Tuesday, August 11, 2009


REALLY BIG SHOE: Thousands have read the PNN Investigative Report: KKCR- A Study In Brown And White that’s been linked on our right rail since we completed it a year ago April.

We detailed what local people refer to as “haole radio in Princeville” and the institutionalized often race-based bias and clique-ism perpetuated by the “settler” North Shore community that almost exclusively populates their airwaves and how it has served to send a “keep out” message to the wider local community.

We focused on and critiqued the station’s lack the local public affairs programming that is normally the hallmark of “community radio” across the country, which at KKCR was essentially limited to two (now three) hour-and-a-half “call-in” sessions a week with hosts that are generally clueless as to local government politics and other local issues.

We explained how music had dominated the station since a takeover-by-theft by music industry shills in the early days of the station- as PNN reported on 1999 in our “Parxist Conspiracy” TV Newsmagazine- and how not only had nothing changed but that music programming had become a bastion of “vanity radio” with programmers vehemently defending their fiefdoms against any incursion by local public affairs programming.

We told of how over the years kama`aina and local people with the experience, knowledge and talent to produce local public affairs programs have been driven away instead of encouraged to share their knowledge and experience, through a programming system designed to reward those who volunteer with a music program after performing menial office work with the sufficient sycophantic zeal.

Since then a promised apology with a “give us another chance” message for the decade of exclusion never came and not only has nothing changed but, with the hiring of a prominent music industry promoter as the new station manager, the “all music, all the time” format has flourished with almost no additional local pubic affairs programming.

While some of the faces have rotated in and out of the limited general local public affairs slots the number of hours per week has remained the same with the exception of the addition of an extra hour and a half in the 4-5:30 p.m. slot on Monday’s to supplement the Tuesday and Thursday slots at that time.

That’s not including of course a few weekend cultural programming slots as well as some essentially business promotional slots here and there- ones the station points to often as public affairs. Even most those have been virtually unexpanded over the last couple of years.

But despite the lack of any measurable progress PNN has remained silent so as to allow the station to prove itself. Yet the issues still bubble up throughout the community and those who had tried to share their talents and were rebuffed from the front door of KKCR- after being told they had to come, some from as far as Kekaha, and clean the bathrooms for days before being “considered”- tell us they haven’t heard from anyone at the station to tell them things have changed or to ask them to share their knowledge and experience on KKCR’s airwaves.

That may have something to do with why KKCR has apparently added insult to injury with their new roving “‘Be Heard’ Town Hall Meetings”, the first of which is scheduled for its tonight and called “The Current Economic Downturn on Kaua`i - How You, Your Family, and Friends Are Coping"

Note- it’s “you” not “we”.

In typical “white man’s burden” style the announcements themselves are instructive of the division between the KKCR elite and the community rabble, with a tone of “we grand magnanimous ‘owners’ of the airwaves are deigning to come out to give voice to ‘you’ and your problems”.

Here’s how they begin the tone-deaf promotion on their web site:

Rather than come to KKCR, let KKCR come to you!

In other words, we’ve blocked you from the front door so come around the back door.

Next they say:

For years, KKCR has invited callers and guests to its studio to express viewpoints, opinions, concerns, and ideas on a wide range of topics. Now, KKCR has decided to come to you -- the community -- by launching a series of town hall meetings near your neighborhood.

Exactly right- instead of those with the “viewpoints, opinions, concerns, and ideas” hosting community based programs “we” have invited “you” to have a couple of well controlled minutes on “our” airwaves.
Instead of trying to hold a conversation “among us”, in the community radio model, the KKCR honchos dreamed up this attempt to answer criticism by making it clear that they see it in terms of “us” at the station and “you”- the great unwashed, mostly dark skinned people, at large.

The fact that they throw in the line:

It is important that our focus is "bottom up" and "grass roots" rather than "top down"

doesn’t make it true.

The rest of the narrative treats the community as if they have nothing better to do but come down and tell their tales of woe to others, something that is culturally abhorrent to most local people who “feel shame” at having to expose their woes- economic or otherwise- to others at all, much less in such a public manner.

Then, as if to deny their grassroots claims, they actually have the nerve to dictate the topics:

A Partial List of Questions To Be Asked During The Meetings:- How has the current economic climate affected you as individuals?- How has the current economic climate affected your local neighborhoods?- What are the sources and causes of the issues?- What would you like to see done to fix the issues?(emphasis added)
No one who has any connection to local working class people would come up with this- anyway, anyone really feeling the economic pinch is probably working three partime jobs and has little time to come and make the idle rich of Princeville feel like they’re doing something by allowing us to gripe about how we feel about being poor working schlubs.

To put it in the terms of “race” that were apparent a year ago January and upon which we based our report, “now that we stopped you brown people from crossing the threshold of our whites-only bastion we will allow you on the air through the servants entrance.

“So come out and we’ll stick our microphone in your face so you can speak on a topic that’s not of local making and control- and one of our choosing”... one that anyone who knew and understood the local culture would know would be seen as being designed to bring indignity and humiliation to anyone who participates.

We can’t imagine anyone showing up for these “open mikes”. The publicity- other than on KKCR- has been almost non-existent and there is nothing to draw people there- no speakers, no “program”, not even a local MC and- the biggest slap in the face of local culture of all- no pupus.

Uh, Mister Haole Guy... when we get together here, we like eat.

A year-and-a-half after the KKCR debacle nothing has changed. Despite the claim that, in the words of one KKCR official, “things are changing already” nothing has changed on the air. General local public affairs programming is still limited for the most part to the same faces, in the same two- now three- public affairs time slots as they have been for a decade or more.

And there’s no indication that anyone at KKCR plans to expand them, even after completing a “strategic plan” that did nothing to really address concerns raised in January ’08.

The one recent bright spot is that experienced local news reporter Joan Conrow has managed to elbow her way into one of those regular slots on a irregular basis. But in true KKCR fashion, we hear from KKCR insiders that she had to battle (and have someone on the inside battle for her) to be allowed to get a foot in the door and that happened only with a promise from her- one that was opposed by the vanity radio gang because she hadn’t done it before appearing on air- that she will answer telephones and do things like “stuff envelopes” at some future date.

We’ve pretty much given up on KKCR but when we heard about this “let’s let the local people bitch on the air” forum and asked around with some the people to whom we had spoken for our investigative report, we felt compelled to report their reaction to the “grumble and make humbug” meetings.

It’s only what we’d expect from a corporate-controlled bastion of institutionalized racism like KKCR that, despite being confronted with their own shortcomings, refused to change their tune and apologize as a first step toward ending their system of exclusion and follow that with a concerted attempt to open public affairs programming by reserving more slots for it and seeking out and recruiting those with the knowledge of local government and politics and the talent to do it on-air... all without having to kiss someone's ass and join the vanity radio clique to do it.

We do want to say that this is not about us. We are at the point where, after offering to produce local public affairs programming for 15 years- most recently earlier this year- we’re not willing to continue to bang our head against that wall.

It’s about the literally dozens of knowledgeable and well spoken advocates and activists we’ve heard from on Kaua`i who have been actively denied access to the community radio airwaves because the KKCR “advertisers”- or as they euphemistically call them “underwriters”- don’t want “controversy”.

If at this point KKCR opens up a bunch of slots and gets down on their knees and begs them to produce programming, we’ll get down on ours and salute the flying pigs.

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