Open Letter to KBOO
Open letter to KBOO from long time listener regarding the war over station control.
Long-time Listener and Unbiased Observer
As a long time listener, I had really hoped that the schism at KBOO would be resolved at Monday's Board meeting. Yet the internet mud-slinging between the opposing factions at KBOO seems to have only escalated. One thing is clear and that is that both sides seem completely ignorant of the fact that none of this serves the community interests. This only reinforces my decision years ago to stop supporting the station. For years I supported KBOO with membership and donations-at-the-door at KBOO-sponsored events, but several years back, I ceased my support. Each year I debate whether I should support KBOO again. Based on how ridiculous the current row at KBOO has become, it won't be anytime soon.
The Battle of KBOO currently being waged reminds me of a time many years ago when I was in college radio. A clique developed among about a dozen students who assumed the roles of station administration and prime timeslots on the radio. Soon they began to decide among themselves what "college radio" really means, what "college music" is, and what truly is "alternative rock" versus "corporate rock" versus "butt rock" and so on. Music not to their liking was purged. As alternative rock heroes like Nirvana grew to be cash cows of corporate rock, rules began to be implemented about what Nirvana songs could or could not be played. Students who simply volunteered and showed up to achieve an educational experience were increasingly censored. Complaints began to roll in. It was obviously very childish behavior and eventually the university became fed up with the situation and forced changes to occur. The overzealous students became so enamored with their own non-com radio fiefdom and sense of campus celebrity status that they forgot what the mission of the station really was.
So why did I stop supporting KBOO in the first place? There were two main reasons.
First, there seems to be a deeply ingrained sense of tenure and entitlement among many of on air hosts in key time slots. As in my college radio story, these roles are not pure sacrifices of activism and volunteer effort. A small level of access, influence, and personal popularity are derived. These hosts may be popular and helpful for membership drives, but I strongly question if it is proper for a non-profit, community station to have such stasis among its most favorable volunteer positions, rather than have those opportunities open up to new volunteers. At the very least, new co-hosts should be brought in periodically and paired with long-time hosts so that others have an opportunity.
Second, the voice of KBOO seems to have become more extreme and less tolerant of other progressive views over the years. Like the college radio example, there seems to be cliques wherein certain KBOO staff galvanize a view of what progressive means. For example, I've heard quite rational and articulate callers who mention 9-11 get immediately cut off. What is progressive community radio? Is it radical, anarchist action? Is an almost religious adherence to existentialist philosophy and atheism? Is it militant feminism? These days, the Pacific Green Party seems to pacifist and centrist to fit many KBOO hosts' view of progressive politics. Social-libertarians who reject any US military involvement and any justification for violations of the Fourth Amendment seem to be immediately branded as Tea Partiers. For me personally, it was the often repeated mantra on KBOO talk radio that people who don't like Obama can't accept having an African American president. I actually voted for Cynthia McKinney, the African American Green candidate. KBOO seems to have forgotten there are some of us out there. I got tired of being labeled a racist on the way to work every morning. Has KBOO forgotten its purpose? From the KBOO website, these are its stated Core Values:
Values that are the essence of KBOO and should remain intact no matter how the station changes:
• Community: local, accessible, empowering. welcoming, inclusive, participatory, involved
• Progressive Perspective: questioning, vital, uncensored, controversial, activist resource, educational, journalistic integrity, reflecting justice, peace, sustainability and democracy.
• Emotional Maturity: respectful, honest, fair, positive, peaceful, non-violent, engaging, open
• Diversity: valuing, embracing, bridging, listening, understanding, giving voice
• Leadership: bold, exploring, independent, cutting edge, responsible, excellence
• Creativity: eclectic, traditional to experimental, idiosyncratic, innovative, iconoclastic. evolving, compelling
Let's see... Welcoming, inclusive, participatory, uncensored, peace, respectful, honest, positive, fair, embracing, bridging, understanding, responsible, exploring... These are all core values that seem to have been lost at KBOO. The belligerents in the current Blog War themselves seem to have lost all sight of the Emotional Maturity values. I'm sure both sides are quite convinced they're right in their dispute, but they've violated the station's mission and code of values (which is ultimately what the public supports through grants and donations). If you're angry, get together with others who feel the same way and vent about it. Why should the community want to support KBOO at all if the people running the station can't behave professionally and manage stakeholder relationships in a positive way? I'm not taking sides. I think you all look stupid right now.
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