Letters

Week of December 17, 2003

Finally, St. Louis is darn lucky to have KDHX. The many talented, dedicated programmers have brought us countless hours of magical, gorgeous, outrageous radio. Yes, the station could be more diverse. Yes, it could do more to discuss important issues (why was Democracy Now canceled?). But what's needed is real dialogue about the station, not sensationalist sniping.
Eric von Schrader
St. Louis

This just in: Nowhere in Mike Seely's sensationalistic silliness (this just in: not-for-profit has internal conflicts and political squabbles just like a real business!) does he mention what an increasingly rare and wonderful thing community radio and KDHX is. The supposed tension at the station is no worse than it's ever been, far as I can tell, and what might exist is consistent with most not-for-profit groups I've encountered, or any gathering of human beings totaling three or more, really. Strong-willed, opinionated people will sometimes disagree on matters of policy and protocol. Some decisions will be questioned and occasionally even motives. This is cover-story news?

KDHX 88.1 FM existed before I got here, and with God's grace and a little good planning, will still be on the airwaves when I'm old and deaf from too many years of loud music. If Seely's article had been written with the intent of constructive criticism, I might have paid it mind. As it exists on the page, it likely titillates some but serves little public good.
Kip Loui, KDHX programming committee member and host, The Back Country
St. Louis

Tempest in a chamber pot: I've been a volunteer at KDHX -- both on the air and behind the scenes -- since before the station went on the air. I was part of the crew who helped build the transmitter shack and who, for the first two years of the station's existence, made the weekly trek out to L.A. (Lower Arnold) to broadcast from that shack, with equipment that could have come from a pirate radio station in Honduras.

Over the past sixteen years, I've seen station managers of varying quality come and go. The one thing they all had in common was that there was always a coterie of volunteers who thought the current manager was an unmitigated disaster who would lead the station to utter ruin. Periodically one or more of that coterie would find a sympathetic ear at the RFT, and the result would be an article like "Rattle and Humbug."

I'm not familiar with the specifics of the complaints voiced in the article by the current coterie, but I have had a fair amount of contact with Bev Hacker over the past few years and my perceptions don't completely line up with theirs. Far from feeling micromanaged, for example, I've been allowed a good deal of autonomy on my projects. I've also seen substantial improvement in station operations as a result of Ms. Hacker's attempts to run the place on a more professional basis. Much-needed repairs and upgrades were made to the production facilities, for example, and the usually chaotic pledge drives now operate in an orderly fashion.

As for hiring decisions, I've had little contact with Sara Finke, so I can't speak to her qualifications. As someone who has been employed for the past fourteen years as a technology manager in the IT department of a Fortune 100 company, however, I can say that Dan Adelman most certainly is qualified to manage FM 88's computer and Internet infrastructure and has made significant improvements in both. In addition, Hacker's decision to hire the highly competent and helpful Andy Coco as production manager has greatly improved the quality and consistency of our recorded programs.

That doesn't mean I'm happy with every decision that has been made in the last few years. But from my perspective, the current fracas looks like yet another tempest in a teapot (or maybe a chamber pot), rather than Hurricane Beverly.
Chuck Lavazzi
St. Louis

Booted, but proud: I was a board member of the Double Helix Corporation until I was kicked off "for cause" -- a little-known rule in our bylaws. It was a motion made by my friend and fellow open-mic poetry producer Bob Putnam. His reason: I was making the corporation look bad in public by writing a negative statement about the current state of affairs at KDHX which was mailed to our members in my run for the program committee. I asserted that the programmers and staff at the station were being bullied and intimidated by current management practices. That longtime listeners, volunteers and members who complained were simply ignored. And that the station had a history of dealing with critics in this way. I quit my radio show, after trying successfully for years to get it on the air, just so they couldn't threaten me with its cancellation (a common practice at KDHX).

Bev Hacker's supporters claim she had to be tough to make necessary corrections of past mistakes. I remember previous station managers saying the same thing about their predecessors, about a half a dozen in the past fifteen years. And now two of Bev's past hatchet men, Bob Putnam and Tony Renner, are on the outs with her. The real issue here is not airing Bev Hacker's private affairs in public. This is a story as old as democracy itself. It's about people getting involved. As one young woman complained to me at one the station's sparsely attended meetings, "How can we let these petty dictators keep taking over the station year after year?" My answer was, "Because we let them."

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