The Election No One is Talking About

By Ben Hoyne of Portland, Oregon. Ben is a KBOO programmer, volunteer, and former board member. Previously he has been involved at community stations KBCS (Seattle), KDHX (St. Louis), KTNA (Talkeetna, AK), and WPFW (Washington, DC).

The loss of KPOJ's progressive talk format is a shining example of the power of corporate media and its ability to dictate programming regardless of what the community thinks and supports, with their ears and their wallets. I know many BlueOregon readers appreciate progressive media as much as the next person, if not more. While it might be hard to find, progressive radio still has a place in Portland.

45 years ago, KBOO Community Radio was launched as a vehicle to serve the community. The programming charter begins “KBOO shall be a model of programming, filling needs that other media do not, providing programming to unserved or underserved groups.” How many policy wonks here would argue that the progressive community in Portland is underserved if not unserved?

The beauty of KBOO is that the community, people like you and me, controls it locally. KBOO is governed by 12 members of the board of directors, who are elected solely by the membership. For the past many years, even decades, KBOO has been controlled by a shrinking number of people. In the 2012 board election, maybe 500 people voted and the leading vote getter got just over 300 votes. Three Hundred Votes. In a city the size of Portland, this would be the other 1%.

That’s how few people have been interested in exercising their democratic right to support progressive radio in Cascadia. We all know what can happen when people don’t show up at the polls. At KBOO, people have not been showing up at the polls for years and the quality of radio, along with community support, has suffered.

In addition to losing democratic participation, KBOO has been losing members annually, down to just over 5,000 presently.

Why should you care? You might think KBOO is a lost cause or only valuable for a few select parts of the week (pledge drives would indicate those times as during weekday morning Democracy Now and Saturday Bluegrass). However, we have the power to change that. What are needed are people to vote in the upcoming board election.

My goal is to get 1,000 people to pay $20 to become KBOO members and VOTE in the September board election. The ballot will be mailed to you; all you have to do is mail it back.

We need to get 1,000 people willing to place a $20 bet on progressive media, on community radio, on KBOO. Ballots will be mailed in late July, so you need to become a member soon.

If you really wanted to get involved, you could even run for the board. Board applications are due June 28th.

I’ll be posting more information in the days and weeks to come at

If you’ve never had the pleasure of living in a town with a great community radio station, you’re missing out. Together, we can reshape the future of radio in this region. We won’t agree on everything, that’s impossible, but I think we can agree that KBOO needs to fulfill the needs of its community more than it has been.

guest column

connect with blueoregon