WPVM’s vision stays strong

A group of volunteers at WPVM, a radio station founded by the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network in 2003, have come to believe that their vision should trump MAIN’s bylaws, governing board, employees and strategic vision.

This is a familiar pattern in the life cycle of community radio. It goes like this: A new station is launched and volunteers pour in, following a dream of having a radio show.  All is well until the schedule fills up and space for new hosts is restricted.

Some established volunteers feel a sense of ownership or entitlement, justified by many hours devoted to the station over a number of years. Cliques may develop, based on seniority, taste in music or other cultural factors. Newcomers may find it difficult to be accepted.

Attempts to change the station’s direction lead to all-out war. This pattern has repeated itself—with local variations—in community radio for decades. The upheaval at WNCW earlier this decade is one example.

WPVM is undergoing this life-cycle, but with a difference. MAIN’s media-reform vision is based on systems-thinking; WPVM is critical to this system. Most volunteers, through no fault of their own, haven’t been oriented to this larger vision. A few simply oppose MAIN’s control of WPVM.

As executive director, I am the flash point as we attempt to orient volunteers to the strategic vision. Most volunteers are not aware that a behind-the-scenes power struggle—smoldering since 2003—intensified in early 2008, culminating in the August suspension of a volunteer who sought WPVM’s independence from MAIN. This was the first disciplinary action against a volunteer in the station’s five-year history. The board reviewed 14 documented incidents and upheld the suspension.

Sympathizers made the issue public and picked up the independence torch. In control of the station, Web site and volunteer listserve, the sympathizers created an echo chamber in which any allegation assumed the mantle of established truth. Anyone asking for evidence was called a traitor or fool.

At the Feb. 10 board meeting, a respected volunteer called for changes to MAIN’s bylaws and WPVM’s management “because the executive director has cancelled or blocked a number of programs over the years.” Yet there is no evidence for this claim.

This respected volunteer later wrote that evidence is irrelevant because this “perception” persists among volunteers. This troubling conclusion echoes another volunteer’s posting that “it doesn’t matter if the board sides with us or the ED, we can make it so uncomfortable for him at the station that he will stay away.”

Since August, I have been called “dictator,” “tyrant,” “Big Brother,” “keeper of the Gulag” and “enemy of free speech.”  Since August, I have offered to go on the air and discuss this crisis with any show host. Only one accepted the offer. I even phoned in during the last broadcast of Making Progress and was put on hold for 20 minutes, before being told that I could not speak. The hosts later said they were afraid that I would start yelling on the air, even though I have no history of such behavior.

While limiting the flow of information on WPVM, these volunteers claimed that they alone represent the listeners of WPVM. But here’s a telling statistic: For more than a week after the board’s Feb. 10 refusal to change the bylaws, listeners have been urged to e-mail the board in protest. To date, the board has received only two e-mails, one of which was later retracted.

Despite the one-sided rhetoric on WPVM, our listeners can tell reality from perception. Like MAIN’s governing board and employees, they’re voting to turn the page and get on with our pioneering media-reform work.

— Wally Bowen, executive director, MAIN
Asheville

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77 thoughts on “WPVM’s vision stays strong

  1. Barry Summers

    For the record, as the producer and co-host of Making Progress: News for a Change, I need to respond to Wally’s story here. Wally Bowen has had to become skilled in playing the victim, as a straight-up debate on the facts doesn’t always get him anywhere.

    The night in question was our last show, as we had decided that Wally’s actions and the Board’s inaction had created a situation where our credibility as a locally-produced news program was no longer viable. The level of distrust and broken promises made us uncomfortable about telling listeners that we (WPVM) were a trustworthy source of local information. Until the underlying issues were resolved, we chose to take that one MAIN Board members invitation, “There’s the door” to heart.

    On this, our last show, one of our occasional guest hosts used a word to describe Wally Bowen that the rest of us felt was not helpful, even though we agreed in principle. I told him that his choice of words was not appropriate, and when we came back from break, he was no longer in the studio. Meanwhile, Wally had called, & was demanding to be put on the air. I knew that he would be calling to respond to the word that had been used to describe him, not as part of a substantive discussion, so I signaled to the person in the reception area that we were not taking callers. Wally was put on hold, and I sent the person who had offended him out to the reception area to talk it over, while the rest of us finished up the show. If Wally was left on hold for 20 minutes, we were unaware of it, as we were thanking our listeners and each other for the 3 year run of our program.

    I had given 4-5 years of my life to that radio station, and was doing my last show. Forgive me for not wanting to spend my last 10-15 minutes on the air refereeing a catfight with Wally Bowen.

  2. Mr. Bowen’s letter to the editor demonstrates how distorted and alarmingly out of touch his perception of the WPVM volunteers can be, especially in the face of the recent letter of resignation tendered by WPVM interim station manager Kim Clark (who had been vetted, hired, and recommended by Wally himself).

    The WPVM volunteers have never sought to challenge MAIN’s mission statement or by-laws. Many of us focused our protests at Mr. Bowen — not because he is the obvious figurehead, but rather because Mr. Bowen himself has strayed so far from the tenets of the non-profit organization he founded.

    As a WPVM volunteer, I expect those in charge of the station’s parent organization to adhere to their own by-laws and honor their mission statement. This has not been the case.

  3. Barry Summers

    One other point out of too many to respond to – the notion that a band of unruly volunteers tried to mutiny against MAIN’s bylaws and governing board…

    MAIN’s Board itself told this band of miscreants that they, the Board, had the authority to remove Wally Bowen from the radio station. We didn’t dream this up ourselves, as Wally suggests here. The Board issued a statement on September 8th that said, in part:

    “…the Board recommends a new governance structure requiring WPVM to report to a subcommittee of the Board.”

    When Wally Bowen was read this sentence on the air by a WPVM volunteer a few days ago, he denied that it said that (even though the statement is posted on MAIN’s website, and has been since September.)

    As to the bylaws, a group of volunteers went to the next regular meeting of the Board on September 16th, and asked for clarity, because one (1) line in the bylaws refers to WPVM, and the Executive Directors role in programming. They were told that:

    “Members of the meeting agreed that the creation of the Board Subcommittee for WPVM … along with other decisions from the September 8 meeting, were intended to have the effect of superseding this element of the MAIN bylaws. Formal action on the bylaws was deferred to a future meeting so that a full review could identify all amendments which may be appropriate at this time, and which can then be acted on together.”

    This is from their official minutes. We were given the authority to run the station by MAIN’s Board of Directors (Wally’s boss), and all consideration was given to the bylaws, by those stewards of MAIN’s governance. The fact that a Board made up of substantially different membership later broke that promise to us doesn’t mean that it wasn’t made back in September.

    When Wally tries to describe us like we’re a bunch of selfish kids trying to play pirate radio, he’s insulting us and he’s insulting your intelligence. You read the facts and decide.

  4. Piffy!

    It would appear Mr Bowen is in need of Dr. Mumpower’s professional analysis. I can think of no other logical explanation.

  5. kentuckyfarmgirl

    While reading Wally’s article, all I could think was “classic Wally.” I don’t volunteer at MAIN/WPVM, I have no vested interest. But I remember his style, from sitting in some committees with him years ago, and I’ve heard the same comments about him now from many different unrelatede sources. He has a lot of good ideas, has done some great work in town. But, sadly, he has a flaw that is so broad and deep, he inevitably p@#$@# people off. He is a terrible, terrible people manager. He should be writing grants, etc., UNDER THE DIRECTION of someone who knows how to work with people, delegate — someone with a mature personality, a better skill set for managing an organization.

    In the letter above, do you see how the blame is never his? Nope, it’s the natural life cycle of a station such as WPVM. It’s the uppity volunteers. And poor, poor Wally, he takes the heat because he valiantly tries to captain the boat. Problems he has caused? No, you silly people, it’s the natural life cycle, it’s these OTHER people, these volunteers, they are the problem. Not me! Never me! I am the great Wally Bowen, toiling away, unappreciated. I am the grownup in the room, I tell you!

    You know, his personal style is, ironically enough, much like Mumpower. Kind of pompous, quietly arrogant, deeply convinced that any problems people have with them, are their own fault. That he is just fine and dandy, just the way he is.

    I am somewhat admiring of his success at pitting people against each other, though. He’s really pretty good at that.

    Nice try, Wally, at blaming the problems on the ‘life cycle’ that occurs naturally. Nope, nothing to do with you! It’s really quite stunning that he can ignore the groundswell of consistent complaints about him for years now.

  6. kentuckyfarmgirl

    As to the systems approach, Wally seems to be completely unaware that he is a one-man silo.

    Wikipedia, Systems Theory, also Information Silo

    Systems Thinking is any process of estimating or inferring how local policies, actions, or changes influences the state of the neighboring universe. It is an approach to problem solving that views “problems” as parts of an overall system, rather than reacting to present outcomes or events and potentially contributing to further development of the undesired issue or problem.[1]

    So this is really interesting. He is saying, no, it’s nothing to do with my mgmt or people skills, it’s the SYSTEM. Don’t look at me, in particular. It’s the SYSTEM. And then he goes on to describe the situation in these terms, in true Mumpower style, as though each and every volunteer that has a problem with him (or any past employee), is just reacting in a predictable way, much as a small child, and he is the grownup.

    And yet the pink elephant in the room, is that Wally is an ‘information silo’, all unto himself.

  7. Barry Summers

    “You know, his personal style is, ironically enough, much like Mumpower.”

    One of the more surreal moments from producing Wally’s show on WPVM, “Not the Corporate News” was the night we had Dr. Carl on for an extended interview. As I was setting it up a day or two before, Councilman Mumpower was urging us to get into it with him, I think actually using the words in an email, “I hope you ask some tough questions…”

    The night of the show, I was disappointed how deferential and non-confrontational Wally was towards Asheville’s arch-conservative, who was practically goading us to go after him. Wally lobbed softball after softball, as I remember, never asking any really probing or provocative questions. They both had this measured, monotonic speaking style, and neither of them said much of anything for the entire hour. I found out later that MAIN had some business they were hoping to do with the City, and that Wally was likely too concerned with that to be a hard-hitting progressive. This was the first time that I ever hoped that nobody I knew was listening to the show. I decided I needed to leave Wally’s show not long after that, and do a show that I could be proud of.

  8. kentuckyfarmgirl

    “Information silo”, in systems theory:

    “An information silo is a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related management systems.”

    Sound like anybody you know? So he wants to make it just ONE management system, a virtual fiefdom of his own. The veneer of systems theory is used to cover up some well known and seemingly intractable interpersonal skills. The board needs to examine this issue. The intractibility of the problem, and the commonality of the complaints from many sources, demands attention.

    More:

    “The expression is typically applied to management systems where the focus is inward and information communication is vertical. Critics of silos contend that managers serve as information gatekeepers, making timely coordination and communication among departments difficult to achieve, and seamless interoperability with external parties impractical.”

    “Systems thinking promotes a foaminess of collaboration, allowing for individual ideas to share the burden of the entire system.”

    Gee, does it sound like that is what goes on at MAIN/WPVM? Maybe not so much?

  9. Rob Close

    So, I’m still VERY confused about one part of this issue…

    WHAT happened?

    Nobody has ever really explained just what happened over at WPVM with DETAILS. Every story and letter about this is vague – people quit because they don’t get along, and can’t…but WHY?!?

    I’ve never really read any explanation about any specifics of any argument. So really, it’s hard to have an opinion, when every side is just blowing hot air.

  10. Sham69

    Rob- you can go here to : http://www.wpvm.blogspot.com There you will find much information including the last episode of the show 7 Layer Dip that got the wheels turning here.
    It didn’t really begin with the firing of Gillian Coates (Co-host of said show). That incident was the catalyst for what you are seeing now.
    For a more detailed primer in 20 minutes listen to the mp3 of Greg Lyon’s interview on WMBR’s ‘What’s left show. On that show Greg outlines what has happened. The MP# of Greg’s interview is on the Blogspot.
    You can also look back though the mountainx pages if you search WPVM related articles.

  11. Barry Summers

    Here is the first MountainX article on the subject:

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/removal_of_wpvm_on_air_personality_causes_flap/

    If you go up to the top & search ‘WPVM’, you’ll get the long list of follow-up articles.

    Basically, after years of autocratic and inefficient management of the radio station, Wally Bowen decided to unilaterally yank someone he didn’t like off the air, and make up reasons to justify it. The volunteers rose up, petitioned MAIN’s Board, who then removed Wally from station ops. That was in September. The volunteers have been running things without a station manager, (who also quit in protest of Wally’s actions), while still reporting to MAIN’s Board.

    Since then, Wally has been manipulating and threatening the Board with all sorts of dire consequences should he not be put back in complete authority of the radio station. A few weeks ago, he fired 9 of the most experienced (and democratically elected) volunteer leaders (including myself) and tried to put a new station manager in charge (Kim Clark, from WNCW; well known and respected in the local radio community). She came in loaded up with propaganda from Wally, but after only two weeks, she resigned and issued an open letter clearly siding with the volunteers, and urging MAIN’s Board to strongly consider distancing Wally from the radio station altogether.

    Unfortunately, after a huge number of resignations (seven Directors in six months), MAIN’s Board (without a single member who knows anything about radio) apparently has given in to Wally’s pressure, and they have removed the structure that had the volunteers report directly to them. It appears they intend to hand the station back over to the guy that has made so many enemies around the community, as you’ve been reading. A solid majority of the volunteers have signed an open letter of No Confidence in his leadership, along with four former Board members, and a growing number of donor/supporters. You can read it & see more at the volunteer website:

    http://www.wpvm.blogspot.com

  12. Barry Summers

    A little historical reference – this article ran in the UNCA paper, the Blue Banner, in mid-September. Read these statements by MAIN Board Chairman George Peery, & see if you get the sense that this change was meant to be ‘interim’ or ‘cooling off’, as Wally Bowen now contends:

    “We are hoping that by changing the structure and the way the board does business with WPVM, volunteers will feel they’re on the same page and not have the sense of working at cross purposes with MAIN,” Chair of the Board of Directors George Peery said. “We, by not paying attention to them, allowed that perception of neglect to exist.”

    “Peery said the board proposed a new structure which requires WPVM volunteers report to a subcommittee of the board, rather than directly to Bowen.”

    read the whole article here:

    http://media.www.thebluebanner.net/media/storage/paper1302/news/2008/09/18/News/Controversial.Dismissal.Rocks.Local.Radio-3435756.shtml

    It also refers to Wally Bowen having been dismissed from UNCA years ago after teaching a class for one semester. Anybody out there know what’s up with that?

  13. travelah

    Somebody please help me out with this. A local non-profit org operates a low power radio station. Some of the volunteers do not like how the station is being managed. Some questions deserve to be asked.
    1. Who controls the assets of the non-profit organization … the board of directors or volunteers?
    2. What possible vested interest do the volunteers have in the organization?
    3. If you do not like whats going on, why not simply go quietly and start your own low power radio station?

    It doesn’t appear that many people responding on this issue through several threads have any real vested interest in the matter which raises the question of why this is even newsworthy to begin with.

  14. 1. It’s supposed to be controlled by the Board, however the Board defers to the Executive Director about 99% of the time, which is not how a non-profit is supposed to function.

    2. The Volunteers are also committed to community radio and media reform.

    3. The question assumes that low-power FM licenses grow on trees. There was a window when such licenses were easier to get. The FCC has all but closed that window. Should MAIN cease to be, the license for WPVM would then go to the next group who applied for the license in the first place.

    Everyone who yearns for more community-based media in this era of centralized, homogenized, corporate controlled media has a vested interest in whether or not WPVM continues as a truly community-run station. At one point, WPVM offered more locally-produced programming that all of the radio stations in New York City combined. If losing all that quality programming due to mismanagement of the parent organization and the station isn’t newsworthy, what is?

  15. Barry Summers

    1. Who controls the assets of the non-profit organization … the board of directors or volunteers?

    Well, for starters, the primary asset that the organization has IS the volunteer base. Something like 60 people participate in running WPVM; except for two weeks last month when Kim Clark was there part time, there has been no paid staff at the radio station. So, you have to take into account the fact that the whole thing collapses if people don’t choose to volunteer their time & energy. The Executive Director of MAIN has a critical disconnect on this point – he treats volunteers like unpaid staff, who have no choice but to accept his ‘directives’ (his word, not mine.) I know this from bitter experience – I came in as Wally Bowen’s friend helping to produce his show, and I finally got tired of being treated like his employee.

    The other point on ‘assets’ – the other primary asset here is the radio station license. It doesn’t technically ‘belong’ to MAIN or Wally Bowen. It’s a community asset that is held in trust by MAIN’s Board of Directors, for the betterment of the whole community. If not, why are LPFM licenses non-transferable, non-sellable? If the license ‘holder’ can’t keep the station up, the license reverts to the FCC. That truth requires that the Board recognize a higher responsibility than “We do what we want with OUR property”. If the community rises up & says they are violating their responsibility to manage this asset properly, they could lose it.

    2. What possible vested interest do the volunteers have in the organization?

    Do you have any idea how much work (unpaid) it takes to keep a radio station going, especially one that has no paid staff and continual technical challenges just to stay on the air? I can tell you as one of the original Managerial Board members, it’s a huge job. We work for free, and keep the station on the air in the understanding that it’s ‘community radio’ – meaning the fact we have contributed so much free labor implies a certain amount of buy-in, a certain amount of say regarding the governance. This goes back to the Executive Directors disconnect – he believes that people should cheerfully work for free while sublimating their opinions and desires for the management of the station. It’s an unrealistic and unsustainable model, especially when the person who puts himself above all others has such a dismal record of listening, collaborating, sharing, delegating, trusting – qualities you need when working with volunteers. Volunteers won’t follow someone who pushes, they’ll only follow someone who leads. And Wally doesn’t understand the difference.

    The other ‘vested interest’? When we compiled the fund drive results last fall, the largest identifiable group of donors were the volunteers themselves. Something like 10 – 20% of the money raised came from the volunteers, who don’t just give their time, they give their money to run the station.

    3. If you do not like whats going on, why not simply go quietly and start your own low power radio station?

    The FCC is not issuing new LPFM licenses. Even if they were, the likelihood that that they would grant another LPFM license in a town that already has two, and is an incredibly competitive commercial market, is slim. Even if a license were possible, funding a new station in the current environment would be a herculean task. WPVM has such potential that is wasted under one man’s ‘My way or the highway’ style of management. The community deserves something better, and for years, has been supporting WPVM under the belief that it will eventually become that community resource. For MAIN’s Board and Executive Director to treat WPVM as Wally’s Personal Vanity Machine is a betrayal of that trust.

  16. Piffy!

    “3. If you do not like whats going on, why not simply go quietly and start your own low power radio station? ”

    Wow. And when they’ve accomplished that incredibly easy task, they can go out and design an entirely new power-grid, as well!

    great advice, travelah!

  17. travelah

    PFGT(zQ), it is not incredibly easy but it is also not particularly difficult. The biggest obstacles to cover are FCC approval for the frequency in the current market, the engineering costs for the application and the capital costs for equipment. The point is bitching about somebody else’s assets doesn’t resolve anything. Going out and accomplishing something does.

  18. travelah

    barry,
    Unless you are in a position to change the board or influence them towards another direction, you do not have any say in how it is managed. The exec director might be the most ignorant factor in the mix. I do not know but unless the board is going to abdicate to the volunteers, it is probably time to mop up the milk and move on.
    I know a little bit about radio but I am certainly not an authority. I am sure the volunteers contributed a great deal of work and time to this non-profit. However, that doesn’t give you a buy regardless of how wronged you might feel. The community doesn’t own the station. The non-profit organization does and that fact seems to be over-looked in this mess.

  19. cwaster

    You could put this on your garden and it would be a great organic fertilizer. This fellow is obviously not living in the same world as the rest of us in my opinion.

  20. Piffy!

    >>>”PFGT(zQ), it is not incredibly easy but it is also not particularly difficult. The biggest obstacles to cover are FCC approval for the frequency in the current market, the engineering costs for the application and the capital costs for equipment.” <<<” Oh, that’s all? Boy, that sounds easy! Maybe instead of “bitching” about it, you should go and and start one yourself!!

  21. Piffy!

    >>>”The community doesn’t own the station. <<<” No. But it shouldnt purport to be a “community radio station” if it isnt. lil t, you might want to stay out of this debate, since you are clearly outside the loop.

  22. travelah

    kentuckyfarmgirl, I think the valid point is that it is not your station.

    Pfh(iT), the MX is a community publication in that it serves various aspects of the Asheville community. You do not have a vested say in what is published and what is not.Likewise with a non-profit broadcaster. As long as they satisfy FCC regulations, their license is secure. What I have read so far is nothing more than a group of disgruntled volunteers complaining because they do not run things. Seriously, that is the picture being painted. To that I say, Pfh(iT), dedicate their time to something they approve of and move on ….

  23. Piffy!

    >>>”What I have read so far is nothing more than a group of disgruntled volunteers complaining because they do not run things. “<<< Then it would appear you havent actually read much or you read with very selective eyes.

  24. Piffy!

    >>>”What I have read so far is nothing more than a group of disgruntled volunteers complaining because they do not run things. “<<< Then it would appear you havent actually read much or you read with very selective eyes.

  25. francois Manavit

    I guess everyone is taking a break for dinner ….

    Just a reminder for travelah and Barry ! Controversy and refusal from WBowen to admit wrongdoing will fuel political attacks like this first one …read below !

    “…Under Mr. Bowen

  26. Walter Westinghouse

    “As long as they satisfy FCC regulations, their license is secure.”

    In that case, their license is hardly secure.

  27. travelah

    David Lynch,
    You do not know me from Adam. If you can refute what I stated, please do.

    Walter, what is not secure with regard to the FCC in this matter? In other words, what FCC requirements are not being met that would put their license at risk? Please do not tell me it is turning over operations to the volunteers.

  28. kentuckyfarmgirl

    “WPVM as Wally’s Personal Vanity Machine”

    I’m sorry Wally, but that’s funny.

    There seems to be almost unanimous dissension in the ranks. The points above about the volunteers as the radio station’s primary asset, and the privilege it is to hold such a license for a community, were well taken.

    Why has there been no adjustment in the structure/system, when it so obviously doesn’t work well the way it is, and changes were promised? What’s up with the Board? Is it about money, that MAIN controls the grants? Could the board change that if it wanted to? Why did things go right back to the way they were before?

    What prompted me to enter into this discussion initially was Wally’s letter above. It’s so dismissive of any opinion that doesn’t jive with his. I can see why he’d want to defend himself against the obviously longstanding perception, now in the news, that he has a long history of poor people skills/mgmt style, but his response comes off very condescending and frankly, proves the point.

    It’s a shame that the board — and Wally — didn’t use the period of time following the last ‘blow up’ to adjust the structure. Maybe the volunteer board doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise, or enough time. I imagine Wally has dug in his heels thinking ‘this will blow over’ and ‘why is this even news.’ Wally, as someone who appreciates all your hard work, I gotta tell you. The way you’re handling this is discouraging, even if not surprising. You could have used this to mend fences, let go of some control a little (it would be good for you, trust me), use the Mediation Center, be a true leader. Get all the volunteers back in there. Apologize, if there is something to apologize for. Take responsibility for whatever part you are playing in this. Become the leader you COULD be if you were willing to hear what people are trying to tell you. Be the new improved Wally. It’s the greatest challenge all of us face, to look inside and modify who we are, in response to feedback we’re getting.

    In this time of limited funding, I suppose you can just grab on tight and not budge, but how much better it would be if you located your sense of humor and humility, and tried to ‘fix’ things. I’m sure running a radio station full of creative people and pressures is like herding kittens, but obviously you have a mutiny on your hands, and at least some of it has to do with your personal style. You don’t mention that at all in your letter above. There is no acceptance anywhere of your own responsiblity in these problems, except as a ‘flash point’, and even there, you seem to suggest that any person would be criticized just as you are, if they were in your shoes. You use Systems Theory jargon to deflect accepting personal responsibility. Universal patterns may be part of the story, but your leadership style and personality apparently IS a problem in the system, both at MAIN and the radio station — your handpicked manager, the first paid staff ever, quit after weeks. I just don’t get how you can ignore the consensus, the feedback coming at you.

  29. GregL

    travelah,

    To my knowledge, nobody has argued for ripping the license away from MAIN. This was precisely the false argument that Wally Bowen passed off as his reason for sacking Gillian Coats. MAIN certainly has the right to retain the license as long as it follows FCC rules and applies for periodic renewal (I believe WPVM is up for renewal within the next two years).

    As for getting another license, here you are mistaken. There are no frequencies available in the Asheville market for either a full-power non-profit educational (NCE) license or a low-power FM (LP-FM NCE) like WPVM. And besides, the FCC is not is not accepting applications for new stations, even if there were a frequency available.

    As for your analogy, MAIN is not equivalent to the Mountain Xpress in any relevant way that I can see. MAIN is a non-profit that relies heavily on selling its Mission Statement to the public (and non-profit grant-giving institutions) in exchange for support as an alternative media model. With regard to its radio station, WPVM, it relies almost entirely on volunteer staffing. The Mountain Xpress is a privately held for-profit corporation that relies on employees for staffing.

    Lastly, as to your question regarding FCC compliance, I hope you can understand why volunteers who care about the station would not wish to point specifically and publicly to Wally’s and the MAIN Board’s marked lack of stewardship of the license, especially given the first sentence of my comment here.

    Instead, volunteers and the public are severely questioning their management of this public asset (as all NCE radio stations are), both materially and with regard to volunteer labor. We are calling into question the way MAIN has failed to fulfill its Mission Statement, how the MAIN Board has failed to follow proper procedure (its by-laws) in oversight of the organization, and how Wally Bowen has proven time and again that he is not fit to be the Executive Director of MAIN’s radio station.

    There are two audiences here: 1) the MAIN Board, who have been dysfunctional and are clueless about radio (both, with admission from even some current members), and who are the only ones with power to move this crisis to an acceptable conclusion; and 2) the public, which MAIN needs for support of its overall efforts in order to exist at all. The public is also the pool for future volunteers at WPVM, and I feel it is our responsibility to make sure that nobody is fooled ever again about how this organization treats its volunteers.

  30. Barry Summers

    Thanks, KentuckyFarmGirl (if that IS your real name…)

    Two things: another hole blown in WB’s letter above. A former Board member has come forward with this rebuttal to Wally’s claim that the Gillian Coates firing was reviewed and approved by the Board:

    “I was a member of MAIN’s Board from August through November, 2008, and was never involved in any review of the so-called “documented incidents.”

    “Likewise, the Board did not “uphold the suspension.”

    “Actually, the Board sidestepped the issue entirely, issuing an apology for letting the conflict between the volunteer and Bowen get out of hand, and turning over general supervision of the station to a committee comprised of four board members: Josh Jourdan, Robin Smith, Terry O’Keefe, and myself. (At this time, Sept. 8, and shortly thereafter, the station still had a manager.)

    “The Board’s goal at the time was to take Wally Bowen out of daily involvement with the radio station. I possess documentation to support that.”

    Randee Goodstadt-Evans

    Also, as to the depth and breadth of the dissent among the volunteers, Wally’s assertion that we are a small cabal is baloney. Go to http://www.wpvm.blogspot.com and read the No Confidence Statement. It has been signed by 44 volunteers (a solid majority), 4 former MAIN Board members, and a growing list of donor/supporters.

  31. As someone with absolutely NO connections to WPVM in any way, and someone who has followed this controversey via the on-going back and forth here on MX and on the blog run by the former volunteers, I think it’s safe to say that neither side is coming off looking very well in this debate.
    Old conflicts are continually re-hashed and repeated….and personal grievances and accusations are being bandied about with abandon.

    I think there are well-reasoned people on both sides of the issues but based on this thread it’s become more of a mud-slinging, name-calling contest rather than a rational debate.

    I hope cooler heads will prevail, personal attacks will diminish, and a return to rational public debate will ensue.

    I’m thankful that people are passionate about community radio but those of us in the public are
    being put-off by the tone the debate has taken.

    The promise and potential of public media in changing at a rapid pace…and by the time this debate plays itself out…I’m afraid the warring parties are going to be like two old dogs fighting over a dried up old chewtoy when a new bowl of fresh food is within sight. (okay…bad analogy I confess)

    LPFM is a great tool, but is LPFM really the future of community media???

  32. kentuckyfarmgirl

    Don,

    I don’t agree that this thread is just a name-calling contest. If you read back, there is a coherent thread that points to factual, serious problems with leadership, which have existed for years. Such problems tend to reach a ‘boiling point’ eventually. Inferring that this is just one side against another, ignores the myriad of legimitate points that have come in through multiple sources. I don’t work there either, have not been involved. Whether LPFM is the future of community media or not, the station has been important for a lot of folks. I was not put-off by the tone, but then, I had former knowledge of the personalities involved. If you did as well, you’d have more empathy for the majority.

  33. kentuckyfarmgirl,

    I’m sorry you misunderstood my previous post.

    Obviously WPVM has been important to a lot of folks. That’s not being debated. Admittedly there ARE “legitimate points” in the grieveances, and I’ve said so previously.

    As I stated, “I think there are well-reasoned people on both sides of the issues “.

    Why criticize those of us who dont have “former knowledge of the personalities involved”?

    Why assume that we aren’t empathetic with the aggrieved volunteers just because we attempt to turn the debate into something more constructive?

    (more later)

  34. Kyfarmgirl writes:
    ” I had former knowledge of the personalities involved. If you did as well, you’d have more empathy for the majority. ”

    This statement demonstrates clearly what I attempted to point out.

    Those of us who aren’t directly involved and dont have “former knowledge of the personalities” are growing weary of the personal attacks.
    Just because we dont openly join in the attacks on the current director and board, doesn’t mean we aren’t empathetic with the volunteers who were let go.

    In fact, I have plenty of empathy for the volunteers and have communicated with them privately to gain a better understanding of the issues involved.

    And it is because I empathize with them, that I attempted to point out that the tone of some of their comments is hurting their own cause.

    When those of you who have “former knowledge of the personalities involved” tell the rest of us that we “might want to stay out of this debate, since you are clearly outside the loop” you are not going to gain public sympathy for your cause.

    Many in the general public are being pushed away from being empathetic towards the aggreived volunteers and that’s unfortunate.

    Some of us are empathetic to the volunteers and their cause but you are making it increasingly difficult for us to remain so.

  35. francois Manavit

    So .. mind your own business or get interested and learn the deaper truth of that conflict !

  36. kentuckyfarmgirl

    I’ve never criticized the board. I don’t even know who is on it. I responded initially because of the misrepresentations in the Bowen letter. The “Systems Theory” defense. It is very hard to point out that a particular person’s leadership style has been an ongoing problem for years now, without it sounding like an ‘attack.’ And yet the motivation is defending the majority.

  37. Barry Summers

    I know Don, and I know he’s coming from a place of constructive criticism. We do well to consider what he’s saying.

  38. francois Manavit

    The SILENT attitude from Wally Bowen and the laughable choosen board could give the impression that the volunteers are just a bunch of frustrated folks …Without debate, censored communication on the listserve , written apologies or even mediation , outsiders can only have a biased opinion of what is happening due to the constant refusal from one side to face our differences(community radio versus one man using volunteers without respect or consideration ) .

  39. kentuckyfarmgirl

    Francois, I have to say I agree with Barry and Don as far as calling the public ‘outsiders,’ or the board as ‘laughable’. That is easy for me to say, since I’m not in constant contact with an abrasive, ineffective manager. I know what that’s like, and how it can border on abusiveness at times. I can understand the frustration and anger. But I agree with Barry, heed Don’s words. If it’s comnmunity radio then no one is an outsider. Perhaps many don’t known the history of this (I only know the broad outlines), or understand why the majority overwhelmingly agrees as to the problem with the exec. director. The fact the the hired manager quit after a very brief time and essentially agreed with the volunteers (the majority), is very telling, and certainly the consistency of the criticisms should lead any reasonable person to have pause. I think it is to Wally’s perceived benefit to cloud the waters of this debate, but even for someone new to this topic, the fact that so many people agree on certain points, should raise some eyebrows.

  40. kentuckyfarmgirl

    I went back and read Wally’s letter, which is what originally spurred me to comment. I was bugged all over again. It’s just not honest.

    “All is well until the schedule fills up and space for new hosts is restricted.”

    All was NOT well, apparently.

    “Newcomers may find it difficult to be accepted.”

    Was this true?

    “Attempts to change the station’s direction lead to all-out war.”

    So what does this refer to, Gillian? How was Wally trying to change the station’s direction, and how did he go about it?

    What bothered me was the incredibly patronizing nature of this very broad response to specific problems in the organization.

    “The upheaval at WNCW earlier this decade is one example.”

    Nope, nothing to look at here! Just part of what always goes on at these types of stations. Nothing to do with ME specifically, except as a ‘flash point.’

    If there had been just one thing in that letter that accepted some sort of responsibility, I would not have been so disappointed. I couldn’t find a thing, even on second reading.

    And then he pawned it all off with some jargon:

    “MAIN’s media-reform vision is based on systems-thinking; WPVM is critical to this system. Most volunteers, through no fault of their own, haven’t been oriented to this larger vision. A few simply oppose MAIN’s control of WPVM.”

    Here, we are told that the volunteers just don’t understand systems thinking. Look it up on Wikipedia. Tell me how Wally uses systems theory in his management of the station.

    I believe he does want to use it, and that some of his points are legitimate, but as many have said, he ignores the pink elephant in the room, and it is difficult to discuss that particular elephant without it sounding like a personal attack.

    A possible response to the ‘mass mutiny’ (other than the above, which is the only response I’ve seen so far), would be to use the Mediation Center. It is an excellent resource and could help the entities implement the strategic vision, in a way that would have a greater chance of not alienating the volunteer base that makes the station possible in the first place. But so far, we’ve got more of a ‘denial’ thing going on. Wally says, this is just the usual with this type of radio station, and certainly nothing to do my management style. Zero accountability, zero acceptance of responsibility. That’s a shame.

  41. Barry Summers

    Don, I appreciate your honest effort to offer constructive criticism. You’re right, of course, that we all come off badly in this. The problem is, you’re seeing a fight that should have been resolved privately spill out into the public square. And I think the evidence is clear that there’s one party in all of this that hasn’t wanted to come to any resolution other than winner-take-all. The current bad feelings are what happens when every attempt at taking the high road has failed.

    When this all started, we took our grievance to the Board, they recognized the need for a change, we went forward on a positive tone:

    http://www.mountainx.com/opinion/2007/100108media_as_if_people_mattered/

    Then we find that sympathetic Board members are being attacked by the ED and are quitting, and the previous relief that was offered is suddenly withdrawn, and those of us who worked together to try to keep the peace are being called liars.

    We offer to go into mediation, the offer is accepted, we set up the mediation & work to calm things down, then just before the scheduled mediation, the ED cancels without warning or explanation. We later find he has been pressing the advantage behind the scenes with the Board, while we were taking the high road.

    We present an alternative governing structure to the Board, as requested by them in September. It’s rejected, misrepresented to the public, and almost every volunteer who attended the presentation is subsequently banned from the station.

    An Interim Station Manager is brought in, and she immediately needs our help to keep the station on the air. We come in and do everything it takes to keep things running, even while we are technically banned from the building. She recognizes the injustice of the situation, asks the ED to reinstate us, he refuses. Again, high road leads to a kick in the butt. She resigns, applauds our commitment, begs the Board to restore some sanity & suggests keeping the ED away from station operations:

    http://www.mountainx.com/news/2007/031109buzz4/

    They respond by sweeping aside the last vestige of firewall between ED and the station, and give him complete authority, all the while smiling and saying they are taking Kim Clarks suggestions to heart.

    The ED continually says we are blocking him from getting his side of things over the air, so a pair of volunteers invite him onto their show. He takes a question from one of their listeners which starts with reading a Board statement straight off his own website. He says that’s not what it says, & then spins a completely fictional version, ignoring that people can read it with their own eyes, & know that he’s lying.

    At every turn, we are told to take the high road, but when we take it, it leads back to a morass of deceit, disrespect, and the same failed (lack of) structure that led to this mess.

    You are seeing the frustration of people who want to volunteer their time and energy for the community, but are being treated like disobedient children. The high road has led us here – the grousing and mean spirit you are seeing now is the result of six months of trying to get somewhere else, only to find ourselves back where we started.

    Please, offer a constructive suggestion on how we can make our case better than we are.

  42. Thanks for your well-reasoned response, Barry. I have deep respect for your position and empathy for your frustration.

    In response to your request:
    …..”Please, offer a constructive suggestion on how we can make our case better than we are. ”

    I think I’ve already done so publicly (see above) and in private emails to you….and to repeat them again here will just add fuel to those who want “outsiders” like myself to “mind our own business” and “stay out of the debate”

    I would just encourage your volunteers to take your own statements to heart.

    When you say:
    “you’re seeing a fight that should have been resolved privately spill out into the public square”

    You are hitting the nail squarely on the head.

    I think it’s time for ALL of US to honestly ask ourselves what we can do to keep this private squabble from intensifying in the public square.

    And in that regard I will step up to the plate and promise that this will be my last public post on the matter. I encourage others to do likewise.

  43. Barry Summers

    ““Attempts to change the station’s direction lead to all-out war.”

    “So what does this refer to, Gillian? How was Wally trying to change the station’s direction, and how did he go about it?”

    No, he’s referring to us. He claims that we were trying to take WPVM off MAIN”s mission & go pirating on the high radio seas. It’s just not true. We always stuck to MAIN’s mission, and always kept to the same programming, linking to MAIN’s homepage, doing ads for MAIN’s ISP, reading MAIN PSA’s, etc. There was absolutely no change contemplated whatsoever at any level, EXCEPT that we would report directly to MAIN’s Board, through the Station Manager, instead of reporting through the Executive Director.

    “A few simply oppose MAIN’s control of WPVM.”

    See, that’s the crux: Bowen conflates himself with the larger organization; if we’re trying to keep HIM out of station ops, that means we “oppose MAIN’s control of WPVM”. It’s classic Founders Syndrome.

    “A possible response to the ‘mass mutiny’ (other than the above, which is the only response I’ve seen so far), would be to use the Mediation Center.”

    That’s who we were working with. We had appointments set up, a facilitator ready to meet, a list of attendees. Bowen agreed, but then later abruptly cancelled. We were initially told by the Mediation Center that it was because he said he had a scheduling conflict, but we later heard from him that he didn’t like the list of attendees. Now it appears that he is insisting that his entire staff be included, stacked up against a smaller group of volunteers. I consider that effort to be another dead end, ruined by one person’s intransigence. But that’s just me. Other volunteers may still want to pursue it.

  44. lance

    Gillian should have never started this station, nothing but trouble.

  45. Sham69

    to kentucky et al re her 3/12 post

    I have been a volunteer with MAIN/WPVM since Kim Clark told me about WPVM back in the Spring of ’04. I was a volunteer host on WNCW’s ARC Overnight for 11 months and held the Friday night slot between Summer ’03 until I joined WPVM as a volunteer the following Spring. I continued with WNCW until May of ’04.

    Upon joining WPVM that Spring I met many an enthusiastic volunteer. I happily worked side by side with them in order to bring great programming to the station and hence our community. Today, there are few left who believe that this un-managed mess can be fixed. In between these times, many have seen the writing on the wall and moved on. I am at that point myself.

    There are three things I’d like to put out into the public sphere:
    1)I am one of the Banned volunteers.
    2)Wally stated to me in an email that he banned me because I read a Public Service Announcement that alerted listeners as to the two different visions for a future management structure at WPVM. The PSA urged supporters of WPVM to contact the MAIN Board and let their opinions be heard.
    3)Eight hours after Kim Clark posted her resignation letter Wally asked me if I, one of the banned, would like to take over as interim manager.

    I and 8 or 10 others remain banned. I have signed the letter of no confidence. There is little doubt that we are needed back.

    Wally puts forth (above) that other interested potential volunteers were restricted due to a full schedule. This is simply a lie. Wally has sat on the programming committee (w/me). He has had veto power over every single group decision. It was he who delayed the airing of a locally produced kids show (Simon Says). It wasn’t until he stopped participating on the PC that the show finally made it to the air.

    Newcomers: Enthusiastic volunteers have always been welcome. What’s most important to point out is that some come with perhaps an agenda to get on the air and do a show about say.. the visions they have or that angels speak through them…those people are usually steered toward what the mission is about. The people who come and say “what can I do to help” are widely accepted. The real problem is that through a total lack of structure there is no-one running the processes and when they were, it was the volunteers, w/out the help of Wally. No, there is no leadership as our station manager is gone and every committee has been dissolved.

    Attempts to change direction: There has been no communication from WB to anyone that I know of…if he didn’t like something he should have approached …hum, who, the host, the non existent committee, the alienated station manager? It is WB’s lack of leadership and communication skills that leave us here today, that and no semblance of a managerial structure.

    On the WPVM Homepage today there is a note about ‘absence of technical operations’ This is Wally’s fault. He had a station manager in place for 5 years. As the boss, it is his duty to supervise his employees. When said employee resigned at the firing of Gillian Coats, he was kind enough to give 2 weeks notice. WB and his paid staff at MAIN made no provisions to follow up with what they would need to know during that 2 week period.

    ‘all staff and volunteers should have reasonable access’ the home page further states. They do, they just need to open their eyes. It’s all there. They can figure it out just like we’ve had to in the absence of our beloved station manager. We can do and did the small stuff, and were happy to help Kim Clark…it’s too bad she didn’t stick around.

    ‘Since May, 2008, staff has made three attempts (late July, mid-September, Jan. 5, 2009) to obtain documentation of station operations’ WB puts forth. No-one has asked me anything, not by email, not by phone, not in person. Whenever an active host has an issue they know they can come to me or any other banned member for a resolution.

    I have asked fellow banned volunteers if the below is true. Not one of us were made this offer. It is a lie. I’d like to know who it was proposed to.

    “On Feb. 24, we proposed that the suspended volunteers begin documenting their knowledge of station operations as a “good faith” first step toward their return to WPVM. That offer still stands.

    Wally Bowen”

    On 3/3/09 Wally asked me if I want to take over as interim manager. I asked for a job description. He has not given that to me. He has only asked me to call him. I have not done that as he has stopped answering my email. I do not know the reason for this.

    Here is the updated Chronology http://wpvm.blogspot.com/2009/03/wpvm-chronology-august-2008-present.html

    I just want to tell you, all of you who support the efforts of the WPVM volunteers, we all appreciate you far more than you will ever know. The only thing WB ever had to do was say ‘You’re doing a great job. How could we change this?. I’m not happy with what I heard here. We need to make a few changes, can we work together towards a solution?’ He did not say these things. He did not work with the people who came to support the mission of MAIN/WPVM. We all were supporters and we all still want to see it succeed.

    Perhaps he became alienated. He has definitely alienated me and many others. Many of us have been to parties at his home and he has been invited to volunteers homes. I don’t really know what more to say with out getting negative. It’s too bad.

    Steven Howard-
    Former host of Mental Notes.

  46. kentuckyfarmgirl

    This is fascinating. Sounds like Wally has dug in his heels, hoping it blows over, if he’s not communicating. What is up with the board? I know they’re volunteers too, but it doesn’t sound like they are doing much about much. Is it because Wally controls the purse strings? You know what they say, follow the money …

  47. kentuckyfarmgirl

    In Wally’s letter:

    “Anyone asking for evidence was called a traitor or fool. ”

    What in the world is this supposed to mean?

    I still get back to what prompted me to dialogue on this in the first place, as an ‘outsider’ who loves some of the shows. His letter above is very condescending, and yet could be seen as ‘reasonable’ if the consistent complaints about his mgmt skills had not been heard in Asheville for decades. He avoids that topic completely, what a shocker. If he out and out lies above, if I were on the Board, I would consider that a sackable offense.

  48. Tonight from 6-8pm @ Rosetta’s
    Join the Asheville ABC Series to discuss:
    Community Journalism & Indy Media in Asheville
    URTV, MAIN, WPVM, WRES, blogging, tweeting, & more.
    Where are we standing & what are our opportunities & challenges?

    If you miss tonight’s meeting keep in touch with the (coming slowly but almost ready to function fully)
    http://www.AshevilleABC.com

  49. francois Manavit

    “Anyone asking for evidence was called a traitor or fool. ”
    is directly connected with volunteers(two or three) that came to Wally and told him that when they asked some questions (or evidences-word transformed by WB) they were accused of being traitor .

    I used that word two or three time against volunteers in front of everyone at the bier garden or through emails on the onairlistserve .

  50. francois Manavit

    I might add, i used the words .

    “Traitor ” of “shoelickers” or “ostrichs” against the needed unity of rebelion and solidarity for Gillian’s sacking by WB , in the name of the ego that drives Dj’s volunteers to perform their pleasurable time on the air.

  51. kentuckyfarmgirl

    Well Francois, that’s not so cool. That’s pretty inflammatory, might want to cool that stuff down and strive for cool-headedness, even if things are wound up as tight as they seem to be.

  52. francois Manavit

    I agree Kentucky , but ” let by gone be by gone ” This is why i am open for truth and am not afraid to speak my heart either yesterday today or tomorrow !
    I am cool now !

  53. Sham69

    I might add, i used the words .

    “Traitor “ of “shoelickers” or “ostrichs” against the needed unity of rebelion and solidarity for Gillian’s sacking by WB , in the name of the ego that drives Dj’s volunteers to perform their pleasurable time on the air.

    Francois- how did/does name calling help bring peeps together towards necessary unity? also..
    How is it that so many volunteers contribute so much time just to please their egos?
    I suggest that perhaps certain DJs perform solely for their own ego, perhaps other ones have been performing their volunteerism for the community radio station…and their commuinty at large.

  54. francois Manavit

    As a friend was saying today about WPVM and MAIN :
    THE MAGIC IS GONE !

  55. Sham69

    I dunno, only choice radio? I mean I know you’re right on that point, yet it’s what they, you , all the volunteers have been working towards…imho.
    s

  56. Dixiegirlz

    RE: Egos

    People need to understand ego is a necessary part of any entertainer personality. That is just the nature of the beast.

    Wally needs to learn to tamp down his own ego a bit and deal with this reality…..it’s never gonna change. The dullest people have low egos. Am I saying egos run amok should rule the station…no…just that normal to slightly inflated egos are necessary.

  57. Barry Summers

    That’s the fundamental rub – Wally is not good at tamping down his ego. This is not Wally-bashing, it’s just the truth. I think he honestly believes that the proper arrangement at WPVM is that he be allowed to let his ‘vision’ run free, and everyone else should stand at the sidelines, raise money from the community, and wait for further instructions. Or at the very least, never propose anything that has the potential to eclipse his primacy in the programming.

    I say this as his former friend and producer, and it pains me. He doesn’t know how to share. He believes that all programming and editorial decisions should flow through one person, him. That’s an untenable situation for a volunteer-staffed radio station. It discourages innovation and participation of a larger pool of talented people.

  58. kentuckyfarmgirl

    I like what you said. Discussing the strengths and flaws of an organization or an individual person is difficult for everyone concerned. A long-time problem has become front and center, and is finally seeing the light of day. Can the board hear what Barry is saying and show true leadership? Not sacking anybody, but setting out clear, consistent limits that are then enforced. Insist on mediation, with the Board setting the terms. Come up with positive changes, and enforce those. Can volunteer board members, generously donating their time and energy, be firm and consistent enough to set limits for someone who has years of experience in avoiding that, and to make the changes that would help things work out in a positive way?

  59. francois Manavit

    The answer to thoses good questions is: IMPOSSIBLE ……why ?The board is exclusively created as a shield by Wally Bowen himself who have the final cut on board acceptance.

  60. Barry Summers

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with Francois. Nobody likes to be called a rubber stamp or a ‘yes man’, but so far, MAIN’s Board has shown remarkably little independence from the Executive Director. The only time they actually stood up to him was back in September, when they removed him from station operations. Since then, no less than five Board members have quit specifically because of frustration over this, and the new Board members include no one who knows anything about radio.

    Part of the problem is that they have other more pressing issues on their plate, and are eager to have this issue disappear. But the main issue, at least in my opinion, based on attending Board meetings and talking to Directors privately, is that their ED is so fixated on rolling back any criticism, any limit on his authority, any hint that his vision may be unworkable, that it’s clear he’ll bring the whole thing crashing down if they don’t give him what he wants.

    It’s not just dysfunctional, it’s actually verging towards doing true damage to the community, he is so ego-driven to rule it or wreck it.

  61. francois Manavit

    So we are back on the ” cowardice ” of volunteers who will stay at the station at all cost acting up as sheeps meanwhile feeling revolutionnary by not reading Main PSA and stay glued to their little ego trip on the mic.
    They entertain the false idea that they can “change ” Wally ,..which will soon laugh to the bank , waiting for the stimulus , with a reduced board (as they publicly stated that ” reduced” word) in order to cover their strategy of keeping Main afloat and purge one by one anyone who will dare to say something different from the ED/MAIN (blurry ) vision !.

    As WB himself wrote …Volunteers are welcome to go to URTV .. or to take the door ” i invite WB to retire and go to Florida create a volunteer media senior project with Peely and Derrough !

  62. Barry Summers

    Just the latest on the “Vision”. Wally Bowen has just sent an email to all the WPVM volunteers warning them that even mentioning http://www.wpvm.blogspot.com on the air will lead to “disciplinary action”.

    Welcome to the new ‘Progressive Voice of the Mountains’!

  63. Dixiegirlz

    Oh my, JBo…didn’t take long at all to get on that s__t list.

  64. francois Manavit

    The so called community radio of Asheville ironhanded by Wally Bowen and his board of closed friends has almost successfully
    removed (purged) all the free spirited voices of Asheville . Here is the latest orders written by an the executive tiranny and a man alone in denied :
    QUOTE:-“… we have begun moderating the OnAir listserve because it was being used by some for posting anti-board and anti-ED statements…….. “”….inappropriate use of WPVM privileges (..) will result in disciplinary action….” “….wherein the First Amendment protects our organization’s right to make editorial decisions on content….”

    Wanna volunteer for this kind of progressive attitude ?

  65. kentuckyfarmgirl

    Are you serious? This is his latest response to the controversy, he’s now censoring people from mentioning a blog that is critical? Poor Wally. This time it’s not just ‘going away,’ and he keeps making himself look worse, and his board weak. The economy is creating a new focus on nonprofits, maybe that will open some eyes. I’m still stuck on his public response, above. I read it yet again, looking for ANY admission of error on his part, any acceptance of responsibility. Nope, it’s as I remember. It’s the fault of a predictable cycle and volunteers who he makes sound like petulant children. It must take a lot of energy to ignore the pink elephant in the room.

  66. For someone who is supposedly promoting media reform, Wally’s behavior is no better than that of Clear Channel. He’s using the exact same tactics they used to suppress dissent, especially during the lead-up to the war: express dissenting viewpoints and we’ll permanently cut your mic.

    I can’t help but be reminded of point 6 in Lawrence Britt’s 14 Points of Fascism:

    6. A controlled mass media
    Under some of the regimes, the mass media were under strict direct control and could be relied upon never to stray from the party line. Other regimes exercised more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods included the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media were often politically compatible with the power elite. The result was usually success in keeping the general public unaware of the regimes’ excesses.

  67. Barry Summers

    Along with warning volunteers to stop speaking out or risk retribution, Wally continued his attempt to rewrite history:

    “One source of continued confusion is a Sept. 9, 2008 press release, which stated that the board “recommends a new governance structure requiring WPVM to report directly to a subcommittee of the board. . . .” This “new governance structure” was represented to me and the staff as a “temporary” measure to get us through the November election and “white spaces” vote at the FCC.”

    This is false. Although it is refreshing to hear him finally acknowledge that the statement exists (last month he went on the air & denied that it said this at all) Wally cannot produce any proof of his version of events, that the change was meant to be ‘temporary’. It is a fantasy created after the fact, in order to rewrite history once he had pressured certain members of his Board to go back on their promise to us (at least the ones that hadn’t quit in protest.) This fictional re-write was handed down to us, on the day we went to the Board to deliver the Fall Fund Drive money.

    OF COURSE, no proof exists that at the time we took over station operations in mid-September, it was only intended to be “temporary”. We would never have a) muted our protest at Gillian & her co-hosts firing, b) operated the station for free in lieu of a paid Station Manager, OR c) conducted a Fund Drive for MAIN, if it were only “temporary”, and we were just running things for Wally while he & the Board were too busy with other things.

    In October, when he tried to suggest this ‘temporary’ story, three members of his own Board signed this statement:

    “(…)There was no expression of an “interim” or temporary nature to this arrangement. Indeed, it was intended to reflect if not permanence, an enduring and established relationship between the Board, WPVM volunteers, and the Executive Director. It specifically removed the Executive Director from any current or future involvement in the operation of WPVM, barring the passage of a new resolution by the Board.”

    That these three Board members have since resigned over Wally’s actions puts the final punctuation on this sentence: Wally Bowen is a liar.

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