Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Willamette Week Covers Glorious Radio Worker's Struggle! Traitors! Spies!

While Glorious Leader maintains Inner Party silence, traitors have been scurrying to Willamette Week to spread their insidious lies about the Inner Party!
 [Readers from WW are directed to the "But Seriously Folks" info to the right of their screen]

July 10th, 2013 SARA SNEATH | News

Power struggles at Portland’s community radio station overshadow its troubles.

RADIOACTIVE: KBOO-FM interim executive director Lynn Fitch has taken heat for carrying out reforms ordered by the station’s board of directors. - IMAGE: Anna Jaye Goellner

 On any given morning, those who still tune in to KBOO 90.7 FM might hear stories from the perspectives of prison inmates, homeless people and bicycle advocates.

But one of the topics the community radio station’s hosts talk about often is the rights of workers in the face of oppressive employers.

“American labor law is broken law,” a guest said on KBOO’s Labor Radio show July 8. “Labor law is rigged for the bosses.”

In its 45-year history, KBOO has been a forum for unpopular, controversial and neglected perspectives—often pitching individual freedom against the injustice of big business.

But now, KBOO’s own management is being publicly cast as doing all the things a corporate bully might do. Workers at the station this year joined a union after KBOO moved to cut their benefits. The station responded by threatening to lay off the entire staff, and by hiring a Portland law firm that advertises its skills in keeping out unions.

The moves have divided the nonprofit station’s board of directors and pitted its interim executive director against KBOO’s small staff and legions of volunteers who keep the commercial-free station’s programs on the air.

The fight has broken out as KBOO faces a decline in revenues and listeners. The station has also had to confront the slippery sense of what its role should be in a changing media world—and whether the station will even survive. 

Says KBOO board member Hadrian Micciche, “They’re fighting over who’s going to have ownership of the corpse.”

KBOO Community Radio went on the air in 1968, out of a basement room at Southwest Salmon Street and 3rd Avenue, and took its call letters from a marijuana strain called “Berkeley Boo.” Its mission then was not that different from today’s: KBOO is a source for community activism, progressive viewpoints and eclectic music.

The station runs on its volunteers—as many as 500, according to KBOO—and the programming reflects their tastes. Aside from talk shows focused on local politics, the station’s lineup includes Presswatch (“News You’re Not Supposed to Know”), Sounds Unsound (a music show whose genres include “avant-rock, free jazz/rock/folk, psychedelic, noise…”) and Positively Revolting (“an eco-feminist, and anarcha-feminist perspective”).

“Virtually everyone is welcome to come in off the street and run the station,” says Lisa Loving, a KBOO board member.

The station also has 10 paid positions. Salaries are capped at $34,960 after five years of employment—and some employees have worked there for more than 20.
But the number of KBOO listeners—always a small but highly engaged group—has fallen sharply, from 70,000 in 2004, to below 50,000 in 2011. KBOO declined to release updated listener estimates. Arbitron numbers show KBOO’s share has slipped further in the last year.

Micciche connects the decline in KBOO listenership to the election of President Obama. “The audience that found KBOO to be a good source of news about [President George] Bush’s misdeeds has largely left us behind,” Micciche says. “This target audience isn’t listening at the levels they did in the past—or paying the bills.”

The station’s $700,000 in revenues are down nearly 20 percent since 2007. KBOO lost grants in 2008, including from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Since then, the station has been running in the red—more than $100,000 last year alone. (KBOO declined to release recent financial numbers.)
“About four years ago, we were like, ‘We only have five years to continue deficit spending,’” says Paula Small, KBOO’s board treasurer. “People aren’t paying attention. In this current pattern, I don’t give us two years.”

In January, the KBOO Foundation’s 12-member board voted to shake up the station by trying to make its operations more professional. The board put almost all power to run the station in the hands of an executive director who would also be station manager.

The changes were a surprise to station staff and volunteers who had run KBOO as a collective and without a real hierarchy.

“The staff managed themselves, but it was not a satisfactory arrangement,” says Lynn Fitch, whom the board hired as interim director. “[The board] wanted a different structure.”

Fitch—typically dressed in an embroidered linen frock, and followed everywhere by a vested Yorkie named Ryder—grew up in North Seattle and says she worked in public broadcasting in Alaska. KBOO hired her in May 2012 as its development director. “It was a part-time position,” Fitch says. “I was looking for something to do that would give me time to work in my garden.”

Fitch gave herself the title of “station navigator”—too many people with the title of station manager, she says, didn’t last very long in the job. 

KBOO had a complicated grievance process for employees. At the board’s direction, Fitch rewrote the rules so that an employee could be fired at any time without cause. She also cut paid sabbaticals, the number of sick days that could be rolled over, and maternity leave.

“I thought there might be pushback,” Fitch says. “I was really not prepared for the level of pushback and hostility.”

Employees had already voluntarily cut their own bonuses, retirement fund, conferences and travel, and added a winter membership drive all in the name of reducing the budget deficit.

“We were given the [new employee] handbook without time to review it and told to sign it right away,” says Jenka Soderberg, KBOO’s evening news and public affairs director. “We were like, ‘Wait, this slashes our benefits.’”

That was in March. The following month, KBOO employees informed Fitch they were seeking to join the Communications Workers of America Local 7901, and asked the station to voluntarily recognize the union.

Fitch responded by trying to lay off the entire staff, warning some board members on April 17 of her plans. 

“How do you do a restructure that is fair to everybody and removes the legal responsibility?” Fitch says. “The best thing you can do is to lay everyone off, with severance packages, with the ability to collect unemployment, with continued benefits, with the caveat that I’m going to post these jobs and you’re welcome to apply for them.”

The next day, KBOO workers filed their petition with the National Labor Relations Board. 

The station’s law firm, Sussman Shank, recommended to Fitch that KBOO hire another firm experienced in dealing with unions, Bullard Law. Bullard’s website boasts of the firm’s expertise in “union avoidance” and its “strategies to maintain a union-free workplace [and] minimization of union activity.”

Word leaked, and outrage among KBOO employees and listeners erupted at management’s claims that the move was meant simply to make the station more professional.

“‘Professional’ in this country means anti-worker and anti-union, and KBOO needs to use a different method of achieving professional competence,” Chris Lowe, a KBOO listener, said at a May 4 meeting. “There are 250 people here today. Use this energy to get people re-engaged.”

Two blogs— and—track the dispute, and a petition, aimed at KBOO board president S.W. Conser, has 266 signatures. It demands that the station drop Bullard Law, which is “antithetical to the values of KBOO.”

Conser told WW he wasn’t familiar with the blogs. “We have a bunch of 45th anniversary events coming,” Conser says. “The official business of KBOO is enough to keep me busy.”

But the dispute has deeply divided the KBOO board. Interviews with board members reveal that a majority is opposed to Fitch’s actions.

“She called me at work on a Wednesday afternoon to tell me she planned to lay off staff,” said one board member, who asked not to be identified because of current mediation. “That was when I started revisiting her whole interlude.”
Several board members have quit in the past few months—including Marc Brown, who blames an entrenched staff that fights any meaningful change. “Honestly,” Brown wrote in his May resignation letter, “I am not going to engage in this immature, short-sighted, and close-minded behavior any longer.”

KBOO employees contacted by WW declined to discuss the current dispute. One new board member, Sue Bartlett, joined after supporting the Save KBOO movement. Bartlett says she discovered Fitch was largely carrying out directions from the KBOO board. 

“We all blamed it on the new executive director,” Bartlett says. “I discovered it’s a lot more complex than it seemed at first.”

Sources on the KBOO board say there may be enough votes to fire Fitch, but they fear being sued.

“I remember asking them, ‘You’re going to have my back, right?’” Fitch says. “They said yes. I don’t think that any of them had any idea what they had asked me to do.”

Fitch has asked for mediation with the board to decide her future. KBOO has withdrawn the policies that started the uproar, namely giving Fitch broad powers to run the station and fire employees.

Four positions on the KBOO board come up for a vote in September, and none of the members whose seats are up is seeking re-election.

Bartlett says KBOO is trying to move forward and focus on keeping the station afloat despite the tension and hard feelings.

“There’s a lot of suspicion,” she says. “People have been attacked verbally a lot. Everybody is defensive.” 

WW intern Sara Sneath was an intern at KBOO from January to May of this year.

First, Comrade President Conser has a great sense of humor:
Conser told WW he wasn’t familiar with the blogs. “We have a bunch of 45th anniversary events coming,” Conser says. “The official business of KBOO is enough to keep me busy.”
Ha, ha!  The friend of Glorious Leader and staff is unfamiliar with Glorious Leader's blog!  Very Funny, Comrade!

Less funny are these TRAITORS snitching on the Inner Party, outdoing Richard/Winston Smith:

Traitor Sue Bartlett:

One new board member, Sue Bartlett, joined after supporting the Save KBOO movement. Bartlett says she discovered Fitch was largely carrying out directions from the KBOO board. 

“We all blamed it on the new executive director,” Bartlett says. “I discovered it’s a lot more complex than it seemed at first.”
Complex?  COMPLEX?  What's so complex?  FITCH IS EVIL!  Send this woman to Happy Valley Reeducation facility at once!

Spy Sara Sneath.  Or should we say Sara Sneak?

WW intern Sara Sneath was an intern at KBOO from January to May of this year.
May was when Glorious Leader launched her campaign:

It's also when the pallet of May 1st flyers disappeared.  Coincidence or CONSPIRACY ?

Loyal Cadre know the answer!

Down with Willamette Week!  Down with spies and traitors!  Sneath will get the Fitch treatment if she doesn't watch her step!

Solidarity! Insanity! Revolution!

-Meresa Titchell

Update: posted to KBOO's facebook Timeline but no Inner Party member comments. Where's Party Solidarity?
KBOO Coup: Power Struggles in Portland Community Radio
On any given morning, those who still tune in to KBOO 90.7 FM might hear stories from the perspectives of prison inmates, homeless people and bicycle advocates. But one of the topics the commu,News


  1. "“Virtually everyone is welcome to come in off the street and run the station,” says Lisa Loving, a KBOO board member."

    Um, what?

    1. Ha, ha, ha!!!

      Lisa is such a kidder!

    2. Yup, that quote's priceless. Guess we'll have to open the doors, ignore the access list, and let anyone come in and run the station. After all, Lisa says it's so and she's a board member.

      And how did WWeek get this nugget "Arbitron numbers show KBOO’s share has slipped further in the last year."?

      KBOO isn't subscribing, so who did the reporter go to to get this piece of intel? The last published numbers for KBOO were about 50,000 sometimes 45,000 listeners for the entire week, is it actually worse now? Who has real data that can be shared?

    3. To be fair, anyone not involved with the crazies or with Loving's bipolar would assume she meant "anyone can walk off the street and get involved."

  2. Bruce Silverman showed up at WW for a tl;dr rant:

    Bruce Silverman • 26 minutes ago

    Sara Sneath's report generally got it right: the KBOO Board of Directors gave Lynn Fitch unprecedented power. The rest of us (I have been a volunteer for 22 years and was on staff for 11 years) are still trying to figure out why they did that. Most current Board members regret it. Meanwhile, Fitch is doing what she understands her directive to be -- implement a Strategic Plan that was written by a consultant and approved by the Board several years ago. It does call for change, and the staff was implementing it before Fitch arrived. Her means to this agreed-upon end have run counter to the principles to which KBOO is dedicated, so she deserves some of the blame.

    The problem with the report is the use of the following phrases: "KBOO moved to ...", " ... according to KBOO ...", "KBOO declined to release ...". Fitch has a habit of identifying herself as KBOO, and your reporter fell for it.

    A few points deserve clarification:
    When Fitch informed "some" Board members of her plan to lay off the staff, regardless of any individual's performance, she informed her few friends on the Board, NOT including the President. That's dysfunctional.

    Her Board ally Paula Small's claim that "People aren't paying attention" flies in the face of the large participation in this debate by staff, volunteers and listeners, and by the staff's offer of a 12 per cent cut in hours and pay, and their offer to increase the co-pay on health insurance.

    It is NOT correct that "none of the members whose seats are up is seeking reelection"; Rabia Yeaman, a Fitch supporter, is seeking reelection.

    Outgoing Board member Hadrian Micciche, a Fitch supporter who is quoted saying "THEY are fighting ..." is a leading "fighter". It should be noted that in two years has never volunteered for any job, except to serve on the Board and spout his theories. Unfortunately, he has proven to be woefully unfamiliar with that which he wants to be a boss of.

    Finally, Fitch comments that the staff management collective, which lasted about a year and a half, and was instituted because we didn't have the money for a manager's salary, "was not a satisfactory arrangement". She was not present at that time, but, yes, it was insufficient, because the Board gave the staff all the responsibility, but limited its power. Still, it was at least as effective as some of the managers we've had, and better than some.

    A large number of concerned people are working on solutions through which KBOO can operate within the principles it has supported for all. Some of them are now candidates for the Board. It IS possible to support a better world while having justice within your own organization.

    1. For new readers Brucie was part of the Secret Cabal to blame Fitch for everything, including a T-shirt staff designed and approved:

      Notes from Keep KBOO mtg 4/26/13

      Jamie Partridge

      Apr 26

      Committee to Keep KBOO as KBOO
      Initial meeting -- Friday, April 26, 2013
      Attendance: Jamie Partridge (chair & notes, 503-752-5112), Joe Crane, Bill Resnick, David Neel, Alan Wieder, Joanie Krag, Dave King, Paul Roland, John Walsh, Clayton Morgareidge, Linda Olson-Osterlund, Per Fagereng, Theresa Mitchell, Bruce Silverman, Michael Morrow, Gene Bradley, Joe Clement, Tom Becker, Robin Hahnel, Jan Haaken, Frann Michel

    2. Too funny--Brucie has unregistered! Now his comment is only signed as "guest": Guest • a day ago

      Hadrian responds:

      Hadrian Micciche • 41 minutes ago

      With unintentional irony but total accuracy, Bruce's post demonstrates the unfortunate truth of the article's sub-title: "Power struggles at Portland's community radio station overshaow its troubles."

  3. Uh oh. Linked at Indy:

    Comrade Bees get working!

    1. Yay!!! And for once, in a timely fashion, Indymedia deletes the anti-Party article!

      Thanks, anonymous Indymedia drones! The Inner Party doesn't doesn't know what they would do without you!

    2. No, not deleted, just composted:

      composted article commentary portland metro 10.Jul.2013 10:58
      alternative media
      Willamette Week Covers Glorious Radio Worker's Struggle at KBOO!
      author: supporter

    3. "No, not deleted, just composted:"

      But timely!

  4. "Update: posted to KBOO's facebook Timeline but no Inner Party member comments. Where's Party Solidarity?"

    That is weird. Not taking the opportunity to bawl at Facebook? Or afraid people will do their own research like Sue Bartlett?

  5. Good comment by Ed:

    Ed in Portland • 13 hours ago

    It’s refreshing to see an article in WWeek about KBOO that is well researched and fairly presented.

    It’s quite an understatement when Lynn Fitch said; "I was really not prepared for the level of pushback and hostility." No one who comes from a professional environment could be prepared for the way people sometimes treat each other at KBOO. The staff and a small group of passionate radical volunteers have kept tight control of the station by running off board members not to their liking, and by harassing unwanted volunteers and several station managers until they quit.

    The programming has been stuck serving this small circle, all in the name of "diversity". It’s diverse for sure, unless you happen to slightly disagree with the group think. Ms. Sneath gets it right when she says "The station runs on its volunteers ... and the programming reflects their tastes." A problem today is that KBOO lacks a proper Community Advisory Board and therefore has no independent feedback from the community(s) it’s supposed to serve. No wonder listenership is down; it’s become moribund to the opinions of long term staff and programmers. KBOO can adjust the programming a bit and still be true to its mission, but it needs a strong board and manager to make this happen.

    We’re blessed in Portland to have OPB, KMHD, and All Classical on the dial as professional, thriving public radio stations. Alternative local music is already served well by KBOO, OPB Music, and the fledgling KZME. So in this radio rich environment, what’s left for Community Radio? KBOO can pick up new micro audiences with specialized programming in both music and public affairs, and continue its mission to train citizens to be part of community media. It does this already, but just doesn’t cast the net wide enough. It doesn’t have to win the ratings, just revitalize the programming and bring enough new member listeners to solve chronic budget deficits.

    "We all blamed it on the new executive director," Bartlett says. "I discovered it’s a lot more complex than it seemed at first."

    I’m glad the word is getting out that this is not simply a manager vs. union dispute. I hope the board can stabilize and lead KBOO Community Radio to a future where people with disparate backgrounds and views collaborate to responsibly manage a valuable, shared community resource. KBOO can be saved and become a place where all people, including radicals, have a voice.

    Ed Kraus
    KBOO music programmer and board candidate
    Portland, Oregon

  6. Per Fagereng showed up and he didn't mention cows once:

    7pfagereng7 Ed in Portland • 5 minutes ago

    How does a Community Advisory Board get chosen? Pacifica Radio has elected boards. Competing CABs get voted in and out, and Pacifica is in worse shape than KBOO.
    If not elected, how does a CAB get selected? Does the KBOO Board pick the leaders of a community? Or does it leave the job to an outside group? Communities have their factions. How do we choose among them?
    And what is a "community"? These days we think of ethnic, racial, religious or gender groups. What about class, as in working class? That cuts across all other groups. What about a community of like-minded people? I consider myself a guy who hates war, especially warmongers in suits, and wants to know what's behind the corporate poopaganda. That's my community.
    As to other public radio stations, OPB added a day to its recent pledge drive and All Classical kept its drive going on and on. OPB gets about the same portion of its budget from members as does KBOO.
    Per Fagereng

  7. Hadrian makes good points:

    Hadrian Micciche

    Ed: The Board seems intent on shooting themselves in the face. They are in serious need of being rescued from themselves, but that's a seemingly impossible task.

    I once managed to engage the interest of a teams of consultants who could work with the KBOO Board for 3 months to help them turn themselves around. However, once they looked into the situation, their profession judgement was that the KBOO Board was too f*cked up to help. It is now in even worse shape. I invite all to attend the special board meeting this Monday to witness the end game in KBOO's impending murder/suicide.

    There's been a very subtle attempt from the Inner Party to suggest ppl like Hadrian/Ben/etc are trying to destroy the station. This started AFTER the last move to oust Fitch failed. IMO even the Innner Party knows it's doomed. They're not going to let anyone save the station, but they already have their sights on who to blame if it collapses.