Dear Arthur and Marc,
I am a former board member ('98-'00?) who is deeply concerned about programmer stagnation at KBOO. I bring this issue to the station and board's attention from time to time. I believe the problem is endemic throughout all of our programming but I am most concerned about morning talk radio.
KBOO's Programming Charter says: KBOO news/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, human rights, multiculturalism, environmentalism, freedom of expression, and social change.
I believe 4 of the 5 hosts on the morning talk strip have had their shows for at least 12-15 years! Joann Bowman is the newest and I believe she's been on over 5 years now. How does decade long tenure help us emphasize neglected perspectives? I used to listen regularly to KBOO but am so bored with the current hosts that I almost immediately turn the station. I attribute this to decades of listening to their opinions. It is time for some change, no matter how good or strong they are. New stars will rise and KBOO must provide those openings and opportunities.
I am a Green and think I'd make a decent host. I never even get started on that path because it seems like a pipedream that I would actually get through all the training and then get meaningful airtime. Opportunities at KBOO are extremely limited with little turnover. It seems like such a challenge I don't even start.
There are many ways to foster change but I think the Board and station should adopt a clear policy that morning talk show hosts can serve a maximum of 5 years. This would mean that at least one spot would open up annually for new talent, new voices and new perspectives.
I am particularly concerned about the morning talk strip because of the influential nature of the programming. Those hosts wield considerable power and influence within our progressive community and the time slot and influence should be treated as a shared resource. The hosts not only get to opine for 90 minutes, they also select the guests, topics and general direction and theme of the show.
The hosts do not own their timeslots but often act as if they do (Taking vacations and using guests hosts to fill in for their time away rather than turning the time back over to the station). The hosts have used their influence to become Board members at one time or another and with none currently on the BOD, I think it would be a great time to create a clear policy around this specific programming niche and time slot.
I hope you will bring this to the full board's attention for consideration. I was concerned about this issue when I was on the board but we had other more urgent matters and a number of hosts on the board.
Frame this issue as one about principle: KBOO should serve diverse and neglected perspectives and communities which is incompatible with decades long tenure in the morning talk radio time slots.
Brian C. Setzler, CPA
Candidate, MBA in Sustainable Business
P.S. Posted on Indymedia