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Free Press fibs to the National Post; Margo knows and so do I

The National Post has extracted an admission from Red River College that shortly before the cancellation of The Great Canadian Talk Show, Winnipeg Free Press editor Margo Goodhand had "contacted" newly-installed RRC president Stephanie Forsyth.

This was an open secret throughout the College and mainstream media newsrooms over 10 days ago, but when I asked Thomson when he delivered the bad news on Nov. 8th he could only muster an embarassed "no comment".

“As I understand it, the president did get a communication from the Free Press,” he said, later adding that he believed the communication came from editor Margo Goodhand. “There were some concerns about Marty having taken shots at the Free Press ... I believe that the concern about the show was voiced by the president to one of our vice-presidents who is on the board.”

Mr. Thomson said the vice-president was present at the Nov. 2 executive board meeting of Cre-Comm Radio Inc. — the non-profit corporation that manages the station — where four voting board members unanimously decided to cancel Mr. Gold’s show.


Yet Goodhand professed in an email to the NP
"...I’ve never actually heard his college radio show, and I don’t know why it was cancelled.”

The first part may be true, and stands as a testament to how out of touch the Free Press leadership is with the pulse of the community.
The second part ...

If Margo admits to have never listened, then how could she be placing a call to the FUNDER of the station about the program with a complaint?

Ask yourself, if someone called publisher Bob Cox to complain about the Freep but admitted to never ever having read it, what would he do ?

Although Goodhand professes not to know why the show was canned, she does know what her "communication" was about.

And she approached Forsyth, who had been the subject of a flattering FP profile on October 18th directly, rather than contact station manager Rick Baverstock.

Despite her feigning ignorance, Margo knows who shed tears, and so do I.

And so, soon, shall you readers and listeners. I again thank you for your support.

In the meantime, here are emails from a cross section of listeners from all political stripes, who saw through the pretense floated by Red River College for canceling TGCTS.

From a scientist:
Hi Marty,

I finally did some checking to see why I couldn't get your show last week. At first I thought you were on vacation! I read on the blogs about what happened.

But now I'm blown away! How are you faring in all of this! I can just imagine what you have to say! Will we hear you on air some where again?

Although I take issue with those who say "they" are silencing you because you're on "the right" - since when has exposing the pet projects of millionaires been the purview of conservatives!!?? :-) I enjoyed your show because it spanned the political spectrum. And I've mentioned before I'm what they would call a leftie, (although if we ever sat down over a beer it would be pretty clear that I'm all over the map!)

I made a longer post about the fact that you are "politically ambidextrous" on chrisd's blog:

from a sociology professor
From: Christopher J. Fries
Sent: November 11, 2010 1:12 PM
To: Graham Thomson
Subject: Re: TGCTS

Dear Dean Graham Thomson,

I have accepted your invitation to (re)read the statement you issued on the station's website.

While I would like to accept your assurances that the decision to end TGCTS without notice was not an instance of censorship, but was simply made to put more students air on during prime time, two issues arise: First, your statement of November 9, 2010 reads in part, “the Executive Committee of the Board of CreComm Radio Inc. made a decision to re-focus on the station’s role as an instructional resource”.

The statement also informs that, “In compliance with CRTC policy on campus and community radio, the station is managed by a non-profit corporation called Cre Comm Radio Inc. The Board of Directors of this corporation includes representation from the general community (including potential employers), the student body, the Creative Communications program and Red River College.”

I am unclear as to who exactly at “the station” made this decision? Was it the entire Board of Directors? Or was it the Executive Committee of the Board and if so, who, and which constituencies did they represent?

This is no trivial matter as my understanding is that the CRTC policy on campus and community radio mandates that all relevant stakeholders, including the public, play a role in the governance of campus and community radio. Restated, who exactly at “the station” made this decision?

Second, in your email reply you indicate that the change was made to allow more students more on-air time, especially in prime time. I understand why a college radio station wants as much student driven content as is possible.

What I am unsure of is why you identify the “prime time” slot as particularly important in meeting this objective? I sincerely hope you can address my questions and the concerns they raise.

I reiterate my original point that public debate and open dissent are core values in a democratic society, which we, as educators, have an obligation to impart to our students as part of their training / educational experience.

Sincerely, Dr. Christopher J. Fries, PhD,
Assistant Professor Department of Sociology
317 Isbister Building
University of Manitoba

from a listener in Point Douglas:

Just got a call from Thomson re: my concerns and questions about TGCTS.

He was quite polite but I gave him my take on this travesty such as:

Why didn't the whole kick board make this decision? Answer- because they can, but are meeting again to discuss what happened.

Have you reviewed all comments on the kick blog, such as the block of students who said they believed the 'student outcomes' they had were just fine? Answer-no, but he'll look at them.

Was there political intereference in this decision? Answer- I'll swear on a stack of Bibles, there wasn't.

I said your show was better than any other media outlet covering local issues and it should be put back on air, is there a chance of that? Answer- not likely.

I insisted that the Freep show be pulled as it is useless, would it get the can too? Answer- He's never heard it but probably it also would be terminated.

I told him several times that this was a wrong move; you definitely were helping students in live radio and suggested he get a list of all the cre com interns who worked along side of you and get their input. Answer- he would.

He had to go and that was that.

So, at least he called back, Twyla didn't.



from a financial consultant

Well Marty I am disappointed to see that no one is connecting the dots to the NDP. Isn't it an amazing coincidence that this happens exactly when the NDP has kicked off its election campaign with the anti McFadyen ads, the nice guy Selinger ad, and the throne speech.

Even if it is not reported on, I am sure that the lesson is not lost on the media heads.

There are those who believe that a hot head getting fired is not really a free speech issue. And if I didn't see the pattern here I would agree. But when something this obvious happens and no one is speaking out for fear of retaliation then it is a sad day for free speech in Canada absolutely.


from a Red River College alumnus:

Dear Mr. Thomson,
With regards to the post on KICK's website regarding the station's governance:
As an avid listener to the station, I can say that there was nothing wrong with the station's governance. The station management has done an excellent job in providing a platform for eclectic and interesting student run programming.
"The Great Canadian Talk Show" provided local news, sports and discussion on a wide range of local politics and affairs that no other station in Winnipeg provided. From a listeners standpoint there seemed to be a lot of student involvement on the both the technical and reporting side. Mr. Gold actively sought student participation on the phone lines and there were also episodes where students challenged him in discussion. No one could ever confuse this show with commercial radio (and that is meant a compliment). "The Great Canadian Talk Show" and KICK fm provided the best election coverage on the radio dial. This is a great way to get future broadcasters prepared to enter the real world.
The interviews were alway top notch and with candidates and politicians of all political stripes participating and returning. If they were offended or upset then they never let on either on the show or on other media. Mr. Gold treated all his guests with respect and allowed them to air their views as well as engaging the community at large. The entire GCTS team had a well researched show where the listener was encouraged to their own research.
The show also provided a platform for groups as diverse as McDonald Youth Services and Canadian Blood Services to let the listener know what was going on with their efforts. This was valuable community service.
Judging from the shows many sponsors, it seems that the community agreed. The focus on local sports and personalites was welcome as well.
In the post on the website it is stated that the station would like to re-focus on the role as an instructional resource.
That is a great goal but it has already been accomplished some time ago. I was listening last Monday when the Cre-Comm students were running the show and thought they did a great job. Other shows like the morning programming have always seem to be run by students as well as a good portion of the evening programming, and weekend programming. During the day students do news and sports updates. The station has been a training ground for as long as I've been listening.
That being said, KICK FM is also on the public airwaves. You can receive this station from St. Norbert to almost as far as Selkirk. Just by being there then KICK is competing with commercial radio. That means there are listeners and that means criticism. KICK FM is not playing in a sandbox by itself. From the post on KICK's website, listener concerns are not valid. I disagree. How can RRCC be training students for the real world using a real transmitter broadcasting for a nearly 30 mile radius with a potential audience of nearly 700 000 people (and how many millions more by streaming audio) and say listeners do not matter. How are these students going to know what they are doing right or what they are doing wrong? Having a radio transmitter and internet stream is a responsibility and listeners come as part of the package.

On KICK I can hear radio like no other, music by local artists, points of view by local young broadcasters. Even the programs I don't like have a place on KICK, if the purpose is training, but then they also have to be able to take criticism and be aware of their responsibility to the listening public.

If the popularity of GCTS is anything to go by then the students were doing everything right and on commercial radio you would never pull a popular program that had real sponsors and real listening audience. A program that got to speak with a good portion of city council, the mayor, mayoral candidates, politicians on all sides, MPI spokespeople and that was just the surface. How could students not learn from this?
I am also a Red River College alumni (Med Lab 1996) and valued the time there. Our program offered hands on experience in a real high volume hospital lab where what we did mattered to peoples lives. If that responsibility is too much for the Cre-Comm program then let the students play in the sandbox and give the frequency to a broadcaster (commercial or community) that can handle it.
In the post on the website the focus is to be on student programming. Yesterday in the 4pm slot I listened to part of something called "Bad Buddha Radio". I hope that the trend of KICK FM is not to replace local programming with canned American podcasts of quasi religous satire where apparently all issues are solved by "dealing with them".
Will I stop listening to KICK? To be honest, I enjoy the music during the day (more Winnipeg content than anyone else!) , I like the local programs that focus on local artists like "Beer for Breakfast" and "Homespun". I like to support the home team when I can.
Like any other consumer in the market, I'll keep using the product until it no longer serves my need. But without listeners, what point is there to the station?
John H.
JOIN THE SUPPORT GROUP - remember, You Have The Power.

Red River College Kills Free speech on 92.9 Kick FM



UPDATE: KICK-FM received this e-mail on Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 10:39am:

In light of the college’s shift away from non-student programming, we’ve decided to move Stop the Presses to our website and live-stream it going forward. We’d like to create a more interactive show, with an embedded Cover it Live chat console.

Thank you for the opportunity to launch our show on Kick FM.

Deputy Editor Online
Winnipeg Free Press

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