2005-02/Feb Jeff Rowan resigns from Program Committee and KRFC

Jeff Rowan writes:

Below is the letter I wrote explaining why I felt it necessary to resign from the Programming Committee at the end of February, 2005. I'm posting it here in the hope that it will contribute to awareness about issues at KRFC that should concern us all.

I came to volunteer at the station a couple months after it went on the air in 2003. I was thrilled to have a community radio station so close to where I lived, especially one with such a admirable Mission Statement. I was involved with the News Ranger collective from the first time I walked into KRFC, and later became an original member of the Programming Committee.

Although other commitments eventually caused me to end my participation with News on the Range, I continued to be part of the PC, and actively promoted and supported KRFC.

As time went on, I became increasingly frustrated with the Programming Committee because it began to ignore established practices and democratic processes. Jazzgate and Eddie's "remov(al) from his positions" were the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

I can admit that the letter may have been more persuasive if it had sounded less angry. But, actually the tone accurately reflects the outrage and disappointment I feel about a community radio station that seems to be straying from some parts of its mission.

If you have questions or comments and would prefer not to post them, feel free to email me at jrowan2004@comcast.net.

To: programming@krfcfm.org; pc@krfcfm.org; beth@krfcfm.org; GregKrush@cs.com

I'm stunned. The workings of KRFC have truly become an nightmare for anyone interested in a community radio station run in a democratic manner, or to be precise, "a community radio station that is listener supported and democratically managed." That's from the KRFC Mission Statement. If it's been revised to read "autocratically" or "oligarchically," I hope someone will fill me in. Otherwise, the recent e-mails from the Station Manager and the President of the Board of Directors reveal, in my opinion, obvious violations of the KRFC Mission Statement.

I'm not writing this to impugn the integrity or character of anyone involved, but I think that on the face of it these last two proclamations from the top of the hierarchy cannot be allowed to stand without objection if KRFC expects to be a real community radio station.

I would like to draw attention to a few more quotations. Firstly, the Station Manager's e-mail contains the phrase "has been removed," to describe Eddie Arthur's fate, without attributing the decision to anyone in particular. I certainly know that the Programming Committee was not consulted in any way. We actually do have a process established for the removal of programmers if necessary, but apparently it was more expedient to bypass that process created by volunteers on the Programming Committee. One would like to think we might also have a say about who is on our own committee, but we did not. This hardly seems like democratic management. Frankly, I find it indefensible.

I assume the Board of Directors was consulted in "this decision," but it's really not clear from the announcement. The statement "it has become clear that Eddies needs and interests have diverged from the needs and greater good of the station," also in the Station Manager's announcement, begs the question, clear to whom? No to me, that's for damn sure. At this point, I don't even need to defend Eddie, because anyone who feels they have the authority to summarily dismiss a volunteer serving as both a programmer and a committee member is not someone who practices democratic management.

Secondly, the e-mail from the President of the Board of Directors with the subject line "jazzgate" portrays a disturbingly anti-democratic tone. The e-mail contains an apology "to all of our valuable volunteers who have received numerous inaccurate and miss-informative e-mails from various people." However, there is absolutely no attempt made by the President of the Board of Directors to correct the supposedly inaccurate information, let alone an apology to relevant volunteers that were completely left out of the decision to sell records.

The claim is made that "numerous programmers and others were consulted in the sale of the jazz vinyl," but again I'm quite sure the Programming Committee was not consulted, and apparently neither were some programmers with an interest in the jazz collection. So who exactly are these people who apparently gave the OK? Again, this does not sound like democratic management.

Finally, the President of the Board of Directors closes with an invitation to contact him if "anyone who wishes to be enlightened" with "accurate information." Why should the members of a community radio station have to call the President of the Board of Directors in order to understand the facts of a simple sale of records? Should a democratically managed station hold such information as some kind of state secret?

It's been apparent to me for some time that the Programming Committee tends to function as little more than a discussion group that often has little impact on a vision for the station, those decisions having already been made by a small group of people. These last two incidents only reinforce that notion, and I urge each member of the committee to examine whether or not there is any purpose to spending his or her time participating in such a farce.

Further developments will help me decide if I'll continue to support or be involved with KRFC as a whole, but please let this serve as my formal resignation from the Programming Committee.

Jeff Rowan