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Open Letter to KBOO re: Democracy Now!

If you agree with the views expressed below, send emails by 10 June to KBOO staffers Chris Merrick or Kathleen Stephensen at  program@kboo.org or  amnews@kboo.org
Dear KBOO:

I am a lapsed KBOO member and volunteer (1979 -1993), and have just learned that KBOO is seeking listener input while re-examining a previous decision to not air the program Democracy Now! (DN!) with Juan Gonzales and Amy Goodman.

This is the best news I've heard about KBOO in a long time. As one of the fortunate few in Portland to have access to DN! via cable television (ch 23, 9:00 am and 4:00 pm M-F), I wondered why the program was not being aired daily on the perfect venue of KBOO where it would have a much wider audience. So I did a little research and found that apparently some of the powerful "old guard" programmers at KBOO are unwilling to give up any of "their" air time to make room for DN!. Having listened for many many MANY years to the views and opinions of the Old Mole Variety Hour folks, as well as to those of Joe, Barbara, Marlene, Alan, Joanne, Ani, etc., I have heard everything they could possibly have to say at least a quadrillion times. Although theirs are important and valuable voices and may still be relevant to a few KBOO listeners, it is well past the moment for at least some of them to either step aside or shorten their programs to accommodate new and fresh ideas. KBOO belongs to the listeners, not to a few programmers whose exaggerated self-importance won't allow them to recognize when it is time to let go.

My understanding is that KBOO is considering two possible options for carrying DN!: 1) giving it a regular daily time slot; or 2) giving it a trial run of 2-3 days a week for the rest of this year. Option 1 is the only sensible choice since news does not usually conveniently happen on anybody's particular schedule. Thus, if 'shit happens' on Thursday but DN! only airs on Monday and Wednesday, KBOO listeners would be frustratingly deprived in terms of getting the DN! perspective on events, which almost always includes reaction, analysis, and debate from guests who are never allowed a hearing on CNN or any other of the big hair cartoon news networks.

From a purely business perspective, carrying DN! can only serve to significantly increase the KBOO listener and donor base. Yes, DN! is that good.

Please give me a reason to once again become a paying member of KBOO. Make Democracy Now! a regular daily program, ideally during the morning 8:00-11:00 am block or with the afternoon news.

Amandla Ngwethu
With all due respect 02.Jun.2005 17:21

strategic thinker

As a regular watcher of Democracy Now on the web, I agree with Amandla Ngwethu about the great value of the show. However, I do not think that KBOO is the best venu for this show. Because KBOO already has a GREAT progressive line up of shows every day. Which leads to the question: Who do we cut in order to make room for this show? Alan Graff, the Witches, Press Watch, the Eletronic Salon, the Bike Show, the Food Show, Jack, the Morning News, the Music shows or the Evening News?

This is an important question that must be addressed before we bring Democracy Now! on board. Most KBOO listeners would likely have a difficult time making the call of getting rid of any one of these shows. As each is valuable in its own way to the progressive community, and together they represent the pleruality of views which makes KBOO great!

The choice of getting rid of any one of these shows is actually multiplied by a factor of five, because Democracy Now! runs for an hour each and every week day. So, we are looking at getting rid of FIVE shows. Which is clarly a difficult decission.

Now there is another option for bringing the knowledge and experience of Amy Goodman and credibility of Democracy Now! to Portland. Begin a grassroots campaign to put Democracy Now! on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Let it displace some of the Right Wing outlets like the World and Market Place in the radio or better yet the Nightly Business Report or the NewsHour on TV.

The common argument for not pursuing this path of bringing Democry Now! to Portland is that it would be too hard to get OPB to change, or that they would NEVER LISTEN. So instead, why not pick the low lying fruit? Why not take the easy rout?

Well the answer to this question is clear, if one thinks of the BIG PICTURE. Putting Democracy Now! on OPB increases the amount of Progressive broadcasting in Portland by 5 hours a week with a decrease of Right Wing broadcasting by and additional 5 hours. Leading to a net change from the right to the left of 10 hours. While putting Democracy Now! on the already Progressive KBOO adds 5 hours of Progressive broadcasting but also subtracts an additional 5 hours of Progressive broadcasting. For a net change of 0.

So in summary, the choice is between making a net change of 10 hours of programing versus making no net change and cutting back on the already rich diversity of voices that we have nurtured and grown. Do we do the easy thing and continue the Lefts's long history of "Eating its Young" or do we boldly move forward and bring the REVOLUTION to masses.

I think thayt the wisest course of action for those who are truly commited to the REVOLUTION is to put their organizing efforts into bringing Democracy Now! to OPB. I believe that the logic is clear but wealcome any differing opinions.


Strategic Thinking is a Good Thing 02.Jun.2005 18:22

In the affirmitive

I agree that the best place to put DN! is on PBS TV. The best time would be during the 7-8pm newshour when folks are home from work and are accustomed to getting their daily dose. What a change it would be and how refreshing to hear Amy and her wonderful guests instead of the increasingly propagandistic pentagon prattle that PBS brings to us.

The impact this would would be enormous. Much greater than putting her on KBOO. They already have all the right kind of progressive programming and tend to preach to the choir. Sure Amy would increase listenership for KBOO but would probably not reach those who need to be reached.

DN! is designed to be used on either radio or TV, but the visuals usually add to the dialog. Even when it is just talking heads, TV is more captivating than radio and often there is meaning to be gained from watching the expressions.

We can't do it alone. I mean I can't do it alone. But we could do it together.

Precisely 02.Jun.2005 22:10

Brian Setzler IamB@riseup.net

"Having listened for many many MANY years to the views and opinions of the Old Mole Variety Hour folks, as well as to those of Joe, Barbara, Marlene, Alan, Joanne, Ani, etc., I have heard everything they could possibly have to say at least a quadrillion times."

I agree entirely. I was on the KBOO Board from '98 to '01 and outside basic governance issues, my main concern when I joined the board was that most of the aforementioned radio hosts had already been on the air 5 or more years at that point. It's now 2005 and most of these folks have had prominent KBOO public affairs positions for over a decade.

I used to love KBOO, want to love KBOO and occassionally tune in. But hearing the same thing for the quadrillionth time from the same small group is tiring.

Two thoughts to improve KBOO.

1. Given the influential power of talk radio, KBOO talk show hosts should be limited to 5 years maximum. This would provide more voices and more opinions fullfilling KBOO's mission to provide a diversity of voices.

2. Given the insanity we find ourselves here in 2005, why isn't KBOO increasing the amount of news and PA programming? Let's cut some music and provide more food for the mind.

Then Again 02.Jun.2005 22:16

Even More Strategic!

I can think of one HUGE block of radio time that could easily be cut back for this important show--all the Hispanic/Spanish-only shows which take up enormous amounts of airtime and exclude the vast majority of KBOO listeners!

These programs take up most of the weekday afternoon slots, plus most of all day Sunday. This is a completely unacceptable amount of time to give to one, very small segment of the Portland-area population. Russians don't get this amount of time, Natives don't (and if any segment should, they should), Africans don't, Asians don't (and you could argue that there are a lot more Asians who don't speak English around here than Mexicans, who these Latins shows are mostly for). African-Americans don't, and there are certainly a lot more African-Americans in Portland than Mexicans. No other segment gets hours and hours of programming in their own language on KBOO. I know that it's PC to give whatever Mexican immigrants want, but why isn't it also PC to give other immigrants equal treatment? At least make most these programs inclusive and educational for all by greatly decreasing the Spanish-only language content, rather maintaining it as a takeover from another culture altogether, and with mostly really crappy Mexican pop music.

But back to the point, DN! could easily fit into the afternoon time during the week if the board were to consider fairness.

Democracy Now Now... 03.Jun.2005 07:04


I think DN is an amazing progressive project. It is not only Amy Goodman that is doing a great job but the entire team that supports her. On a 24 hour cycle they are able to bring the hot news from the day together with the right guests to provide excellent analysis and debate. It is a pity that such a program with its national and international focus is not easliy available in Portland. If KBOO adds it to its lineup it will become more popular and attract more listeners. Listeners that may decide to tune-in and listen to the other great programming from KBOO.