FAQ - Part I / Part II

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Read our Rebuttal to the new KBCS Marketing spiel.

City Arts Eastside, "Listen or Lose It, People"
by Bill White (October 2009)

KING-FM lays off three classical-music hosts
Live hosts to be replaced with "Voice tracking". Is this what the future holds for radio?

Randomville, "Save KBCS?"
by Mackenzie McAninch (7/19/2009)

Seattle Weekly, "KBCS Launches New Weekly Schedule"
by Hollis Wong-Wear (8/28/2009)

KUOW, "The Conversation"
with host Guy Nelson (8/24/2009)
interview with Peter Graff, KBCS Program Director and Larry Lewin, SaveKBCS representative

Seattle Times, "Bellevue's Eclectic KBCS Making Programming Changes"
by Nicole Tsong (8/17/2009)

Seattle Times, "Arbitron Now Uses Meter to Measure Radio Listening"
by Erik Lacitis (8/30/2009)

Save KBCS blog
Participate in the online discussion about the program changes.

Listener Feedback
Read what others have told SaveKBCS that they think about the program changes.

Meeting Minutes
Save KBCS representatives met with KBCS management on September 24th, and other notes. Read all about it here.

Save KUT Austin
We are not alone... See what what the folks in Austin are doing to preserve community radio.

SaveKBCS on Facebook
SaveKBCS has a Facebook page. Join us!

KBCS 91.3 website
Don't take our word for it. Listen for yourself.

Sack KBCS Management on Facebook
One of our past listeners has a Facebook page calling for a boycott until all existing management have resigned.


On 24 August 2009, KBCS' management drastically changed its weekday programming. After these unilateral changes were announced to station volunteers, the Save KBCS! campaign was started by a small group to reverse, or at the least, severely limit these changes. KBCS published a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page on their website. The content of the KBCS FAQ page is represented below in pink italics. Rebuttals from the Save KBCS! campaign are intermixed here in black text (any mistakes in transcribing the KBCS FAQ page are purely inadvertent).

Q: "What exactly is changing on KBCS?"

Beginning August 24th, 2009, KBCS will:

• "Expand weekday public affairs programming from 5 to 9 a.m., offering Public Radio International’s The Takeaway from 5 to 8 a.m., followed by Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! from 8 to 9 a.m. Both shows will be hosted by local community members trained in the KBCS public affairs department."
Sadly, the local "hosts" during the news amount to little more than control board operators. KBCS listeners have repeatedly stated that they would like more locally produced news (not syndicated programs with a local host)

• "Bring on longtime KBCS host John Gilbreath every weekday from 9 a.m. to noon. The Caravan will be a daily musical journey touching on many genres, and focusing on his extensive knowledge of jazz, world, and American.".
This means 4 fewer programmers, so less diversity of viewpoint in selecting music for the listener and less expertise in many genres of jazz.

• "Feature current veteran KBCS folk hosts weekdays from 12 noon to 3 p.m., who will present programming spanning the breadth of the American music tradition, from the early days of country, folk, blues, and beyond, to today’s singer-songwriters and local artists crafting new music not heard anywhere else."
There was no need to dispose of Lunch With Folks. It was widely appreciated and supported by listeners and it was also considered to be one of the KBCS brand "hallmarks" showcasing music produced by independent artists and reaching deeper into the tradition of American music than the new program (The Outskirts) does

• "Expand weekday public affairs programming by offering a re-broadcast of Democracy Now! at 3 p.m., followed by The Michael Erik Dyson Show at 4 p.m."
Regurgitated news at 3 p.m. is another tune-out factor

• "Air locally produced programs Listen Up Northwest, Voices of Diversity, and One World Report weekdays at 5 p.m., as well as syndicated programs Counterspin, GRIT Radio, and Sound of Young America."

• "Round out evening weekday public affairs with Hard Knock Radio from 6 to 7 p.m., with 6 p.m. headlines from Free Speech Radio News. As in the morning, the entire afternoon lineup of public affairs programming will be hosted by local community members."

Q: "Is KBCS turning into a corporate/commercial radio station?"

• "No. On the contrary, we believe that what we’re doing at KBCS will evolve the idea of community radio and what it means today, especially in large urban centers, and especially within a media landscape that has changed significantly even in the last three years. There will never be commercials on KBCS, nor will there ever be corporate involvement in any of our programming decisions."
Actually, the financial relationship between KBCS and entities like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting(CPB) continually threatens to erode the independence of Community Radio from corporate influence. That is because some of the qualifying language for CPB grants stipulates a minimum number of paid staff to qualify for funding. KBCS has had to increase their paid staff enormously over the last 7 years and that has resulted in a much larger overhead that burdens the station financially and makes it easy for them to rationalize protecting their jobs by disposing of your support for what they think is a bigger pot of gold

"By taking steps to deepen our community service and create an increasingly loyal audience, we’ll build a foundation of financial sustainability that will allow community and volunteer participation to be an ongoing and thriving part of KBCS."
KBCS has alienated the once loyal audience by making changes without seeking input from listeners and has decreased financial sustainability by putting the core listener support at risk.

• "The hosts of our new weekday music programming are all KBCS veteran DJs, and their new shows will continue to celebrate a rich mix of music not heard anywhere else. These hosts (not a computer or marketing team or any corporate contributor) will work in collaboration with our music and program directors to program their shows. We feel that compensating them for stepping up to multiple days of hosting and the extensive amount of work that goes into making great radio is not only reasonable but the right thing to do."
The first sentence of this statement has already proven false by the programming choices made by some of the programmers on “The Outskirts”. Some of these choices have been blatant examples of music that CAN be found elsewhere and do not support the former KBCS brand of championing the independent artist.

• "KBCS will not be playing the same songs every day, nor will we be programming watered down or homogenized music there’s enough of that on the radio already. At KBCS, we’re committed to providing our listeners something different: great music and public affairs programming that other stations (commercial and public) are not."
KBCS claims to not be “watering down” or homogenizing music programming but their actions illustrate differently. Specialty programs have been and will continue to be eliminated and in their place are programs that are by their very nature “watered down” because they do not take the in-depth focus on genres that specialty programs do, and that knowledgeable, specialty hosts can do so much better than “generalists”.

• "In the end, all we ask is for you to give us a fair listen, then make up your mind. We believe KBCS will be a station with whom you and many other listeners will ultimately want to spend more time, a station you can come to for reliably excellent radio that doesn’t sound like anything else. We will continue to feature and celebrate the local music community. We will continue to strengthen our existing partnerships with regional music presenters and curators. KBCS will be where the community goes when it wants to listen to authentic music, news, and information hosted and produced by trusted community members and professionals."
Listeners are turning off KBCS after only a week or two of the new programming and many have indicated that they will no longer listen to KBCS unless the changes are rolled back, or ever!!!

Q: "So, is KBCS turning into an all news/information station?"

• "Absolutely not. KBCS is committed to continuing the eclectic programming we are known for. News and public affairs programming currently accounts for 13% of the KBCS schedule. Under the new plan, it will increase to a total of 23%, maintaining over three-quarters of the KBCS schedule devoted to music programming. We are and will continue to be a World of Music and Ideas."
Great example of deception through statistics. KBCS has quantified the prime listening time as the time between 7am and 7pm on weekdays. In those 12 hours KBCS management has decreased music programming by 4 hours. The public affairs programs have tripled from 2 hours to 6 hours in this 12 hour period, in the time of day when most people are listening to radio. Music programming has been reduced with no specialty programming at all. That is a far cry from what management wants you to think about how much of the schedule is devoted to music programming.

Q: "Isn't there already enough news and information programming in Seattle? Why do we need more?" [Yes. There is enough news and information elsewhere.We need to maintain the KBCS brand of championing the independent artist and music not found anywhere else like World Music, so well delivered on the former Daily Planet program].

• "It depends what you mean by enough. If you’re looking at the FM radio spectrum, you’ll find that news/talk radio is very much in the minority compared to music. A telling piece of evidence for KBCS happened in the Summer of 2002. Back then, KBCS had only one public affairs program, which aired once a week. We began offering Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, and almost immediately saw a sharp rise in listenership, volunteerism, and community financial support to KBCS. This, despite the fact that two FM talk radio stations and two NPR stations were already serving the Seattle/Bellevue area."
Now you will find that KBCS has veered away from the daytime music percentage maintained by many venerable popular FM radio stations in Seattle and gone more down the path of KUOW which disposed of most of their music programming years ago. Democracy Now, when introduced in 2002, did indeed increase listenership and financial support. Those same listeners have responded through surveys conducted by KBCS and indicated that they did not want to hear more syndicated public affairs programs. KBCS chose to ignore this data in their decision making process.

• "So, yes, we do firmly believe that the Seattle/Bellevue airwaves do need more news and public affairs. And so do many of our current listeners. Years of research show a preference among a significant portion of KBCS listeners for news and information programming in the weekday mornings and afternoons."
An untrue statement. Recent listener comments sent to both KBCS and SaveKBCS websites have expressed outrage at this hijacking of the music programming by dictatorial decree, and clearly refute management’s statement. "Years of reasearch" that kbcs refers to is the Arbitron data that track listening habits of a sample of our area market.
It tells only how many people have their radio on, to which radio stations, at what times of day, and for how long they listened. The Arbitron surveys do not ask listeners what types of programs they like.

• "It’s important to us that the news and public affairs programming we offer is unique, and that we play an important role in increasing the diversity of news and public affairs programming currently on the radio.
This is why we’re excited to air The Michael Eric Dyson Show, Dyson being arguably one of the nation’s most inspiring intellectuals and progressive authors. This is also why we’ll be airing GRIT Radio, hosted by Laura Flanders, a founding director of the Women's Desk at the media watch group FAIR and previous producer of Counterspin (which will continue to be heard on KBCS).
In this age of closing newspapers and media consolidation, we believe that more non-corporate, grassroots, and progressive news and ideas will positively contribute to the national debate, expanding its limits beyond the relatively narrow constraints set forth by mainstream media outlets. And that’s what we’ll be bringing our listeners with our new schedule."

People were polled in street corner surveys, conducted by a KBCS consultant three years ago. KBCS listeners and others in the community have not been surveyed by KBCS since 2006. Respondents overwhelmingly indicated that they wanted more LOCAL Public affairs programs, not syndicated, non-local public affairs. When challenged that this research does not support their desired result, station management "disses" the research.

Q: Is KBCS letting go of its volunteer-powered model?

• "No. KBCS is and will remain a station that prides itself on being a place for community volunteers to learn broadcasting and to be radio programmers. For more than two decades, there have been countless volunteers who have put immense amounts of energy, time, and passion into the radio shows they create at KBCS. And, as we move ahead, there will be countless others who will join current KBCS volunteer programmers and continue this important tradition. As KBCS staff, we have the deepest gratitude for the commitment and dedication of all station volunteers, past, present, and future."
Yes to a certain degree and in the process they have created a schism between those who are paid and those who are not. The volunteer KBCS model was working just fine, thank you, KBCS was one of 100% community based volunteerism setting a role model for other organizations. Now KBCS management has subscribed to the capitalistic idea of having a few select people control the “music and ideas” making more money for themselves and limiting the diversity of viewpoint.

• "KBCS currently features nearly 100 volunteer music hosts over the course of any given month. These program changes will, regrettably, result in 15 of those volunteers losing their programs. It’s also worth noting that there are currently many community stations across the country that have successfully adopted and maintained a hybrid model with paid programmers working alongside volunteers (KRCL in Salt Lake and KUNM in Albuquerque)."
Funny how they list only 2 stations but characterize that there are many across the country. Incidently we would like to point out that there are also other community radio stations who, when faced with similar choices in programming to maintain financial stability, have chosen all music programming and NO TALK RADIO!

Q: Is KBCS in a financial crisis?

• "No, KBCS is not in a financial crisis and at risk of being shuttered tomorrow. That said, both Bellevue College and KBCS staff believe that the station’s current financial state, when coupled with recent declines in listening and membership, is not sustainable over the long term."
We agree, exactly, KBCS is NOT in a financial crisis and the chart below clearly shows increasing revenue. We also would like to see an increase in the number of contributing listeners. But, since the revenues were still strong, taking draconian action to remedy the declining membership numbers was unwarranted. Now the actions of the KBCS regime have set themselves up for a financial crisis that will likely become evident in the upcoming and future pledge drives. Over 500 KBCS contributors have indicated that they are considering withdrawing their financial support because of these recent actions.

• "Here is year end revenue from individual listener support and business underwriting, as well as basic membership numbers, since fiscal year 2005/06:

Listener support has remained relatively static over the past few years, with an average growth of only about 3% annually (for a total of 10% since 2005/06). KBCS has seen a consistent decline in giving during on-air fund drives, but has done more with off-air appeals through the mail and website. After a period of growth, current underwriting contributions have declined to 2005 levels. The listener support budget KBCS submitted for fiscal 2009/10 is $50,000 less than the previous year, designed to account for expected temporary revenue loss due to changes in programming."
A growth of 10% over three years is not exactly static. Note that KBCS staff estimated revenue loss at $50,000 from the program changes. We feel that this number will be much higher. This kind of reckless action of station management would be reason enough to demand resignations from these public employees.

Check out this link to help sack the KBCS management: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=122180438215

• "KBCS membership is in steady decline, down about 25% total since 2005/06. Similarly, the number of new KBCS members is declining as well, having decreased a total of about 22% since 2005/06. These membership numbers are commensurate with data showing a decrease in overall listening to KBCS.
The college requires KBCS to carry a reserve and that’s currently only about 30% of our annual budget, which has remained constant from 2007/08 to 2008/09. Bellevue College (as well as station staff) believe it’s essential to have at least a year's worth of reserve on hand to fund operations during down times, and relatively static growth over the last two years has prevented this from happening.
The other significant source of funds comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and their Community Service Grant (CSG) program. KBCS qualifies to receive funding based upon the total non-federal fundraising sources (NFFS) that are stated on our site in the financial audit. In 2007, KBCS received a CSG of $14,000. In 2008, that figure grew to $93,000 because our reported NFFS increased. This funding will remain in place for KBCS for the next fiscal year.
The other metric CPB uses to distribute funds to a station is its audience service. CPB measures a station’s service to its audience by the number of people who tune into the station as well as the amount of time they spend listening to it. Currently, KBCS’s audience numbers are not high enough for CPB to consider us as providing adequate audience service. If we increase our audience service, CPB funding increases as well, diversifying the fundraising burden currently carried primarily by our listeners."

Repeat from first Q&A rebuttal: the financial relationship between KBCS and entities like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting(CPB) continually threatens to erode the independence of Community Radio from corporate influence. That is because some of the qualifying language for CPB grants stipulates a minimum number of paid staff to qualify for funding. KBCS has increase their paid staff from 1 half-time to 5 full-time plus 10 part-time staff over the last 10 years. This has resulted in a much larger overhead that burdens the station financially and makes it easy for them to rationalize protecting their jobs by disposing of your support for what they think is a bigger pot of gold.

• "The annual financial audits for 2007 and 2008 are posted online. We are required to undergo financial audits within 6 months of the close of our fiscal year each June 30th, and we invite you visit them for more detailed KBCS financials."

Go to Part II >>

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