Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Letter to MAIN's Board from David Lynch

posted here with his permission:

Dear MAIN board members,

I am stunned at the letter MAIN's executive director sent to 9 WPVM volunteers yesterday, expecting them to leave the station for a period of 6 weeks (Who are we kidding here? That 6 weeks will continue into eternity should Mr. Bowen have his way). I understand that the rest of the volunteers' participation in the station will be "revisited" as well.

I can't help but characterize Mr. Bowen's actions as petulant, in blatant disregard of the participatory democracy specified in MAIN's mission statement, and in contradiction of the recent actions of this board. As I understand it, Mr. Bowen does not have the authority to issue such an edict; it should have come directly from you, MAIN's board.

The WPVM volunteers have been acting in good faith based on the instructions of the MAIN board. During the last few months, they have run the radio station conscientiously and professionally. To allow the Executive Director to force them out unceremoniously and without opportunity for recourse would be a serious breach of that faith.

Earlier this year, I discontinued my participation in the radio show (Making Progress), that I co-hosted with Barry Summers and Veronika Gunther. My co-hosts went on to devote countless hours to keeping the station alive after the station manager quit and was not immediately replaced. Again, their actions were consistent with MAIN's policies as articulated by you, the board.

I left the station because, sadly, I knew this day would come: the day when Mr. Bowen would consider the considerable efforts of the WPVM volunteers and at best disregard them, at worst, sabotage them. Dedicated volunteers are the backbone of organizations such as yours. They deserve praise encouragement and when necessary, guidance - certainly not vilification. I think you'll Mr. Bowen's attempt to gut WPVM will prove to be a huge impediment to the progress of both MAIN and WPVM should it be allowed to stand.

Though Wally Bowen is the founder of MAIN, you - the board - are its governing body. I urge you to be mindful of MAIN's by-laws and mission statement and remind Mr. Bowen that he does not have the authority to decide the fate of WPVM's volunteers. That is your responsibility. I only hope you move to correct this injustice and behave with the same sense of fairness and good will that the WPVM volunteers have demonstrated throughout the past few months.

I urge you to act swiftly to defuse the misguided impulses of Mr. Bowen and give WPVM's volunteers the consideration they deserve.

–– David Lynch

February 17, 2009 9:32 AM


  1. The 9:

    Stephen Kirbach
    Jeff Davis
    Steven Howard
    Jason Holland
    Greg Lyon
    Stephanie Biziewski
    Mark Ritzenthaler
    Brian Nesbit
    Barry Summers

    These are the ones who have all confirmed that they received the notice from Bowen yesterday.

  2. As I see it, these are the very people who have worked the hardest to keep WPVM alive and thriving for the past few months - with little or no support from the parent organization (except when it came time to appropriate the proceeds from the fund drive).

  3. "Mr. Bowen that he does not have the authority to decide the fate of WPVM's volunteers" ???

    You need to step back and think before you type. Of course the executive director has the authority to fire volunteers.

  4. Didn’t Mr. Bowen want to let WPVM go all together? let these "9" and the board take over completely without the shadow of MAIN. Wasn't it decided that was a bad idea, as MAIN provides the majority of funding for WPVM. I really don't know all the details of this whining, but I know that is what it sounds like and know Wally is a good man with good intentions. I went to the last meeting when Wally tried to unveil ideas for "MAIN 2.0" and I watched as a bunch of griping took the stage without any consideration for Wally was saying.

    He was talking about citywide Wi-Fi, massive local area networks, truly open media locally minded and locally entrusted. Something so fundamentally unique to anything else currently available, I was amazed at the disregard given to it. He mentioned devices for cars that would receive Wi-Fi and transmit whatever is available. Anyone would be able to broadcast their personal blog (for example) for anyone else to hear. This idea bypasses radio (along with its vast amounts of limitations and regulations) all together.

    This is what Wally presents and all people want to do is bitch, it is disgraceful. The rants on the radio, on this blog, on mountain Xpress and wherever else they might be happening is childish, unprofessional and very much exemplifies a need for some people to “cool off”.

  5. Anonymous wrote:
    "I really don't know all the details of this whining"

    That's obvious.

  6. "That's obvious."

    Am I so ignorant that you have nothing more to say? What about Wally's ideas for the future?
    Is he really a tyrant in your eyes, or is this a misunderstanding and a differing of opinions? I am surprised by Wally's Composure in all this, I can only imagine how infuriating it must be.

  7. As I said before, we all agree that Wally Bowen has done great things/has proposed more great things/is capable of achieving great things. I think you have to take our word for it, those of us who have worked closely with him for years, running a radio station is not one of those things. The skillset necessary to successfully manage a bunch of volunteers: listening, trusting, collaborating, encouraging, delegating, these are things that are alien to Mr. Bowens character. He's an entrepreneur, a saleman, a visionary, even. But he holds volunteers in pretty low regard, I can tell you from numerous personal encounters. Good, talented people have left MAIN/WPVM solely because of his autocratic management style. All we're saying is let's try a different model for this community resource, something other than "My way or the highway."

  8. The real focus, for me anyway, is creating a new discourse without the invective. That's the only way to see through the fire into the next phase. we all know that anger is a trap and it only leads to impasse, as in a divorce or other crisis. We are all evolved enough to know that an alternative exists in creativity and in envisioning what a good situation would look like, a vision that includes everybody. If we are a community radio station, we now have the wonderful honor of being able to model for the whole community a remarkable resolution. Humility on both sides is necessary. We are right now trapped in the labyrinth of harsh speech and commensurate harsh action. We can find the thread that leads to the source of the misunderstanding and get out of here before the minotaur (which is neither wally nor the vols) eats us.

  9. Laura - thanks for your comment. There has to be a way to draw folks like yourself into the conversation in a way that will lead to a fair resolution. Unfortunately (and I hope I'm not sliding back into the mindset you warn against), the volunteers have repeatedly put fair compromises on the table only to have them swatted away. Just last week, a volunteer-initiated mediation process was abruptly cancelled by MAIN's Executive Director, with no explanation or attempt to reschedule. What are we to make of this, and how can we move forward in the spirit you describe when one party clearly won't join in that process?

  10. The library was closed that night due to weather. I went there--the library had had to close. All of downtown was still. It was impossible to get into the meeting place. There were bars on the library, barring us from the lower floor. There is no door to the lower floor from the parking lot. I checked. Thank you, Barry, for your kind words. It's time to be constructive. Let's begin now.

  11. The mediation wasn't at the library. You have the mediation confused with the MAIN 2.0 presentation.

  12. It's true - the mediation was scheduled for Monday night, I believe at the Mediation Center, before the harsh weather hit, and it was private, for a specific group of volunteers, Board members, and the Executive Director. The MAIN 2.0 meeting was Tuesday night at the library, and was open to the public.
    The mediation was cancelled unilaterally by the Executive Director. MAIN 2.0 was cancelled due to weather.

  13. A small correction to Barry's comment. MAIN 2.0 was scheduled for that Wednesday (February 7th), 2 days after the scheduled mediation. The storm hit Tuesday evening, but the library closed early on Wednesday, thus cancelling the MAIN 2.0 presentation.

  14. Thanks for clarifying. The trick for proceeding will be for everyone involved to adapt a constructive discourse. The emotions must find their own place inside. Do your yoga, everybody. Go for a run. Whatever you do to cope. If we want WPVM to make it through this, we have to rise to another level. We can. We are at the end, I hope, of a long season of rage and what definitely looks like frustration translated into hateful speech. Is it possible tame the speech into communication. No more re-hashing. No more bitterness pouring forth over everything. People who are directly involved are negatively affecting people who are not. This is dangerous. We're better than this. We're much better. Let's explore how we can exemplify solution seeking from the horrible dark. This is an apocalypse--which is greek for revelation. Let's take a deep breath and see what can be revealed. We've all been before in one form of our lives or another. Relationships, jobs, friendships. What have those experiences taught us? Draw on this, and we'll create something new without destroying everything old. There's a pathway through.

  15. I agree with Cecil Bothwell regarding anonymous posters - if you want any semblance of credibility here, then have the courage to reveal your identity.