Thursday, January 10, 2008

Musings: Scuttlebutt

It was that transitional time between dark and light when Koko and I set out walking, although perhaps closer to day than night. The stars were shining, but not bright, and as the sun began to make its presence known, I could see striated clouds stretched across the sky, waiting to accept the colors of dawn.

And that began to happen as I walked home, slowly, so as to take it all in, through an ethereal landscape of pasture mist and pink.

Ran into farmer Jerry, whom I haven’t seen for weeks on the road, and we talked about Green Energy's biofuel project, which goes before the state Land Board tomorrow on the matter of leasing land at Kalepa to grow albezia to burn. It’s been controversial because the state originally proposed leasing the company 2,000 acres of prime, irrigated ag land — a rare commodity on Kauai. It’ll be interesting to see what the Board decides.

I noticed Green Energy’s application to develop the processing plant at Koloa is running into a bit of resistance from the county planning department, which is opposed to the use of albezia because it’s an invasive species. But Green Energy principles Bill Cowern and Eric Knutzen say eliminating albezia could scuttle the project.

Jerry told me that corn-burning ethanol plants are also encountering some problems on the mainland. Apparently the demand for corn has driven up commodity prices, making it hard for the ethanol plants to turn a profit. When he got to the office, he sent me an article from the Kansas City Business Journal that describes the volatility of that market.

Speaking of volatility, the personnel issues at KKCR seem no closer to closure. Yesterday, station manager Gwen Palagi refused a request from ousted programmers Jimmy Trujillo and Katy Rose to meet with them publicly and have the session video taped or recorded. Now why would she be opposed to getting the meeting on the record?

In an email sent to the two, Gwen wrote the meeting would be about “The subject matter of your Out of the Box show broadcast on 12/20, in which both of you were co-hosts. Before station management takes action regarding your DJ privileges, a meeting is scheduled to discuss the policy and to hear your reasons for violating it.”

That made me wonder why such a process was not followed before Kaiulani Huff was taken off her “Songs of Sovereignty Show.” Instead, she received an email from staff member Donna Lewis informing her that her station privileges had been terminated, period. When Gwen returned from vacation, she told The Garden Island that Kaiulani had been suspended and could reapply in 90 days. However, it wasn’t clear whether that meant she could just become a volunteer again or actually get her program back.

Besides the lack of clarity in what is really going on, including whether programmers have been suspended or terminated and exactly what they did wrong, I’m concerned about the station’s inconsistency in dealing with these matters. I still have received no reply to my emails seeking copies of the station policies regarding termination and suspension, although such information should be public.

And there’s been no indication of any disciplinary action being taken against other call-in hosts who discussed the issue on air, ostensibly violating the same ban against broadcasting the station's “dirty laundry” that got Jimmy and Katy in trouble. Nor have I heard any word about whether the host who threatened a caller got in any trouble.

Station management does not seem to understand that when such issues are not dealt with in a transparent, consistent manner, it more easily gives rise to claims that some programmers are being singled out for punitive treatment.

At any rate, the whole fiasco does seem to be something that station listeners, at least, are interested in discussing. Despite the “dirty laundry” ban, it’s been the hot topic on KKCR call-in programs for the past three weeks.

I noticed Katy Rose posted a comment on the Getting Clear post that attempts to clear up some of the dis/misinformation that has been circulating about what really went down.

Meanwhile, Patrick Michaels, who says he alerted FCC to possible violations at the station, told me yesterday that the agency’s enforcement arm is investigating — though not at his behest — the lock-outs that occurred on at least three occasions. He says an enforcement agent told him that's a clear a violation of the station’s license that could result in a fine, or even the loss of its broadcasting license.

Moving on to other matters, I’ll try to post Part VI of Lifting the Veil later today. My neighbor Andy, who I also ran into this morning, tells me he’s been overwhelmed by all the information. It has been a lot, and not everyone is interested in all the details. But hang in there. I’ll do a summary next week that pulls it all together.

An update: just checked my yahoo mail account and the Superferry numbers for yesterday are a whopping 29 vehicles got off the boat on Maui and 33 vehicles took the return trip to Oahu. Now this is looking dismal, for HSF, anyway.


Anonymous said...

The whole Superferry story would make a great article for a publication with readers willing to sift through the details.

Anonymous said...

KKCR has apparently taken action against Jimmy and Katy too by not allowing them on last week or today

The whole "call to action" nonsense is indicative of how out of touch they are with what non-commercial radio actually is since it shows that apparently they can’t tell the difference between commercial radio as they have blurred the line so much they must assume everything on the air at KKCR is commercial speech and they must toe some kind of line they have apparently leaped over whole hog as evidenced by the way they allow programmers to self and otherwise promote commercial activity.

Now it makes sense as to how they could have so little sense.

It is also worth noting that the complaint on access was apparently filed by someone unknown to any of those involved exposing corruption, hypocrisy and racism at KKCR. As the facts revel themselves it is becoming outrageously self evident to rational, reasonable people that something is severely wrong with the management of the station.

The Board of Directors meeting in Princeville on Jan 16 should be a humdinger if people show up and demand an explanation of some of the more bizarre assertions and action the staff has made on the Board’s behalf.

Hope you can all come- oops- was that a call to action?

One more question- is a policy against “airing dirty laundry” simply a way to silence and squelch whistleblowers?

By the way, here's a link to the "The FCC and Free Speech " page at their web site-

Andy Parx

Anonymous said...

albizia is spelled with an "i" like "invasive"

Anonymous said...

Aloha Joan,

Is it true that you applied to host a news show on KKCR and were turned away?

Mr. Parx said that on one of his many calls in to the "Out of the Box" program on KKCR on January 10th.

I love your "Lifting the Veil" series.

Much Aloha,
Laura Christine

Joan Conrow said...

Laura, please see my response in the post: "Slow down, pay attention." And thanks for your kind words!