The Midpen Media Center has a new face at the helm of the Palo Alto-based organization as it works on a new long-term strategy for its local programming.
At a special meeting on July 20, the board named Charles “Chuck” Alley interim executive director by unanimous vote. Alley, who plays the role of volunteer, is a former employee of Midpen Media and co-founder of the MC Sports Youth program, which introduces children to sports broadcasting.
Alley works as Director of Operations at theCUBE/Silicon Angle Media, a technology news organization based in Palo Alto and Boston.
His appointment comes as the nonprofit tries to create a more sustainable future by reducing operational costs.
“Honestly, the biggest reductions we’ve made have been to rationalize administrative staff and overhead costs that no longer fit the needs of the current organization,” said board member Becky Sanders. in an email.
Former Midpen Media chief executive Keri Stokstad was among the full-time employees laid off. She left the association in early July after the board told her in March that she would not be renewing her contract, which would have expired in October.
Midpen Media also laid off two other full-time employees: Nicole McClain, director of development and Joanne Sperans, head of marketing and communications.
“It was bittersweet for me that the board didn’t renew my deal,” said Stokstad, who joined the organization in 2017. “I kind of felt like we were starting to see the benefits of a lot of hard work and effort with the team.”
The nonprofit’s broader strategy is to focus on three core services: coverage of local government meetings and events; local content for its five cable channels; and media training and community education, Sanders said in an email. Additionally, Midpen Media also plans to focus on educational programming for children.
The station’s cable TV production plummeted when the pandemic began, but community members can still expect the same level of services, which the organization seeks to “invigorate with creative approaches.” together with its stakeholders, Sanders said. “Our current streamlining really has to do with keeping our total costs balanced with our services at a sustainable level going forward,” she said.
The council is also exploring ways to reopen Midpen Media’s studio system for local volunteer-run productions, send its mobile production truck to events in the area and provide other media-related services to the community. The board assists Alley with the finances, development and strategic planning of the organization, according to Sanders.
“We are taking this opportunity to respond to emerging community needs and interests as we identify them and build viable programs around them with the help of our staff, volunteers, partners, producers and community influencers,” said Sanders.
One of those perks was Midpen Media’s transformed upper level in downtown San Antonio Road, which during the pandemic transformed into a creative space for podcasting and music, as well as open spaces that were previously occupied by cabins. A training section has been transformed into a “real” green room to allow for greater collaboration, according to Stokstad. The organization has also introduced new technologies, such as Discord, a social platform for instant messaging and Voice over Internet Protocol services, and Patreon, a monthly subscription service that provides exclusive content and benefits.
Midpen Media plans to seek a permanent executive director in the coming weeks.