Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Musings: Superferry Stats, KKCR Spats

Woke to a dark, cool, wet morning, but Koko and I braved the elements and took a short walk anyway, as the eastern sky offered up streaks of pink beneath the gray.

I could tell the surf was up because I could hear its roar while lying in bed, which is not usually the case, then later discovered there’s a rare high surf advisory for the east side because of the brisk trades. Great Superferry weather, if you’re Dramamine double-dosed.

Brad Parsons, that inveterate Superferry sleuth, went out to log the Christmas Day traffic and it was pretty darn dismal: just 18 cars and 55 people got off the ferry at Maui, and 48 cars and two motorcycles boarded for the return trip to Oahu.

Gee, you’d think the holidays would be popular travel times, given the Superferry’s supposed purpose of uniting Hawaii’s `ohana.

Brad also reports: “Very little security anywhere in the harbor. Another observer went up to the gate and talked with those offloading in their cars. They told him it was a ‘rough’ ride.”

Speaking of rough rides, KKCR is back on the air with its regular programming this morning. Yesterday’s post generated a number of comments, and while readers are free to voice their personal opinions (within reason: I don't like slashing and trashing), I don’t want to get into whether Ka`iulani was right or wrong, since I have no first-hand knowledge of the incident.

What is of greater concern to me is how the situation was handled, and the larger issue of our community radio station’s lack of ethnic diversity as reflected in its Board of Directors, paid staff and volunteer disc jockeys.

First, some background:

Ka`iulani forwarded to an LA Times reporter and me an email that KKCR staff member Donna Lewis had sent her on Dec. 17 stating: “I hope you're having a great holiday season.

“We recognize your contributions to KKCR, and appreciate the value and passion of your program. However, we are fundamentally committed to providing a safe, supportive and healthy environment for every volunteer and visitor to KKCR.

“Due to your verbal abuse of a fellow DJ this morning (both off and on-air), as well as your disregard for equipment (throwing headphones), your DJ privileges at KKCR have been terminated, effective immediately.

“It’s never OK to attack another DJ, volunteer or staff member, and it’s not OK to be careless with or damage station equipment. [The headphones reportedly were Ka`iulani's, and not the station's.]

“For your information, this action was generated and supported solely by the staff, independent of input from volunteers.”

Donna then sent me an email on Dec. 19 stating that “there is a no-tolerance policy against violent / abusive behavior - whether directed against other volunteers, visitors, or station equipment.”

I replied that it seemed from Ka`iulani’s email and another circulated by Hale Mawae, who was in the studio, that there was a difference of opinion about whether the incident constituted abuse and it seemed only fair to hear both sides of the story before terminating Ka`iu.

Donna replied: “We do have eyewitness accounts of last week's incident. The people were afraid Ka`iulani would blame them & retaliate - so they didn't want their names used. I told them I would be clear - the decision was the staff's. We also have at least 4 other incidents documented from the past several months.”

This left me wondering, if the station has a “no-tolerance policy,” why wasn’t any action taken against any of the four alleged previous incidents?

Her email also stated: “If she chooses, Ka`iulani can reapply to become a volunteer after a waiting period.”

Again, I was left wondering why this information wasn’t provided to Ka`iulani. The email sent to her spoke only of termination, with no information about reinstatement.

In response to a statement on the station’s website — “Anyone interested should contact KKCR to learn more about volunteer training and station policies, including codes of conduct and federal FCC guidelines.” — I have contacted Donna and asked her to provide me with a copy of the station’s policy for terminating/suspending and reinstating volunteer DJs.

I’ll be curious to see what the policy is, and whether it was followed in this case. One reason for having, and following, policies is to counter assertions that actions are taken in an arbitrary, capricious manner that could be founded in racism, favoritism, etc.

In the meantime, I think it’s important not to get too caught up in the personalities of those involved and instead look at the larger picture. Is KKCR adequately representing the full community? Are allegations of racism legitimate? Is the station making efforts to encourage participation by a broad range of ethnic groups? Was Ka`iulani axed because of her show's controversial content?

I like and appreciate KKCR and listen to it often. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved, or that its critics should be shut out of discussions about the station’s management and policies.

If KKCR truly is an `ohana, as it so often portrays itself, let’s strive to make it a healthy family, and not a dysfunctional one.


Anonymous said...

Only 55 passengers got off the SF on Maui? Thank you, Brad, for reporting this information. The newspapers and television newscasts have not mentioned it since the initial voyage.

Larry said...

Hawaii Public Radio has been referred to as "Haole Public Radio" on more than one occasion that I've heard. Indeed, under previous leadership there was one regular program on Hawaiian affairs, but that ended.

Thank goodness for public access television. Now, you know that our current providers are under attack by the state, which wants to give their contracts out to competitive bidding, don't you?

The public access channels have provided something of an antidote to the lack of diversity in our supposedly alternative radio selection.

Which, in my humble opinion, doesn't let the radio stations off the hook, but at least it's something.

Anonymous said...

I love public access TV especially Big Island Speaks Out program where I am a regular contributor. Yay!

Anonymous said...

mahalo for the kkcr update. while management would like to brush aside the surrounding controversies with HR issues and allegations of improprieties and racism the fact that staff and board folks are silent about the charges says something. hard to defend the accusations when silence and denial are the response from 'our community' radio.
we'll see from management's response to allegations how accurate the charges are. so far the wagons are circled and the silence is deafening.

Anonymous said...

Notice the following Honolulu Advertiser report of numbers from the HSF for trips that never took place:

From: "Churning ocean cancels ferry trips"
By: Advertiser Staff

..."The approximate number of passengers and vehicles each way for yesterday's trips was 250 passengers and 57 vehicles for the O'ahu-to-Maui trip, and 200 passengers and 50 vehicles for the Maui-to-O'ahu trip."

Keep in mind these are for trips that never took place, the use of the word "approximate," and three of the four numbers are even ending "0" numbers.

This boat (if not the Pier 2(c) barge) can handle almost any ocean conditions as HSF stated a couple weeks ago. But it makes no sense to me to do a transit with numbers that do not even cover just the fuel expense. I suspect that is the real reasoning.

Aloha, Brad