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Responses to the Minority Report

Mitch Zucker

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On Feb 25, 2005, at 9:40 PM,
"Mitchell Zucker" <barz@mcn.org> wrote:

King,

You tell us that the station has been running for years, possibly from the beginning, with the centrist model. You don't mention that this model has been hugely successful---that is, a growing membership. I believe that the Centrist structure of public radio is, like capitalism, a growth mode, if growth is measured in membership dollars and signal strength and reach.

The centrist mode is definitely a fund raising mode, with big buck members always welcome. It's all about fundraising and promoting. This evening, for example, I heard a news piece by Sheila Dawn that was little more than free local advertising. I didn't mind it, but it caught my attention --- fundraising and promoting.

Your experiment with participatory democracy may or may not be successful, if success is measured by membership. It may not succeed for the simple reason that people who contribute, I feel, for the most part are comforted by their local radio, not necessarily inspired to influence it beyond their membership. If the sound is wrong, they'll tune it out; it's that simple. I am one of those. I love kzyx for the way it is. It comforts me. Some of the programmers are magnificent. I feel quite fortunate and tell people all over to tune in through their computer.

I personally agree with your egalitarian approach, but I also believe that the character of the station would change and would ultimately reflect the views of particular radio activists, who may not represent the entire membership. I believe the station could shrink as a result, to serve those members who appreciate the particular content created by the activists. I for one would not be against this if the programming content became more compelling for me and I did not lose the signal. But I can't imagine others wanting it to shrink. I recall years ago when NYC faced the problem of public radio being too broad trying to please everyone, and so began a listener sponsored jazz station, and news station, and religious stations, and ethnic stations and probably others. This is a form of decentralization, but each of these stations probably have strong centrist control.

You began your pamphlet: "We stand on the brink of a breathtaking change in communication. Computer or digital technology is opening the door to interactive, back and forth, communication at all levels of government and social life." This is an appropriate observation, but I don't believe you take it nearly far enough. If you were to utilize the technology that is there right now, in front of your monitor, the station in theory at least could be run by centrists and egalitarians, with the egalitarians handling the KZYX web and running it open source as the KZYX web-station, with streaming audio, and video, 24 hrs.

You could stream it with the egalitarian spin and grow it side by side with the station. You could be setting up an amazing alternative media with a reach to Alpha Century. You sound to me like the right person to get it going. I?m sure it's not hard to learn. It's such a simple solution---at least for right now. In fact, if you don't do it, you stand to lose the ability to ever do it. And NO, I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm just inventing. And NO I?m not interested in participating, I?m just being comforted. And, after the presidential election, I very much appreciate that.

Thank you for your considered thoughts.

Mitch

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King Collins writes:

Well, Mitch, that is a very interesting post. You have some ideas that I will follow down on. Just doing this pamphlet and organizing the responses has been a big job.

Yours is one of several offering some kind of compromise in which centrist and egalitarian models are combined.

Joe Wildman writes, a veteran labor organizer, that he was an egalitarian in policy and a centrist in operations.

I appreciate that you are conversant in the language of participant democracy.

I wonder if you have checked out the literature on "electronic democracy." There's been some interesting experiments.

Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments.

Yours truly,
King

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king@greenmac.com
707-468-5513

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