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Mendocino County Today: April 24, 2013

SHEILA DAWN TRACY reports on KZYX for the AVA. KZYX, for those of you who don't know and are probably better off not knowing, is a tax exempt, pseudo-public radio station dominated by two petty, vindictive persons and a ninny-stuffed board of directors who are collectively strangling the station to death as they unwittingly alienate more and more people. So many persons have been non-personed by this “liberal” institution over the years that we probably comprise a majority of the potential public radio audience in these parts. (The AVA was non-personed even before the station went on the air a quarter century ago, a distinction we treasure.) Ms. Dawn-Tracy, however, is a station member; her reporting has been unfailingly accurate and temperate. Her reward? A steady stream of insults from management.

KZYX is presently beating the drums for an annual membership drive. When Sheila called the other day to volunteer to answer the phones, she was told not to bother, a piece of gratuitous nastiness typical of station manager John Coate and his hatchet woman, Mary Aigner.

THE STATION WAS FOUNDED — poisoned in the well — by a hustling Republican called Sean Donovan who lived in Boonville at the time. Donovan subsequently left town (soon getting himself fired at an Alaska public radio station), but not before he billed the station thirty grand for his work getting it going! Donovan structured the non-profit in a way that enhances top-down management, appointing trustees he cannily assessed as pliable in the authoritarian direction, mostly fagged out old hippies who could be depended on to do what he told them to do. Lately, as the hippies have died off and wealthy libs moved in, the station's trustees have been a mix of, ah, the disinterested and the uninformed, with a few pompous lawyers thrown in to whom the anonymous trustees defer because, “Hey! This guy's a lawyer. He knows.”

THE STATION'S STRUCTURE makes it impossible to reform. KMUD, out of Garberville, by way of contrast, was born out of a series of community meetings. Its management is directly accountable to the membership and is genuinely community-supported, unbeholden to NPR programming or much paid programming at all, being entirely oriented to the specific area of Southern Humboldt and Northern Mendocino County.

I'D BUY a KZYX membership if there was anything beyond Jeff Blankfort's show I wanted to hear, and what I want to hear is local news and smart, candid discussions of local issues. I go to print for national and global affairs. I'm pretty sure my assessment of KZYX reflects the majority sentiment in the county.


THE FARM BUREAU has dropped out of the lawsuit arguing against the Willits Bypass. The Environmental Protection Information Center out of Humboldt County remains a party to the action against the Corps of Engineers and Caltrans.


COMMENT OF THE DAY: Casinos do NOT reduce unemployment: Employment figures for four (riverboat casino) communities shows that "…none of the (casinos) for which a full year of post-opening data was available showed a significant effect of reducing unemployment or increasing employment, though one showed a significant negative effect on employment." (Illinois Business Review). Casinos cause net job loss: Casinos promise to create thousands of jobs, but Professor John Kindt, a professor at University of Illinois, said, “The field research indicates that nationwide you stand to lose 1.5 jobs for every job the casinos create.” That's because local businesses suffer when a casino opens. Graton Rancheria's own study predicts that local bars and restaurants will suffer a 9% loss of business when the casino opens. These businesses operate on a very slim profit margin, and a 9% loss will mean businesses closing, which means people out of work. Retail businesses suffer, too, when people spend their discretionary income gambling instead of shopping for goods and services. Think about it, and it makes sense: People have only so much money to spend. Every dollar spent at a casino means a dollar not spent for clothing, electronics, refrigerators, movies, and so forth. That means decline in sales, and decline in sales means lay-offs and business closures. — Stop the Casino 101 Coalition


ART IN THE GARDENS 2013. Apply now.

Artists, culinary arts and food vendors wanted.
 Application Deadline May 20th, 2013

. 22nd annual Art In The Gardens

 — art-food-wine-music. 

Saturday August 3rd. 11am-5pm. This event is one of the gardens major fundraisers and attracts over 1000 visitors. Artist booths are framed by our 47 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens providing a unique and natural setting to display your art and culinary delights. The event highlights northern California’s best wineries, musicians and food. More info:


A READER SENDS ALONG THIS OBSERVATION: “A Hummer limo is a great way to show people you’d be an asshole all the time, if you just had the money.”



  1. John Sakowicz April 24, 2013

    Today’s post about KZYX breaks my heart. The media marketplace for KZYX and the AVA is big enough for both of us, and I also include the Uriah Daily Journal and the Press Democrat. We each occupy different niches. No need for meanness, for internecine backbiting.

    That said, I’m very happy with the three new public affairs programmers at KZYX: Paul Lambert, Cal Winslow, and Stuart Campbell. They upgrade an already strong rooster of public affairs programmers.

    Finally, about my show, “All About Money” on KZYX…

    I rarely do a show that doesn’t feature a guest with a national reputation speaking on an issue of real importance. Our last two shows were about Social Security and Medicare and the cuts in the President”s budget, and my two guests, respectively, were Max Richtman, president of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and Ellen Shaffer, co-direct of the Center for Policy Analysis.

    If our online audience is any guide — it’s something we can measure in the studio — the shows were popular with many, many listeners. We also got lots of emails and phone calls after the shows. I suspect not all these listeners were Social Security recipients — seniors and the disabled — but also young people, the workers, who are now paying into the Social Security-Medicare system.

    Only at KZYX can you get this quality of reporting and news analysis. Because other programmers do the job, too, KZYX should be supported. It’s why I’ve given at the $100-plus level for more than five years.

    For the record, I read the “”Mendocino County Today” blog almost daily, and even plug it on my show. I’m a news junkie for local political news, and I get my “fix” at the blog. I also agree with most posts that contain some editorializing or opinion, as sharp and cynical as it may be. But I don’t agree with today’s post about KZYX.

    We do our best at KZYX, which is pretty damn good, and, hopefully, we’ll have a news director again soon.

  2. Mark Scaramella April 24, 2013

    Did KZYX really refuse Ms. Dawn-Tracy on her offer to answer phones during pledge drive? Apparently so. Very petty. Worthy of complaint. All members should be allowed to answer phones, fer criminy sakes. Is there any other explanation for this other than petty vindictiveness over her coverage of board meetings? If station management doesn’t like or agree with that coverage, they should write about it. The AVA’s pages are open. (And don’t trot out that lame, “but they’ll just say something else bad about us” excuse.)
    We understand that Mr. Sakowicz has been elected to the KZYX board. So, specifically: Do you agree that KZYX should deny Ms. Dawn-Tracy an opportunity to answer the phones?
    There’s no doubt that KZYX has “non-person’ed” lots of people over the years, need we even list them?
    The basic message is: “Say anything we don’t like and you’re not welcome here.” If that’s not thuggish (in a typically Mendo-Passive Agressive way), what is?

    As for “we do our best”–
    A real local public radio station would, as a minimum, have:
    • A daily morning show on local issues and events with an informed guest and live call-ins.
    • Frequent debates on matters and issues of public interest with live call-ins.
    • Many more hours (with many more local public officials as guests) devoted to real local/County public affairs, not bland topics like meditation, wellness, psychobabble, the Democratic Party platform, canned pre-recorded liberals, NPR, Ukiah Daily Journal headlines, solar system battery maintenance, stale air, wild oatmeal, lunch, vegetables, smartmeters, computer problems, and hour after hour of mindless music.
    KZYX puts out 168 hours of “programming” each week. Of that, about about 77 hours (46%) is canned national news/talk shows, 63 hours (38%) is filler/music, leaving 28 hours a week (17%). Only three or four of those 28 hours (3% of total air time) (Blankfort/LeClaire, Sakowicz, Lambert) can even be loosely described as “public affairs.” And of those three or four hours a week you’d be lucky to get one hour of local material, and even less than that of call-ins on local subjects.
    Mathematically, less than 1% of KZYX air time is devoted to local public affairs. Yet KZYX still has the unmitigated gall to call itself “Mendocino County Public Broadcasting.”
    The KMUD model is obviously better.
    Are we all supposed to just accept this lousy state of affairs because it’s the best KZYX can do?
    KZYX’s best just isn’t very good — unless you like NPR and hum&strum.
    Mr. Sakowicz’s noble efforts to save Social Security from the president that the KZYXers themselves overwhelmingly elected is fine, I guess, but not what non-NPR types want from a LOCAL radio station.
    Crank it up a notch, John. You could start small, by telling station management to let Ms. Dawn Tracy answer some friggin pledge calls.

  3. John Sakowicz April 24, 2013

    Duly noted, Mark. Thank you.

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