Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Go Ahead ‘n Ask: An Open Letter to the KXCI Brass By King Daevid MacKenzie

To all concerned at KXCI:

Hi, Guys. How are you? I are fine, I guess. Also a bit puzzled. Last week, I opined in this space to the effect that commercial radio in Tucson was committing mass suicide. After close to four decades in American, British and Canadian broadcasting, I think I know the signs of such.

The puzzle is why KXCI claims to be a “community” “alternative” to the corporatist iPod Radio shuffle, but it isn’t proving itself to be a good alternative, particularly to those of us who want information as well as art.

The primary points and questions I have are:

The only daily block of news aired on KXCI each weekday is one fed to the station by Pacifica Radio in New York, a community well outside whatever boundaries one can consider to apply to the community KXCI holds a license to serve. Why? “Democracy Now” may be a good source of national info, but when was the last time Amy Goodman ever dealt with events taking place in Tucson?

Following the reportage of Ms. Goodman each weekday is a five-minute chunk of airtime given to the Austin-based commentator Jim Hightower. Why? Austin may be a lot closer to Tucson than New York, but the mileage is still heavily into the triple digits. And Hightower, a busted ABC commercial talk show host, fancies himself to be the modern-day Will Rogers, when in reality he falls far too short of that mark to warrant such a self-image.

Towards that point, since you see fit to offer a distant voice like Hightower’s five minutes every weekday after “Democracy Now” for news commentary, I’ll put in a demand right now for my own weekdaily ten-minute slice of airtime leading into “Democracy Now” for news commentary. Certainly, for a station so steeped in its claim of “community” service, it can afford to give someone of my extensive experience willing to contribute that much effort to KXCI each day twice the airtime you give someone two states away.

Also why doesn’t KXCI provide any daily phone-in talk programming so that the majority of Tucson residents can discuss issues in the news without having to risk the certain ridicule of whatever fascist jerks KQTH, KNST and KVOI choose to pollute our airwaves with?

And there’s an absence of any locally-produced periodical programming specifically relating to the Tucson LesBiGayTrans communities. The only BGLT program I see on your current schedule is “This Way Out,” again a program produced in a different time zone. When I dropped by the KXCI offices on MLK Day, I was told by one of the women present that the station had a locally-produced BGLT program on the schedule (and apparently not relegated to the public affairs ghetto of Sunday afternoons) a couple of years ago, but since that program disappeared the station has asked around for contributors to a replacement program and couldn’t find any. Feelers were specifically sent out to Wingspan towards that end, or so it was claimed. That claim raised a few eyebrows around the Wingspan office when I asked about it there yesterday.

Certainly, there are more than enough BGLT people in Tucson to fill up a weekly hour. I, for one, would gladly contribute to it. I was co-host of “Out Front,” the first weekly BGLT program on WORT Madison, and contributed material to “LesBiGay Radio,” the daily program on WSBC/WCFJ Chicago. The Part 15 station on 90.9 FM, Free Radio Chukshon – -- has at least four weekly hours of locally-produced BGLT material on Monday and Wednesday nights. It’s been my experience that certain stations, like WORT had for years, carried “This Way Out” partly as an excuse for not having local BGLT productions. Is KXCI one of these examples?

And, with these glaring holes in the schedule, KXCI continues its own begathon in almost every announcer break, asking for money from the audience now so that it won’t need as much money from us when the OFFICIAL begathon rolls around in a couple of months. Past local music, what is there on KXCI that could possibly satisfy my media interests better than, say, Sirius does? And what does KXCI offer that would justify my diverting my monthly $12.95 away from Sirius towards you?

Or is the lamentable truth of the matter simply that KXCI has drifted so far away from its stated mission that, rather than a Community station, it has become a Clique station, not interesting anybody outside of a (relatively) small circle of friends? There are over 800,000 radio listeners in the Old Pueblo. Why is KXCI bent on brushing the majority of these people aside?


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