Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Musings: Getting Clear

The rats woke me at 4, banging around by the pipes in the wall. Yes, they’re still on the scene, but I’m hopeful not for much longer. Since we were up already, Koko and I headed out and walked in the silent world of blackness, the looming hulks of mountains silhouetted against a backdrop of sparkling stars.

And then, because it was so cold, we went back to bed and awoke again to sunlight. I took advantage of that brief early morning period of minimal traffic to run errands in Kapaa. I never cease to be delighted by the beauty of the windward mountains when they’re free of clouds and revealed in all their glory, from Kalepa to Kalalea. Crystal clear days like this don’t happen all that often, and yesterday I took a mid-day break to enjoy a bit of beach time.

Despite the stellar weather, Hawaii Superferry continues to log dismal passenger counts. Yesterday, Brad Parsons reports from Maui, the ferry offloaded 140 to 150 people, one moped and 58 to 60 vehicles, including 15 to 20 military vehicles. (“The variation, he says, “was due to four vehicles loaded on top of other vehicles, counting all was less than 20.) Just 47 to 50 vehicles got on for the return trip to Oahu.

And Disappeared News yesterday posted a contribution from Life of the Land’s Henry Curtis gleaned from the PUC, which granted HSF’s request to extend its discount fares through June 5. To justify the request, HSF disclosed on Dec. 21, 2007 that it’s been carrying about 150 passengers per voyage, while the planned passenger load is about 410 passengers per trip.

It’s clear the ferry is doing poorly in terms of attracting passengers, even with discounted fares. What’s less clear is why a second run was added to Maui when the Superferry isn’t even covering its costs. Although such a move doesn’t make economic sense, it does make sense if the vessel is simply trying to log miles. And with yesterday’s National Guard transport, Superferry has demonstrated it can successfully move military vehicles and personnel. I’ll get into that more deeply in my next Lifting the Veil post, which unfortunately has been delayed by a heavy work load.

Clarity, it seems, is starting to slowly emerge in the KKCR dispute. The Garden Island reported today that programmer Kaiulani Huff wasn’t terminated from the station, but just put on 90 days suspension, at which time she can “reapply.”

That’s certainly a different message than the one originally sent to Kaiulani, but since it comes from station manager Gwen Palagi, who was on vacation when all the recent turmoil began, it seems official, and is good news to those of us who like to have her back on the air.

In the meantime, it does seem the recent events may be motivating folks to get more involved in working for significant changes at the station, including better community outreach. One oft-cited method of improving participation is moving the station out of Princeville to a more centralized, ethnically diverse location.

However, according to a memo from board member Sandy Brodie, such a relocation could take up to three years and would require a new FCC application approval.

In light of that, Brodie recommended the Board seek a long-term lease at the existing facility and work to improve reception through a microwave link system. No mention was made of using remote broadcast systems to allow programmers to participate elsewhere around the island, an idea that has been advocated by some for a number of years, without success.


Anonymous said...

"90 days and can reapply" is code for "not you, not never". Note it doesn't say she will be reinstatted but that she can "apply"- and if she cleans the bathrooms and kissed Gwen's butt maybe she'll be given a "music-only" show as long as she agrees to sit down and shut up like a good little Hawaiian coconut.

Andy Parx

Anonymous said...

...And 2 motorcycles departing.

Juan Wilson at islandbreath.org has made some nice evaluations added to my observations.

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

I was surprised to see Patrick Michael's story on the front page of the Garden Island this morning. I thought he was a little ranty here the other day. But now that he's been given serious treatment in the paper I'm suddenly wildly curious to see what exactly he wrote in that email to the FCC.

In Business 4 Good Campaign said...

well ahem, Charley, et al. seems that Amanda Gregg covered the FCC compliance issues quite well. Simply put, I exercised my community rights, as a KKCR Subscription member of record(2006), and simply asked for a review of the licensed operations of KKCR. That can be done, and is in fact, encouraged, as part of the non commercial licensing world. A Review, is just that. The FCC folks will review the license logs and files, for any outstanding issues. Usually this can take up to 2 years, based on the nature of the request, or file, and the current state of the license renewal process(KKCR is good through 2014, so that's not an issue). You may find this interesting. The programming approach, such as it is, with the current on air staff, is hard to characterize as educational, culturally significant, or non commercial(when on air folks pitch a link to their own personal websites, as the schedule page does, as well).

I'm simply asking an outside authority, the FCC, to enquire about the business practices, techncial standards, and financial standing of the license holder, Kekahu Foundation. What goes on inside the hallowed and sheltered walls of KKCR's studio, is beyond the scope of my professional, or personal interests.

Anonymous said...

Right. But I mean the actual verbatim email. Any interest in sharing that? From a blogger point of view its just more interesting to deal with source documents rather than descriptions.

Anonymous said...

From Katy Rose:

Can those who keep repeating this idea that three of us programmers "stepped out of line" PLEASE be specific about what we did, EXACTLY? The vagueness is rather maddening.

For example, Jimmy and I have NOT been told why our program was pre-empted. Is it because we broke the "dirty laundry" code( NOT an FCC violation, by the way)? That's funny, because in the week since we were "pre-empted" I have heard two call-in shows on KKCR discussing exactly the same issue we opened up on the program we hosted on Dec. 20, but the hosts of those shows are okay because they support management's actions. It's even more bizarre when you consider that the hosts of those programs participated in the generation of much misinformation about recent events, as well as airing verbal threats and disrespect for other programmers and community members.

It is also being said that Ka'iulani has a "history" of FCC violations. Evidence, please. None of the current backloaded accusations against Ka'iulani have anything to do with the reasons given for her termination in the email she originally received. She can't be fired twice, for all this other unproven stuff now "after the fact" in order to justify her original firing, which is now being called a suspension, by the way.

I am disappointed by the lack of grounding in the facts of the case here. It seems designed to avoid an honest examination of the structural issues many of us are raising.

Anonymous said...

Everybody's statements on both sides of this issue are maddenly vague.

The station accuses Ka'iulani of past infractions, Ka'iulani accuses other programmers of cultural disrespect, Hale Mawae claims to have been attacked and threatened by KKCR staff. But when one asks any of them for specifics they clam up and go away.

(Actually, to be fair, I've never asked Ka'iulani for specifics. But I have asked people at the station and Mawae).

It's ridiculously uninformative and it makes it impossible for any reasonably intelligent, reasonably well informed observer to take anyone on either side seriously.

To those not part of the controversy it looks like this: Two sides calling each other names. "Trouble causer." "Disrespecter." "Extremist." "Threatener." The lack of any factual allegations to back up these insults leads one to suspect they are in fact merely insults and subjective grumblings.

That might or might not be a fair conclusion but it is all one is left with when everyone refuses to support their accusations with any facts.

Anonymous said...

Out of the Washing Machine, On To the Clothesline!

KKCR’s “Dirty Laundry” Policy Selectively Enforced
By Katy Rose

Since December 17, a series of events have shook Kaua’i’s community radio station, KKCR, to the core.

What are well-known and undisputed at this point are the following facts:

Ka’iulani Edens Huff was terminated from her volunteer programming position as the host of her self-created program, “Songs of Sovereignty.”

Jimmy Trujillo and I were “pre-empted” from our regular bi-weekly programming duties as the hosts of the “Out of the Box” program.

Behind these undisputed facts are a myriad of unanswered questions which have lately been complicated by rumors, innuendos and even threats of violence.

Everyone knows that there are many sides to any story, but in an effort to add some clarity to the situation, I would like to share my perspective on events, and solicit some answers from KKCR management.

(I have already gone into great detail in earlier writings about the question of racism at KKCR, and feel no need to expound on that again here.)

On December 18, Ka’iulani opened her inbox and was informed by the following email that her programming privileges had been terminated:

December 17, 2007
Aloha Ka`iulani,

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.

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

Mahalo for your contributions to KKCR during the past months. If you have any questions, please contact me.



One point of clarification needed here is that the headphones in question were Ka’iulani’s own, and that they were never thrown at a person.

Another point is that no “attack” took place that morning. A verbal dispute occurred, and certainly not the first one in KKCR history. The question is why was Ka’iulani singled out in this dispute? Was it not a mutual disagreement? To what standard is the other programmer involved being held? And given the value of the Songs of Sovereignty program to an under-served sector of our community, wouldn’t it have been prudent to seek some form of conflict resolution before termination became an option?

When these questions were raised by the many concerned citizens who flooded the station with emails and phone calls in the days after Ka’iu’s termination, the explanation for the termination changed. Suddenly, Ka’iulani had a “file” full of complaints against her, a history of FCC violations, and a reputation as a violent and threatening presence in the station building.

None of these claims have been verified with any evidence, yet this became the dominant rhetoric employed to explain the station’s actions against her, and throughout the coming weeks, this rather slanderous view would be repeated on the air and left unchallenged by the station. (Ka’iulani does not dispute a “slip-up” on the air that morning, immediately retracting it with an apology. The history of FCC actions in such situations suggests a certain leniency for occasional “slip-ups” on live non-commercial radio, so, while not terrific, this was not a serious threat to the station. Nevertheless, this was never originally offered as a reason for her termination.)

On Thursday, December 20, Jimmy Trujillo and I hosted our regular call-in program. After explaining to the listeners that Ka’iulani had been terminated, we opened the phone lines to the community to discuss the issue. We scrupulously avoided name-calling and finger-pointing, but we did not shy away from raising the question of how racism played into the events. At one point, a staff member was invited into the studio by Jimmy to offer up station management’s position. (This caused some confusion in the studio, as I was unaware that the staff member had been invited and interpreted her presence as an inappropriate incursion; later I did apologize to her for my attempts to limit her access to the microphone.)

It has been stated since that we were “fishing” for callers who agreed with us. I think this refers to the fact that at one point I mentioned that a particular caller was trying to get through, and invited her to call when the line became open (for some reason, only one phone line into the studio was open, instead of the usual two or three.) But those who have never been in the studio should understand that we do not “screen” callers, and that we do not use a “delay.”

On Monday, December 24th, several people felt moved to go to KKCR to protest for the re-instatement of Ka’iulani to the airwaves. It was no secret that we planned to demonstrate. There was no indication that this demonstration was ever intended to cause harm to the station premises or people therein. Yet, when we arrived, we found the station closed and locked down, all regular programming pre-empted, no staff present, and the Kaua’i Police Department alerted to our presence. Under warnings of trespassing, we agreed to move to a public area, at the intersection of Hanalei Plantation Road and Kuhio Highway. We held a peaceful sign-holding protest raising the issue of institutionalized racism at KKCR. A video, now on YouTube, was made of the protest. Our message was clear: we were not accusing individuals of bigotry, but pointing to the structure of KKCR as inherently exclusive and unaccountable to the community.

The following Monday, three of us arrived at the grounds of KKCR again. This time, it was to fulfill a request by Ka’iulani that Hale Mawae sit in as a guest host for the “Songs of Sovereignty” program. Again, the station was locked and empty. After waiting in the hope that staff would arrive at 10 am – the start of usual business hours – we left.

The following day, Jimmy Trujillo and I received emails informing us that our scheduled program for January 3 had been “pre-empted.” There was no explanation for this action, and we have yet to receive one. We have only the suspicion that we are being suspended for airing “dirty laundry” – which is not an FCC offense but a questionable station policy, considering that it is really the community’s laundry we’re talking about, and the community has a right to inspect it.

On Thursday, January 3, Jimmy and I and three supporters arrived at 3:30 to request that we be allowed to broadcast our program, and that we be given an explanation for our “pre-emption.” This time, we arrived to find a locked gate at the top entrance to the road which leads to the station. This gate is normally locked after 6pm and after 2 pm on weekends. I have a key to this gate, but a Princeville Security Guard denied us entry, and told us that the gate at the entrance to the station was also locked. Only specified people were to be allowed entry.

Police cars arrived, and we were told to move off Princeville property, which we did. Hale Mawae, however, was arrested shortly thereafter for walking along Hanalei Plantation Road, which is by all accounts a public right-of-way road. He was armed only with a video camera, which was confiscated and has yet to be returned. His arrest – which he did not resist - included an excessive amount of force, with three to four officers wrestling and pinning him to the ground. He suffered injuries and is facing charges for trespassing and resisting arrest.

It became clear in the aftermath of Hale’s arrest that a staff person at KKCR had placed the call to police, apparently inflating the “threat” posed by our non-violent presence in the vicinity of KKCR. These kinds of calls, I should point out, tend to inflame police behavior.

The programmers brought in to host the program instead of Jimmy and I – Dave Gerow, Bill Rash, and John Gordon – spent the entire show discussing and taking calls about the current controversy. Bill Rash was heard to describe a “mob” trying to “storm the station.” Later in the broadcast, Bill Rash was heard threatening a caller to a fight outside the gates after the show. He was also heard to state that this particular community member had “no right to exist.” Another caller also challenged this particular community member to a fight “in a parking lot,” and was not met by any disclaimer or moderation by the programmers. A third caller aired his dislike of Jimmy and myself, which is fine, and mentioned that he felt we did not “deserve to use the name ‘Out of the Box’” for our program because of our departure from the spirit of original host Michael Van De Veer’s “vision” (also fine.) Dave Gerow and Bill Rash audibly and emphatically agreed with the caller’s assessment of their fellow programmers – a forbidden sign of disrespect according to KKCR protocol. To date, I have heard of no reprimand or consequences for these programmers.

Again, on Tuesday, January 8, on the “Kaua’i Soapbox” program, programmers spent the entire program discussing the current controversy with callers, and making false and confusing statements about the reasons for our suspensions. There has been no effort yet by management to clarify and correct this ongoing flood of rumors emanating from KKCR’s airwaves.

This raises an important question: is it only “dirty laundry” when you disagree with station policy?

Anonymous said...

for real....all of you should get a life!
Fight against real things that are hurting the world.
The community radio staion on Kaua'i is not
"the man" .....you guys are lost.

Anonymous said...

Independent media is critically important in this time of much social movement and change. We are losing what little we have of non-commercial radio. Fighting to keep it is crucial.