Wednesday, August 7, 2019 - 10:33am
STATE OF THE STATION --------------------
I am sorry I am unfortunately not attending the Annual General Meeting today. I am concerned about my personal safety, based on what has been happening at board meetings recently, and what I've been hearing on social media and through community members. I'm not sure what is actually going to transpire at the AGM today. Maybe my fears are unwarranted - I certainly hope so. I hope the AGM goes well and that the KBOO community can decide what it wants, and how it wants to move forward.
Let's first go through the financial and membership picture of the station.
Expenses for last fiscal year (2018) were just under 1.2 million. They have been moving upwards at a rate of about $100,000 a year for the past 5 years.
Revenue fluctuated up and down slightly over the past 5 years. We ended last fiscal year at just over 1.2 million in revenue.
Our current account balances are: About $180,000 in our Reserve fund. About $230,000 in our Endowment fund. About $147,000 in our Restricted account.
Our total staff salaries are about $380,000 in 2019. We had salary savings of about $26,000 due to not having to pay a Station manager salary for about 5 months.
Legal expenses were $45,000 in 2018, and we are going to finish 2019 at about $33,000. HR expenses were about $20,000.
Membership numbers: We are still gaining new members, however the rate at which we are getting new members is in decline and trending downwards. We gained 550 members in 2018, and we are set to gain about 450 members in 2019.
Our overall membership is also trending downwards, over the past 2 to 3 years. We are projecting to end this year with about 5600 members.
Listenership is also in decline, and has been for a few years. Weekly Cume was at about 45,000 in 2017, at about 40,000 in 2018, and is at about 25,000 now in 2019.
WHO DO WE WANT TO BE? ---------------------
The past year at KBOO has been a challenging one. Being a board member requires you to follow the three core duties of being a board member: - Duty of Care - Duty of Loyalty
- Duty of Obedience (to KBOO)
I have done the best I could in the difficult circumstances we have faced this year. In January of this year, the board accepted the Station Manager’s resignation immediately. There have also been other personnel issues we have had to navigate as well. While I would like to tell you more here, I cannot reveal confidential personnel information. You may not like this; but as a board member, I am bound to confidentiality as part of my duty of care. For about 5 months, the Vice President, Danielle Parks, and I took on the work of the Station Manager temporarily without any compensation. We only intended to be in this position for 1-2 months. The reason we did this was to understand why the Station Manager role is so challenging, and what we could to as a board and organization to make the Station Manager role more sustainable, to stem the relentless turnover we've been having in the SM position for many years.
There are certainly things I wish I could have done differently or done better, but I did the best I could. Everything I did came from a place of trying to do right for KBOO.
I would like to have more conversations with the community about what has happened over the past year, so that we can move forward and begin working together in a constructive, positive way. And this brings me to what I want to talk about next.
Who do we want to be as a community? Do we want to fight with each other and shout over one another so that the loudest group dominates? This has been what has been happening over the past few months, starting with a petition in June to remove Danielle and I as board members. And then our board meetings got overwhelmed with loud and angry public comment to the point where we could not get any KBOO board business done at all. We've had 4 of these board meetings so far. It has been stressful, and hurtful, and unproductive. After about 2 of them, I couldn't speak anymore. It was only this past Sunday that I began to understand why, when I drafted the statement below to read at an additional board meeting we'd scheduled this past Monday the 9th; this board meeting was cancelled due to no quorum:
September 9, 2019 Thank you for giving me the time and space to speak here today.
We have now had 4 board meetings that have each been about 2 to 4 hours long each, which have all ended up being extensive public comment. At first, it seemed like community members were concerned and upset with things that were happening at the station.
The angry board meetings continued, and I continued to find myself paralyzed and unable to speak, because within 5 minutes of the meeting’s start, I would be interrupted, or booed, or yelled at. So I would just sit there and not say anything anymore. At the last meeting in late August, I honestly left my body and dissociated until I physically left early after an hour, because I couldn’t take this hostility anymore.
The angry board meetings that began in June have been affecting me significantly. I have felt completely silenced, bullied, and felt paralyzed and unable to speak. The morning after the second angry meeting in June, I went on a hike to recover. I went up to one of my favourite trees and I sat for a while. I closed my eyes, and I kept seeing the repeated mental image of me, laying on an altar, surrounding by people with knives, each taking their pound of flesh from me. It was a horrible mental image, but it accurately described how I was feeling. It took me a few days to recover from that.
And as I stand here today, I see many people present, and I am filled with fear and anxiety, because I wonder, “Is this going to happen again?”
It was only last night that it finally all came together and I began to understand why in the meetings, I would feel panicked and paralyzed. I didn’t realize that I was experiencing trauma all over again, as an adult, and completely shutting down as a result.
I am Canadian-Sri lankan, and my parents are immigrants who settled in rural Alberta (the Texas of Canada) in the late 70s. It was a conservative place where we lived among white farmers and First Nations people. The closest school to us was on the nearby Cree First Nations reservation, and so that was where I went to school. That was where I first began to experience relentless racism, every day. A variety of slurs were used against me – slurs for African Americans, South Asians, gay men, and so on. One that still stands out in my memory was when I was called an “ugly buck-toothed n-word with gums like a dog”. I remember being on the cusp of killing myself when I was 10, because I couldn’t take it anymore.
I couldn’t escape it. I tried to be nice to them, to be friends with them, to avoid them, to get help from the school administration – everything I could think of. Nothing worked. I even thought about yelling back at them, or even getting violent with them. But if I did that, the possibility of retaliation was quite real. There were 10 or more of them, and only one of me.
So I just shut up and took it for years. For a long time, I actually internalized the idea that in life, my purpose was to be other people’s punching bag – that people could be as vicious and awful to me as they would like, and it was my duty to just take it. I thought all of that was behind me. But trauma has a way of resurfacing, even after many years.
I’ve only realized over the past few days, that these board meetings have been retraumatizing me all over again, and are why I find myself paralyzed and unable to speak. It feels to me like I am re-living what I experienced all those years ago. In these meetings, I feel like I’m being attacked and bullied all over again by a mob. I can’t speak, I can’t think clearly, and I freeze.
I left August’s meeting after an hour because I was in fight-or-flight mode. I needed to get away and go someplace where I felt safe, and so I did. I wasn’t present for the budget presentation, but I felt OK about that because I had already thoroughly reviewed it prior to the meeting and have been kept in the loop on it throughout its development.
What I learned later on was that a good majority of people who were present in August’s meeting – many of whom had been the loudest and most vocal, left before they could hear the budget presentation. Some of those who left were even people who had applied to be board members. How is it that people who care about KBOO – community members and board member candidates - would leave before hearing a presentation of the budget? The budget is one of the most critical things the KBOO board does every year.
Learning that this happened made me wonder if the goal of all the attendance and yelling at our board meetings is intended not to have honest and open discussions about what’s going on at KBOO – but rather to bully and attack me until I’m whipped enough and bleeding enough that I leave.
I hope that this is not the case.
So I ask that all of us in this room today – board members and community members – work together in treating one another with respect and dignity. I ask that the board be allowed to go through its agenda, as doing so is necessary for KBOO to continue functioning.
Can we agree to do this?"
I hope as a community we can move beyond fighting, disrespecting, and dehumanizing one another. I hope we can work together, and support each other, even though we all have such diverse perspectives.
This year has been difficult, for sure. There is hope, though. We have an experienced non-profit Interim Executive Director, Rachel Pfeffer as our Interim Station Manager. She is working to bring stability to KBOO, and to also help us find a permanent Station Manager. Running and stewarding KBOO is not her job alone, though - we as board, volunteers, and community members need to share this work. None of us can do it alone. We need each other.
Rachel and community member Celeste Carey have organized the first of a series of Resolution Circles for the community to facilitate healing and rebuilding. It will be held on Sunday, October 6th at Uplift SE at 3534 SE Main Street. Some of the main priorities at KBOO right now are: - addressing the decline in listenership - building stronger connections within the larger Portland community - updating equipment - attaining equitable and inclusive staff salaries - mitigating communication issues in our community, and - creating the conditions for diverse communities to thrive at KBOO
Thank you for listening and being part of the KBOO community. I hope we can take the first steps in moving to a brighter future together.