Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"We are scaling back our volunteer capacity"

"Many thanks to those of you who submitted volunteer applications..."

With this email to the remaining volunteers at WPVM, MAIN's Executive Director Wally Bowen signaled the end of the community radio station WPVM, and the christening of a new station under the same call letters that has little or no ties to the community that created and funded it all these years. With a very few exceptions, the 60 - 70 volunteers from the community who have contributed thousands of hours of service have left - either in protest, or after being told (in the infamous words of one MAIN Board member,) "...there's the door." At least one longtime DJ was told he wouldn't even be allowed to do a farewell episode, leaving his regular listeners to tune in to a new syndicated talk show in his place.

From now on, all programming and scheduling will be decided unilaterally by the Executive Director. All editorial, operational, and governance decisions will be handled under a top-down, corporate-style authority structure, with all power resting with one man, Wally Bowen.

"Though we are scaling back our volunteer capacity at this time and
thus cannot accommodate all who applied, we hope many of you will
consider volunteering again in the future. In any event, we greatly
appreciate the contributions that so many of you have made to our
organization and to the community at large."

The fear and loathing demonstrated on a personal level by the Executive Director towards the volunteers belies this boilerplate pleasantry. A new group of volunteers is being recruited, with no experience or connection to the recent 'unpleasantness', and it remains to be seen whether the past will repeat itself...

Reportedly, those new volunteers, along with the few who decided to re-apply & were accepted by the ED, will be required to sign a confidentiality agreement. This will, in the future, allow the ED to eject anyone who voices disagreement with the internal management or strategic vision of the station.

more as it happens...

Again, thanks to those who have supported 'people-powered' radio in Asheville.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"We will be more selective in choosing volunteers. "

MAIN's Executive Director, Wally Bowen, after ejecting the majority of the volunteer leadership that has run WPVM over the past six months, and presiding over an exodus of other volunteers, has announced several major changes. After requiring the remaining volunteers to re-apply (including an essay on how much they support his 'vision' for the station,) he has announced that the station will become more news and information oriented, and that the remaining music programming will be more "strategic". Citing as an example the local music festival, "LEAF", it seems clear that this means a more homogenous and unchallenging mix of music programming will become the rule.

Sweeping aside any fiction of WPVM being a genuine community radio station, he made it clear in the email to station volunteers that future locally-produced shows will be under "contract" to MAIN, and his personal review, and that adherence to his strategic vision for MAIN/WPVM will be a condition for continued access to the airwaves.

"...we will be more selective in choosing volunteers to ensure a better fit between MAIN's strategic vision and a volunteer applicant's interests and abilities."

All of this flies in the face of MAIN's Board announced intention to adhere to former station manager Kim Clark's five suggestions (see March 2 entry below). These suggestions included bringing back the banned volunteers, removing the ED from day-to-day operations, and hiring a professional mediator to address the ongoing conflict. The current (or remaining) volunteers had, until recently, been waiting for the Board to act on this promise. The ED's recent email, and the 50 - 60% (and counting) departure of volunteers seems to finally close the door on any hope that WPVM will become the station we were striving to make it.

To all those who supported WPVM in it's previous (brief) incarnation as a community, "people-powered" radio station, thanks.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

WPVM Programs lost to the Purge/Exodus

Seven Layer Dip
Blows Against the Empire
Making Progress: News for a Change
Paris of the South
Jazz Caravan
Nighttime Swerve
The Strange Boutique
Thursday Morning Collaboraform
The Replacement Party
Freeform Filth
Absolute Slacken
Mental Notes
Activate Asheville
The Dr. Awesome Show
Tenor to Tabla
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
...And The Address
Sirens Muse
Off the Record
Simon Says
Tuesday Night with the Lark
Let Loose the Kraken
Roots & Consciousness
The Global Report Radio Edition

and counting...