As I’m sure you’re aware, based on my post earlier this month about KRCL, I’m not happy with recent changes at the station; in fact, I started a petition on change.org titled KRCL Radio: Think Globally, Program Locally to help voice frustrations that I (and other like-minded people) have been feeling.

I got the following response yesterday from Amy Dwyer, who is the Membership Manager at KRCL, addressing some of the points in the petition, which I have permission to repost, unedited:

Hi Steven,

I got an email to KRCL’s “comments@krcl.org” from you that was automatically generated as part of a petition at change.org. Unfortunately, for most of the people who have signed the petition, we have no contact info.

I hope it’s ok that I reach out to you about the concerns expressed in the petition. I hope I can explain some of our thinking, but please know you can call anytime. My direct line is 801-834-6722. Or, the main office number is 801-363-1818. Vicki’s direct line is 801-834-6717. (Just so you’re aware, she’s out of the office until June 4.) And, as I mentioned, you can email comments@krcl.org. Your feedback is very important to me and to everyone here at KRCL.

As you know, KRCL is especially locally-focused: on local music, local conversations, and partnerships with other community organizations. We also bring the best music and information to the airwaves that we can. All of this is done with the hopes of being the touchstone place for the community to hear great music and pertinent stories.

By bringing World Cafe, listeners will have access to exclusive interviews and live versions of music not heard anywhere else in Utah…by artists that are a perfect fit on KRCL. We would love to have a large sound studio and the notoriety to get the interviews David Dye does on World Cafe each day – and someday, we may be able to do just that. But for now, this is the only way to get such programming to our community. It’s also far less expensive to run World Cafe than to do it ourselves.

The 6am to 8am time has consistently had low listenership. We hope to add listeners by bringing a nationally popular program, and want them stick around for the rest of our shows, too. In addition, our DJ’s Jamie and Ebay will have more time each day to dedicate to the station in new ways like short features, which will help KRCL provide more community service in the long run. Stay tuned for what some of that will sound like.

Currently, our music team (Ebay, Jamie and Brad) is working toward having a more consistent daytime sound. The music we play is and always has been a work in progress, and we always appreciate feedback about it. In fact, we ran a survey just last month that solicited input from listeners about their preferences. We anticipate being able to do many more of these in the coming years. The music library is always growing and we’re always trying to find the right balance.

Everyone associated with KRCL loves community radio and has dedicated themselves to it. In the petition, Vicki Mann is called an “outsider” and states that she has worked for Clear Channel in the past, as if that’s the only world she knows. The fact is, she has spent her entire career in broadcasting. She has lived and worked in Salt Lake City at numerous stations, public and private. She chooses to work at KRCL because she loves the station and its connection to the community, and we’re feeling very lucky to have her.

I hope I’ve been able to speak to your concerns. Again, feel free to call anytime. Thank you for listening!

Amy

I responded to Amy as follows:

Thank you for getting back to me on this.

Before we proceed, I sincerely hope that comments@krcl.org is not getting an email each and every time someone signs the petition. If you are, I’ll see if I can change the setting, because I’m sure the station doesn’t appreciate spam anymore than I do … and part of me definitely thinks that the law of diminishing returns would set in if you are getting spammed.

I absolutely have no problem with you reaching out to me, as I am the person who started the petition. I put myself out front on this, so people reaching out to me is to be expected. And while I cannot necessarily speak for anyone else, I think I have a pretty good handle on what people’s complaints are.

There are a number of different issues, so let’s address them separately.

First of all, with regards to World Cafe: I will admit that there are certain aspects of the show which are appealing. Unfortunately, the aspects of the show are the typically 20-30 minutes which are posted to NPR.org as the podcast, like the profile/interview of the Lumineers which will be included in tomorrow morning’s rebroadcast of World Cafe, but which I’ve already heard.

Honestly, personally, I would far prefer that a semi-fluid segment be made available during the daytime shows to play the podcasted highlight of each day’s show than listen to the entire show, which I find rather pedestrian and tedious. Of course, this is my opinion, but judging by comments that I’ve read on the petition, on Facebook, and have heard from talking to people, I’m not alone in this overall view of World Cafe.

Secondly, with regards to low listenership from 6:00-8:00am: Rather than broadcasting a generally mediocre music show with a few highlights, perhaps a different tack altogether should be struck, such as broadcasting news; preferably with locally produced segments, but perhaps using some of the shows from NPR, PRI & APM that are not broadcast by KUER, such as the Marketplace Morning Report & Tech Report (from APM), Here & Now (from PRI), or Tell Me More or On Point (from NPR)?

Thirdly, with regards to consistency (and of all the issues, this may be the most important): I remember when KRCL was completely free-form prior to the daytime format change a few years ago, and while it was fun not really knowing what I was going to get when I turned on the radio, there is definitely a benefit to consistency; knowing that if I turn on the radio every weekday at the same time, I’m going to get a consistent DJ style.

That said, what I want to hear at 6:30am when I’m waking up and getting ready for work is vastly different than what I want to hear at 4:30 or 5:00pm when I’m leaving work and am on my way home.

While I didn’t get to listen to Ebay’s show nearly often enough due to work, the impressions that I have from when I have been able to catch his show is that his style slots in well between Jamie’s and Brad’s.

To me, it always felt as if the KRCL day started quietly and built to a crescendo. Jamie opened the morning with jangly indie-pop from bands like The Shins, New Pornographers and Band of Horses, as well as new soul from Sharon Jones and similar artists; then Ebay started building up the edginess by mixing in EELS, and the Black Keys, as well as alternative hip-hop artists like Sage Francis, B.Dolan, Atmosphere & Aesop Rock.

Then, starting at 2:00pm, Brad brought it back home by getting crunchier, adding Dan Sartain, the Black Lips, Tom Waits & Ty Segall to the mix, but also reminding us of where it all came from with the Stones, Iggy, Link Wray, and John Lee Hooker.

Just like I wouldn’t expect (or want) Jamie to get into Albert Collins or Jon Spencer’s deep cuts, I also don’t expect (or want) Brad to get poppy with XTC or the New Pornos (as he did today), and I especially don’t expect or want to hear Brad playing top-40 commercial music like Adele or Norah Jones.

Finally, with regards to Vicki Mann being an “outsider”; all I know is what was published in the Tribune article back in March, when her hiring was announced, seemed to emphasize her experience with Clear Channel, Trumper Communications, and the 2002 Olympic Organizing Committee.

Then, when her first quote of prominence is that she feels she can be a “stabilizing force” who can “steer this station in the right direction”, even though the station just came off what I understand is its most successful radiothon in station history, and immediately starts making changes to homogenize the styles of the weekday crew … well, that sounds like an outsider who doesn’t really understand what KRCL is about.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only person who feels that way. In fact, what has people the most upset about the recent changes is that in the misguided quest for consistency, what you’re actually achieving is mediocrity and in the process, you’re alienating your core listener base … especially those of us who do consistently pledge year-after-year. Even more upsetting is that the changes were implemented without any real public discussion, much like what the Utah State Legislature has a tendency to do every year.

I took the survey that was posted on the KRCL website last month. I don’t recall there being any questions regarding whether or not I was a contributor, or asking what might convince me to start contributing if I wasn’t already a contributor.

I can tell you that what will convince me and a number of like-minded people to STOP contributing is if KRCL remains on this particular path to homogeneity and mediocrity.


If you agree that KRCL is on the wrong path, please sign the petition, but also please let KRCL know directly how you feel via one of the contact methods that Amy outlined in her email.

By the same token, if you feel that I am on the wrong path, and like what KRCL is doing, then please feel free to tell me so in the comments to this entry, and (again) by letting the station know directly. This is about local community radio, which means that local community involvement is required, one way or the other.