So some might question the point of having a blog, and more specific question the point of sharing grievances. It won't change minds, it won't reach decision makers and people in power.
No. But what it does do is give people a chance to share their voice. And maybe someone, somewhere, will be directed via a well-placed tag and read this.
For Nineteen years my wife has been involved with community radio. For over a dozen years she has hosted a weekly show, The Think Tank, on KAOS 89.3fm, owned licensed and broadcast at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. For almost nine of those years I have co-hosted the show with her. We had a loyal audience and received positive weekly feedback from our listeners.
In 2014 Operations Manager Ruth Brownstein became Interim General Manager on her predecessor's retirement. That April my wife and I were informed via email (and later via certified letter) that we were being suspended for 30 days - ostensibly due to not getting pre-approval for being out of town on our Anniversary during the biannual membership drive. During the 30 days it became apparent there was more to what was going on. We became aware that Ruth Brownstein was making us pay for grievances she never shared with us, and was running roughshod with her new power trying to convert the station - a bastion of independent and under-represented music for most of its 41 year existence - into a mainstream station represented by malleable programmers she trained herself.
To tell the whole story will take awhile, and in the online world would be met with tl;dr
So for this post I want to focus on one specific thing. In her early correspondence with us at the beginning of our suspension, Ruth Brownstein contradicted herself at times, and made claims against us that turned out to be false.
This willingness of Ruth Brownstein to be a liar dealing in falsehood came completely to life, unshrouded and unfogged, in our meeting at Evergreen that spelled the end of 19 years of community broadcast volunteering for my wife.
The meeting - which included Andy Corn, the assistant director for the Student Activities Board - was already contentious when Ruth halted things and brought up an incident from 2009.
One morning that year I was scheduled to perform an Emergency Alert System (EAS) test. I flubbed it. I had believed I was supposed to do something else (I had thought I was supposed to be waiting for a ticker tape to print out - something which was a common occurrence and which we would initial and tape to the official log.)
When I realized something was wrong I immediately emailed Ruth:
EAS didn't arrive
Hi Ruth -
The Think Tank was scheduled to receive an EAS today but in never came in. It still hadn't arrived by the time Old Ship of Zion took over.
The next morning she let me know how I had messed up:
Re: EAS didn't arrive
From: brownstr (email@example.com) Sent: Mon 9/21/09 10:43 AM To: MERWYN HASKETT (firstname.lastname@example.org); ANCH BERGESON (**********@gmail.com) Cc: Drummond, Jerry (email@example.com); Ford, John (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Merwyn— the only EAS that ‘arrives’ is the monthly EAS which is sent to us and then we resend it out. The red EAS on the log indicates that you are to send a weekly test. It originates at KAOS and is sent by the operator on duty here. We are by law required to do this each week. There are times like this when I really think it would be great if you would sign up and actually DO the training sessions- I realize you were kind of ‘fast tracked’ onto the airwaves but there are some obvious gaps in your knowledge and I would be happy to have you take the training so you know all you need to! Let me know if this is feasible or if you would like some 1:1 training~ we can arrange that too. I will have Anch send one today- so we will stay in compliance. Thanks for being honest and upfront about this I sure appreciate that! ~rb
-- Ruth M. Brownstein Training & Operations Manager KAOS 89.3 FM Olympia Community Radio ANNEX B- B102A 2700 Evergreen Pkwy. NW Olympia, WA. 98505
So far nothing wrong with anything. I messed up, while Ruth Brownstein offered to give me a more thorough training. It's true I had been "fast tracked" by previous Operations Manager Donna DiBianco (with General Manager Jerry Drummond's approval.) I had watched videos, studied printouts, and tested with Donna multiple times. I was presented a certificate showing I had completed training. (Later, I would receive my 5-Year Certificate, which was signed by Ruth Brownstein herself.)
Fast-Forward back to today's meeting (had it been a trial I'd be able to mention the kangaroos.)
Ruth Brownstein brought up the incident from 2009 - an incident which she hadn't seen fit to bring up in the following five years - and claimed that my response was a refusal to accept further training.
I said that wasn't true, Ruth Brownstein insisted it was. I told her she was mixing me up with a former programmer and mutual antagonist, a Mr. A. Jones, but she insisted I refused training. I asked for the email proof that I refused training - Ruth "triumphantly" presented the printout of my first email to her. I told her that didn't show me refusing training, but she insisted that was the case.
I had no laptop or other wireless device to pull up my old emails. I told Ruth Brownstein and Andy Corn that if an email showing me refusing training could be produced I'd eat my foot. But until then I was calling bullshit.
The meeting didn't last much longer.
Once back at a computer I was able to pull my old emails and found what I had really replied to Ruth Brownstein with:
Whoops, disregard my last reply [Ruth Brownstein's first response was merely a copy of my first email with no message, and I had told her her reply hadn't come through.]
And whoops again - yes, I would LOVE some more complete training - I had been told before that things like this were in the manual, and I thought that was what I was following.
Does that sound like I was refusing training, insisting that I didn't need to learn anything? Does that sound like I wasn't accepting responsibility for a serious flub? Does that sound anything but cooperative?
I forwarded that original reply to Ruth, Andy, and Student Activities Director Tom Mercado, pointing out that Ruth Brownstein's credibility was lacking after this. I've no doubt that the knowledge won't make any difference to that clique.
Come to think of it, as Operations Manager Ruth would have had authority to remove me from the air in 2009 for "refusing training." Had I really done that, why did she let it go for half a decade?
Nineteen years for Tammy, a dozen years at KAOS, and almost ten years for me, ended abruptly in no small part to a vile woman's lies. So much for the Social Contract that everyone working at The Evergreen State College must abide by.
[Originally posted at Kalhoun]