Monday, August 17, 2009

Musings: Seat at the Table

The moon, winding down to begin anew on Thursday, was cozying up to Venus in a sky that turned from black to dark blue when Koko and I went walking on rain-slickened streets this morning.

A Newell’s shearwater called repeatedly, on its way to or from feeding its chick in a mountain burrow, and the neighbor’s rooster crowed suddenly and loudly, watchdog like, when we passed by his cage.

By contrast, the state is planning to let its 50th anniversary pass by quietly, according to an Associated Press article that today was featured on

The article’s subhed notes that “Many remain uncomfortable with U.S. takeover, exploitation of culture,” while the body of the story contrasts Hawaii’s relatively subdued celebration to the rip roarin’ wing-ding that characterized Alaska’s golden anniversary.

The AP article did, surprisingly, include references to the “tainted statehood vote” and the act of “celebrating a lie, a theft. ” But in discussing the overthrow of the monarchy it never used the word illegal, even though the U.S. has already ‘fessed up to that fact and it’s key to broadening public understanding of what really went down.

It’s always interesting to see what's being served up about Hawaii to American readers. The same friend who sent me the link to the AP article previously passed along a PDF of a blurb she’d found while leafing through a magazine left in the lunchroom at her job in Illinois. Under the heading "Hawaii Five-O," it reads:

Fifty years ago this month, the Aloha islands became the 50th U.S. state. If a visit isn’t in the plans this year, take a tour of homes from your sofa. Check out the book “The Hawaiian House Now” for a peek inside 21 houses from old cottages to oceanfront escapes.”

This prompted my friend to write:

Wonder how many beachfront luxury homes are built on Hawaiian bones like Brescia’s…. but hey, it’s a statehood celebration – right? What a strange world. Enjoy Hawaii from your sofa.

While that little blurb was strange and superficial, the AP article is insidious, advancing as it does the notion of salvation through the Akaka Bill:

One way Hawaiians are moving toward having a voice in their self-determination is through legislation pending in Congress that would treat them similarly to Native American tribes and Alaskan natives.

After a decade of efforts, the measure could pass into law as soon as this year with the support of Hawaii-born President Barack Obama.

Let’s hope not.

For a take on what recognition could mean for Native Hawaiians, as articulated by someone who should know, check out this youtube video, where Russell Means, former president of the American Indian Movement, sums it all up by saying:

That’s the reality of federal recognition. Someday, none of this [land] will be yours. Welcome to America.

But hey, at least kanaka maoli will get “a seat at the table” — where they can cooperate in the further plundering of their nation.

And doncha wonder why, even though the bill has gone through numerous incarnations, just one hearing has been held in Hawaii on the proposed legislation, and that was back in 2000?

Changing topics, kind of, kudos to The Garden Island for staying on top of the dirty water story with a big front page spread today and the promise of more to come.

The Advertiser, meanwhile, has an interesting piece on how various public agencies are using public money to hire professional lobbyists to work public officials to get more public money. But don’t worry. They’re not trying to influence anybody, just “track what’s going on.”

Finally, I want to clear up something that Andy Parx wrote in post about KKCR on his blog last week:

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.

While I appreciate that Andy sees me as “bright spot” at the station, I didn’t have to elbow my way to a seat at the table. I did not wage any battle, and to my knowledge, none was waged internally on my behalf. Nor did I ever promise to stuff envelopes or answer phones at some future date.

In short, after filling in on-air a few times for Katy Rose, who writes about her move back to California in her new blog, Nofogetfogohome, it seemed to me that the extent of my involvement with KKCR would be dictated not by the station management or internal politics, but my own time constraints.


Katy said...

Hi Joan,

I appreciate the fact that your transition into KKCR was pretty smooth - compared to some - and on your terms for the most part. The community benefits from your presence on the air. But I think that one of the ongoing problems that needs to be addressed at KKCR is the fact that, one is more likely to get included there based on who one knows on the inside. That's why new programmers are often people who have "guest-hosted" on their friends' programs, and then just kind of "slipped in." Don't get me wrong, sometimes these new folks are great assets to community media, but it's an institutional problem that closes more doors than it opens to the general community, and creates a degree of laziness about looking outside a small circle for new people. It also re-inforces homogeneity because our friends are often people very similar to ourselves in background.

It's really self-perpetuating, too, because if you know others are operating on that basis of favoritism and cronyism, you want to protect your own turf. I certainly found myself wanting to hand-pick a successor to the program I hosted. Guilty as charged. The cure is to open up the process and make it more democratic and participatory.

But, I am glad you're there, and I hope time allows you to continue.

Anonymous said...

KKCR needs more music, less talk.

Katy said...

I have to disagree with the comment that KKCR needs more music. Right now, public affairs programming (or "talk") makes up less than 10% of KKCR's programming (if my recent calculations are correct.)

Locally-produced public affairs programming is a huge part of what makes community radio relevant, unique, and vibrant. It's the place where non-mainstream views that are shut out of commercial venues can be expressed.

Anonymous said...

Self-important bloviators and their pet issues have no moral claim on community radio's resources. If talk shows can generate more donations than music shows, then fine. But if not, they should be thrown over to make way for more music content. The community doesn't owe anyone a public megaphone.

Andy Parx said...

Perhaps you weren’t aware of the severe in-fighting regarding your appearance Joan but it happened nonetheless and I stand by that part of the story. I had been told by a source at KKCR- and I have written extensively on the matter- that you were aware of the system of volunteering before appearing on air you agreed to do that at a future date if it was deemed necessary. Perhaps they misunderstood the conversation

And perhaps “elbow” was a poor choice of words but even you have written of the difficulties you had over the past year and a half in trying to offer your talent and services to the community via community radio. The behind the scenes battle shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

If you felt welcome it’s because behind the scenes people battled to get you on the air.

I hope you will continue the fight for real community radio on Kaua`i- not the advertiser driven vanity radio that exists there now- and trust you will refrain from drinking the Kool-Aid.

Anonymous said...

Bet the Native Hawaiians had to take out the trash to get on air. Ah, white privilege. Feels good, doesn't it.

Anonymous said...

New truth in advertising "sleeps 14 + 11 Iwi Kupuna...

Anonymous said...

"New truth in advertising "sleeps 14 + 11 Iwi Kupuna..."

-- ohhhh nice one!! i totally wish i had come up with that


Anonymous said...

I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Much aloha to Katy as she returns home. Her mana'o will be sorely missed by Kanaka Maoli who appreciate the support of non-natives like her and Joan. Wishing her well.

Anonymous said...

aloha joan, glad you addressed andy's entry and mahalo nui for your contributions to our community radio. i hope your elbows find their mark again. i look forward to hearing more in addition to your daily posts.
as katy said, our community benefits from your presence on the air. i too am glad you are there and hope your schedule allows more kkcr broadcasts in the future. it's been great working w/with you :) aloha aina,......jt

Anonymous said...

Andy is Spinal Tap. He's stuck on 11 even when 4 is more appropriate.