Re: Mary Massey's FCC Complaint About Mary Aigner's Having Allowed Some Swear Words To Reach The Air And Also Having A Double Standard.
On one hand I don't like the idea of people complaining about so-called dirty words that accidentally or artfully waft out onto the air, because it lends legitimacy to the screwy idea of it being against the law to just talk. It's not against the law to talk. On the contrary, it's unconstitutional to make any sort of law that even lightly chills talk, political or poetical or any other kind, at the beach, on the street or on the radio. The FCC pays better than mere lip service to this. Go to https://www.fcc.gov/guides/obscenity-indecency-profanity-faq and scroll down to What is the safe harbor?
On the other hand, Mary Massey, your complaint points up the hypocrisy in Mary Aigner and Co. airing swear words on their own account without receiving a retributive thumping, while they continue to use the same words as an excuse to throw others out and blackball them and ostracize them ever after, which KZYX has been doing since the beginning. It happened to me 25 years ago in 1989. Sean Donovan hated me with a hot hate, and he used to drunk-call me on the phone, when I was doing my show, and tell me things like that he just got up to piss and he decided to give his old pal Marrrr-co a ring. So what's going on, Marrrr-co? Ugh.
He waited until I described something as bullshit (at two a.m.) and that was it for me. No recourse, no opportunity to apprise others of the injustice, certainly no discussing it on the air —because no access to the air— and then when I went to the next programmers' meeting to talk about it, Sean Donovan, the manager, was lording it over the programmers' meeting, and he told his flunky Johnny Bazzano to call the police (!) and have me arrested for trespassing at the radio station. Months later still, when I went to the next programmers' meeting at the private house of Beth Bosk (who had stopped Johnny from calling the police by saying, “Sean! What are you doing?!”), she turned me away from that meeting at the door, because, she said quietly, “I don't want to lose my show.” But of course she lost her show anyway in the next crackdown on things even inching in the direction of being a little too free for the poobahs at the station to countenance.
And a similar fate befell lots of people over the years. No-one in a position of authority at KZYX deserves that authority, nor ever has. All KZYX airpeople even today must be timid and careful in their public and private lives not to ever say or do anything that might turn the management's Eye of Sauron upon them. Because they don't want to lose their show. And that's not freedom. Its oppressive bullshit. Sean Donovan set the tone for that and it's been the same song ever since.
Jesus, Sean Donovan was a piece of work. I remember him giving an encouraging fundraising talk about how many old people there are in Mendocino County, and what a good idea it would be to encourage specimens near to meeting their maker to include KZYX in their will. “We might even call the old folks' homes.” I: “Are you serious?” Sean: “They're gonna die anyway. And the station needs the money.” That's right, it needed the money to pay Sean, just like it needs so much money now to pay John Coate and Mary Aigner and John Steffen and…
Come to think of it, during the next-to-latest in its endless series of egregiously unlistenable pledge drives, in a moment I lingered on KZYX on my way up the dial to KNYO, I heard someone say something just like that— encouraging listeners to consider putting KZYX in their will.
A current frustration is that I want to write emails to the other paying members of MCPB to point out how wrong it is that the operators of KZYX refuse to allow members to communicate with each other without being limited, censored and supervised. And I can't write emails to the other members, because the operators of KZYX refuse to give out the membership list —they say it's for privacy reasons— but it would be the work of fifteen minutes to put an open unmoderated forum on the subject of station business and operation somewhere on the front page of kzyx.org, where such a thing belongs. John Coate could do it tonight, on his iPhone, at the dinner table.
Another frustration is that everyone on the board and in management of KZYX pants-on-fire lies out loud when they say that the community and the members control the station. In real life there's no two-way communication between members of MCPB and the board— neither in private nor on the air. I've written to the boardmembers on several occasions and have never got even a got your email, thanks in response. I did once get an email from Stuart Campbell saying that the board all (except for one— Sakowicz probably) agreed (in what must have been a private unposted session) on Stuart's response to me, which did not provide an answer to any of the questions I've ever asked them but instead was Stuart's one-sentence statement that the board fully supports John Coate. That's it.
Oh, right, also I got an email from Stuart Campbell in jumping caps and exclamation marks that their not sending me a ballot until it was too late for me to use it to vote was in no way to be construed as preventing me from voting in the board election! That was an election with like a 25% turnout, so how many others didn't get a ballot? And I did get a pleasant note welcoming me as a member of the KZYX family when they cashed my membership check, and with the note came a photocopy of the schedule of shows, none of them my show nor anything at all like it but, you know, thanks so much for the money.
Another frustration is that they flush away hundreds of thousands of dollars (!) every year to pay a handful of bobbleheads in the office to wander in and out and behave as they please, and pay everyone else nothing. Just the amount the management suite —Mary Aigner, John Coate, David Steffen, etc.— is paid would easily fully fund a dozen other little radio stations. Every membership dollar and even a little more goes directly into management's pockets; none of it helps the station in any way. Keep that in mind when you're asked to become a member and pledge money. If the managers were worth what they're being paid, KZYX would be the Cadillac of radio stations, and would distribute a full catalog of fine new local shows to hundreds of NPR stations. They're not, it isn't, and it doesn't.
In addition KZYX receives vast sums of tax money every year, and in return for this it sits on a county-spanning collection of frequencies in the educational band and keeps out anyone who might say any of this on the air, much less do the kind of quirky innovative local free radio experimentation that the low end of the FM dial was set aside for.
I want my show on KZYX. It's a better show than most of what's there, including the NPR shows. And that's never going to happen until at least John Coate and Mary Aigner are removed, and— I think I'm being very fair here, and I'm addressing the board specifically when I say this— you don't have to remove them by firing them, if you're afraid to hurt their feelings; simply adjust their pay to be more in line with what the people actually doing the work of radio at KZYX are being paid —which, see above, is zilch— and they'll quit on their own, demonstrating what they're really in it for in the first place. They're not in it for radio, and they're not good for the station.
So I am a little conflicted about your complaint, Mary Massey. If your method of getting rid of bad, oppressive management just sets up whoever comes next to keep me and others like me on the outside for another eon, then the good news and the bad news cancel each other out. In another 25 years I'll be in my eighties. I and my listeners would like some positive action on this issue while I can still go several hours between toilet breaks and while I still have all my own teeth.
--Marco McClean, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com