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I tend to quit jobs when the consultants take over. That's why I gave up my glamorous career as music director at KUAT Radio in 1988. Public radio was being ruined by a couple of national-level consultants who had little understanding of the stations' classical and jazz content, or of the audience for that music.

Not that they didn't have a few good ideas. They advocated professionalizing the on-air sound--no longer relying on well-meaning but inept volunteer announcers--and sticking to formats that wouldn't disorient listeners. In the late '60s and early '70s, KUAT-AM was a prime offender, sandwiching a short classical piece between an unrelated jazz cut and a five-minute lecture by a UA professor on the danger of screw worm.

Community radio station KXCI is in a similar fix right now, although it's not the fault of outsiders. In order to keep its Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding flowing in, KXCI needs to boost its listenership. And doing that, according to the station's manager, apparently means professionalizing its sound a little and making its programming more coherent.

These are not necessarily bad things, as long as "coherent" programming doesn't become "commercial" programming. But the changes themselves and the way they've been implemented are ticking off a lot of KXCI's most faithful listeners, not to mention the volunteers who've had their microphones taken away.

Tucson Weekly music editor Stephen Seigel breaks out of the music section and examines the KXCI conflict in this week's feature.

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