KIDS IN THE BOOTHLast week, in discussing KIIM's hegemony in the local country-music market, I alluded to one other modest source of country-Western music on the air: KXCI, which turns to twanging tunes 6 to 10 p.m. every Tuesday.
The news here is that the evening's opener, Country Fringe, has a new host who isn't exactly new to KXCI. Shorty Stubbs, late of the Southbound Train show that ran the rails from 2 to 4 a.m. on Wednesdays, has taken over Country Fringe, a showcase of new and old Americana and alt-country. A typical playlist includes Dave Alvin, Lori McKenna, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Sr. and such locals as Al Perry, John Coinman, Gerry Glombecki and the Conrads.
That 6 to 8 p.m. show is followed by Michael Hyatt's Route 66, another two hours of alternative (but not necessarily alt-) country music.
From time to time on KXCI, you can hear something even more unusual: kids. This is the third summer of the station's Kids' DJ Camp, which gives budding radio personalities ages 9-16 nearly a week of training before throwing them on the air for most of a Sunday.
This summer's second session is underway right now, and you can hear the results from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 18.
"The kids come in and get rough training in just about every aspect of being on the air, from playlists to FCC rules and regulations," says station program director Roger Greer. "They get several opportunities during the week to run the board and do production work. Then, for the grand finale, we turn over the airwaves to them. The 10 or 12 kids get a half-hour each and go crazy and do whatever they want to do."
Aside from the fact that all the temporary DJs' voices are higher than the usual personalities', doesn't this mean a wrenching change in format for the day? Not necessarily, says Greer. "Several of the kids play a lot of music that their parents like on KXCI. Then, of course, you have a typical teenage commercial radio set of music. Then there's everything in between, from Frank Zappa to John Denver. Everything but Koyaanisqatsi."
Collin D'Aloisio, 10, is an alum of the June DJ camp. "It was really fun," he says. "I played Carole King's 'I Feel the Earth Move,' Black Eyed Peas' 'Hands Up,' something by Led Zeppelin, and two White Stripes songs, 'Hardest Button to Button' and 'Seven Nation Army.'
"I played some stuff my parents wanted me to play," he admits, "and some stuff I listen to on the radio."
Collin says he narrowly avoided playing the wrong song at one point, but otherwise, he says, "I guess I'm pretty good at it. For some of the others, it was pretty hard."
Collin is considering a career in radio when he's older, but it probably won't be at KXCI; though his parents are loyal listeners, Collin--when he's in charge--tunes to KRQ and KFMA.
SIGNS OF KXCI PEACE?As for the grownups involved with KXCI, the war between station management and the dissident members behind the Democracy Initiative may be nearly over.
At last Thursday's meeting, after 3 1/2 months of study, the station's Board of Directors voted to change the bylaws to, among other things, address the Democracy Initiative's concerns. It instituted a grievance policy for volunteers and changed the makeup of the hitherto mostly appointed board. The new rules call for nine members to be appointed by the board, nine to be elected by station members and one to be elected specifically by the volunteers.
That's not the balance advocated by the Democracy Initiative--appointed board members would now need to get only one of their favored candidates elected to maintain a majority--but it may be almost enough for the Democracy Initiative to call off the special bylaw election it had demanded for this summer.
"I think we've won," said Democracy Initiative co-leader Scott Egan last Friday. "In terms of a compromise, it's better than I ever expected to get from them.
"If the grievance policy is a fair one, and the new election is a verifiable one--not one with the ballots counted in a back room like they've been doing it--we'll probably be satisfied."
Egan noted that petitioners in the Democracy Initiative had not yet formally accepted the board's effort, nor pledged to lay down their arms. By now, the leaders should be canvassing petitioners to determine the general feeling.
"Besides the balance on the board," said Egan, "the other sticking point, and it's a big one, is the ethics complaint against Bill Risner." At the height of the struggle, the board filed a state Bar complaint against station co-founder and Democracy Initiative attorney Risner, who had helped the initiative win several small legal battles with the board. Board opponents decried the complaint as baseless and vindictive, and unfairly damaging to Risner's career.
"We would like to see them drop the complaint," said Egan, "but I don't know if it even can be dropped, or if once it's filed, it's got to be pursued. If they can drop it but don't, there's still going to be trouble. But if that can be resolved, I think we're a long way toward putting this thing to bed."
Egan acknowledged that a great deal of mistrust remains between the board and the dissidents, but the bylaw amendments could heal many of the wounds. That would certainly make station manager Larry Bruce happy.
"I would hope this would provide the basis for a mutual agreement to resolve this ongoing controversy," Bruce said last week in his best executive voice.
And then, less guardedly: "Hopefully, once we get through this, we can find some ways to interact without yelling at each other."