POSTED: 17 JANUARY 2008 - 8:30am HST

Impressions of Kekahu Foundation Meeting

image above:Classic old Philco "Cathedral" radio, sometimes called the "Tombstone"

by Katy Rose on 17 January 2008

These are my impressions of last night's Kekahu Foundation (KKCR) Board of Directors meeting.

I don't know how those meetings usually are, but last night there was a standing-room- only crowd. In addition to the board itself, there were many community members and station volunteers in attendance.

A sign-up list was made available for those who wished to speak about the current events surrounding the station. I think perhaps a dozen people put their names on the list.

Before the floor was opened for speakers, some pieces of business were attended to. Among those was a report by station manager Gwen Palagi to the board about changes being implemented in response to recent events and ongoing criticism:

• grant proposals are to be submitted for the aquisition of remote-broadcasting equipment

• pursuit of a remote-broadcasting relationship with the Storybook Theatre on the West side

• creation of a "human resources task force" to examine and alter current volunteer-relations policies

• more comprehensive community outreach

• institution of a KPFA-style "Report to the Listeners" on a monthly basis, beginning in March (an idea straight from our lips to their ears!)

• initiation of a mediation process in the matter of the suspended volunteers
(Later in the meeting, board member Marj Dente introduced a motion, which passed, to have the personnel committee thoroughly investigate the recent suspensions and surrounding events.)

These proposals are steps in the right direction, and I am glad they are on the table. They pave the way - if we stay focussed on our goals - to the deeper and longer-term structural changes we want to see.

The speakers' segment was interesting. The first person to take the mic was a long-time programmer, who presented the view best characterized as "deny, rationalize and attack." But the majority of the remaining speakers were volunteers or listeners concerned about the problems at the station, concerned about the question of exclusion, supportive of the suspended programmers, advocates of membership-voting rights, and insistent on structural change. Hale, Ka'iulani, Fred and I all had the opportunity to address the crowd. Hale and Ka'iu made very moving remarks.

Interestingly, Hale's remarks were continually interrupted by new Board president John Gordon, who exhorted him to cease with "derogatory comments." I think that was shorthand for "comments that make settlers uncomfortable about living in an occupied land," because I could not identify any personally derogatory statements in anything Hale said. (The statement I made is attached, if you are interested.)

I know that I was not the only one who entered that room with a knot in my gut, expecting hostility. Fred,Hale, Ka'iu and I were all a little nervous. I am very happy that, at our request, at least a dozen people showed up from the community. There were several others who came in support that we hadn't even personally contacted. Several people drove to Princeville from the West side because this meant enough to them!

All in all, I left the meeting feeling that people (meaning volunteers and other community members, if not the board) had been moved, and that the face-to-face contact had removed some of the "mystique" that we had been saddled with as irrational whiners, malcontents and spoilers. I think it became clear that our efforts are aimed at improving, not destroying, KKCR. We saw evidence that the pressure we have been applying is having an effect on the thinking and actions of decision-makers at KKCR.

There is still much work to do, but it's always encouraging to see the boulder budge, even an inch!

See you at the Community Advisory Board Meeting next Wednesday, 7:00, Kapaa Neighborhood Center!



POSTED: 11 JANUARY 2008 - 7:30am HST

The Rising Floodwaters of Rationalization

by Katy Rose on 17 January 2008

Yesterday's "Out of the Box" call-in program on KKCR was hosted by Dave Gerow and John Gordon. Present in the studio to offer station management's perspective on the current controversy at KKCR were station manager Gwen Palagi and staff members Dawn Jewell and Dove Liddle. Regular co-host Bill Rash, who was heard last week challenging a caller to a fight, was absent, apparently suspended for this infraction.

For the first 35 minutes of the broadcast, and before opening the phone lines to listeners, Dave Gerow posed a series of questions to management, based upon a string of "straw man" arguments, chief among them the claim that Jimmy Trujillo and I had broadcast, over KKCR airwaves, a request to listeners to boycott the station, and that our suspensions, and Ka'iulani's, were based on "FCC violations."

An interesting definition of "dirty laundry" was posited by staff: anything that "tears down" the station, instead of supporting it. This helped explain why Jimmy and I were suspended for raising the question of Ka'iulani's termination on the air, but programmers in the ensuing weeks were given free reign to discuss the issue without facing the same consequences. However, a definition of "tearing down" was never offered, and there are many who would question the idea that critical discourse and challenges to the status quo are destructive, rather than constructive, acts.

I was disappointed to hear repeated references to the name of an outgoing board member, who is of Hawaiian descent, in an attempt to "prove" that the Board of Directors is "diverse." This is the kind of insensitive "tokenization" that has historically been a sore spot for people of color and other oppressed people. It made me realize how far behind the curve our liberal friends still are when it comes to social justice issues.

I was also unhappy to listen to management's justifications for the lock-outs, station shut-downs and requests for police presence. Apparently, the notion that peaceful protest and free speech are threatening and terroristic has filtered down into KKCR. What a shame.

There was general agreement in the studio yesterday that listener or membership voting rights was too "messy" and uncontrollable, though a caller pointed out that these arguments against democracy were the same ones advanced by 16th-century European monarchs.

The misperception that Board composition has no material effect on the everyday conditions in the station was adamantly promoted. While we are all well aware that the Board of Directors does not interfere with programming and volunteer decisions, the overall direction of the station, including the choice of station manager, is influenced by the Board. Who is to say that a more diverse board might not seriously tackle the general direction of KKCR as it now stands? If it is so powerless, why are so many afraid of a more diverse board?

It gave me hope, however, to hear amidst the rising floodwaters of rationalization and justification, some concrete responses to some of the ideas for real change at KKCR which have been promoted for years by "dissidents." A fundraiser is to be held to help pay for remote broadcasting equipment. Discussions with KCC to expand a relationship with the campus have begun. Minimal, though positive, attempts are being made to "go to the people" at events like the county fair.
Station management admitted that they have dealt with personnel issues in a clumsy way and are now attempting to amend their volunteer-relations policies. These are steps in the right direction, though they do not go far enough.

The way to ensure that such progress advances is to bring "the people" into the process of decision-making. Again, voting rights is a cornerstone of this principle. Negotiating with the newly-formed Volunteer Collective to hammer out a mutually beneficial volunteer policy is essential. Aggressively pursuing outreach in the community - leaving the "comfort zone" far behind - is necessary. Eliminating barriers to participation should be a top priority - geographic, economic, physical and social hindrances must be identified by those most affected by them, understood by those with the power to institute changes, and immediately dismantled.

Whether yesterday's broadcast signaled the beginning of real change at KKCR remains to be seen, but it is up to us as a community to hold KKCR accountable.
The following announcements have been made by a member of the Community Advisory Board:

The Board of Directors of the Kekahu Foundation/KKCR will be meeting on Wednesday, January 16th, 2008 at 6:00pm at the Princeville Community Center, across the street from the library (makai side). Four new members will be sworn in and officers, including the new Chairperson, will be installed. Roxanne Mc Dougal will be there to describe the Strategic Plan Process. The Public is invited. Please come, bring Aloha, concerns and solutions.

The Commnunity Advisory Board (CAB) of the Kekahu Foundation/KKCR will be meeting on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008 at 6:00pm at the Kapa`a Neighborhood Center. At 7 PM, After the regular business meeting, the general Public is invited to participate in a workshop to discuss the future of KKCR.

The CAB is mandated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to "advise the governing body of the station with respect to whether the programming and other policies of such station are meeting the specialized educational and cultural needs of the communities served by the station, and may make such recommendations as it considers appropriate to meet such needs." All meetings are open to the Public. We have a great opportunity to move forward for the common good, please come and participate, bring Aloha, snacks, concerns and solutions.

see also:
Island Breath: KKCR Dirty Laundry 1/9/08
Island Breath: KKCR Solututions 1/8/08
Island Breath: KKCR and Racism 1/6/08
Island Breath: KKCR Video 1/3/08
Island Breath: KKCR Controversy 1/3/08