KCBX gone less Public?
January 9, 2013
KCBX turned off a 22 year old community tradition last week when they followed through with their removal of the Tuesday airing of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors weekly meeting. Their reasoning was that it wasn’t financially covering the 6 1/2 hours of programming time and had little support from listeners and subscribers.
The past six months have brought changes to the station and a lust for new programming.
The end of the Tuesday Board of Supervisor’s live meeting broadcast dimmed public participation in a big way for those involved in following county issues. Who knows how many listeners have lost access to the going-ons at a county level. Spending your evening watching the 6 1/2 hour re-broadcast doesn’t compare. Issues like the Diablo Seismic testing, Oceano Dunes air quality, the proposed Cluster Ordinance, the Bruce Gibson affair, they’re now far less accessible.
I sent an early email, as well as two typed letters with my concerns. I wonder how many others contacted their pubic radio station to bring up concerns. It appears that we’ll never know.
KCBX, under Frank Lanzone’s direction has ended their public service to board followers. The December 15 Tribune article says interest has diminished over the years as residents have acquired new ways to listen, cable and live streaming. Who has the expertise to do that while they drive or work outdoors? The article says that listeners want to hear Democracy Now and other types of programming. Democracy Now has aired for over three years at noon daily.
Another curiosity is the fact that the county has paid $20,500 annually for the coverage. That’s $1,600 per month, for thre, sometimes four meetings each month for a 6 1/2 hour spot. Was there any attempt to get sponsors? We’ll never know. How much will the alternative 6 1/2 hours purchased programming produce with profit? This couldn’t be a financial decision.
I’m a KCBX supporter and have been for 23 years. But the new programming changes didn’t invite any of us to provide input.
On Dec. 27, I got this email from Marisa Waddell, similar to the ones you get when you write to Lois Capps or Sam Blakeslee.
“Thank you so much for your very thoughtful letter of December 4th. I apologize that I have not yet responded. Besides the holidays, I have been out due to illness many days this month. I’d like you to know that your letter has been very much in my mind since it crossed my desk. I have begun working on a response to you, and will mail it soon. I just wanted you to be aware that we received your letter, and you’ll hear back from us.
“Happy New Year!
Director of Programming and New Media
She never sent a further response.
Then I hoped for some response from the Tribune with a letter to the Editor I wrote December 17. I had hoped it could run as a Point of View but Stephanie Fincune proposed an edit down to the 200 word max, which I approved with her Dec 21. It eventually appeared in the December 29th edition. Two days before KCBX went dark. No other negative letters were published.
On Dec 28, 2012, at 10:37 AM, SLO Editorial Letters wrote:
OK, Linde, I got it straightened out and made the couple of edits you suggested. I’m putting this on tomorrow’s page – that way I will be here and can make sure it actually gets in. Stephanie
A large shift in local and county coverage of political activities just occurred at the start of 2013, at a time when one laments adequate or easy access to the process of addressing local and state decisions on policy and projects that affect us all.
The public issue coverage now depends on the Tribune and New Times information of county supervisor issues or hours of watching channel 21 to get the full version of what occurred if you have cable.
I sense that certain people would like to quell public airing of issues that don’t embellish their behavior or decision making. Next I sense that the Trib and now New Times enjoy too many nice meals and contracts with SLO County, Paavo Ogren, and Bruce Gibson, with Sam Blakeslee’s invisible support.
In San Luis Obispo County, if you want to be the down and dirty Supervisor and honor standing deals, you put a halo on and bring the media to your side. It seems to work quite well.
Both the Tribune and New Times defend Bruce Gibson’s six year affair with his assistant, a HUGE liability for the County aside from a question of integrity. Those fidelity lunches and dinners seem to work.
I rant but hey… it’s out of total boo-hoo for loss of KCBX concern for what was important to us listeners who relied on the coverage. More jazz on Tuesdays leaves me empty. My station tossed community coverage of an important weekly access. Shame on them.
Shame on the Tribune and New Times for selling out on the issues. Cal Coast News gets my support.