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Topic 30 of 64: Tech Ranch

Fri, Aug 28, 1998 (08:39) | Paul Terry Walhus (terry)
Tech Ranch is a radio program - which just got the cut from KUT - is at
the website . Read about their
happy ending in the first post, which comes from their website.

5 responses total.

 Topic 30 of 64 [austin]: Tech Ranch
 Response 1 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug 28, 1998 (08:40) * 24 lines 
From the website:

Why you can't find Tech Ranch on KUT

Tech Ranch Testimonials.

For fans of public radio--and of Tech Ranch as it appeared on public
radio--this is a sad story. Fortunately, the story has a happy ending.

The story begins in the late spring of this year. Springtime being the
proper breeding ground for all things fresh and promising, Bazzirk gave
birth to a fresh and promising idea. We would produce a radio program
that would give a voice to the local technology community. The show would
be issues-oriented. It would be light in tone. It would be of interest to
anybody and everybody who lives a tech-focused life in our tech-crazed
town, from the casual web-surfer to the CEO.

To have credibility, the show would have to be scrupulously objective. It
would be open to all. The primary criterion for stories would be that
they be informative and entertaining in subject matter and in delivery.
Bazzirk clients would have no more access to exposure on the program than
any other entities in the business of technology.

 Topic 30 of 64 [austin]: Tech Ranch
 Response 2 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug 28, 1998 (08:40) * 29 lines 
And continuing . . .

To carry out this charter, we set up Tech Ranch as an independent
business unit of Bazzirk, with an organizational structure that
functioned separately from Bazzirk marketing services. We consciously
emulated the venerable journalistic model that divides editorial from
sales. For the Tech Ranch staffers, this came naturally. Our Tech Ranch
producer and our lone staff reporter both have degrees in journalism and
solid newspaper experience. Our Tech Ranch executive producer has a
background in reporting on radio and television.

Someday, we hoped and dreamed that spring, the show might grow into
broadcast syndication and be able to carry its own weight as a profit
center for our company. In the meantime, it would be a labor of love.

We thought public radio, and KUT in particular, would be the perfect
vehicle for the show. We invited the management of the station to a
meeting to hear our ideas. They loved the idea! They were already
planning to introduce a local news segment on the station, and they saw
Tech Ranch as an ideal first element of that local coverage. They saw all
sorts of advantages for KUT and for The University of Texas in new
connections with Austin's flourishing technology community. We happily
developed demos and played them for the KUT staff. We incorporated their
suggestions into the show. And, at 8:10 in the morning on June 1, 1998,
we broadcast the first Tech Ranch program on KUT.

 Topic 30 of 64 [austin]: Tech Ranch
 Response 3 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug 28, 1998 (08:41) * 37 lines 
And still more . . .

Early response was overwhelmingly--even gushingly--positive. We heard
from people at all levels of technology companies of all sizes. We heard
from members of the University community. And we heard from the
proverbial man and woman on the street. The show was an unqualified hit.
KUT's management was delighted. The powers-that-be at The University were
delighted. The station began receiving unsolicited inquiries about
underwriting opportunities for the show. National exposure on NPR was
under discussion. The sky was the limit. Then came a troubling cloud.

Inexplicably, KUT management was suddenly bombarded with e-mail attacking
the show. It turned out all the mail was coming from two people. Both of
them had once worked at Bazzirk, had left, together, in unhappy
circumstances, and now worked, together, at a competing advertising
agency. The mail threatened complaints to the FCC and to NPR. Why?
Because KUT had entered into a nasty, dirty partnership with a
card-carrying profit-making business enterprise. Bazzirk, that evil
empire, was obviously using Tech Ranch to further its own ends.

When KUT did not immediately yank the show from the air in response to
these complaints (feedback from listeners was running fifty-to-one
positive at this point), the complaintants escalated their attack by
bringing in the media. Playing loosely with the truth, they called
reporters and blew the whistle on the nasty partnership between public
radio and private enterprise. One reporter, or, more accurately, one
columnist--the media critic at the Austin American-Statesman--took the
bait. This columnist pontificated in print that KUT should do the right
thing and separate its good name from that of the high tech marketing
firm that was producing its new hit program. Meanwhile, balanced,
professional coverage of the situation appeared in the pages of the
Austin Business Journal, and various Letters to the Editor were launched
by both sides.

 Topic 30 of 64 [austin]: Tech Ranch
 Response 4 of 5: Paul Terry Walhus (terry) * Fri, Aug 28, 1998 (08:42) * 50 lines 
But it gets better . . .

The critical Statesman column seemed to turn the tables for KUT station
management. Showing remarkably little backbone considering the benefits
Tech Ranch had brought and was still bringing to the station, KUT made
the decision to cancel the show. "Perception" was the only reason
offered. Was there any real, FCC-like, legal question? If so, nobody
could say what it was. KUT's station manager did talk to his FCC
attorney, and was later quoted in the newspaper, by the aforementioned
columnist, as saying that there was "no legal issue." The "perception"
word was used again in explanation.

No matter that no one could demonstrate that the show was in any way
biased in favor of Bazzirk clients, or in favor of anyone else, for that
matter. No matter that the show was clearly focused on issues and on ways
technology affects people's lives, rather than on products for sale. No
matter that the show had generated a devoted audience almost overnight
(the lifespan of the show on KUT was just three months), and was a clear
money-maker for a station that always needs money. No matter that the
technology community loved the show and didn't mind saying so. No matter.

Despite all this, we have no bone to pick with public radio. Truth to
tell, we love it. We tried putting time, talent, money, and energy into
making our own contribution to it and things didn't work out. KUT brought
our baby to the airwaves, and we're grateful for that. Now we're moving on.

End of sad story.

And beginning of happy ending.

Tech Ranch will soon resurface on a popular commercial station in the
Austin market. Watch the Tech Ranch page for details. We are in the
process of re-formatting the show for commercial syndication, and have
interest from several national syndicators and from individual radio
stations. We are also at work on a long-form (two hours or more) version
of the program for internet broadcast on a heavily-promoted broadcast web
site that will premier this fall. We are particularly excited about the
web broadcast, as it will allow us to examine the technology issues that
interest us in much greater detail.

For those who have followed and supported the show on KUT, we offer our
sincere thanks. We invite you to stick with us as we make the transition
to commercial stations and to web broadcasting. See you on the radio.

(end quote from )

 Topic 30 of 64 [austin]: Tech Ranch
 Response 5 of 5: Leplep le Plep  (jgross) * Fri, Aug 28, 1998 (22:51) * 11 lines 
It's very interesting that the reason given was one word (perception).
And that it sounds like an unwillingness to say what their meaning was, their contextual meaning was, for that word.
Therefore, their worries and fears could not be gone into and discussed.
It's very difficult to talk about stuff that difficult to talk about.
So people shift into avoidance behavior.
Very defensive routines going on there that are so hard to loosen up.
Result: injustice.
Another result: anti-learning.
Even if there is learning, and the delving into the reasoning for the perception, and even if there is a good healthy exchange among those concerned with the issue, it of course can turn out that the show would be dropped.
But at least some democracy can occur.
Some maturity. Some discourse.

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