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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.

KBOO is what you make it 06.Sep.2013 14:26

Continuing contributor

I'll be increasing my contribution to KBOO at the next pledge drive.

KBOO is a "do-ocracy." Those who show up and do the work, get the satisfaction of participation. There is plenty of criticism and change going on--among those who actually intend to keep showing up, keep doing the work, keep supporting the station....

"I'm not taking sides. I think you all look stupid right now." How's that for an inherently self-contradicting statement? Obviously, you are "taking sides." You're taking the side of a non-contributor, 'anonymous.'

I wouldn't be surprised if someone on some talk show doesn't want to hear about 9/11 truthing. But that's because, really, we don't enforce ideology in our do-ocracy. I broadcast critics of the official 9/11 conspiracy theory, including Peter Griffin; I quote Cynthia McKinney frequently. I criticize the Democratic Party and its President as the tool of corporate-fascist rule. And I can name several others who do the same. So, really, I think either you don't listen much, or else you're trying to pull the wool over someone's eyes.

The "current row" is pretty much over, and it wan't a petty squabble, but a full-fledged battle over whether the station would continue as a member-controlled institution, or become an OPB wannabe, with "professional" (i.e. unresponsive) management and "member support" (i.e. money from listeners and no thanks to democratic control). The Staff and the members won the battle, because the Station's bylaws reflected the democratic paradigm. So we won't be going the way of WBAI and KRAB--we're still kicking. With our experienced and talented Staff, we will soon substantially increase our listenership. The cash will continue to come in from dedicated listeners and participants--not a lot, but we were never about making money.

Right now, I'm listening to Song Circle...I just heard "There's a hole in Daddy's Arm" and something by Jim Morrison, and I don't know what's playing right now, except that I love it. "It's up to you to hear the call, I don't wanna kill...." Roots of Rock and Roll follows. Then Democracy Now at four PM. Local evening news with award-winning Jenka Soderberg at five PM. Counterspin follows; Bread and Roses; Hard Knock Radio...Deena B with women's hip hop at eight.

That fucking rocks. I'm proud to be a part of it. You don't have to like it. I love it.

Your volunteer information is perfectly secure 06.Sep.2013 18:35


And if you believe that, I can sell you several bridges.

Continuing contributor should read Bruce's confession. The one he printed on paper so it wouldn't get around the Internet and annoy people who know the lists are on the Volunteer Coordinator's computer.



Bruce Silverman's confession

I am the person who made a copy of the Volunteer Contact List. I did not think I was doing anything wrong, as I will explain.

I suggested to a group of friends, who were thinking of ways to campaign for Board candidates, that the volunteers are "likely voters", as compared to the members, only about ten to twelve percent of whom vote. I said this twice in meetings at which 15-20 people, most of whose own names are on the list, were in the room. My suggestion is probably in the minutes of those meetings, which have been posted widely. The point is, if I thought it was a breech of policy, I wouldn't have done it, and, for those who think I would willingly breech security, if I still wanted to do it, I would have done it surreptitiously, wouldn't I?

The volunteer list is in an unlocked place, easily accessible to anyone, and many, many volunteers know it is there. Since KBOO is so protective of the Membership List, but treats the volunteer list the way it does, I assume the question has been discussed before, and the decision has been made to leave it as it is, and had been for at least 20 years. If anyone can cite a law, federal, state or local, that precludes the use of telephones for such a use, I invite you to do so. If anyone can cite a regulation, federal, state or local, which precludes such a use, please do so. If anyone can cite a KBOO by-law which precludes such a use, please do so. If anyone can cite a KBOO policy which precludes such use, please do so.

The Membership List and the Volunteer Contact List are not the same thing. Most members are not volunteers, and some volunteers are not members. The security of the Membership List has not been violated, not in any way.

Telephone numbers are not copyrighted information, nor are they proprietary. This issue was settled decades ago when the first independent telephone directory publishers challenged Ma Bell and won. Many of the volunteers' numbers are published in the DEX directory. The numbers of almost everyone in America are easily obtainable on the Internet.We were authorized to use the Membership List; if we are savvy enough to match that information to other information that is legally and widely available, we have done no wrong.

The phone companies make a distinction among published numbers, non-published numbers, (which are available by calling Directory Assistance), and non-listed numbers,(which are neither published not available from Directory Assistance).

I would like to make an analogy with the Federal Do Not Call List. It's not exactly they same situation, no analogy is, but looking at it is useful. The policy governing that list makes an exception for calls from a company or institution with which the person being called has, or has had a relationship. In the present case, KBOO volunteers were calling KBOO volunteers about a topic related to KBOO. It also makes and exception for political calls. I'm on the Federal Do Not Call List myself. Maybe you are, too. I still get calls. I do what you probably do, too: I hang up. When I get a postcard that I don't want, I toss it, just as you do. When I get an email I don't want, I delete it. It takes a second.

Even so, as soon as I heard that someone objected to being called, I approached the Volunteer Coordinator. She informed me that one or more of the volunteer's phone numbers might be unlisted. This was news to me. To avoid any inconvenience to any such person, I immediately shredded my copy of the list, and the calls have stopped.

My first information that someone objected was an email from a volunteer, who said his friend objected. The email did not specify whether the friend objected to the use of the Volunteer List for this purpose, or to the nature of the call. I acknowledge that real politicking is rare ate KBOO, but if the friend or anyone else is shocked...shocked that a democratic election at a place like KBOO includes campaigning for candidates, they just need to re-read the list of values in our Programming Charter. I defend the practice.

If the KBOO community wants to change from current practice with regard to this list, or to establish a policy with regard to this list, to create a by-law, it certainly can do so, in the usual ways it takes such actions. Meanwhile, if it is determined that I violated a law, regulation, bylaw or policy, the Volunteer Coordinator is empowered to deal with me.

Sort of agree, but... 09.Sep.2013 09:34


Yes, at times I am annoyed when certain hosts get a whiff of something that sounds to right wingy for them and cut people off, however, it doesn't always happen, depends on the hosts (yes, some are kind of intolerant, others pretty open), relevance to subject at hand etc... However, the talk is still vastly better than the liberal/democrat homogenized pap dished out by NPR, and there are people working in KBOO that actually want to switch to that kind of format. Personally I find the infighting is kind of amusing, I'm not sure KBOO has ever been so entertaining, I think the station should stop being so nice to each other on the air and air things out to the public behind the mic. Might get that ratings boost the station so desperately needs.