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KXCI DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE
KXCI Tucson Weekly Open Letter 2-12-04 --- (added 3-20-04)
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Open Letter from KXCI BOD Exec. Comm. to KXCI Members & Listeners 2-12-04 

Placed as Tucson Weekly Ad in the 2-12-04 Issue

An Open Letter to KXCI Listeners & Members

 

Why we placed this ad

 

As many of you are aware, there is a current dispute about KXCI. A former board member and a group of former programmers demand changes in current KXCI board composition, policies and management. Unfortunately, most people have only been exposed to one side of the story. That benefits no one and is a disservice to KXCI, its members and listeners. We hope this statement provides you with a more balanced view of the situation.

 

What is KXCI Community Radio?

 

KXCI is a community radio station managed by the non-profit Foundation for Creative Broadcasting. The Foundation is composed of voting members and managed by a Board of Directors. The Foundation operates KXCI with a very small professional staff and over 100 volunteers. During our 20 year history, the station has survived several very public controversies. KXCI is often the center of disagreements about how best to serve our very diverse community. We have resolved these disagreements in the past, just as the members and the Board will reach resolution on this controversy in a way that ensures that KXCI will continue to serve Tucson for the next 20 years and more.

 

What's this all about?

 

This group of ex-DJ's and an ex-Board member who want these changes call themselves "The Democracy Initiative." They have organized a petition for a special election to change the by-laws of the Foundation. They have gone to the press to launch unfounded charges against the Board and the station. The management of KXCI and Board members have met with representatives of the Initiative and heard their complaints. Some of their points are valid, and are under consideration by the Board. Other of their ideas have already been tried by KXCI and have been proven to fail. Unfortunately, it seems that the Initiative Group wants to force the Board to accept their every idea, regardless of the consequences.

 

Something "Radically Wrong at KXCI?"

 

That's what the petitioners say. The Initiative Group states that "something has gone radically wrong at KXCI." That is absolutely false. By any reasonable standard, KXCI is better off today than at any time in its history. What is the state of the station?

 

* Four times more people listen to KXCI every week now than did five years ago.

* Membership reached its highest level ever in 2003, with contributions by members at the highest average amount ever.

* Underwriting for 2003 reached its highest level in station history.

* KXCI continues to provide the most diverse music programming of any station in Arizona, with Blues, Gospel, progressive Country, Bluegrass and lots more.

* KXCI continues to air Democracy Now and other diverse political viewpoints not available on conservative commercial radio.

* In 2003, KXCI donated nearly $200,000 in airtime to Tucson community organizations and non profits that have no other access to electronic media.

* The station's financial health is the best it has ever been.

* The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has honored KXCI as a flagship station.

 

KXCI is growing stronger every day. This wasn't always the case. In the mid -90's KXCI faced near bankruptcy. Only vigorous, positive action by the Board and station management turned the station around.

 

What is the Real Issue?

 

If "something is terribly wrong at KXCI" and "big changes" are needed to solve the problem, the Initiative Group must be very unhappy with KXCI now. The critical question is: What does this group want to change about KXCI once they have changed the composition of the Board and have taken control? Some Initiative members have proposed cutting back on music programming to add more talk, others want to replace staff with volunteer committees, and some suggest rejecting funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. If those are their goals, they should say so. If they have other plans, they should reveal those as well.

 

Where do we go from here:

 

The BOD clearly recognizes the right of the Initiative Group to petition for an election. The BOD will do everything according to the FCB bylaws and Arizona regulations to fulfill our obligations in this matter. Despite the accusations of some members of the Initiative, every member of the KXCI community supports democracy, no one more strongly than the Board members.

 

Over the next few weeks, the Board will proceed with several initiatives to resolve the current dispute:

 

* The Board will strictly follow Arizona law and the FCB bylaws in responding to the petition drive for a bylaw election. We will do so in a manner which will ensure the validity of the process. FCB bylaws clearly state that the Initiative Group must pay all costs for this special election, and we will require that they do so, so that members aren't stuck with the bill.

* The BOD will open a website which will include extensive information which the members should have access to in this process.

* The General Manager will be available to respond to listener and member questions and concerns. Check the KXCI website for details.

 

A Possible Solution

 

The Board has met with Carl Moore, a nationally renowned mediator and conflict resolution expert. In a good faith effort to resolve these contentious issues without the turmoil of what could be a very acrimonious election, we have offered the Initiative Group the opportunity to join with us in a fair and impartial public mediation of all areas of concern. We invite all KXCI members, KXCI listeners and others in the Tucson community to join us in this conflict 'resolution process. We hope the members of the Initiative take this opening for the good of KXCI.

 

This mediation is only the first step in a series of public meetings and initiatives to bring all members of the Tucson community into the Board's planning process for the future of KXCI.

 

We trust that this open letter helps clear up the confusion and concern that some members and listeners have expressed. The Board and KXCI staff will do whatever we can to move this conflict to a positive resolution in the best interests of KXCI, its members and underwriters.

 

Signed:

 

The Executive Committee, Board of Directors, FCB/KXCI

Lil Espinoza, Jean-Paul Genet, Kathleen Williamson, James Hannley, Tom Spendiarian

PAGE 16 * TUCSON WEEKLY  * FEBRUARY I2-FEBRUARY 18, 2004