Playing dirty pool

When Michael de Yoanna from the Independent called me to research his February 1st article about KRCC losing some of its funding from Colorado College, I told him I thought it highly unlikely.

I took the opportunity to explain the battle PPMA was waging trying to get Democracy Now to air on KRCC. Particularly the onslaught of the public forum being arranged with the hope of bringing all the players to the table. On the subject of de Yoanna’s story, I was able to explain why I thought Democracy Now on KRCC would most certainly improve the station’s finances.

But I suggested too that this mysterious financial news may be subterfuge. I was guessing, and it was an awkward thing to suggest, that KRCC may be wanting to elicit sympathy from their listeners right now, in light of the upcoming public forum at which we’ve been hoping to tighten the screws. I was weighing the impact such a story would have on the perception of criticisms of the station.

I laughed as I told Michael that it was hard to believe KRCC could be worried about finances while at the same time bragging about have such short fund-drives. Their fund-drives last only three days. Imagine what they could raise in four.

The Independent story came out featuring an interview of station manager Mario Valdes expressing his station’s uncertain footing due to Colorado College cutting back its funding. He alluded to programs that may have to be cut, etc.

I had a meeting with Mario the same day that the article came out, and lo, he was already explaining that the reporter had gotten the story wrong. It wasn’t the budget that had been cut, rather the college’s contributions to the $300,000 rainy-day fund.

Sure enough, a couple days later the president of Colorado College Richard Celeste wrote a letter to the Gazette explaining as much, reassuring everyone that the college was firmly committed to supporting KRCC.

The next week, the president wrote a letter to the Independent explaining the same thing, this time chastising the Indy for its irresponsible reporting.

Blaming the reporter? Where does President Celeste think that the distortion came from? Why would Mr Valdes have expounded upon the vulnerabilities of his station’s budget if he hadn’t intended to mislead Mr. de Yoanna?

It was subterfuge, and it worked. When I approach people asking if they will support change at the station, one thing I like to describe is the possibility of having the popular local news show Western Skies air five days a week instead of just two.

They answer, “Western Skies? Isn’t that the program that KRCC is going to drop on account of the cutbacks?”

Eric Verlo

About Eric Verlo

On sabbatical
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