(Photo by Steven Dewall, Seattle Weekly)
"Scher and his producer [Katy Sewall] never seemed to care or consider the listeners." Thus spake Cliff Mass, insuring that he'll never appear on KUOW again.
(Unless host Steve Scher keels over or something. Frankly, he looks pretty healthy).
Mass got all pissy in a piece in... of all places, The Stranger!
Not that we don't love The Stranger and all it stands for, it's just that airing KUOW's dirty drawers there, of all places, is a little untoward for public radio- the last place KUOW would want this all to be kicked around.
But untoward, we guess, was the idea. (and, we guess, neither Crosscut nor The Times would take it).
Real radio people just fade off when they're fired to reappear when they find another job... but not our Cliff!
He be cuttin' off his nose and pissing where he eats and being all right and rights-demanding and everything like you'd do if you were a freshman with a microphone.
It appears to many that when a KUOW host has control of a public radio show for decades, he comes to feel that the program is his to do with what he likes, rather than the public's. It is his show, not theirs.
KUOW and Weekday with Steve Scher (m-f 9a-12p) don't like anyone getting too big for their britches in their environs. And they sure as shit don't have to put up with a contributor who won't talk about the subject he's there for. And they coulda fucking paid him, for god's sake! Especially if they wanted real editorial control.
Having said that, we had plenty to agree with in his conclusion, which had little to do with him being fired for being ornerily off topic. He writes that the listeners "clearly care about public radio and its role as a 'community center' for discussing the major issues facing our region and nation."
(photo: Steve Scher, Facebook)
But, he writes, "beyond my situation, all the comments and e-mails [he received] suggest an unhappiness with many aspects of KUOW's offerings and a feeling that this public radio station no longer reflects the public's interests or cares about their needs."
We agree with that. KUOW dayparts have featured the same white males of the same (middle) age for the last decade and a half.
One example of how out of touch the management is, is their stodgy, 1990's-style website with little or no interactivity, and content that's little more than programming schedules and synopses of programs past. It's a brochure; the podcasts don't work. And, unlike the help, it's brown.
Mass puts it this way:
Increasingly, local public radio has become isolated, rigid, and unresponsive to those it serves, even as it requests increasing public support. The rise of social media has shown that other modes of creating an intellectual commons are possible, and the contrast with an aging and inflexible local public radio enterprise has become stark and obvious.
We've heard from listeners and written ad nauseum, the same things about KUOW which has been stuck in the stodge for years. Nothing's been ventured, little has changed for the well-off station but for a shrinkage of homemade product, and further entrenchment of the old white guys.
Maybe it's the niceness of Seattle; the peace-loving souls who listen to public radio around here don't speak up. Theoretically at least, the public can change public radio more easily than it can commercial radio. (If we were KUOW we'd be taking very seriously those long columns of comments on BlatherWatch, Mass's Facebook, and The Stranger).
Maybe the Mass kerfuffle will dislodge some of the bigger pieces- but seriously... we wouldn't make book on it.