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KBOO Elders Speak

Saturday May 4, KBOO held a public meeting at TaborSpace. The transcript has been made available at www.kboo.fm.
Here are a few former long-time staff and board members, and program hosts summing up the situation at KBOO very succinctly.
Obviously, I expect lots of zany replies to this post showing alternative view-points, most of which are based off-rumor and falsehoods (but not all). I thought these three really stood out and I recommend reading them and reflecting upon them.
Look how much of their lives these 3 people have given to KBOO. They are as much KBOO as anyone else, perhaps more so. We need to heed to words of our elders.


Michael Wells: Hi. My name is Michael Wells. I've been a KBOO member since 1968 when the station started. I was a volunteer from the early 70s until the early 90s. I was station manager from 78 until I think 92. I've been on the board a couple of times. I haven't been very involved. I have a couple of observations. One is when I was station manager, we reorganized the staff because the way the staff had been set up related to our funding that didn't work and it was going to collapse. So we had to reorganize the staff. While I was station manager that I can think of we had to fire two people, one of them my best friend on the staff at the time who is here now, for various reasons. And so that happened at that time, the station manager was allowed to fire people. I have no idea what the personnel policy is now. So that's sort of background. My observation about KBOO for the last few years, about 10 years ago, I volunteered to write a grant for KBOO. There was a rotating cast of people. Different people would show up at every meeting. We could not get anything done. We finally abandoned it. About three or four years ago I got involved in another project which dragged on and on and on for whatever reasons. The first time I met Lynn we talked about the project and we got it done in about three months. I think that Lynn whenever her faults, whatever the board's doing, is moving us forward. KBOO has been from my point of view very stuck. I'm glad to see us moving.

Sarah Carr: I'm Sarah Carr, I was the station's first news director. And I was on the board of directors around 2000, the couple years either way. One of the smartest things I've ever heard anybody say about community radio in all the years I've been in it was that there are two kinds of community radio stations. There's a community service kind of radio station that looks outwards, that's looking towards its community and interacting with its community to figure out what it's doing, following a mission. And it's constantly reevaluating what it's doing in terms of what's going on out in the community. Then there's the radio club. The radio club is a kind of community radio station that looks in at the people who were there already and the people who are already close to the people who were there already. It's concerned with serving its programmers. It gives lip service to the community but basically it's a big radio club. And in what 30 years of community radio, I found that to be really true. Every station falls into one kind or another. Occasionally one moves from one kind to another. The other thing I wanted to say is I'm hearing a lot of sort of smugness about how KBOO has been doing, about things would be better if we just did them the way we've always been doing it. If things have been so great for KBOO, how come it's 45 years old and it has the size of an audience that smaller than that of right wing religious translators here in Portland? It's got the size of audience we had when I was at KMBI in Minneapolis. We viewed that as a crisis and that we needed to do something about it fast. Thank you

Barbara Bernstein: I'm Barbara Bernstein. I host locus-focus. I've been involved with KBOO since 1971 with a bit of a break in the 70s. Came back in 78. Been here ever since. And I do have a memory of a lot of KBOO history. My friend Kathleen Sadazzi and me, a number of years ago when I was trying to recruit her for the KBOO board that back in the late 60s, all these organizations started. All these great counter cultural organizations started. And by the time we were talking which is probably in the mid-90s, all the organizations became either a little more formalized or little more professional or a little bit more focused or they died, except for KBOO. Nobody knows how KBOO survived in the last 45 years.

Walt: It's a miracle.

Barbara Berstein: It's a miracle. However I think things have really changed. And I think that people aren't understanding that we really are at a crisis that we haven't been at probably ever because this is the first, they call it the great recession, I would call it the second great depression that we're in. None of us that are younger than... anybody younger than me and a lot older than me, you remember anything quite as severe as what we've been through. But KBOO has faced a whole lot of these challenges were I think we really should appreciate the leadership of Lynn Fitch to lead us through. Because it's going to take a lot of creative thinking and a lot of reshaping the way we define ourselves as community radio, the way we define ourselves as a community. And that it doesn't mean that we lesson our political stances, it doesn't mean that we soften our message. It just means that we are a lot more responsible for what were doing. And the first thing that I would urge is that we really listen to the facts. One thing that's really blown my mind all afternoon is that people don't seem understand the difference between firing and laying off. For those of you who don't understand the difference, Google it and maybe you might understand what Lynn is trying to do

Thank you for sharing your perspectives 10.May.2013 09:32


It's refreshing to see a balanced overview of KBOO, it's history past and present, free of panic.

It's level headed guidance like this that is going to get us through.

What's Theresa Mitchell's connection to the Portland Tribune? 10.May.2013 10:59


TM is on facebook spreading more innuendo, and always seems to have a Tribune link handy:


Press Watch commented on portlandtribune.com.
10 hours ago ·

Unfortunately, the Board gave the Station Manager the powers that were held by KBOO members, namely, the ability to re-structure the Station. The plan is to remove current Staff as unsuited to the new operations (and the existence of the Union will merely slow this outcome). Programming will no longer represent the participatory process, if this condition remains. Therefore, a special General Meeting will be held under the KBOO Bylaws.  http://savekboo.org/
 link to portlandtribune.com

 link to portlandtribune.com

"KBOO manager about-face welcomes staff union
Created on Thursday, 09 May 2013 11:00 | Written by Steve Law "

That a hell of a title. You can't have it both ways, complain Fitch is against a union, then label her actions an "about face".

Who the fuck is feeding the tribune this story?

Ironically the Tribune is fairer with KBOO than TM, but still. It's strange she KNOWS when a KBOO story is being printed....

A Few Thoughts... 10.May.2013 17:32


It looks like the board and the president "station manager" (or whatever) kind of tried to pull a "fast one," presumably because of a threatening money situation. Maybe it's not so much a lack of democracy, but rather a lack of openness. It looks like they were preparing to fire all the staff, and then hire them back but with less wages and benefits, or something along those lines. This was likely well-intentioned, and we are in a depression, something that cannot be ignored. And I think it's going to get far worse (and hope I'm wrong). I'm guessing it would have been much better if they had involved everyone with a "stake" in the operation. By not doing that, they are guaranteed to have big problems, and folks will get paranoid (and paranoia is sometimes a very good thing). I know from my own experience that when facing a crisis, being open is almost the hardest thing in the world, but it's usually it is the best way to go.

They are trying to do something very difficult. For example, the station cannot run at all without an engineer, according to the FCC. So they hired extra lawyers and consultancies, which may be necessary, but their (expensive) advice should always be taken with a few grains of salt. The people running the operation will always know many details that the experts cannot really take into account.

The enthusiasm for a union is frightening. Getting the wrong union could be a major blunder. Here are two (couple page) articles from the CounterPunch site that maybe the staff would probably do (very) well to read:

CounterPunch — January 05, 2009 — Who Rules SEIU?

"SEIU has evolved into a dictatorship in which Andy Stern
and others have consolidated power, decision-making
authority, and resources among a few."

-Sal Rosselli, president of SEIU's
United Healthcare Workers-West, in
The San Francisco Chronicle, Jan. 3, 2008

CounterPunch — May 07, 2013 — SEIU Wins Again at Kaiser

Thirty-one months ago, when the Service Employees International Union first defeated the National Union of Healthcare Workers in a unit of 45,000 service and technical workers at Kaiser Permanente in California, SEIU leader Dave Regan proclaimed that "NUHW is now, for all intents and purposes, irrelevant."

That obituary proved a little premature. Rank-and-file supporters of NUHW remained alive and kicking, not only at Kaiser but also in other healthcare workplaces around the state. Using member-based internal and external organizing methods, NUHW largely bucked the national tide of concession bargaining in nearly 20 new units composed of previously unorganized workers or SEIU defectors.

Good luck, everybody. Afraid we're all going to need it.

Typo I believe -- not Sarah Carr, but Sarah Cardin 10.May.2013 21:02

Jim Thompson

Sarah Cardin, yeah she has some history with KBOO. A fiddler too if not mistaken.

Take care readers -- the transcript has more than a few minor goofs like this. Just hope I got it right.

Oh and by the way, lots was left outta the transcript posted. 10.May.2013 21:25

Jim Thompson

Lots left out and lots of folks had lots of things to say. The original is here --  http://kboo.fm/content/kboospecialmembershipmeetingtaborspace050413. It went on for like two hours.

And while I'm here I gotta give KBOO lots of credit for putting this audio and transcript on the main page. And lots of thanks for Don Merril -- he who dunnit.