GUEST COMMENTARY | KOTO Made the Right Decision

I am writing in response to the opinion of James Loo regarding KOTO’s professional and meaningful choice of not providing a live broadcast of The Ride festival.  What he refers to as “excuses” are in fact salient points and I was consulted about the decision and provided professional recommendations to KOTO.

In 2012 I served as KOTO’s interim executive director.  With 18 years as development director, then general manager, plus music and interview host at KSUT Four Corners Public Radio, my credentials far exceed Loo’s, (KOTO donor and former DJ).  In 2007, the Colorado Broadcasters Association named me “Radio Broadcast Citizen of the Year” for my work with public radio in rural Colorado. The same year, I received my Master’s degree in Non-profit Administration from the University of Colorado at Denver. Much of my thesis referenced public radio. I have produced two live performances of A Prairie Home Companion and have been on the Telluride Bluegrass Festival broadcast team 12 different years.

With these credentials I would like all readers to review the following tutorial based on fact.

Reason number one:  Not getting authorization by the artists, their management and in some cases whoever holds their publishing rights.  Explanation: Without this there is no legal means to provide the broadcast, plain and simple.

Reason number two:  Not having a production team that was ready to do the broadcast.  Explanation: KOTO has a small staff.  The TBF broadcast has always needed outside team members – myself included. In fact this year, Planet Bluegrass hired a producer, Suzanne Cheavens, who then invited me onto the team, plus Eric Whitney who is one of the most talented radio professionals in the Rocky Mountains. We in turn worked with KOTO staff members Dina Coates Koebler, Corey Beaton and Cara Pallone, as well as broadcast veterans and volunteers Bret Moles and Tom Goralka. Thanasis Kinias served as the team’s technical support.  The TBF live broadcast (KOTO’s 16th year ) was stellar. In considering a broadcast at The Ride, the staff felt they still needed more training to match the quality of the TBF work. Our plan is to use the 2014 Telluride Blues and Brews live broadcast as the ultimate training camp for staff and volunteers.  Suzanne’s expertise is securing the artist releases, mine is getting the interviews confirmed and scheduled, and so on.

Reason number three: A perceived negative impact on ticket sales. Explanation: Tuesday prior to The Ride, presales were around 2,500 tickets. I worked with Todd Creel on the first Ride Festival and I fully understand the financial risks of the event.

Failing to understand the many moving parts of a live broadcast can easily be excused because we make it look and sound easy. Inviting a reporter to come hear a person grandstand and attack the professionalism of KOTO’s executive director (as Loo did at a recent KOTO board of director’s meeting) is inexcusable and exposes how little Loo knows about radio production. The veiled attacks on Dina Coates Koebler hold no value. Ask Jason Isbell what he thought of her thoughtful and professional interview at TBF.  A direct quote “F…… Awesome.”

Dina has brought KOTO into compliance with the Federal Communications Commission, NPR, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the IRS.  I advocated for her hiring and she has brought professional change to our beloved KOTO.  Give her your support or at least mind your manners.


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Category: Guest Commentary

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