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For our June Community Radio Profile celebrates our CEO, Rima Dael. June marks 6 months of Rima leading this organization, a role that adds to decades of experience in public media and community radio. A prolific writer, you’ll notice that every article in today’s newsletter is written by her! So we thought we’d take a moment and allow her to switch out her nonprofit CEO hat with her mom/wife/person hat so we can all get her a bit better.


Serah Mead: You’ve been at the helm of NFCB for 6 months! Tell me one or two things that have surprised you the most about this organization and our membership. 

Rima Dael: Best surprise ever was how generous and giving everyone is on the Listserv. Love that everyone jumps in to share resources and help each other out! There is a lot of kindness amongst our members.

If I created a word cloud to describe my first six months at NFCB it would include – conversations, travel, conferences, strategic thinking, grants, amazing colleagues, getting the flu and strep throat! Who knew I would get sick twice?! I’ve read the book Slow Productivity by Cal Newport and have been incorporating intentional practices from his book to pace the work that I am doing at NFCB. Six months in, I feel that I have a handle on our workflow…

Now to really master working at home when my hubby also works from home. Our dog Tobby is super confused still about both of us being home. (Son) Derek has loved the change of my work situation since he got to use my car for his last semester of high school.

SM: What are some of the most exciting (to you) ways that you’ve been able to draw on your robust experience in nonprofit work and community radio to inform how you lead at NFCB? 

RD: Our members are part of the small nonprofit sector in communities around the country. They have many similarities to volunteer participatory arts organizations and I have a lot of experience in working with those types of organizations. Twice in my career I’ve worked with membership organizations in Human Services and in the Arts. The commonalities are that resources are finite, time being the scarcest resource, and folks are passionate about the work they are doing.

SM: What is one trend in community radio that you are eager to see fade away? And on the other hand, what is one new trend that you’re excited to see grow? 

RD: I am eager to see the push for everything to be digitized. Let me clarify, yes digitize your music library. But please don’t give up on Broadcast. AM & FM broadcast radio remains vital to many communities. Some places still don’t have broadband internet. There is a real digital divide in this country. Broadcast radio is free. Our listeners and communities like connecting with real people – hosts and DJs, who curate playlists and make real connections over the airwaves and in communities.

SM: Say you met a newly hired CEO of a membership organization that serves a diverse, passionate, group of media organizations. What is one piece of advice that you would offer them? 

RD: This actually just happened – I met Aparna Mukerjee, Executive Director of the Environmental Journalist Society. We met at the Native Public Media conference. We talked about the importance of rest and sleep. When you start a new job and in a membership organization there is so much strategic thinking and thought leadership that consumes your thinking, it is hard to turn your brain off and sleep. So we traded tips on getting to sleep. For me, it is listening to audiobooks that have nothing to do with work!

Rima with her son Derek and husband Brandon.

SM: Your son is about to graduate high school. Are there elements of motherhood and community radio stewardship that have overlapped in your life?RD:

As a working mom, the ability to juggle deadlines, pivot quickly, compartmentalize and come up with creative solutions prepares you to be successful in both endeavors, including learning how to communicate well under pressure.SM: What is your favorite sandwich (or sandwich adjacent food)?

RD: Love lox on a bagel with cream cheese, a roast beef sandwich called The Notch, from Tailgate Picnic in South Hadley, MA – the deli by my alma mater. Rare roast beef, lettuce, onion, and Rondele cheese on a roll. Also just love a good bacon cheeseburger and hotdogs!

SM: What are your Top 5 Deserted Island albums?

RD: Hmmm…the soundtracks to Rent & Wicked, Greatest Hits from James Taylor, my 80s mixed tape, Norah Jones’ first album Come Away with Me, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Sorry, I need 6 albums. Ooh, I also need a way to play these albums and my 80s mixed tape is still an actual cassette tape. Do I get my old pink walkman to play that tape??

SM: What music or radio station is currently on heavy rotation at the Dael household?

RD: In the Dael-Braxton household, Derek is listening to Chase Atlantic & Bryson Tiller. Brandon is listening to a podcast from Chris Hayes, the Buffalo Bills and another one called Sisters in Law. Music is Harry Conick, James Taylor, Billy Joel, Prince, Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul. I am listening to my friend John Nowacki’s classical music show from NEPM, I check out Jazz from different NFCB member stations, I listen to my old station WSHU for news and music via their app. Driving in the car for road trips is always a mix of 70s music to early 2000s with Brandon and I signing along and annoying Derek who has his earphones in. I do listen to different NPR shows too.

Contra dancing at the home of Martha Edwards & Bob Greene Louisville, Kentucky.

SM: If you could invite anyone, living or deceased, to attend NFCB’s 50th Anniversary Community Media Conference as a keynote speaker, who would it be and what would you hope they’d talk about?

RD: Living would be Maria Ressa, Maria Hinojosa, and John Oliver – they’d talk about what they do and the importance of the media to our democracy. Rhiannon Giddeons would talk about her music and advocacy toward inclusivity and righting the history of folk music & country music that got white washed.

Dead would be Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou, Betty White, Gwen Ifill, Chita Rivera, Lorraine Hansberry, Zora Neal Hurston, Maria Tallchief, Hedy Lamar, Ida B. Wells, Edward Murrow – just to name a few – all folks who have had amazing careers and personal lives that have inspired me throughout my life… they did more than one thing and refused to be defined by just one thing.

Roxas City beach in the Philippines

SM: What are some ways that you fill your cup when you’re not working?

RD: Audio books. Because I am busy, listening to audiobooks becomes a companion to do other things. I also love podcasts. I listen to sci-fi, mysteries, rom-coms, historical fiction, thrillers…stories I can get lost in. It is why I adore radio. And recently Antiques Roadshow is our couples show to relax to – Brandon (my husband) and I are getting real good at guessing appraisals. Now, when I have time I love going to movies with Brandon, I love art museums, and spending time near the water. Love the beach in Roxas City, Capiz where my Mom is from in the Philippines. Love the food and the slower pace of life there. Wish I could travel more too.

SM: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?RD:

I love my job and am so honored to work with incredible colleagues and represent community radio stations in the public media network. I look forward to meeting more of our members, especially as we celebrate our 50th anniversary next year.