Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Liar in Charge of KAOS 89.3fm Olympia Community Radio

This is my personal blog. I post on it very sporadically. It doesn't have a very far reach, I estimate less than twenty people, all of them someone I'm at least personally acquainted with, read it. Odds are not in my favor that anything I share will go viral and reach millions.

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.

Thanks, Merwyn


The next morning she let me know how I had messed up:

Re: EAS didn't arrive‏

From: brownstr ( Sent: Mon 9/21/09 10:43 AM To: MERWYN HASKETT (; ANCH BERGESON (********** Cc: Drummond, Jerry (; Ford, John (

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]

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Waylon Jennings parties with The Velvet Underground

The Think Tank Setlist for 10/9/2011

Margo Guryan - Sunday Morning

The Velvet Underground - Rock and Roll
The Jam - That's Entertainment
Roxy Music - To H.B.

The Magnetic Fields - All My Little Words
Midnight Oil - Bullroarer
Flogging Molly - Within a Mile of Home

James - Dream Thrum
Imperial Teen - Shim Sham
The Kinks - Cliches of the World (B Movie)

Belle and Sebastian - You're Just a Baby
The Polyphonic Spree - Younger Yesterday
The Grateful Dead - 900,000 Tons of Steel

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan - Time of the Season
Steve Earle - The Kind
Waylon Jennings - San Francisco's Mable Joy

The Fruit Bats - A Bit of Wind
The Fruit Bats - Born in the '70s
The Fruit Bats - Tony the Tripper

Donovan - Colours
Damien Jurado - White Center
Ida - What Can I Do

Trailer Beast - Lords of the Realm

Mister Heavenly - Harm You
The Fresh & Onlys - Keep Telling Everybody Lies

The Great Book of John - Black Heart

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Think Tank 9/25/11 - For McKenna

This week's show was dedicated to the memory of McKenna June Ragsac as well as for her husband Tyler, her mom Julie, and everyone else who ever had the honor of knowing her.

[Most links below go to live versions of the songs I played. The studio versions were what played on the air.]

Sunday Morning - Margo Guryan

Adagio in D minor (Sunshine) - John Murphy
Hey Gene - The Choir
Outdoor Elvis - The Swirling Eddies

"The Father, Son and a Holy Host of Angels - Surely sent up three cheers - Even as your mortal friends - Shed a few tears - We miss you down here."

Creation Dream - Bruck Cockburn
First Breath - Richard Thompson
Dandelion Hunter - Glass Elevator

"You were dancing - I saw you dancing - Throwing your arms toward the sky - Fingers opening - Like flares - Stars were shooting everywhere - Lines of power - Bursting outward - Along the channels of your song"

Sweethearts on Parade - M. Ward
Coming Back Soon - Randy Stonehill
From the Morning - Nick Drake

"And now we rise - And we are everywhere - And now we rise from the ground - And see she flies - And she is everywhere - See she flies all around"

Hard to Get [Demo version] - Rich Mullins
Wounds of Love - Rich Mullins
I See You/Step by Step (reprise) - Rich Mullins

"You who live in Heaven, hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth - Who are afraid of being left by those we love and who get hardened by the hurt - Do you remember when you lived down here where we all scrape - To find the faith to ask for daily bread - Did you forget about us after you had flown away - Well I memorized every word you said - Still I'm so scared I'm holding my breath - While you're up there just playing hard to get"

O Children - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
Be Well - Luka Bloom
We'll Meet Again - Johnny Cash

"Hey little train! We're all jumping on - The train that goes to the Kingdom - We're happy, Ma, we're having fun - And the train ain't even left the station"

Real Men Cry - Lost Dogs
I'm Setting You Free (But I'm Not Letting You Go) - Lost Dogs
In Spite of Me - Morphine

"So proud to have known you for the short time that I did"

Praises - Newsboys
Everything - Delirious?
Flap Your Wings - The Choir

"You're the song I sing - You are the light that shines"

God Moving Over the Face of the Waters - Moby

Godspeed McKenna - you are loved and you will be missed

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Think Tank Setlist - 8/14/2011

By special request of a listener who refuses to create a Facebook account, I'm posting today's setlist (nevermind the fact that when I'm the one doing the show the list rarely if ever gets posted anymore.)

Margo Guryan - Sunday Morning

Brian Keenan - Sleepwalking
Her Space Holiday - Death of a Writer
Wiretree - Josephine

Mason Jennings - Raindrops on the Kitchen Floor
Maria Taylor - Master Plan
The Great Book of John - Let Me Slide

Clubfeet - Bright Lights Big City
Kyle Andrews - Make Me Feel Human
Breathe Carolina - They Say You Won't Come Back

Big Sugar - If I Were Heaven (Tonight)
Abstract Artimus - Destitute in Vestibule
The Self-Proclaimed Rockstars - My Crazy
The Self-Proclaimed Rockstars - A Cold Sleep

The Jayhawks - Closer to Your Side
Richard Buckner - Witness
Eddie Vedder - Without You
Eddie Vedder - You're True

Tommy Keene - Nowhere Drag
Kiyomi - Child in Me
Made to Speak - Something

Washed Out - Eyes Be Closed
The Ladybug Transistor - Caught Don't Walk
The Covert Operation - Keep Dreamin'

Eddie Vedder - Dream a Little Dream

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Anatomy of Debating a Fool on the Internet

1. I share a belief that not everyone agrees with. The topic's considered a hot button and often invokes and provokes reactions from both sides.

2. I'm told I'm wrong and then presented with claims which, right or wrong, had nothing to do with what I originally said.

3. I clarify that I'm specifically talking about the only point I made. I may, in fact, agree and say as much with some of the nonbearing replies. I ask for a response concerning my point, which is the only belief I shared while entering the thread.

4. My request for discussion on the point remains ignored while further evidence supporting that which I wasn't even talking about is presented.

5. I lather, rinse and repeat.

6. They now claim I said what I didn't say despite all evidence to the contrary being right there for them to read, plus assume that I believe or support other topics and non-sequiturs based on their own projection.

7. I start bangng my head into the wall, wondering the whole time why that doesn't convince them. I reiterate that I can live without changing anyone's mind, I just want a response on the original Goddamn point.

8. Having used their arsenal they resort to mockery, name-calling and other ad hominem attacks. When I point out that I of all people have so far gone this far without resorting to that I'm told that yes in fact I had. I can only assume they take someone presenting an opinion they disagree with as being an attack.

9. Knowing that the definition of Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, I become certifiably insane.

10. They label me a Troll. Some block me.

11. I raise my long suffering eyes to the heavens. I finally give up and take a break from it.

12. Those close to me who weren't originally involved suddenly check it out: they too ignore the only point I made, the only one I gave a damn about, and berate or admonish me based on the original nonbearing responses.

13. I waste more energy defending myself against that which I shouldn't even need to be defending myself against in the first place.

14. They don't hear a word, but repeat their responses from #12

15. I hate humanity. I hate people, until I laugh at the next joke or thumbs-up the next bit of good news I read. I remain cynical but eventually soften up a bit in the interest of choosing battles and remaining on friendly terms with those receptive to a positive existence. I find someone who finally acknowledges hearing what I originally said. Once in a while they even accept that belief for themself.

15a. I'm even able to bite my tongue for weeks or months when FB links, updates, notes and comments from some of "them" continues to infest my feed.

16. Then, one day, seeing the wrong post at the wrong time, I wonder if this is the time I'll be able to make the point and have some feedback that stays on topic.

17. Return to #2 and continue.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Kickstarting my blogging again

I'm trying to get back into the swing of consistent writing. For the longest time Facebook's status updates and shared links have killed my writing, and the blogs have been covered in dust and cobwebs.

I think I'll start out small, and slowly progress to War and Peace.

Tammy's doing some fundraising for an awesome project over at Kickstarter. Please check it out. Contributers can get their name in the book, get a signed copy of the book, and even be a guest host on our radio show. Even out-of-towners would be able to do that.

She also links it in her greatly missed blog along with a little mini update.

Heads it's Armageddon, Tails the Apocalypse

Many's the time I've pissed off someone over politics. When it comes to that I'm an equal opportunist. To the Left I'm a Closet NeoCon, to the Right I'm a Libtard Moonbat.

They say that you must pick a side, Left or Right, because if you walk in the Middle of the Road you're bound to get hit.

Plenty of times I've suffered road rash, or had to pick flecks of bumper paint out of my skin. I think I still have a tire tread across my butt from the 90s.

At this point I'm usually good about inching just enough out of the way that a passing car misses me by millimeters.

Nonetheless I still get the occasional threat shouted at me as the car speeds away. I'll be given the bird, or have an empty beer can tossed at my head.

The Left wants to disown me when I mention being Pro-Life. They're not placated when I elaborate that I believe laws against abortion are counter-productive, and that it'd be less of an issue if the root causes leading to it were addressed and dealt with by society. It doesn't matter that I think pot should be legalized, Muslims aren't inherently evil, gay people should marry and raise kids, workers should have an easier time being made legal, people shouldn't die for lack of ability to pay for healthcare, etc.

No, I dare respect the sanctity of life - I do it without hypocritically singing the praises of Capital Punishment, The War for Oil, or wishing someone remove the homeless and put them out of sight out of mind. I do it without considering knocked up teenagers sluts. I do it without demanding a CSI investigation for every single period and miscarriage.

Something I've learned about the Left from swimming with them - these sharks will turn on each other in the blink of an eye.

The Right's no better. It doesn't matter that I'm with them on the Pro-Life Bandwagon. It doesn't matter that I don't think guns should be outlawed. It doesn't matter that I like soldiers and cops (when they're not acting above the law) and that I don't consider bruising from being handcuffed to constitute police abuse. It doesn't matter that I consider Jesus to be the Son of God who offered me Salvation. It doesn't matter that I think Government interfere's too much where it's not needed (smoking bans) and not enough where it is. It doesn't matter that criminals should be penalized in a manner that fits their crime.

It doesn't matter because I'm all for a person's right to be intimate with someone of either sex. It doesn't matter because I think Palestinians are human beings who are being slaughtered with America's blessing. It doesn't matter because I don't want my wife to die for lack of insurance or money. It doesn't matter because I think there needs to be a moratoriam on the death penalty and that it should be a consistent Federal, not State, issue. It doesn't matter because I think it's hypocritical to force the Pledge of Allegiance on children. It doesn't matter because I don't believe that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, even Atheists aren't automatically going to hell just because they haven't accepted Christ.

As far as the Left's concerned I hate women, even though I've worked for them without gender-based issue.

As far as the Right's concerned I hate America, even though I publicly expressed my disgust at the people blocking the Ports of Olympia and Tacoma, and even though I've had plenty of blood-thirsty moments silently cheering footage of soldiers blowing things up.

When it comes down to it I can handle being challenged on a belief. I can take the ribbing, more or less, because I like to dig at people a little bit too and I take it in the interest of fair play. I also enjoy a healthy debate - when both sides stick to the subject without straying into ad hominem attacks (not always easy, and something I don't always succeed at.)

But when I'm given a blanket derision over my "politics" I wonder if the person really knows what exactly they're denigrating.