Reporter's Notebook

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Posts Tagged ‘KBOO

Goddamn, Goddamn, Goddamn

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goddamn

Three goddamns.

That’s how many were in an interview between OPB’s “Think Outloud” host Dave Miller and “Eat, Pray, Love” author Elizabeth Gilbert in their rebroadcasted interview today from September 2015.  Although not one of George Carlin’s original “Seven Dirty Words”, the trifecta reminded me of a 2009 interview NPR’s Madeline Brand had with Jeremy Renner, who had starred in “The Hurt Locker”.  Words were bleeped but his use of “goddamn” wasn’t, which prompted a listener to ask the NPR Ombudsman why not?

The Ombudsman replied that “using god damn it” is not legally profane, according to the FCC.  The phrase is not, in legal parlance, “actionable”.  The federal agency defines three standards for language; obscene, profane and indecent:

1. Obscene content does not have protection by the First Amendment.  For content to be ruled obscene, it must meet a three-pronged test established by the Supreme Court: It must appeal to an average person’s prurient interest; depict or describe sexual conduct in a “patently offensive” way; and, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.

2. Indecent content portrays sexual or excretory organs or activities in a way that does not meet the three-prong test for obscenity.

3. Profane content includes “grossly offensive” language that is considered a public nuisance.

However, a training pamphlet from KBOO Community Radio in Portland, Oregon, identifies words and contexts that apparently are to be avoided just in case an official decided to interpret the law a little more broadly.  These include not playing certain songs or repeating certain song titles, sexual jokes or innuendo, creative editing of profane or indecent words or fleeting references, such as “Oh Shit!”

KBOO giving the realm of questionable language such a wide berth might have something to do with the fact that the station was fined $7000 in 2001 for violating community standards on its “Soundbox” program.  The station had broadcast a poem by performer Sarah Jones that included lyrics the FCC considered indecent.

From the FCC lawsuit:
Radio Station:  KBOO-FM, Portland, Oregon
Date/Time Broadcast:   October 20, 1999, on the “Soundbox,” between 7:00  and 9:00 p.m.
Material Broadcast:  “Your Revolution”

(Various female voices)

Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
Will not happen between these thighs
Will not happen between these thighs
The real revolution ain’t about bootie size
The Versaces you buys
Or the Lexus you drives
And though we’ve lost Biggie Smalls
Maybe your notorious revolution
Will never allow you to lace no lyrical douche in my bush
Your revolution will not be you killing me softly with fujees
Your revolution ain’t gonna knock me up without no ring
And  produce little future M.C.’s
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
Your revolution will not find me in the back seat of a jeep
With L.L. hard as hell, you know
Doing it and doing and doing it well, you know
Doing it and doing it and doing it well
Your revolution will not be you smacking it up, flipping it or rubbing it down
Nor will it take you downtown, or humping around
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
Your revolution will not have me singing
Ain’t no nigger like the one I got
Your revolution will not be you sending me for no drip drip V.D. shot
Your revolution will not involve me or feeling your nature rise
Or having you fantasize
Because that revolution will not happen between these thighs
No no not between these thighs
Uh-uh
My Jamaican brother
Your revolution will not make you feel bombastic, and really fantastic
And have you groping in the dark for that rubber wrapped in plastic
Uh-uh
You will not be touching your lips to my triple dip of
French vanilla, butter pecan, chocolate deluxe
Or having Akinyele’s dream, um hum
A six foot blow job machine, um hum
You wanna subjugate your Queen, uh-huh
Think I’m gonna put it in my mouth just because you
Made a few bucks,
Please brother please
Your revolution will not be me tossing my weave
And making me believe I’m some caviar eating ghetto
Mafia clown
Or me giving up my behind
Just so I can get signed
And maybe have somebody else write my rhymes
I’m Sarah Jones
Not Foxy Brown
You know I’m Sarah Jones
Not Foxy Brown
Your revolution makes me wonder
Where could we go
If we could drop the empty pursuit of props and the ego
We’d revolt back to our roots
Use a little common sense on a quest to make love
De la soul, no pretense, but
Your revolution will not be you flexing your little sex and status
To express what you feel
Your revolution will not happen between these thighs
Will not happen between these thighs
Will not be you shaking
And me, [sigh] faking between these thighs
Because the real revolution
That’s right, I said the real revolution
You know, I’m talking about the revolution
When it comes,
It’s gonna be real
It’s gonna be real
It’s gonna be real
When it finally comes
It’s gonna be real

In 2003, a more forgiving FCC, after hearing from Jones herself and the station, chose to rescind the fine.   Fortunately for KBOO, both the fine and the rescision were before the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” during the 2004 Superbowl.  The public outrage which followed caused the FCC to jack up fines per violation from $32,000 to $350,000.  Such a fine would’ve been like a planet killing asteroid smashing through KBOO’s tiny 8th Avenue studio.

The FCC determined that community standards were not violated.  It is an example of how the law regarding obscenity, indecency and profanity, whether gratuitous or not, is and isn’t written in stone.  There may be several standards at work when stations chose to allow or restrict language that may or may not cost them big bucks, public support or both.

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Refusing to take the Medicine?

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Taking the Medicine

I’ve been looking at websites of public radio stations.  And the variations among them reminds me of the whole idea of meeting the needs of your customer and of a quiet corporate fight taking place even as I type these words.

Supermarket chain A buys supermarket chain B.  Both chains run a pharmacy.  Chain B’s technology and its system for managing customers and medications is superior to chain A’s system.  But although Chain A is absorbing chain B’s technology, chain A is forcing chain B to adopt its management system.  Chain B is resisting because it knows its system serves its customers better than chain A’s.

The correlary to public radio is this.  Back in the 90s, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters was promoting an effort called “The Healthy Stations Project”.  Among the ideas was that stations should adopt a similar feel in terms of sound and look because that would help stations project an image of professionalism.  And that, in turn, would increase listener support, i.e. more successful pledge drives.

As a former federal employee, I am very familiar with concept of corporate branding.  Every agency went through such a branding process in the mid to late 2000s.  But as the huge public radio survey, “Audience 98” showed, the messages about what audiences wanted vs what seemed best for stations were confusing.

On one hand, the data seemed to show that local programming, much of it created by volunteers with little training or in small stations with low budgets, was driving some of the audience away.  Quality, in stations with trained staff and better equipment, was what the audience wanted, or so the NFCB thought.  In 2008, community radio station KRCL in Salt Lake City fired many of its volunteer staff and replaced them with professional hosts.

But on the other, many stations rejected the idea of diluting a local identity they had spent years growing from nothing and were quite proud of.  Their audiences were very protective of the look and sound of their local stations and didn’t care if they didn’t have the “polish”.  KBOO in Portland, for example, has a reputation as one of the fiercest defenders of it’s identity, whether from outside or from within.

There was a backlash, and the Healthy Stations Project died.

As I go through these websites, and see the variation in their look and feel, three things stand out;

1.  Many stations do share a “corporate” look.
2.  Many stations don’t
3.  All of the websites I’m looking at are for NPR member stations

I’m curious to know if you know whether stations that haven’t adopted one of the half-dozen or so prevailing templates are struggling to keep their own identity as NPR member stations, or if NPR is letting them be?

How to Be Wrong

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Red X

KBOO is a community radio station here in Portland that has occupied the far left politically and on the radio dial for almost 50 years.  I conduct interviews for KBOO’s news and public affairs.  So I assumed that because KBOO champions LGBTQ issues, the news director would be interested in new Governor Kate Brown’s view on human rights issues as they affect that group.  Ms. Brown is the nation’s first bi-sexual state executive.  I had been trying to secure an interview since shortly after she assumed the governorship.

Chris Pair, the Governor’s spokesperson was, at all times, prompt in his replies to my requests and cordial in explaining the governor’s schedule and the difficulty in getting an interview for anything except in response to specific issues, i.e. bill signings, policy statements, etc.  But today, he was specific by saying focusing on anything other than Ms. Brown’s work in office is not where they want to take the messaging.

Jenka Soderberg, KBOO’s news director concurred with Mr. Pair.  She said she didn’t understand why the mainstream media, including the Oregonian, had latched onto Ms. Brown’s personal life while there were many more pressing issues that she felt deserved public attention.  Among them, what Ms. Brown can do as Governor to prevent the EPA from forcing the city to cover its reservoirs.  Or learning her views on preventing Nestle’ from setting up a bottling plant in Cascade Locks and using ungodly amounts of water while Oregon is suffering through its worst drought in decades.

At that moment, I felt like I had missed a meeting.  And I remembered again why they’re called news “directors”.  I guess it’s one thing to assume something is important, but it’s another for it to actually be as important as you assume.  And we all know what happens when we assume.  Reporters need directors and editors because reporters are not always right.

Maybe later, the messaging will line up and make that other conversation happen. Maybe not.  But pressing business is the headline today.

I get it.

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May 22, 2015 at 09:47

Fund Drive Blues

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Pie Chart

I volunteered this weekend at Oregon Public Broadcasting.  I was one of the people you would talk to if you called to make a pledge for radio.  I also volunteer at KBOO in Portland, a community radio station that isn’t public radio, but is listener funded like public radio.

I just learned that KBOO ended its drive but did not hit its fund drive goal of $85,000.  The drive began on or about February 2 and was scheduled to go for two weeks. When I checked drive progress last night, KBOO was at about $47,000.  KBOO has had problems in the past hitting its goal and it has led to ocassional speculation that the station has financial problems.

But OPB’s fund drive began on February 5.  I volunteered for the current drive three separate times; on the first day, somewhere in the middle and at the scheduled end of the drive, which was supposed to be Saturday, February 14h.  OPB’s goal was around $600,000 but as of 5 p.m. Saturday, it had only raised about 2/3s of that amount.

Both stations are careful however about how they express that shortfall.  OPB stock phrase is “We’re not quite done yet”, while on KBOO’s site, there is a banner that reads, “We came up a bit short of our goal, so please donate online if you can”.  And if you listen closely, you can hear them blaming themselves even though the fact that people didn’t give enough money isn’t their fault.

People take the programming even though they hate fund drives.  And although stations emphasize all of the people that like them, love them or want more of them, these numbers say people either don’t have the money, or for some reason, don’t want to part with it.  And it certainly isn’t because they don’t know the goals or the deadlines or the phone numbers.  What that tells me is that the fund drive model isn’t working and we need to be doing something different.  Even if the intent is to support excellent programming, pitchers often say they don’t like holding programs hostage and listeners don’t like being extorted.

From what I understand, fund drive goals are set through a combination of what the stations need and what they were able to get at the last fund drive.  Although, as I said earlier, KBOO ended its drive, OPB will grind on until it hits its goal, if it hits its goal.  But neither case is cause for celebration because as pitchers often say, the money stations ask for during a particular hour pays the cost the station pays the producer of that particular program.  And if they don’t come up with enough money, they can’t pay for the program next time, which often means programming changes listeners don’t like.  For both outlets, KBOO and OPB to be so far off from such a carefully calculated goal speaks volumes to the alchemy of both misses.

And it affects every operation, including news which is where my interest most lies.  Less money can mean less reporting, less conversations, less exposure of what needs to be seen and heard.  Although a boon for the shady, it’s frustrating for staff and listeners.

It’s a lousy system all around.  It’s got to go.  But the problem is what to replace it with?

*UPDATE: OPB ended its drive at 6 p.m. on February 17th.  It was $33,000 short.  It probably could’ve hit that goal if the drive had lasted one more day since it seemed to be raising about $40K per day.  But because Governor Kitzhaber resigns tomorrow, I am guessing they probably didn’t want to risk fundraising competing with such an important and historical news event.

Written by Interviewer

February 17, 2015 at 02:20

USA Today and KBOO

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classified ad

I love this country.  With a little money and a little idea, you can reach thousands of people.  So, after about eight months, I decided I wanted to let people know about my site, stateconstitutions.us, through a few ads.  I spent the previous few months using press releases to contact the media, politicians, think tanks, etc.  But I decided I wanted to try the most traditional venue to reach an audience – advertising.  My twitter account for stateconstitutions.us. @stconstitutions, is pretty well traveled.  Google Analytics shows respectable visitation.  I just wanted to see though, how much a classified ad would spike traffic.  So I placed a weekend ad in USA Today and a week of underwriting spots for KBOO.  Let’s see what happens.

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June 20, 2014 at 21:32

Singed

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Image

This is a quickie.

I have been interviewing candidates since December.  I’ve talked to at least 40 passionate people running for judgeships, the legislature, govenor and the US Congress.

My strategy was ask them similar questions, according to their category, so that people comparing candidates in that category could compare answers – apples to apples.  Many times in past political races, candidate answers have sounded to me like trying to compare cell phone plans.  So by asking all judges-to-be, all legislators-to-be, all governors-to-be and all US Congress-to-be candidates the same types of questions, it would be much easier for listeners to decide who has the best answers.  And as issues have changed or been resolved, I adjusted the questions.  For example, questions about the Columbia River Crossing disappeared when the Oregon legislature FINALLY killed the proposal.

I did my last interview of those candidates that showed interest and initiative to follow up with me about two weeks ago.  But because of a last minute rush to speak to candidates live over three nights, and concurrently, a deadline to get reporters to and from Kansas City in time for a long form piece due during the early days of KBOO’s fund drive, I haven’t been able to edit the remaining interviews fast enough. So, I am trying to get the rest of the interviews up before the primary on May 20th so those candidates too get heard on my Between Us podcast.

This has been a whirlwind, and I will be happy if I don’t see any more waveforms for a little while so I can recover from drowning in them over the last few months.  I’m not burned out, but I am a little singed.

I love this stuff, and I can only hope it has made a teeny bit of difference.

Written by Interviewer

May 17, 2014 at 00:03