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The Problem With KBOO

Portland is fortunate to have KBOO, but since the rise of KPOJ, "Air America Radio," our community radio station is starting to show its weaknesses. I still support the station, politically and financially, but it's getting easier and easier to tune over to KPOJ, and KBOO doesn't seem to get it.
KBOO has competition in KPOJ. KBOO's talk radio programming must now compete with the likes of Randi Rhodes, Al Franken, and Jeanine DeGrafolo. The lack of celebrity presence does not bother me, but the lack of a certain threshold of quality control and semi-professional veneer does. I maintain a KBOO membership and spend $40 annually (what I can) to support the station, but it's getting harder to do that and I find myself listening to KBOO less and less, switching to Air America instead.

To head off the obvious criticism, I know KPOJ is a commercial radio station and survives off some dubious advertisements. I know about it being corporate and KBOO being non-profit. I know they can't hire big stars to go on the air and I know their hosts are reluctant to go after big issues like the Bush Administration's probably complicity in 9-11.

However, I'm a consumer of information, too. My ear and my pocket book are aligned with the highest quality and density of information I can get out of my limited free time spent listening to the radio. I want timely information to augment my knowledge gained from the internet (Rawstory.com, Anti-war.com, etc.) and books from authors like David Brock, Greg Palast, etc.

To that end, what is wrong with KBOO is (are) the following:

1) Egotistical talk show hosts who seem more interested in their own miniature celebrity status in Portland than their guests. It's just a kind of snobbery that I think I hear come through their speech. Perhaps, I'm wrong and nobody agrees with me... I hope so.

2) Even though I applaud KBOO hosts for giving ample time to callers, sometimes that goes way too far and KBOO talk show hosts need to learn the art of discretely letting go of callers. Too many times, callers get through who babble on ad-naseum on either a highly esoteric point of view (to be polite) or ramble on without being able to summarize their point of view in any concise manner.

3) The pledge weeks are too painful. I used to listen in at such times and wait out the fundraising, but I can't do it any more. If everybody who listens to KBOO spent $20 to $50 on an annual membership, would that be necessary? Maybe there should be more of a push between the semi-annual pledge weeks to get listeners to subscribe for an annual membership instead. Fundraising could then be targeted toward more affluent listeners or underwriting contracts with local lawyers, physicians, businesses, etc., that target the progressive community.

4) I've never asked for a show, so I have no axe to grind, but the programming gets a little stale after a while. Sure, I said I like some polish and professionalism, but (for example) how did Cecil and Celeste get tenure to wax philosophical about how the Moon in Capricorn is bringing bad energy at a time when Laura Bush is talking to college kids about abstinence, or something like that. I'm not big into astrology, but I do enjoy the character that comes from their own New Age bent. However, the fact that the hosts' belief in astrological charts can end up dominating my entire morning commute when all I really want to do is find out how people in my community feel about the shit Bush pulled last night, is very frustrating.

Just a few of the reasons I spend less and less of my time listening to KBOO. If they don't come down from their high horses and react to competition, I might start spending less and less of my money as well.
BOO WHO -or- the problem with your veneer 10.Aug.2005 01:22


Don't mean to be all preachy, but...
Complaining is not helping. It is very truly YOUR radio station, go down there and DO something. Did you even bother to call in with your views? How can they respond to the community if the community fails to connect with them? Oh, but you are not a participant in history, only a passive "consumer of information".
I agree that the Boo needs to learn something about brevity and humor, but this is hardly the place to do anything about it. Threatening to withold your precious funding (ooooo - big basic membership) is just petty and divisive. Big baby.

KBOO is OK 10.Aug.2005 02:27


KBOO is a great community radio station. The community radio station tactic is limited, but does shine in its ability to let callers on and talk for good little while. This encourages other callers, who aren't also the worlds best public speakers, to get on and have their voices heard.

It's true, in my opinion, that there doesn't seem to be enough turn over at KBOO. Having newer people in good slots more of the time would get more of the community involved. I think we can safely put the illusory idea of "professionalism" in media down for pity's sake. It's dead. "Professionalism" doesn't hold a candle to passion. We don't remember the great "professionals" in our history for very long, we remember the artists. New people have passion.

I think that the star power on the other station is influencing the writer of this article. I can't be sure.

Al Franken and the lot are really just democrats, I think. So it's probably not worth listening to. KBOO, has always seemed more "progressive", or rather, more reformist than the democrat ideology. They seem more radical than that. Maybe the means of producing the programming at KBOO is not radical (still the community radio tactic), but it is probably the best community radio station I've heard.

I think the "Air America" station definitely fits more for consumers of information and KBOO fits better for makers of music/information. But, yes, if KBOO good get more turnover they would be more effective in the community mission.

add to the list of things wrong with KBOO 10.Aug.2005 06:56

auntie rose

a friend of mine wanted to get info on volunteering...no one from KBOO reponded to phone calls or emails. another friend wanted to talk to KBOO about promoting KBOO at a local event. again, no response or cooperation.

To salaud Re: KBOO is OK 10.Aug.2005 07:11


I take exception to your broad statement that "Al Franken and the lot are really just democrats".
If you ever listen to Mike Malloy on 620 am from 10pm-1am., you would know that he harshly takes the Democratic Party to task. And last night after commenting on the new revelations (Four in 9/11 Plot Are Called Tied to Qaeda in '00 NY Times Aug 9 05) Malloy charged the Bush family with complicity in 911. I doubt that Al Franken would do that but I don't know I usually don't listen to him.

My point is it is not wise to make general assumptions. I am a night worker who is lucky to be able to listen to the radio on the job. So my view of Air America and KBOO will differ from yours. I start "my day" listening to Mike Malloy, on Air america. After his show I may switch to KBOO or I may not. I can only handle so much Reggae music. But I do enjoy Marqeuz on Sunday night. To get my basic news for the day I listened to Rachel Maddow (Mon-Fri Air America) She does a good job. In one hour I feel she has covered the important things and if I want to follow up on things I can do it on the net. The one show I no longer listen to is morning edition on NPR. In my opinion they didn't cballenge the lies we were told in the run up to the war. and more importantly, I just can't stand to hear Cokie Roberts on Monday mornings.

All that said I wouldn't think of pulling my support from KBOO. They have good programing. They reach a wide audience. I may not agree with or even like every program, But I proudly support KBOO with 180.00 a year. I would encourage you to do the same. We need many voices

Air America vs KBOO 10.Aug.2005 10:49


For starters, this IS a good place to discuss KBOO because KBOO employees post here and read here (I am not one).

I do like KBOO but hardly ever listen to it. I typically listen in the car (apologies to all the dedicated environmentalists who ditched theirs--some day I might get off my ass and ride the bike more) on the way to and from work , and it just seems like Thom Hartmann (KPOJ) offers very relevant local and national news in the mornings. He often has on Oregon representatives and he really does a nice job. And I think he really supports a lot of viewpoints that many readers of Portland Indymedia agree with.

At night, I only like the KBOO programming some of the time so I listen to KPOJ most of the time, or to the idiots on 750AM to see what the Neo-Cons are saying.

So for me it's just a question of what time of the day I listen, and I'd rather listen to KBOO news instead of Randi Rhodes most of the time.

I think that KPOJ is a real threat to KBOO. I'm confident that KBOO will continue, but I worry about the impact on fund-raising that KPOJ might have.

Listen To Auntie Rose 10.Aug.2005 13:14

another voice

I know people who have had similar problems. It's supposed to be community radio, but it seems more like a private party sometimes, rather than a community service. A lot of people have this opinion and KBOO should be taking it seriously, not getting mad over a little little criticism.

I agree with NOfta that Thom Hartman blows KBOO away in the morning and that this is a good place to discuss it, because even though KBOO spends a lot of time asking for money, I don't really hear them asking for very much feedback from the listeners in terms of how to structure their shows. Again, the sense of it being a private party there and we're just lucky to tune in and listen to it.

I don't agree so much about being able to call in. Maybe the people who get on over and over again to get into the same old argument Joe Uris of whether Dems are really Republicans or Nader is a victim of a Dem conspiracy can get on the air, because they don't have anything better to do than set the phone for speed dial. I've tried calling in about 30 times over the last two years, but have only got busy signals.

Just seems more like college radio where you have a clique of students who take control of the station for their own little clubhouse. That's not community radio. Who really believes that if they went to the station and voiced their opinions on programming that anybody there would really care?

easy to whine about the 'BOO 10.Aug.2005 15:40

harder to just do some work

I swear this exact post (KBOO is bad, I'm switching to KPOJ) has been repeated here more than a couple of times. There are legimate criticisms of KBOO, but it still is steadfastly non-corporate. KPOJ, however, is owned and operated by Clear Channel- a mega-media giant with close ties to the Bush administration. They also contribute heavily to right-wing political candidates and are big supporters of the war on Iraq.
It is very distressing to think that KBOO supporters are switching over to KPOJ. Yes, we need to get our news from more than once source. Of course. That only makes perfect sense. Why would anyone ever think that listening and being loyal to only one radio staion was the ideal? But KBOO is different.
And KPOJ offers little in the way of substance for those of us interested in organizing our immediate communities. KBOO id dedicated to community events and actions. Get involved, after all it is volunteer run. They need your help. And don't be the type of person that gives up after one try, one phone call either. Call KBOO, give your feedback about what you are hearing, stop into the station, meet the staff, write a letter, get involved in a committee, vounteer to learn how to do a radio program. Offer your ideas, your sweat, your time!

this is not David vs Goliath 10.Aug.2005 15:56

a centrist

I used to love the boo. I like the shows, especially something that gets deep into labor issues or 911. For myself though, as a moderate who is in touch with his liberal side, I know when KBOO gets a little too extreme. KPOJ keeps it political, I can respect that. People like me think that witches, feminists, wierdos, and the like are a strange yet vital part of society, because everyone has a piece to the puzzle and repression is for totalitarian regimes. That shit don't float my boat though, and when as a KBOO listener I am assumed to be a card carrying member of some fringe group, is when I get off the KBOO bus.

As a reformed republican, I think that abortion is a tragedy, but also know essential details behind it, like abortions have gone way up under Bush, I learn these and other facts from KPOJ. I learned from the boo that before roevwade that only women of privelege with private doctors had access to abortion. So I think that both KPOJ and the boo are great educational tools. The reason I listen to KPOJ about 12hrs a week vs the boo about 5minutes per week, is that I hate fucken bluegrass music and I am not mexican either.

KBOO is a local treasure 10.Aug.2005 16:10


I really love KBOO. It's a outlet for all kinds of news, views and music that wouldn't stand a chance in an increasingly commercialised world. As a volunteer run operation, it's not perfect. It is what the folks who take the unpaid time make of it. I agree that some folks get tenure who maybe ought to step aside to let fresh talent offer their perspective (although I love some of the older programs).
But I guess rather than gripe about it, maybe some of the naysayers ought to go volunteer. If you find it lacking in some perspective, then maybe you are qualified to fill the deficit and start the process to become a volunteer.
You have a better chance of participating and changing the programming at KBOO than you would at a commercial radio station.
People knocking KBOO unnecessarily reminds me of somebone lining up to eat at a soupline and complaining about the fare.

KPOJ is way worse than KBOO 10.Aug.2005 18:03


Seriously listening to KPOJ is about the same mentality of listening to KXL(Larsen and Savage), just same reformist crap. You know what if KPOJ wasn't bunch of posers and owned by Clear Channel, then maybe I would agree with you different. If KPOJ didn't play COMMERCIALS every 5 mins, maybe I could agree. If KPOJ was actually calling for people to take direct action in there communities then maybe I could agree with you. Bottomline KPOJ is just Clear Channel trying to market there crap to the liberal community.

Randi Rhodes is totally annoying, I can't listen to her for more than 10mins.

I love KBOO, maybe not exactly wha I would want if I owned a radio station by myself but it's dare close. Plus I don't have to listen to whining liberals all the time and can actually listen to good music.

Also message to the poster of this thread, STOP TRYING TO CAUSE DIVISIONS with this comparison, you are not helping anybody but the facist in power.

love kboo but... 10.Aug.2005 20:08


...I've had quite a bit of trouble trying to volunteer there. I got stuck with packing, hauling and unloading books for the sale by myself one year because nobody else showed up (it was a huge job). Another time I ended up number-crunching when I had asked to stay away from that because of math dyslexia. A couple times I've tried to volunteer and got something part-way set up then no more communication. So I spend my volunteer hours at Peoples' where they've got the v-scene dialed: I know what I'm doing, when and how. Still listening to the boo though; kpoj has way too many commercials including ones for sprawlmart.

My 2 Cents 10.Aug.2005 21:24

North of the Columbia River

I must agree that it is KBOO staff who must make more effort to engage the community than they have. It's been a couple of years since I really enjoyed the station and some of the events they got behind. Since then I'm more and more of a KPOJ fan. The ads do bug me on KPOJ, and I'm 50/50 between KBOO news and Randi Rhodes in the afternoon, because Randi can be too redundant sometimes.

I like KBOO having Spanish programming and other interesting stuff, but that gets pushed to hours where there isn't much listenership. It's the morning and afternoon hours that really get people tuned in. There should be more of a rotation of co-hosts, so other people can get the chance.

Plus I get tired of hearing the hosts laughing to themselves and talking about personal time together, or dominating air time when they have guests on that I'd much rather hear speak instead. I don't think the girls on Positively Revolting or Locus Focus are working. Why aren't they showing up to do the grunt work that Cranky talks about?

Since everybody at KBOO has probably read this messaje by now, why doesn't somebody from the station post some positive remarks instead of just sniping at their critics. I thought the original commentor was fair enough and I don't think there is a shortage of people in Portland with some public speaking background who would step up and do some of these shows so KBOO regulars don't have to work so hard.

KBOO! KBOO! KBOO! 11.Aug.2005 04:45

nope, still nothing good on

I'm another guy who approves of stations like KBOO in principle but hardly ever listens in practice. If I'm in the mood for reggae, there it is. Otherwise it's just not competitive. There's a big audience for talk radio, and KBOO seems to be mostly music. I wouldn't spend three seconds listening to an astrology show, and I think the comment about complainers and souplines is pretty telling about the attitude of the people running the station.

Should I stop complaining and go work at the station? Maybe. Maybe I'm busy. Maybe I WILL go work at the station. But probably I won't. As a basic mathematical fact, most listeners won't volunteer. Does that mean our opinions don't matter? Are the people at KBOO just doing radio for each other? Then why SHOULD we listen?

KPOJ All The Way 11.Aug.2005 13:21


Well, I'm convinced and gonna switch brands right away.

I'm going down to KPOJ right now and volunteer and show my support for the KPOJ community and make some friends and get some training so that I too can learn to become the media. Maybe I could volunteer as a receptionist and get to meet all those great folks on the air, like Al Franken and Randi and Jeannine as they come into the station to put on their shows everyday. I'll opt for training in audio production and engineering, maybe run for the board. And I've got some great ideas for a show...

Ok, enough with the sarcasm.

KPOJ is commercial, corporate media. KBOO is community radio. KPOJ is mostly canned nationally syndicated stuff. KBOO is local. KPOJ is in it for the money. Nobody at KBOO gets rich.

KPOJ programming is a consumer product, designed to appeal to an audience that will bring in advertising dollars. They exist for the money.

KBOO exists for a different reason. Here are their programming guidelines from their website.

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.

KBOO's arts, cultural, and music programming shall cover a wide spectrum of expression from traditional to experimental, and reflect the diverse cultures KBOO serves. KBOO shall strive for spontaneity and programming excellence, both in content and technique.

So, I think to a large extent the comparisons between the stations are moot. Apples and Oranges. Like comparing indymedia to the NYTimes.

Imagine what Portland would be like without KBOO. I dare say that even if don't listen, you are affected by KBOO's influence on life in this city. If KBOO should go away, and the power of that community disappear, the quality of life here would be greatly changed.

Original post incorrect 11.Aug.2005 16:48


The original post referenced KBOO hosts being "reluctant to go after big issues like the Bush Administration's probably complicity in 9-11."

I've heard this exact idea expressed regularly by Andrew Geller, Theresa Mitchell, and Per Fagereng in broadcasts. Andrew has probably had the most consistent coverage of alternate 9-11 investigations.

Who else talks about this idea? I can't stand KPOJ so I have no way to know about their hosts.

KPOJ/KBOO 13.Aug.2005 10:10


Both are valuable IMO. KBOO offers more community programs and I've supported them for about 15 years. However, they can stand some change. They spend way too much time just being DJ's and much of the daily programming is horribly boring. Nonetheless, it's an asset and I'll keep supporting them

KPOJ is also valuable and I disagree with other posters criticism. Mike Malloy, Sam Cedar, Janine Garafolo and others are great and pull no punches. I don't give a shit about Clear Channel, I care about content and I've learned more on this station than from almost any other form of media. There are some hosts that can be irritating. I can't stand Al Franken. His show is just too NPR'ish and he has no balls. Nothing wrong with Randi Rhodes. A bit shrieky, redundant, and drools over military men, but she's mostly on target and calls to task the military quite nicely and with credibility. Ed Shultz is playing up that giggly football/fishing/hunting persona too much and he's too tentative on some views, but he has good intent.