By Chris Lane
By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
Francisco Delgado Navarro
Accentuating the Negative
In reading Jim Sherman's article concerning recent programming changes at KPFT/90.1 FM [News, "Music of (Angry) India," April 27], I was disappointed to see that Sherman chose not to include any positive viewpoints from KPFT listeners regarding the new programming that has been added.
I recently contributed to KPFT for the first time, specifically because of the "Music of Texas and the World" program. To the best of my knowledge, KPFT is one of the few stations (if not the only station) in Houston to consistently broadcast the music of local and regional artists. In particular, I was especially pleased to see the addition of "Lone Star Jukebox," which features Texas artists such as Tish Hinojosa, Joe Ely and Robert Earl Keen. If not for programs like "Sounds of Texas and the World" and "Lone Star Jukebox," many of the artists featured would receive no airplay in the Houston area.
I regret that the addition of this new show has resulted in the cancellation of another program that was also very popular. I am hopeful that KPFT will be able to rearrange its schedule to add this program to its schedule again. However, I believe that "Lone Star Jukebox" is certainly deserving of a KPFT time slot.
I have come to rely on the Houston Press as a key resource for the latest information regarding musicians performing in the Houston area. It seems ironic that the Press would publish an article that so casually dismisses a radio program that provides rare exposure to so many deserving artists.
Change is Good
I have just finished reading Jim Sherman's report regarding recent program changes here at KPFT/90.1 FM and would like to add a few facts to clear up some misconceptions.
The Saturday morning "Music of India" program cancellation is not any sort of effort to quell the voice of the South Asian community, as some critics charge. Meena Datt, host of "Music of India," continues to host a program on commercial station KTEK (Sunday, 11 a.m.) and has done so for many years. Several other Indian programs are also available on other Houston radio stations. Also, statements that "Music of India" was KPFT's biggest fundraiser are not correct -- that distinction belongs to our Sunday morning blues programming and our midday "Sounds of Texas and the World" music show.
Regarding the cancellation of the "Shepherd's Hey" program: it was regrettable but unavoidable. Gary Coover, the host of the program, violated a policy that goes back to the beginning of Pacifica Radio and KPFT. That policy prohibits the use of our airwaves for perpetuating personal grievances against the station. KPFT believes it is an inappropriate use of valuable airtime to air personal gripes.
While it is unfortunate that Mr. Coover is no longer hosting his program, KPFT continues to air Celtic music on Tuesday evening in the time slot occupied by "Shepherd's Hey."
Sherman's piece also reports that KPFT is requiring our hosts to stop mentioning a local music venue that was circulating a petition supporting the "Shepherd's Hey" program. This is incorrect. KPFT continues to regularly include the club's music dates as part of our on-air calendar of events.
Critics charge that since KPFT made initial changes with our daytime programming three years ago that the station had lost its diversity. To the contrary, the number of minority listeners has actually increased since our series of program changes began.
Radio station formats are constantly changing. KPFT prides itself on the fact that our program schedule changes much less frequently than our commercial counterparts. So when we do make changes they almost always draw criticism from people who believe KPFT's schedule should never change. KPFT, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary, has grown with Houston over the years and will continue to grow and change with the audience we serve.
Those Small Minded People
In reference to Jim Sherman's excellent article about the recent protests at KPFT Radio, I feel some clarification is in order.
I served as a program director at KPFT from 1987 to 1989 and participated in drawing up the guidelines and policies Mr. Sherman mentioned. Yes, Meena Datt should have been given four weeks notice if the station were going to remove "Music of India" due to "changing formats." And, yes, Gary Coover did violate the station's "dirty laundry" policy by speaking out on the air about the disservice done to Meena Datt and the entire Indian community. However, as someone who heard Mr. Coover's comments on air, I believe the station had no right to summarily "execute" the "Shepherd's Hey" program. He should have been given a written reprimand and, perhaps, suspension for a week or two, but not the "immediate and irrevocable" termination.
Furthermore, Mr. Sherman states the local board of directors "have no direct control over station management." This is not quite true, as the board does have the power to recommend to the Pacifica national office whether or not to renew the contract of the station manager. Mr. Ganter serves on a one-year contract which is reviewed every year by the local station board. So, in effect, they do have some considerable power after all. And, I believe, since Ganter was announced as station manager by Pacifica last May, his contract should be up for review very soon.