AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS FOR THE FOUNDATION FOR CREATIVE BROADCASTING
July 25, 2002
This letter is being presented to you to by a group of volunteers and members of the KXCI community. We share a commitment to the success of KXCI and to the core principles upon which it was founded nearly
20 years ago. These principles as incorporated into the FCB Mission Statement
1) To serve as a resource for the production and development of creativity
2) To provide community access to the airwaves; and
3) To participate in and help to develop the art and culture of
KXCI was also founded on principles of participatory management. All members
of the community that worked to nurture and support the station were to be valued, including the board, the staff, the volunteers,
and the members themselves. Financial success was to depend on the mutual benefit
of the station and its members.
Recent events, as well as longer-term trends indicate that these principles are no longer the foundation for operation,
management, and programming of KXCI. For example, nearly 85% of the staff and
volunteer positions at the station are volunteer programmers. These same volunteer
programmers independently develop and produce almost 80% of the programming broadcast by the station. And yet, volunteer programmers
are not permitted to hold seats on the board of directors, are inadequately and inappropriately represented by staff to the
board in the decision- and policy-making process, and currently have little or no input into programming decisions. As a result, there is a feeling of disenfranchisement and alienation from the decisions that affect us
and the stations programming and viability.
We are troubled not only by the kinds of decisions made by management, but also by how they are being implemented. The policies, process and very mission of the station have been rewritten in the past
few years, resulting in an environment that is anything but community oriented. We
do not expect everyone within the community to always get along or to have the same ideas, especially when it comes to subjective
issues such as programming. We do, however, believe that the very definition
of community radio, as it was established nearly 20 years ago, as it is regulated and enforced by the FCC and our funding
agencies, requires participation from all interested partiesthe community, the members, the volunteer programmers,
the staff, as well as the board of directors. We are a publicly-funded, publicly-supported, volunteer-dependent non-profit,
community service organization. As such, the management of the station is beholden
to the general public, volunteers and KXCI-served community. It is responsible for the development and implementation of policies
and procedures that ensure not only legal and successful stewardship of the organization, but also adequate and satisfactory
The feeling many of us have is that current management either does not believe in the merits of, or is unable to operate
in, an environment where participation is the norm. The very things that have
made KXCI a successful and viable part of the Tucson community are the very things being excised by management in ways that
are at their core counter to the concepts of our founding. The current management
philosophy is based on advertising-driven ratings systems and a bottom line orientation. It is management practice based on
top-down decision-making and enforcement rather than a bottom-up, participatory, team approach. It is a management style that always goes after the new listener, while neglecting the members and listeners
we already have, the ones that grow with us.
The focus on expanding market share, combined with authoritarian management practices, has served to alienate programmers
and members from participating in policy- and decision-making. Over the past
4 years, management has eliminated nearly all of the entry points for meaningful community, volunteer and member participation. Participation makes community radio. The
ability to have healthy discourse about as well as input into the collective concerns of the station is what keeps many of
us involved and excited. It is what enables programmers to get on the air three
or four times a year, year after year, to boast about the station, and urge others to get involved. How can programmers do that if they are not truly involved themselves?
How can programmers do that when their involvement is not wanted, when it is discouraged and penalized? What does this truly say about KXCI as a community?
You may recall that last year at this time the General Manager abruptly cancelled thirteen shows, and summarily dismissed
ten volunteers without warning or prior discussion. A large turnout at the July
2001 board meeting resulted and the board president indicated that the situation would be addressed. To date, no real action on the part of the board or the station management to even broach these issues
has been taken.
A few weeks ago, the General Manager removed Mary Buckley, a long-time member, volunteer, DJ class instructor and enthusiastic
station supporter, from the Music Mix, a show she has done for almost 10 years. In
the past, programmers were removed from the air due to poor on-air performance, because they violated FCC regulations, or
because they were unprofessional or represented the station in a manner detrimental to the stations image. Mary Buckley has done none of these things. She was allegedly
removed from the air because Tony was concerned that her 2 hours on air was interfering with her ability to sell underwriting. However, her contract never made any connections between her sales requirements and
her show. In fact, there are no consistent guidelines and standards applied to staff who have on-air shows. Shouldnt management also be looking closely at and developing guidelines for the other staff who are on
the air or otherwise unavailable during business hours? At the very least, even
if Mary were not meeting her sales requirements, removal from the air is not a smart management decision. Why would Mary have any motivation to sell underwriting during those 2 hours when her love for the station
is based on her participation in its main objectivecreative broadcasting? As
expected she recently gave notice and our station is now losing an experienced, popular, and committed programmer and employee
because of poor management skills. To make matters worse, when asked about the
discontent of many programmers over her removal from the air, he jokingly referred to the new program director as the person
responsible for dealing with it, demonstrating a lack of respect and accountability.
As the board of directors, you supervise the General Manager of the station. You protect its license and provide not
only for the fiscal viability and success of the station, but also for needs of the community you serve in a way that is legally
compliant, and morally sound. As a publicly funded entity, the FCB is bound to
the regulations and requirements of the agencies that fund and govern it. As
a membership-supported station, we are also responsible to our members, the very community that defines our existence and
provides the very basis for its financial well-being. As the board of a community
service entity, you must ensure that your staff and volunteers are treated fairly and respectfully.
We are not confident the station is more financially viable than it was four years ago, nor that we are in legal compliance
with our government and funding entities. We are certain we have lost many, many
longtime supporting members, and we know by our own experiences and those of fellow programmers that the staff and volunteers
are not treated fairly, with respect, or with due process.
There are several key areas of concern we are asking you to address:
Currently there are no written policies and procedures in place for staff or volunteers. There are no staff or volunteer grievance policies in effect. If a member of the staff or a volunteer programmer
has a problem with the general manager or another staff member, there are no clear avenues for redress.
There are no clear criteria for the removal of programmers from the air or a clear process with regards to programming
decisions. The current system is based on personal relationships and subjective
evaluations, resulting in a capricious and arbitrary process riddled with double standards. It does not engender a sense of
common purpose or community, nor is it conducive to retaining highly effective and experienced volunteer broadcasters.
There currently is no clear process for gathering and utilizing input from the community, members, and programmers. When questions and concerns regarding programming do arise, they are usually dismissed
in a manner that indicates management has little regard for either the experience of the volunteers or the needs of the members.
While the hiring of a Program Director holds the promise of facilitating more programmer participation and a
more open process of decision- and policy-making, it is certainly not clear at this time whether the Program Director is being
given the authority necessary to fulfill his role. It is difficult to know if programmer concerns will be addressed or if
future programmer input will be utilized. Recent comments from both the General Manger and Program Director about this have
been confusing and misleading..
While the removal of Mary and other programmers from the air appears on the surface to be an attempt to hold
them accountable for their actions, inactions, or poor performance, there is no similar accountability for station management
or other on-air staff. When this concern has been voiced, staff and management
have contradicted themselves and simply ignored the issue.
We feel our concerns for the quality of broadcasting, as well as our vast collective experience and expertise
are being largely ignored.
Many of these issues were raised last year at this time. Due to board and management inaction, we find ourselves in
similar circumstances. We would like to work with the board, station management and the community to ensure that solutions
are implemented. Broadly, the goals of our common work should be:
Increased accountability for all parties;
Better communication between the FCB Board, the staff and the volunteer programmers of KXCI; and
A fair, participatory, and more visible process for the evaluation and continued participation for all on-air
programmers (both staff and volunteer).
More specifically, we are asking for the board to take action on the following items:
That the board take a more active and caring stewardship role of KXCI, one that reflects concern for a healthy
employee and volunteer atmosphere as well as an understanding of the importance of community radio's contributions to Southern
Some steps to aid in this process are:
The development, implementation and enforcement of fair and effective policies and procedures for staff and
volunteers, including a fair and reasonable policy for grievance and conflict resolution.
Avenues for board redress of appealed management decisions must be included.
Increased supervisory oversight of the General Manager, including an annual evaluation process that incorporates
feedback from his subordinates, the board of directors, the volunteers, and members of the station. We also suggest the implementation of a listener/member comment line that is not solely monitored by staff.
Development and implementation of a program for continued board and staff development, especially in the areas
on non-profit financial management, organizational development, community building, communication skills and participatory
That the board of directors take a more active role in reaching out to its community, that it reestablish its
commitment to community radio that is open to and appreciative of participation from its members, volunteers, and employees.
Some steps to aid in this process are:
Providing clear and advance notice of all FCB board meetings, including active encouragement of community participation
through on-air and Segue announcements.
Inclusion of a Call to the Audience at every board meeting.
Clear and public postings of board meeting minutes and by-laws at the station.
Re-establishment of programmer position(s) on the board of directors
Decentralization of programming decision-making through the appropriate delegation of responsibilities to the
Program Director and soon-to-be established Programming Committee. Clear delineation between and communication about the responsibilities
of the Program Director and General Manager is also called for here.
Publicly posting the list of board of directors and re-establishment of individual board member mailboxes at
Re-establishment of annual staff, volunteer and member appreciation events, such as station-sponsored concerts
We feel strongly that financial success and a healthy, vibrant creative community are not mutually exclusive. We look forward to working with you to ensure these issues are addressed. We strongly believe that by taking these steps you reaffirm your commitment to community radio in Southern
Carol Anderson, Rubys Roadhouse
Amber Askey, Music Mix
Susan Banes, Music Mix, Broad Perspectives Radio & former
FCB Board Treasurer
Sue Bumpus, Music Mix
S. Alice Cates aka Alice Jones, Music Mix
Eva Darrington, Music Mix
Gardner Deegan, Native Caller & Urban Indian Grooves
Rob Emanuel, Music Mix
Janet Haines, Out Loud Tucson
Don Jennings, Locals Only
Patrick Jordan, Member & Programmer
Kidd Squidd, The Mystery Jukebox
Marty Kool. The Blues Review
Jason LeValley, Locals Only
Jim Lipson, Programmer & Member
Xavier Lopez, Overnight Sensation
Mark Martinez aka Max Webster, Centerstage
John Murphy, Celtic Crosscurrents
Matthew Nelson, Global Rhythm Radio
Joel Parris, Esq., Sabor Latino & former FCB Vice President
Courtney Phelon, Music Mix
Jeff Rogers, Halftime at the Apocalypse
Roselady, Espresso Swing
Amanda Shauger, Programmer
Laurie Starr, Starr Tracks
Jim Swope, Jims Joke Joint
Turtle, A View From Slightly Off Center
Deb Whalen, Out Loud Tucson
Rebecca Wilkinson, Music Mix
David Yerkey, A View From Slightly Off Center
Penny Batelli, Member
Gina Campbell Emanuel,
Cheryle Gonzales, Member
Scott Daniel Egan,
Mike Gray , Member
Denise Kelly, Member
Leslie Lukach, Esq.,
Member, former FCB President
Kristin Neuliep, Non-renewing
Angela Sass, Member
T. Van Hook, Non-renewing
Michael Z., Non-renewing