BETTER TV IN BACKWATERS
Thanks to Ms. Shapiro for her work on the nation's most pathetic public-TV station ["Negative Numbers at Channel 9," Dec. 4]. In all the places my roommate and I have lived, including backwaters like New Hampshire, we've never seen a more wretched affiliate.
The programming is as miserable as the management. How many times can anyone stand watching "Yum Yum Walrus" (our nickname for George Ray) stuff his gut with another droll morsel from a notably droll chef? And Lawrence Welk reruns on Saturday prime time are sure crowd pleasers.
In the TV listings in the Sunday dailies, KCTS frequently fails to provide an actual listing of a scheduled slot, providing something absurdly vague like "special programming." This may cover up to a quarter of a week's listings. Talk about wearing your incompetence on your sleeve.
The last straw was when they lost Julia Child and Jacques P鰩n.
POINTLESS BROADCASTING SYSTEM?
Your cover photo of George Ray summarizes my problem with KCTS ["Negative Numbers at Channel 9," Dec. 4]. Is there anyone more obnoxious? Well, maybe Josh Groban. Or how about Groban and Ray interspersed, then shown over and over. Why would anyone send money to Channel 9 for that? Since KCTS has been under the direction of Burnill Clark, the programming has become mediocre and pointless.
POSTER BOY GEORGE
While I will hit the mute button as fast as the next person when George Ray shows up on-screen, using him as the "poster boy" for your perceived concerns about the management of KCTS is less than fair ["Negative Numbers at Channel 9," Dec. 4]. An article about management problems should have Burnie Clark as the cover boy. George is merely a spokesperson, with no management responsibility or authority. Presumably you used him because nobody would recognize Burnie and everybody recognizes George. Concerning the financial picture at KCTS, it should be noted that 1999, 2000, and 2001 showed a substantial surplus, as indicated on their IRS form 990.
Nina Shapiro responds: The 990 forms are famously oblique and misleading documents, which is why the government and a number of national agencies are in the process of reviewing their requirements. KCTS' audits by an outside firm (a more reliable source of information), as well as its president, testify to year after year of deficits, as reported.
JET-SETTING TO OBLIVION
Bravo to Seattle Weekly and Nina Shapiro for the article on the ongoing fiscal prestidigitation and management failures at KCTS ["Negative Numbers at Channel 9," Dec. 4].
I was a senior producer when I resigned from KCTS in 1996 in protest of management's gutting of local programming. A philosophy I subscribe to is that a public-broadcasting station must be an active, involved, responsive, committed community member. When I left, Seattle was stinking rich and growing like mad. KCTS was in a position to increase its value as a community resource by expanding local political analysis and public-affairs programming for a regional audience thirsting for substance. Instead, Burnie Clark and the empty suits surrounding him chose to cut local programming and invest in poorly conceived and expensive national program productions, most of which ended in failure. They loved jetting off to London or sitting around in circle jerks (called "Think Tanks" and led by "futurists") discussing "branding." Bill Nye the Science Guy was the one valuable and successful national series to emerge from a swamp of mediocrity—in spite of apparent mismanagement and meddling on KCTS' part.
There are plenty of talented and wonderful people working at KCTS. The problem is that they are not in leadership roles.
SUPPORT KCTS? YES!
As KCTS Television's board chairman, I have many concerns about the article on the front page of your last issue, particularly the headlines ["Negative Numbers at Channel 9," Dec. 4]. I was contacted by Ms. Shapiro, but we never arranged a time to speak. There are many things I would have liked the opportunity to clarify.
Regarding the station's involvement with Omni, I cannot stress enough the due diligence that was performed in our evaluation of the company. As CEO Burnie Clark informed you, our sources included information from domestic and international governmental, banking, and regulatory agencies. Instead of being criticized, KCTS should be complimented for seeking alternate sources of funding during these difficult economic times in our country to complement the generous donations of KCTS members.
Bottom line, the story questions whether our thousands of loyal supporters should continue giving to KCTS. My answer is an unequivocal, resounding yes. KCTS is a responsible steward of the public's support and intends to continue serving this community with programming and services that inform, involve, and inspire for many years to come.
Board Chairman, KCTS-TV
DON'T BUG ME, BIG BROTHER
This article was outstanding [Mossback, "Big Brother's Bitch," Dec. 4]! It cleanly articulated notions I've been feeling my way around for years. Knute Berger's point about QFC cards (that his refusal to use 'em is "purely symbolic") epitomizes the dichotomy of information protection. On the one hand, most of us have already given up our personal data. On the other, I have long suspected most people don't care, as long as nobody uses the data to bug them. Or steal their identity. Berger's notion of "intrusion" vs. "privacy" is clarifying. It helps me understand our amazing ambivalence as a nation to the heightened government "information awareness" programs and to information gathering in general.
SMEARING MOTHER TERESA
Ask any good trial lawyer and they will tell you that given full information, they could make Mother Teresa look bad [Mossback, "Big Brother's Bitch," Dec. 4]. All that is needed are facts from which arguments can be made. For that matter, any good politician can tell you the same thing.
Some apologists are fond of asking, "Why do you fear a loss of privacy if you don't have anything to hide?" The answer is that a life without privacy is a life of total conformity. If you dare to stick out your neck, enough information exists to give you a hard time indeed, and the powers that be always have much larger megaphones than the little guy.
The sad truth is most people live their lives without ever really needing their freedoms, or at least without exercising them. Nevertheless, if enough sheep can realize the importance of having shepherds, we can battle back Total Information Awareness.
Paul R. Lehto
Eric Scigliano never did fool me that he cared for animals as an environmental writer and follower of elephants. However, he really outdid himself cavorting around "Chinatown" ["It's the ID, Jake," Dec. 4]. Anyway, don't we call it "the International District" in this town? Yes, perhaps he just doesn't think of the barbaric conditions and fear at the slaughterhouse his fried duck meat and duck feet endured before parts of the unfortunate creature slid greasily onto his plate. However, I think he is just mean-spirited. He seems to go out of his way not to mention tofu or other meat substitute dishes, which are readily available at these places. Particularly pathetic is the picture of a "live crab contemplating" his/her "fate" before being dismembered.
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