FAQ - Part I / Part II

Home I About I FAQ I Comments I News I Links I Photos I Contact I Downloads

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.


Q: "Why can't KBCS stay the same? Why change anything?"

• "We believe that as a non-commercial community radio station, the primary way we serve our community is by providing programming that people listen to, and that ultimately, they support financially. In that spirit of improving community service, we’ve spent years trying to best understand our audience and how they use KBCS as well as other stations."
KBCS Management continues to use the phrase “best serve our community” throughout their propaganda. When asked by the volunteers, at the public meetings held this summer, they refuse to acknowledge the views of subscribing listeners as “the community”. Instead they adamantly presume that there is a yet-to-be defined target audience that is the community even though they aren’t supporting the station.
We at Save KBCS! are not blindly opposed to any kind of change. Two programmer representatives on the original committee working on programming changes, before committee meetings were halted without explanation, proposed several alternatives, but these were consistently ignored. After the changes were subsequently announced as a fait accompli, at meetings convened by our management to explain to programmers the reasoning behind the changes, alternatives were also proposed and these were likewise rejected.

• "The harsh reality facing KBCS is similar to that facing other community radio stations in major metropolitan cities. Today, there are more listening choices than ever before. Right now, on average, KBCS listeners spend over 80% of their time listening to other stations. Additionally, the number of hours our entire audience actually spends listening to KBCS when they do have us tuned in has declined markedly: about 30% over the last three years. These two crucial measurements give us a fact-based way of assessing our service to the community, as well as emphasizing how we could and should serve our listening community better by continually assessing and at times modifying the programming we offer."
The operative words in this paragraph are could and should. It is entirely a subjective opinion brought on by the program director to subvert what has been the soul and essence of KBCS. Again the lack of marketing and understanding the market is an example of the dog chasing its tail. Without the essential facts, changing the programming amounts to nothing more than throwing away the baby with the bath water.

• "Of course, we understand the way you listen to KBCS may be entirely different than what we just described. We also understand the deep sadness and frustration of losing a show that you’ve grown close to over the years. Again, we ask that you simply listen to the new programming we’ll offer, and then make up your mind."

Q: "Where is the money coming from to pay the D.J.s?"

• "As part of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s (CPB’s) Community Service Grant, we're spending money on programming designed to increase our service to the community. That includes annual programming fees to Pacifica for Democracy Now!, Public Radio International for National Native News, The Takeaway, The Sound of Young America, and other annual affiliate fees. We're also using this grant for the majority of compensation to weekday music hosts, with a small amount from listener support and business underwriting revenue. Staff producers for Voices of Diversity and One World Report are also compensated from the CPB Community Service Grant and a grant from the Eastside Arts Partnership."
This is an example of “Smoke and mirrors”. The money received from CPB helps KBCS offset a variety of expenses. No where does it say that certain money has to be used for “programming” aka paying dj’s. Therfore any money used from this grant to pay dj’s does in fact diminish the amount of money available for other needs. The money would be far better spent on marketing efforts or on a variety of other needs that could have brought about financial reward to the station without having to take the needless reformatting that they are attempting.

Q: "Why are you making these changes so quickly?"

• "Although these changes may seem sudden and out of the blue, we’ve actually been working on this process for a number of years. In hindsight, there have been parts of this process that the KBCS staff could have done and communicated better. But, we firmly believe that our current and relatively low level of service to our audience coupled with the current state of our membership and economy warranted (admittedly tough) decisions to be made. We’re committed to putting KBCS on what we believe to be a path of deeper community service and resulting long term financial sustainability."
In a nutshell: Because they don’t care what the listener thinks and don’t care about losing valuable volunteer resources.

Q: "Why would you let go of having different programmers every day? Doesn’t that actually decrease the diversity on KBCS?"

• "That depends. Do you believe that one person is incapable of offering the same musical diversity of five different people? KBCS is committed to ensuring the new hosts will continue to air music across the wide spectrum of jazz, folk, Americana, and global music."
Best said by responses from listeners to the KBCS comment line:

- Yes, I DO believe that one person is incapable of offering the diversity of five different people. That's what "diversity" means. While I enjoy the Caravan, I greatly treasure Al Barnes' familiarity with his specialty era and the diversity of his own collection, which includes things I cannot hear anywhere else and can't purchase either. And Joanie--she was there when the tracks she plays were laid down. And the Bud & Don and Bebop shows offer me education in music I know less about. By the way, I teach elementary-school general music, and it's my job to expose the children to as much diversity in music as I can--so I know how hard it is.

- Yes, I do believe this. For example, most of the morning jazz folks are experts in their areas of jazz. If they covered each other's area, the depth of knowledge isn't there.

• "In addition, we believe that by putting on more consistently hosted programming during key parts of the weekdays, we will in fact increase diversity of the KBCS community by attracting more current and new listeners to KBCS. Based on the experience of community radio stations in similar cities, we believe our listeners will ultimately spend more time listening to the station each day."

Q: "Is this just the first step in the eventual homogenization and decreasing of diversity of KBCS programming?"

• "No. Again, KBCS is committed to volunteers being a key part of the radio station (as DJs, reporters, producers, and in many other capacities). This will not change."
This already has changed and the KBCS staff has created a schism between DJ’s who are volunteers and those that are paid. John Gilbreath is being paid to host THE CARAVAN and the KBCS management has stated that the goal for THE OUTSKIRTS is the same…with one paid host. Despite the loss of the LUNCH WITH FOLKS format at least there are still 5 distinct volunteer hosts in that time slot.

• "By increasing public affairs programming, we’ve provided additional air time for a larger number of volunteers to participate in reporting on local community issues, thus, ultimately, increasing diversity both inside KBCS and out.".
This participation amounts to little more than duties as the board operator while the syndicated news is playing. None of the new public affairs programs are local.

• "One also needs look no further than our newest news and public affairs programming for diversity. From nationally syndicated progressive hip-hop public affairs with Davy D to our nation’s premier African American thinker Michael Eric Dyson, we are most definitely increasing the diverse ideas on the airwaves."

Q: "How was this decision made? Isn’t KBCS owned by the community? Why wasn't I asked?"

• "Over the last three years, KBCS has undergone a rigorous process to better understand our audience and to formulate a cohesive strategic plan. This has involved hours of interviews, volunteer and community meetings, hundreds of random street corner surveys, as well as extensive consideration of when and how KBCS listeners currently listen to us. This work has led us to the new programming we’ll present next month, programming we believe will offer deeper service to our listeners."
Comments from Listeners on the “rigorous process”

- I'm wondering what the word "member" means, if they're not even consulted about decisions like these before they're made. Your "extensive process" seems to have missed me, and I've been a contributor to KBCS for many years (and you obviously know how to find me, since you sent me this email)! • I'm an all-day listener, and a loyal contributor, as I have been for the past five years. Unfortunately, I was not asked what changes would better serve me as a listener. I listen to your station for the music, period. I listen for the variety from day to day and from show to show. In taking several volunteer dj's off the air, you are reducing my access to variety. In taking Daily Planet off the air, you are taking away a major part of my exposure to music created in other parts of the world. In substituting news and talk for Daily Planet, you are forcing me to spend the last two hours of my workday in silence. Since you didn't ask me, you don't know that I purposely don't listen to news, because it just depresses me. Since you didn't ask me, you don't know that the daytime music provides my work atmosphere and helps my productivity by keeping me mentally motivated.

- I am greatly saddened by the upcoming changes, and see them as a step toward further homogenization of the airwaves. IF anyone had asked me for my opinion, I would have pointed out that KBCS offers one of the only sources of non-commercial entertainment and enlightenment that is easily available to someone in this area. I can't stand NPR, because of the repetitie nature of the news broadcasting and the watered-down political correctness of the music offerings. I won't listen to commercial radio because of, well, the commerciality. Now that KBCS is joining the homogenized world of "commercially viable" radio, there's nothing left for me to listen to.

- Go ahead and send your rah-rah messages of how this will "better serve" your listeners. As for me, apparently my opinion doesn't count; at least, it was never considered because no one actually asked me.

• "Along with providing programmers detailed information about the KBCS audience, we continue to offer training and evaluations for on-air hosts in an effort to continually improve the quality of our programming as well as help each volunteer understand the priority of serving the audience.
Technically, KBCS is not owned by the community. KBCS’s FCC license is held by Bellevue College (BC), and BC’s Board of Trustees is the fiduciary body ultimately responsible for the station. The college has delegated day-to-day operational authority over every aspect of the station to the KBCS General Manager (GM), who reports directly to the college’s Vice President for Information Resources. The GM in turn hired a professional staff to manage and make direct decisions in the areas of programming, development, news and public affairs, as well as membership.
Unlike several community radio stations run on a more collectivized model, KBCS does not report to a non-profit board of directors with various sub-committees responsible for station governance. In other words, KBCS isn’t actually owned or ultimately governed by the community it serves or the volunteers who participate at the station.
That said, both volunteers and listeners are absolutely crucial to KBCS’s future. The majority of our programming is and will continue to be produced by dedicated and talented volunteers. And, the fact that KBCS receives the majority of its financial support directly from its listeners makes it clear that our focus must be on providing the deepest possible service to them.
In hindsight, we recognize that the process of inquiry and research undertaken over the past years could have been implemented more effectively and, in some ways, transparently. However, we feel we have done due diligence in requesting listener and programmer feedback during this lengthy data and information gathering process."

They never surveyed listeners directly or even looked at comments that members have made in recent years when calling in their pledges. Some of the shows that had the most supportive comments from listeners have been cut in this first phase of changes. Feedback from programmers has been ignored and decisions have been made in secret.

• "We understand that your individual KBCS listening habits may in fact deviate from what we’ve described for the average listener to this station. We hope you’ll recognize the impossibility of a station like ours being able to ask every single one of our listeners for specific opinions on what we should air. Given our resources, we’ve come as close to that as we could by using our broadcast signal, website, public surveys, as well as community meetings and years of audience data.
We firmly believe that in the end, programming creates audience, and that we exist to serve that audience. Our plan to put KBCS on this path is predicated on the fact that currently, we're not serving our audience as effectively as a full-powered non-commercial radio station should. This programming plan is our best effort at creating a listener-supported and volunteer-powered station that is more listenable to more people for longer periods of time.
As we move forward, we'll continually evaluate audience data and listener feedback and make adjustments to our programming in an effort to increase the relevance of KBCS programming. Again, we simply ask that as a KBCS listener and supporter, you give us a try and then make up your mind. We think KBCS’s future is one of increasing community service and relevance, and we truly hope you’ll share it with us."

<< Back to Part I

Save KBCS is not affiliated with KBCS Radio, nor Bellevue College. Join us on these social media sites!