Letters to the Editor

Published the week of February 16

I couldn't let the letter from the chickenshit who signed his/her/its name "Larson E. Whipsnade" in your last issue to go unanswered. I was a volunteer at KDHX before KDHX had a license or a frequency. I served several terms on its board of directors and was its treasurer during the early lean years. I was intimately involved in the hiring and firing of its first few managers. So I feel qualified to speak on the station's goals, objectives and methods.

The primary job of KDHX is provide a vehicle for alternative cultural, political and aesthetic viewpoints. It is also supposed to provide a bulletin board for the kinds of news and information that advertiser-driven media shy away from. There is never enough airtime to do both completely. Compromises are always being made. Someone's information or music or viewpoint loses its airtime, so that more vital information or music or viewpoints can be accommodated. When we wrote the constitution for Double Helix Corp. (the not-for-profit company to whom KDHX's broadcast license is issued), we established a system where committees of volunteer members approve and ultimately control what goes on the air. The manager and program director work for the board of directors through those committees.

Institutions tend to develop a resistance to change. When this happens to a community-radio station, the station begins to sound flat, old and predictable. It loses its edge. In the mid-1990s, KDHX was becoming the personal radio club of a bunch of pathetic old farts who were afraid of the edgy urban aesthetic that was emerging in our culture. They couldn't deal with the news that the Woodstock Nation is dead and there are new constituencies whose voices are missing from mainstream media. Larsen E. Whipsnade is typical of these neoreactionaries. He doesn't care if the station's service evolves as long as his buddies are on the air playing the same music and mouthing the same tired crap that keeps him comfortable.

The combination of Bev Hacker as manager and Tony Renner as program director is the best thing that has happened to KDHX since the invention of the compact disc.

Bev has fearlessly, and at constant risk to her job, fought for positive change at the station. She cleaned up a 20-year-old management mess, put the station on much sounder financial footing, revamped its business practices and opened our radio station's doors to entire communities. She dragged hundreds of Larson E. Whipsnades kicking and screaming into the new millennium. Her magnanimity and patience in dealing with these selfish relics has amazed me.

Renner brings to the program director's job an openness of mind and acceptance of diverse cultural notions that is mind-boggling in its breadth. He truly believes that every voice deserves to be heard. Both are willing to make hard decisions about which programming is a service and which is just more of the same. They both have a deep respect for the committee process we set up to ensure the station was dynamic and responsive to the community.

All the RFT's readers really need to do to appreciate the work Hacker and Renner have done is turn on their radios. They will hear the most dynamic, diverse and interesting programming in town. I am proud at how they are raising the media child we created so many years ago. It is reaching a level of maturity "Larson E. Whispered" could never understand.

Lew Prince

I am responding to the Feb. 9 letter to the editor by someone called "Larson E. Whipsnade."

For a period of nearly eight years I was a producer of a radio show on KDHX called The Brain Sandwich Show. Whipsnade was correct in that The Brain Sandwich Show was, in effect, canceled despite its popularity and/or fairly large and loyal listenership. The "official" story being circulated is/was that we refused a new time slot offered us. This much is true. However, both the offer and the eventual counteroffer were not "doable" for Jim Findlay, Jay Schober and myself. They would have had us on late Sunday night and cut us back to one hour (from two). We had already been moved a couple of times prior to that and been trimmed from our original three-hour slot. We have no doubt that these offers and cut in time were calculated to destroy the show. Thus, management's contention that "well, we offered them another time slot" has no real validity.

Whipsnade's other contention, "So much for the concept of community radio," appears to again be right on target. There are upset listeners out there calling for the return of The Brain Sandwich Show. To our knowledge, listeners' letters, e-mails and phone calls have been largely ignored and/or overlooked. If management isn't sensitive to what listeners want, then the "community" in "community radio" becomes a sad joke.

Jim, Jay and I wanted to make it clear that we were not canceled due to a lack of popularity or a lack of support during our pledge drives. We brought in thousands of dollars and lots of new members to the station over the years. In all cases we either met or exceeded our monetary goals, and for that we are justifiably proud. This is why we felt that it was a slap in the face for KDHX to do as they recently did to the show.

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