take your answer off the air...

  • HorsesAss.Org: the straight poop on WA politics & the press
    progressive brilliance from the guy who pointed out Tim Eyman's nascent horse's-assedness
  • Talker's Magazine
    The quirky talk radio trade mag. Check the Talk Radio Research Project- it's not very scientific, but places on the top 15 talkers list (scroll down to Talk Radio Audiences By Size)) are as hotly contested as Emmys (and mean just about as much).
  • The Advocate
    No, not THAT Advocate... it's the Northwest Progressive Institute's Official Blog.
  • Media Matters
    Documentation of right-wing media in video, audio and text.
  • Orcinus
    home of David Neiwert, freelance investigative journalist and author who writes extensively about far-right hate groups
  • Hominid Views
    "People, politics, science, and whatnot" Darryl is a statistician who fights imperialism with empiricism, gives good links and wry commentary.
  • Jesus' General
    An 11 on the Manly Scale of Absolute Gender, a 12 on the Heavenly Scale of the 10 Commandments and a 6 on the earthly scale of the Immaculately Groomed.
  • Howie in Seattle
    Howie Martin is the Abe Linkin' of progressive Seattle.
  • Streaming Radio Guide
    Hellishly long (5795!) list of radio streaming, steaming on the Internets.
  • The Naked Loon
    News satire -- The Onion in the Seattle petunia patch.
  • Irrational Public Radio
    "informs, challenges, soothes and/or berates, and does so with a pleasing vocal cadence and unmatched enunciation. When you listen to IPR, integrity washes over you like lava, with the pleasing familiarity of a medium-roast coffee and a sensible muffin."
  • The Maddow Blog
    Here's the hyper-interactive La Raych of MSNBC. daily show-vids, freakishly geeky research, and classy graphics.
  • Northwest Broadcasters
    The AM, FM, TV and digital broadcasters of Northwest Washington, USA and Southwest British Columbia, Canada. From Kelso, WA to the northern tip of Vancouver Island, BC - call letters, formats, slogans, networks, technical data, and transmitter maps. Plus "recent" news.
  • News Corpse
    The Internet's chronicle of media decay.
  • The Moderate Voice
    The voice of reason in the age of Obama, and the politics of the far-middle.
  • News Hounds
    Dogged dogging of Fox News by a team who seems to watch every minute of the cable channel so you don't have to.
  • HistoryLink
    Fun to read and free encyclopedia of Washington State history. Founded by the late Walt Crowley, it's an indispensable tool and entertainment source for history wonks and surfers alike.

right-wing blogs we like

  • The Reagan Wing
    Hearin lies the real heart of Washington State Republicans. Doug Parris runs this red-meat social conservative group site which bars no holds when it comes to saying who they are and who they're not; what they believe and what they don't; who their friends are and where the rest of the Republicans can go. Well-written, and flaming.
  • Orbusmax
    inexhaustible Drudgery of NW conservative news
  • The Radio Equalizer
    prolific former Seattle KVI, KIRO talk host speaks authoritatively about radio.
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« Horse's ass radio tonight: darcy burner, chris vance, christian sinderman | Main | THANKS DAVE! »

August 27, 2007



In a meeting I had with Jeff Hansen a few years ago, he made it clear that all KUOW air staff started as volunteers before they became paid on-air staff, with rare exception. Perhaps it was a way to prepare pay for the pay scale?

NPR, in general, has become more interested in "packaging" and branding (but perhaps not over content). There was a good episode of This American Life which raised that exact point when it came to the success of Car Talk over more local alternative car shows. But NPR's news programming is still far more in-depth than most commercial news stations, as everyone seems to be moving more toward entertaining over informing.


Bravo, Deborah! Bricks in the wall of silence are falling.

Public radio is different from commercial, but in the last 15 years they've been listening to "audience research," but not to their audiences. The result is seen here.


Bravo, Deborah! Bricks in the wall of silence are falling.

Public radio is different from commercial, but in the last 15 years they've been listening to "audience research," but not to their audiences. The result is seen here.


Bravo, Deborah! Bricks in the wall of silence are falling.

Public radio is different from commercial, but in the last 15 years they've been listening to "audience research," but not to their audiences. The result is seen here.


Just curious; about how many folks are we talking about here? Managers? Staff?


The KUOW Web site shows:

4 "Senior Staff"
5 "Administration and Finance Staff"
2 "Major Gifts & Grants Staff"
1 "Membership Staff"
6 "Operations and Engineering Staff"
8 "Underwriting Staff"
4 "Web Development Staff"
26 "Program Staff"

Union Yes

Only a couple of staff have bonuses according to former staff member but is it ethical for a non profit to issue bonuses?

As for wages the story for years was the university won't let us. In fact as a self funded LMA, KUOW could preset research to justify pay.

Jeff recently told staff who were so far below median (BTW: they didn't get median -- they got 15% below) that survey doesn't count anymore.

As with Bob Edwards people will continue to listen to the station for Morning Edition, Weekday, The Conversation etc. This is good it's a terrific station. The issue is how a publically funded entity is handling YOUR money. Just be open and honest and you'll regain respect of staff and listeners alike. But I may be wrong nothing really happened to KEXP when people found out about big bonuses and the morning 'jock making commercial radio pay - at a low rated vstation. KUOW is the top ranked station. Put it this way, how many people boycotted DOW when the learned they made napalm. When it was all said and done their plastic wrap was real good.


Deborah, where are you? I suspected what was probably up when you walked away. You weren't the first to leave KUOW when you realized things weren't ever going to get any better moneywise, but you were probably the biggest (and best) talent to do so. I went to commercial FM and sure, it's money grubbing, but at least they don't try to claim it's anything different. In the end, KUOW will get what they pay for, and this implosion is only the beginning of what they'll get when they pay too little.


It's perfectly ethical for a publicly funded entity to pay its workers a competitive compensation package, which may include bonuses, in pursuit of excellence. Large charitables, advocacy groups, foundations, etc. do this all the time. In the charitable sector competition is fierce for skilled non-profit CEOs and they are paid accordingly.

What is weird is the assumption at KUOW that excellence need not (should not?) be rewarded. I do not think anyone enters public radio with the idea of getting rich (although some at the national level have parlayed their NPR fame into lucrative careers). But it is ridiculous to think they should joyfully embrace poverty as part of a public-radio lifestyle while money is (A) clearly available and (B) is the best way to retain talent and reward success. Small local TV stations traditionally pay young reporters and anchors very little in the expectation that the promising ones will move up to bigger markets and the the mediocre ones will eventually find another line of work. The price of that strategy is perpetual churn and a mix of competent and incompetent staff. A large-market radio station, public or not, should not be adopting the same ploy.


I'm realy glad I never got around to donating anything during the pledge drives now. I'd have hated to add money to a 2.5 mill. cushon while the talent gets screwed over. I'd sooner send a check directly to their mailboxes if I knew what they were.

This illustrates another problem with the Conservative volunteer charity ideal. In order to get people to donate suffinciently you have to stop and beg, and beg, and beg. Then you don't even know if you'll have the same financial resources month after month. One month they can afford to treat the kid with lukemia, next month they come up short.

darlene & marty

Yup, Andrew, we're going to support KPLU for a while until this gets straightened out. Been meaning to anyway.


What's the scoop at KPLU, the other NPR local?


D&M, do you have any information that KPLU is any better than KUOW? Do they pay their people better wages?

It's more difficult to extract useful information from IRS reports, because KPLU's is buried within the Pacific Lutheran University form, while KUOW reports separately as "Puget Sound Public Radio." But the KPLU annual report shows income over expenses (which would be "profit") for last year at about $372K. The same number in KUOW's annual report is $1,389,400. It looks like both stations could afford to increase salaries without hurting their respective bottom lines.



(The FCC license is owned and wages are paid through the university).

So much for disassociating the station with the campus!


Maybe somebody whould look at KPLU, but at least they have a union- management has to talk to the staff.


The senior staff consists of:
Wayne Roth, General Manager;
Marcia Scholl, Assistant General Manager;
Dane Johnson, Operations Director;
Jeff Hansen, Program Director;


As a former employee, I can assure you that Deborah Brandt and Ken Vincent are a mere fraction of the people who work/have worked at KUOW who feel the same as them. The pay is only a symptom of a larger problem. (One thing: there's nothing wrong with having large reserves set aside - that is simple financial security and the sign of a solvent and successful radio station.)

The biggest problem is a patent distaste for the KUOW staff by its senior staff.

Wayne has been a very successful GM but now tends to rest on his laurels and accolades. He only holds staff meetings quarterly (very infrequent for most companies) and generally keeps an air of mystery about the station's operation unless you catch him at a staff meeting. And that is typically less than noteworthy.

Marcia is, in essence, The Enforcer and has alienated many staff (at least one resulted in a lawsuit against her) by her unyielding style of management. She has gone so far as to publicly humiliate certain employees. The sullenness I experienced from the staff when I started there was immediately obvious.

Dane jealously guards his domain and takes the same tack as the others of crying poverty when there is a need for equipment or station improvements. He also lashes out at anyone who challenges him. This is what has led to a lot of frustration among the staff.

And Jeff Hansen is simply regarded as ineffective by a good portion of the on-air staff, in spite of any previous success he has acquired.

KUOW has become popular chiefly by the talent of its on-air staff and its affiliation with NPR. The managers mentioned above (with the possible exclusion of Wayne Roth) have simply just had the good fortune to hire and work with such talent.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Too many people have been quiet for too long and that is simply out of a fear of job loss or other retaliation. Deborah and Ken stood it as long as they could. Regardless of the bitterness, the KUOW staff love their radio station and want to be happy and productive. It could even be a better station if the board took drastic measures for improvement.

You can attend a board meeting if you'd like to voice your opinion. The next one is September 6th: http://www.kuow.org/about/board.asp.


Here here to exkuow!

I totally second the commentary above.
I know non-profits, and it is indeed totally proper to build reserves for long term health of the organization.
What is improper is the management style. Management just does not interact with program staff. They don't trust each other.


One would logically assume that stations ratings and rankings would suffer having lost so many apparently super-talented personnel; is that happening.

Union Yes

So reports are that Jeff didn't have time or read the latherwatch posting that quotes Deborah. But he'll meet down the road, and staff would have more time to talk about everything in-depth.

Come on you don't think mgt met today or spoke before the meeting?

Talking about night time programming. What about the entire mess? That's what needs to be discussed. No time to talk. Make time. The situation isn't important enough to deal with now? I say here's what KUOW needs to do.

1. Bring in a facilitator talk to staff W/O mgt there. Oh wait they tried that with Jeff in the room
2. The board breaks policy and meets with the staff and facilitator
2. He or she meets with mgt & board alone
3. Mgt issues a statement on the web sight explaining things and acknowledging things should be run better.
4. Revise the pledge goal & admit the prior budgets were wrong but they didn't know that they were made


To the question about KPLU: A few years ago, they did have a consultant come in who recommended flipping the AM and PM hosts (Dave Meyer went from Morning Edition to All Things Considered, as a result) as a way to increase ratings. I don't think it worked; apparently the consultant had to justify his fees somehow. But, to my knowledge, that was the only substantive programming change.

KPLU may be hampered in getting the kind of numbers KUOW commands simply because it programs jazz much of the day and that is, for good or ill, considered a fringe format by the masses. Whereas KUOW programs talk in those same dayparts, which has been on the ascendancy in recent years.

Still, this entire Brandt/Vincent mess solidifies my own perceptions about KUOW's programming acumen and means I'll no longer be supporting two public radio stations in this market. Too bad, as years ago, I almost went to work for KUOW in news.


Interesting how so many people take as gospel the comments of a couple of disgruntled employees. Let's face it, we don't know the whole story. overall, its still the best station around.


What you see unfolding before you at KUOW is the work of a couple of selfish, delusional and disgruntled employees. Nobody liked their behavior when they were at KUOW, no one misses them now they’re gone. And now they’re wallowing in gossip, lies, and defamation – none of what has been said is true. These blogs feed into their pathetic need for attention and reinforce their cruel behavior towards others. The facts are these: they thought they deserved special treatment and were above everyone else. They didn’t give a shit about their co-workers when they whined about their salaries, requested ridiculous privileges, and left others in the lurch. These people never gave a second thought to how their diva behavior has hurt the colleagues and the organization they profess to “love.” End of story.


Wow, there seems to be more to this than we've heard. I'm still curious about why the station hasn't lost ratings and/or appeal by the loss of these reportedly first-class talent? Are there more that are ready, willing and able to fill these and other slots within this organization.


Well youdontknow, since Ken and Deborah are willing to put their real names on these complaints, and you are not, I think I have to believe them over you. At least they have the courage to be upfront about their opinions.

blathering michael

hey youdontknowthehalfofit: don't be anonymous, talk to me. Off the record is sacred w/me. let's hear another side of this, unless you're just a troll doing what trolls do...


to youdontknowthe.....

You are dead wrong. I don't know what station you were hanging out at, but these were hardly disgruntled employees venting.
These are ex-employees who have nothing to lose now. everyone else is too afraid to be jobless.


To the comments by ieksgappgjhs, I just have to say that they are not true. I used to work there, and there ARE a lot of "personalities" at the station, but I take issue with the assertions that person made.

There are a lot of problems between different units at the station (ops, management, underwriting, programming), and it does seem like programming comes in last in terms of priorities.

They might actually be justified in complaining, but at least they still put out a good "product."


Sorry ieksgappgjhs. I guess it was "youdontknowthehalfofit" that posted the comments I disagree with.


Ratings don't drop immediately. Radio listeners tend to be creatures of habit. Changes as recent as this month (or even this February) may take several books to show if the drop in quality is incremental and not dramatic.

I find it a bit amusing that the biggest criticism of Vincent and Brandt here boils down to the fact that they have egos. Anyone in a creative endeavor has to have a healthy ego. It's how you survive being in the public eye, under public scrutiny, for many years.

KUOW is still a good station. No disagreement there. But a station (or any endeavor) that is on top and acts as though it will always be on top, no matter what, is setting itself up for a fall. Here's hoping KUOW management is smarter than that and not blinded by its own success.

Luigi Giovanni

I don't dislike Derek, but I miss the unique quirkiness of Deborah.

I always enjoyed Ken as the substitute host for Amanda on The Swing Years.


I'm so glad this came out. At the time on gossip blogs it seemed as though Deborah was let go without explanation. I'm still curious why Bonnie Brown was suddenly reinstated for morning traffic after Deborah's departure, and why she is able to make her queue now. Is it so wrong to wish for a Perez Hilton for authors, politicians, authors, and public broadcasting personalities?

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