nothing, Try Hard, Cut expenses, Hail Mary. Slides attached.
  • These scenarios assume Cable grant continues to decline at a 7% rate and expenses grow at 3% rate.
  • In short, we will have to work to grow all revenue, and probably should make cuts in 2022, if we want to stay alive past 2025
  • Patreon makes it easy to create a paywall for content. However, to have enough subscriber income to make up for lost Cable Grant revenue, we would need over 500 people to commit to $10/mo by 2024. 
  • Small Cable companies are dropping out, and may fold up or be purchased by Comcast.
  • Without State intervention / funding – all the stations will be out of operation by 2025. (Liz’s opinion)
  • Board agreed we want to preserve as much of our program and operations as possible – when considering cuts the studio rental $ comes to mind.  Can we share with another? Could possibly save money if we moved Studio to Harwood Middle School space?
  • Discussed Telvue bill.  We need to verify timing of this and from where we can draw from when it comes due in 2023 (?)
  • Discussed confusion regarding Capital Reserve account, and when and how we can draw from it. To be researched further
  • Agreed we need to educate the community and legislature on the decisions we face.  We could share the fiscal realities we face through VR article in hopes to prime the public and raise awareness.
    • Rob and Liz to work with VR reporter, and possibly tie in
  • Tony noted that the highest value programming we offer if the government meetings, and these could be produced without a community studio.
    • Board interested in putting out our plight to the public, first through a VR article, then we will host a forum with panelists – AMO and VAN reps, as well as Tony, Rob, Board member, to discuss the issues – possibly in June?  Rob to reach out to Lauren Glen

For reference: FROM LAST MINUTES

State is studying the Community Channels and how state subsidies might support us in the future.  It was a great discussion, and Lisa recommends we all view it. 

See recorded meetings here:

Topic: Bluhm-AMO meeting #3 

Passcode: 93t!1L.J

Topic: Bluhm-AMO meeting #4

Passcode: .^mVCi64

Board thanked Liz and Rob for research on fiscal picture and for helping Board see the forest through the trees.

Other Business: 



John made motion to adjourn. Liz. seconded. Motion passed unanimously

Meeting was adjourned at 7:15pm