Letters for June 24, 2004

Radio-free students

Re “Radio control” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, June 10):

This story summed up Capital Public Radio’s interests in a nutshell: greed. Not only is Capital Public Radio (CPR) against any form of California State University, Sacramento, student FM station covering Sacramento, but it is against any form of student educational radio.

Once you take the fat paychecks out of the station budget, student radio is by all means feasible. KDVS is student-run, with a 15-position (very low) paid core staff. The station broadcasts two hours of local public affairs daily, with news stories produced by volunteers, and runs syndicated Free Speech Radio News. People drive from Sacramento and beyond to volunteer and learn how radio works. Many UC Davis alumni have gone on to get jobs based on their radio experience at KDVS. Too bad CSUS students don’t have that option.

My question is for CSUS: Why can’t you give just one FM station in the CPR empire back to the students and community for CSUS learning purposes? Isn’t that why the Federal Communications Commission gave you the license?

Even at the Harvard station (WHRB), the university broadcasts classical music in the daytime and then completely hands its frequency to student/community-run radical programming at night. This is not uncommon for colleges. Universit-ies, both public and private, realize why the FCC granted their FM licenses. Yet the CPR radio board says allowing student involvement “wouldn’t be responsible.” This is a joke. If the prestigious Harvard can do it with one single station, why not our glorious Sac State, with several?

There is no reason why CPR and CSUS students couldn’t share their radio resources half and half—and I don’t mean just CPR using CSUS student interns to empty garbage cans in order to keep students’ hands off the “$5 million” controls.

Todd Urick

Incorporate students

Re “Radio control” by Cosmo Garvin (SN&R Cover, June 10):

After reading Garvin’s piece on our area’s public-radio universe, it seemed ironic that his story seemed to deliver the kind of reporting that public radio is lacking.

Like other listeners of CPR, I enjoy the fruits of their investments in Morning Edition, Fresh Air, All Things Considered and other programs. But the local coverage, albeit good in most cases, is far from plentiful. Most of it doesn’t uncover the kinds of stories that need to be told. Something is wrong when you get more local commentary from CPR’s Mick Martin’s Blues Party.

Garvin’s story covered the age-old programming dilemma—how can media serve the public interest, offering a wide spectrum of views, and still remain a viable business? His take on that programming Catch-22 was thought-provoking, especially for those of us old enough to remember how early public radio sounded.

CPR today is not offering the wild array of edgy programming that its predecessor, KERS, delivered to Sacramento listeners in the 1970s. I was part of that ragtag programming staff from 1975 to 1977. Even with my own inexperienced viewpoint at the time, I knew KERS was a completely nonprofessional operation sheltered in the CSUS communications department. The move to a mix of National Public Radio (NPR), classical and jazz in 1979 reflected the strong need for such a station. But CPR also cut loose college-oriented radio.

The plight of the student programmers at KSSU is certainly a compelling story, but I’m not ready to give up my financial support of CPR. Without disrupting the supporters of CPR, there must be a way to incorporate some student involvement. Give them inexpensive digital equipment to go out and find fresh material, or bring them on air as guest programmers under the close tutelage of experienced CPR staff.

That would begin to bring CPR back to its roots and continue to deliver the NPR and business-friendly programs that keep the lights on.

Mark Hanzlik

American Indians aren’t allowed to get rich?

Re “Here come the urban casinos” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, June 10):

Let me remind Jill Stewart that we Indians are the first people here. She makes it sound as if we’re invaders rather than the invaded. Californians have benefited immensely from land that was stolen. The only thing Indians have received in this deal is tribal sovereignty.

Recently, some tribes have used tribal sovereignty to accumulate wealth. Wealthy Indians aren’t the norm, but if some Indians do get rich, so what? Indians aren’t allowed to be rich? Must we remain sports mascots living at the bottom rung of the ladder?

Stewart talks of questionable tribes and Californians being fooled. Here’s a better example of people being duped: California Indians signed treaties with the United States in 1852. These treaties were never ratified. The citizens didn’t want it and lobbied Congress not to ratify them. No one had the decency to inform the Indians that they were betrayed. It was easier to slaughter them in their ignorance. If the treaties were ratified in the first place, there would be no “highly questionable tribes.”

The part I found most disgusting is the comparison of “famed tribes of the Great Plains and Southwest,” with “populations of thousands,” to the “miniscule” tribes of California. That’s just it. These “famed” tribes were considered noble. California Indians were conveniently considered stupid, dirty and inhuman, which made it all that much easier to wipe us out and take our resources. That’s why our populations are so “miniscule”: 95 percent were wiped out during the formation of this state.

Let’s not forget that a significant amount of job employment and economic growth for non-Indians and the state in general, during these hard financial times, is the direct result of Indian casinos. Why don’t you write an article about that rather than jumping on the Indian-scapegoat bandwagon. Indians are hardly what’s wrong with California!

Anthony Burris

Nobody else got rich in San Pablo

Re “Here come the urban casinos” by Jill Stewart (SN&R Capitol punishment, June 10

I’m a recent immigrant from San Pablo to Yuba County. While your recent article on Indian gaming gave the impression that a casino in San Pablo would be brand-new to the town, it is not. The Lytton Band is simply purchasing an already-existing high-end card room. San Pablo has already learned its lesson as to the value of gambling as civic boon—zip, zero, nada, nyet, none.

If the casino generates any extra funds for the city, it all disappears into the great beyond, because it isn’t going into making San Pablo a better place. The roads and sidewalks are broken apart, and we were amazed on the occasions an entire night went by without gunshots. Businesses wheeze and struggle to stay alive.

However, the road leading from the freeway to the front of the casino is gorgeous. The median is well-landscaped, the two-block stretch of San Pablo Dam Road from Interstate 80 to the casino is well-paved, the sidewalks are clear, and no graffiti is to be seen.

I assert that San Pablo has been a “sad, malevolent little town” for years, and East Bay has managed to ignore it pretty well. If any municipality has a local politician who suggests that their city’s fiscal woes could be reversed by the existence of a casino, my advice is to tie him or her up and drive them straight to San Pablo.

Dean Du Pont

Achtung, artist!

Re “Achtung Baby!” by Bill Forman (SN&R News, June 10):

Big deal. So Robbie Conal is the “almost savant-like” artist who specializes “in unflattering portraits of zealous white men with rapacious appetites (for wealth, fame, power, women, etc.).”

By all appearances, he’s a zealous white male artistic malcontent with a rapacious appetite for fame and the useless expenditure of tax dollars cleaning up after his illegally posted mess.

To all you art lovers: Don’t piss and moan next time the city cuts program budgets for the homeless, drug addicted and lazy.

John Chase