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KXCI DEMOCRACY INITIATIVE
A Brief History
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PROPOSED CHANGES FOR FCB BY-LAWS
KXCI GM Letter To Volunteer Programmer's
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A Brief History
Volunteer Agreement
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Tucson's only "community radio" station, KXCI-FM seemingly
takes pride in the "real people" that bring you "real radio."
Approximately 80% of its weekly programming schedule is filled by
dedicated volunteers who spend many hours each week developing music
and public affairs programming for their audience. Three times a
year, they spend many more hours raising tens of thousands of
dollars for station expenses such as salaries.

Yet, many of the long-time volunteer programmers are up in
arms over the Draconian actions of the station management that seems
determined to implement a new "mainstream" sound for the station and
take punitive measures against volunteers who voice opposition. The
latest curveball delivered by General Manager Anthony Ford is a
mandatory Volunteer Agreement that provides that programmers can be
terminated by KXCI management "for any reason or no reason at
all...." and "these decisions are final and no provision for appeal
is provided."

Why management's concern for due process for volunteers? In
Mr. Ford's four years at the station he has developed a reputation
among volunteer programmers, members and some board members for
secretive and arbitrary decision-making about programming and
personnel, punitive and arbitrary disciplinary actions, and a
management style that disallows input from the many volunteers
programmers and fund-raisers. When given authority by the board of
directors to handle volunteer matters, one of his first actions was
to nullify the Volunteer Handbook with policies that provided for
discipline and grievance procedures.

Just over a year ago, many station members and listeners
were outraged when Ford axed 11 shows and terminated several long-
time programmers. Calls for change were made to the board of
directors of the Foundation for Creative Broadcasting, KXCI's parent
non-profit organization, and the programmers concerns were answered
with a promise of more open communication between staff and
volunteers.

These promises were never fulfilled, but with the hiring of Program
Director Roger Greer last spring, programmers meetings were
reinstated. These meetings served as a focal point for programmers
concerns, however, it soon became clear that they would not become a
vehicle for change. Last July, 32 volunteer programmers and 19 KXCI
members signed a letter to the board asking for improved
communication between volunteers, staff, and board members; the
establishment of an FCC-required community advisory board and other
vehicles for community input; and procedures for volunteer
discipline, grievance and termination.

The board responded by appointing an ad hoc committee of
board members, the program director and volunteer programmers to
attempt to resolve differences. The staff responded by waging a
campaign of punitive disciplinary actions, censorship and dismissals
against those who signed the letter or were sympathetic to the
issues raised. The program director issued numerous disciplinary
notices for seemingly minor infractions, but refused to provide
volunteers with information on unacceptable behavior, appropriate
FCC regulations, and the consequences of the notices. One
programmer who filed a letter of grievance with the board was placed
on probation for a song played six weeks earlier. Throughout this
period, certain volunteers were regularly treated with disdain and
disrespect.
Most recently, these processes converged at the monthly
board meeting. Following several weeks' discussions, the ad hoc
committee, which included the program director, recommended that the
station adopt a Volunteer Handbook that would provide for protection
of volunteer rights. Later that evening, the General Manager
proposed a Volunteer Agreement that required that volunteer
programmers agree to dismissal for "any reason or no reason at
all." So much for good faith efforts.

As volunteers grapple this week with the decision to sign such an
agreement, observers grapple with the irony of a "community radio"
station that treats its essential volunteers with a disdain that is
unparalleled among non-profit organizations in Tucson.