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Letter to KBOO about talk shows

I wrote this letter to KBOO and wanted to share my thoughts with the larger community for feedback.
November 8, 2004

Mr. Chris Merrick, Program Manager
Ms. Kathleen Stevenson, AM News and Public Affairs Manager
Ms. Dennise Kowalczyk, Station Manager
Mr. Gene Bradley, President of the Board of Directors
Programming Committee Chair

Ladies and Gentleman,

I have made these comments before so they aren't new, but I want to reiterate them once more to see if you will take action.

I'm not sure of the dates but I believe Cecil and Celeste, Joe Uris, Barbara Bernstein, Ani and Melodie have all had morning talk shows longer than 11 years. I believe Ani and Melodie are the new kids on the block at 11 years, and that Joe and Barbara may have had talk shows for more than 20 years. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I think Alan Graf and Joanne Bowman have been on for at least a couple years now as well.

"The KBOO Programming Charter says: KBOO shall be a model of programming, filling needs that other media do not, providing programming to diverse communities and unserved or underserved groups. KBOO shall provide access and training to those communities.

KBOO's news and public affairs programming shall place an emphasis on providing a forum for unpopular, controversial, or neglected perspectives on important local, national, and international issues, reflecting KBOO's values of peace, justice, democracy, and human rights, multiculturalism, environmentalism, freedom of expression, and social change. "

Our mission is to provide diversity in programming and diverse voices. How can that mission possibly be fulfilled when a handful of people are allowed to be professional pundits, opinion makers and agenda drivers in the KBOO/Progressive community for an entire generation?

Additionally, most talk show hosts have at some time, parlayed their positions of prominence and celebrity into board seats, staff positions and greater than average influence at the station.

The talk show folks act like they own their shows and time slots often taking off for extended breaks only to come back to their private seat. They don't seem willing to move on voluntarily.

I personally think voices like Barbara and Joe's can be found enough other outlets to be called mainstream. I resent both of them as partisan Democrats. I know opinions vary but there is mine. I'd like to see a show hosted by Greens.

Sure, our hosts are very seasoned and all of them have followings, but our community has far more opinions and agendas than can possibly represented by this small group.

No change means no opportunity. With change comes opportunities.

My suggestion is that shows should be required to reapply every 2 years for their timeslot in an open process and that we make announcements about such openings so that other folks can apply.

I have some other ideas as well but the goal is to end the decade long entrenchment of the talk radio hosts.

I know it takes awhile for things to happen at KBOO so I plan to check back in January to see if any plan of action on this problem is moving forward. Please let me know how I can help with these potential changes.

I look forward to your comments and reply.

Brian Setzler
Member, Volunteer and former KBOO Board member
Yes, change is needed at KBOO 08.Nov.2004 16:47


I agree that KBOO has become a hawker for the Democratic Party. Even though program hosts continue to claim they are non partisan, it is clearly not so. It would be fine if there were only 1 or two programs that promote the Democratic Party and candidates, but there are numerous. I used to love to listen to KBOO talk radio, but now it is becoming boring. I agree with the suggestion above to have an open process to give other programmers an opportunity to offer different political perspectives at KBOO.

this is good 08.Nov.2004 16:49

king friday

I'm so glad you've written this, I'll write more later when I have time. I'd like to throw in three quick things.

one is robert jefferson needs to be fired immediately before he completely dismantles the evening news and we're hearing fluff pieces on bush and pay toilet issues in LA.

He has been given enough time to figure out what the format and purpose of the evening news is. I personally have regularly donated money and materials to the station, and decided to stop after realizing I was paying his salary.

second, maybe it's time to rotate out talk hosts who from their dialogue it's obvious they have opb on all day.

and this isn't actually a point with a solution proposed as above. but I have to say when I turned on the radio day after the sElection and heard I think barbara, turned it off almost immediately so I may be wrong about the person, saying we need to 'write, write, write letters to gordon smith', it really drove in what the tone of the station has been slowly becoming. regardless of if it wasn't her, it was coming from kboo, and that speaks to something.

but regardless, jefferson is a dangerous imbecile and needs to be either fired, or have any major decisions passed through other people.

BETTER YET 08.Nov.2004 19:19


The best way to put out the message is not to kill messengers but to to create more broadcast stations. Its time to make capitol work for liberals. Capitol is the stuff folks and we need more of it. Broadcast capitol needs to be extended to the outer regions of the state and into those god damn red states too. So folks like you mentioned who have dedicated large segments of their lives can continue. More room is to be made on the air waves. Stop playing this musical chair shit and lets make more chairs.

my 2 centavos 08.Nov.2004 22:08


i generally agree with the sentiments expressed in the original post. but i also want to stress my strong support for kboo, as well. i have been a member for 2 years (at $5 per month) and i have volunteered at the station in the past.

i remember recently, when folks asked loudly enough to be heard, that members asked kboo to air some portion of 'democracy now', a daily program from nyc hosted by amy goodman and others. there was the issue of dn being on a different satellite (sp?) than the one kboo subscribed to, but there was also, to my knowledge, a lot of resistance from existing show producers about losing time in the broadcast schedule.

i think these issues of 'ownership' should be examined by the owners, i.e. the members and volunteers.


by the way: while i am at it, i might also add that i am not necesarily in support of the green portion of the original post. i am a green myself, still officially registered as a democrat, but i would need to ask any green radio program host (or her/his guests) why the green party leadership allowed/approved a blatant violation of the pacific green party bylaws to enable their candidate to switch races after the green party convention.

on some levels, i am willing to reserve judgment on this violation, but i am also hopefully that the green party does not turn me off as badly as the democratic party has.

breeding etc 09.Nov.2004 00:31

king friday

I agree about breeding. frankly most of my info comes from internet sources. it used to be kboo, but I've all but stopped listening after a very long period of hearing such a concentration of the oregonian, and opb being cited as a source, opbnpr being in my opinion the single most dangerous media entity in the area, being it's set up on a foundation of disinformation and right wing bias, but presented in a manner that even thinking people wind up assuming they're getting a full account in dry fact based news, when the reality is opbnpr is basically fox news with classical music.

plus once robert jefferson was allowed to begin his obvious dismantling of the evning news, and after my learing that although it's well known at the station he's incompetent and his moves are intentional, people are worried to be direct and strong with him partially because he's black. I personally think it's time for progressives to realize it's time to remove the silk gloves and take a strong stand with all situations.

the fact that when the right wing imbeciles define all progressives broadly as 'whimpy liberals' they're unfortunately too accurate when it comes to dealing with destructive forces within. personally I think one reason we're in the position we are in the US is because the right is willing to define and act agressively, and we need to check off a list of who we might offend with actions that are necessary to maintain what little voice we still have.

It's true we need to seed other media entities, but the reality is kboo is becoming opb dark, and we must take steps to secure what is really the most viable media entity we have. and that means taking a hard look at those who are dismantling it.

I want to call here for people to look very critically at the work of robert jefferson and really see in what direction his changes have taken the news, and I would like to start a dialogue to consider whether his continued employment will be good or bad in the long run.

and also to take a look at which broadcasters are using opb and the oregonian as their main source, and consider if we really want those entities to be the sources of information being sent out via kboo.

Feedback 09.Nov.2004 00:39

KBOO member $120 a year

The democratic leanings bother me too. I was an independent for 24 years before registering as a green, 4 years ago. It was during the gulf war coverage -by then Steve (NKA Theresa) Mitchell that brought me to donate the automatic draft from my checking account of $10 a month. (Occasionally I send more).
yes, I should be more involved, but I'm not. I vote during most KBOO board elections but I frequently guess on that front-based on the bio's in the election report.
Still, KBOO is valuable regardless of all the flaws we find and I want to know what I, as a member could do to make it better. (I am presently working on my tolerance for all the coughing hosts). I should also mention I live 90- 120 minutes away from Portland (as the car drives).

KBOO and YOU 09.Nov.2004 08:52


As a long time volunteer at the BOO, I would agree with Brian for the most part. These talk show hosts need to move on, or at the very least an open process every 2 years would give new blood and new perspectives for our listeners. Theresa's show is now a mere parody of itself, no one I know takes it seriously these days, Bernstein is, well ... an OPB mirror image! When talk show personalities are on the air this long their egos come in to play more than the content, their self importance paramount ( to them ). BUT ... if you're a KBOO member, join the programming committee and help change things, I believe it can be done!

In Struggle, Michael

I have been listening more critically lately 09.Nov.2004 09:13


I have been listening more critically because of conversations I have had in the last 6 months about Indymedia's rise in the world with several KBOO talk show hosts and programmers. Many of the talk show hosts refuse to even mention Portland Indymedia and the Indymedia movement worldwide. On today's Joe Uris show...there was a discussion about the need for a more independent media. The talk show host and co-host mentioned all sort of "independent" media groups such as the Nation. All "independent" media sources were the voices of the elitist left - the intellectual left that often does not put into voice the ideas and values of the working class, minority groups and international struggle except in intellectual terms. It is as if "Indymedia" and especially "Portland Indymedia" is a dirty word. I have notice that most of the callers are males. I do like Anni and Melody's Friday show and think it reflects a more "radical" voice. I did not hear them talking about becoming a democrat during the elections. I do not have time to listen much in the morning much. I have to go to work.

kboo +/- kboo 09.Nov.2004 12:05

king friday

back after the snowstorm, when the kboo evening news may as well have been a tv show reporting the weather and playing tapes of the ultra conservative california report, I decided to call the station to voice my concern the station has taken a right turn at 5pm. robert jefferson answered. being I had him on the line I decided to speak specifically to the evening news, being he's single handedly responsible for the opbification of the evening news.

I asked robert jefferson what happened at city hall that day. he said "I don't know, what happened?"

I said I don't know either because there's no reporting on city hall any longer.

after a bit of his defensive babbling about how there's nobody at the station willing to cover city hall, he asked the usual get out of argument free phrase 'why don't you come down to the station and do it?

I told him I don't have time, and I already work for a fact based media website.

his smug attitude and true form leaked out the phone line when he countered, laughing, "oh, what? Indymedia?"

I said no which shut him down, I could tell he wanted me to tell him, likely so he could guage his next dismissive comment, but I changed the subject to the npr driven California report. his response was ridiculous, he basically spouted the old tension oregon natives had with california years ago as my reason until I told him I'm from brooklyn.

he then went on to tell me he wishes there was a 'washington state report' so he could play it also being he thinks it's important to know 'our neighbors'

bullshit. this guy is either a complete imbecile, or he's a plant set up to deconstruct the kboo news.

either way, there needs to be a dialogue started to really look at robert jefferson has done,

and robert jefferson must be fired, or demoted so he doesn't have sweeping power.

but personally I think robert jefferson should be sent back to radio japan, the conservative radio entity he originally was hired from.

robert jefferson has been proven dangerous and he must be dealt with before we're all standing around trying to figure out what happened.

I wish I could complain, but... 09.Nov.2004 19:18

Ziggy Botem

Yeah, I've definatley noticed a downward spiral type pattern re. KBOO news, but I don't feel I have any room to speak. See, I still owe them $60 from like 2 years ago. Sorry, KBOO. I'm working on having more than $5 to spend freely these days. But as soon as I have an extra $20, you guys get it. Promise.