Page Two

Page Two
One of the many great scenes in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane has Joseph Cotton's character confronting Welles' Kane after he's lost the election for governor. Cotton points out that Kane is always talking about giving the people what they want. Kane's problem, Cotton asserts, is the people are beginning to talk for themselves and it may turn out that he doesn't like what they have to say. The real crises, for the right and the left, is what happens when the people start speaking for themselves and really take the power into their own hands. Rather than an ideological paradise, they are usually more interested in McDonald's, cable TV, and Hollywood movies.

The current board of trustees of KOOP radio is outraged at the denial of access by mainstream media of minority voices. To ensure access, they will suppress and ignore anyone who disagrees with them. The comments in opposition are racist and homophobic -- just ask certain board members. Disagreeing with them is neither philosophically nor ideologically motivated. They are so noble and pure that their answers are right and disagreement can only come from hatred, from racists and homophobes.

The most outrageous step so far is the board's decision to invalidate the recent election (for the full story see Lee Nichols' piece in this issue). I'm sure there is a more reasonable explanation but I just can't help feeling like I'm reading Animal Farm. It is not that some animals are more equal than others, it is that some animals are better at speaking for all the animals than others. This is especially true for the disenfranchised animals who are more empowered if their democratic input is diluted. Okay, read those sentences and try to explain them to me. I don't get the logic.

But I also don't get why so often the pattern of people's revolution is the same. In the name of the people the leaders stop trusting the people because they are sure only they know what is best for the people. Any group that speaks out against them is a minority and does not represent the greater community. Their motives are completely suspect. The current board is going to take KOOP away from its community to make it more representative of the community.

I get that King Solomon feeling here that looking at the baby, the KOOP board has opted for the upper half. This may not be fair, but several members of the KOOP board wouldn't return Lee Nichols' phone calls. They sometimes don't. They think we are out to get them because we are homophobic and racist. They think we are scared that they are opening the media to more varied voices and that we are threatened by this diversity. They are empowering the audience and we want to wipe them out. Our disagreement with their leadership comes not from philosophy but hatred, according to some.

KOOP radio is great the same way ACTV is great, in that they allow non-commercial access to a mass audience for a wide variety of voices. Inherently, the station's hyper-amateur status makes them great. To commercially survive demands a certain level of professionalism which is, also inherently, diluting. On top of this is the surprising quality of these ventures. If they weren't as good as they are they would still be treasures. The fact that some of the best radio in Austin is on KOOP is a bonus.

I enjoy KOOP as a listener. I love the diversity. The completely unexpected discussion, the alternative news, the sometimes loony left-wing views that you can't hear anywhere else. I love the passion and intelligence of the station. This current controversy is very sad and the clearest mandate is for the Board to host another impartially administered election as soon as possible. Meanwhile, listening to the station is great, the music, the commentary, and the incredible array of people talking and sharing.

This weekend Olympia opens at the Dobie. The Chronicle would sponsor this film, regardless, because we like it, the work of its director Bob Byington, and we support independent film. The film is a treasure, a completely unique story that defies easy desciption. A loser finds his way out with a Mexican TV soap opera star who swam across the border in order to train in javelin so she could enter the Olympics. This, given that she was a high school javelin thrower who hasn't trained in years. His belief, her training, and her boyfriend following them is the core of the movie. Funny and fresh, it is comic relief from the generically predictable fare.

We are especially excited about supporting this film, however, because it was co-produced by SXSW Film's Nancy Schafer. Schafer is largely responsible for SXSW Film and willingly takes credit for even those parts with which she's completely uninvolved. Schafer coordinates both the Film Conference and Festival. (Schafer was also gone from Austin all summer, missing the drought. She got to go to Alaska to work on John Sayles' new movie but we're not bitter. Remember how hot it was this summer? Nancy doesn't. She was in Alaska.) If enough people see Schafer's film, it will help keep her out of the Chronicle offices, at least for a little while. Please help out. Olympia is a swell film.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

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