What's that? The out-of-Africa, get-rich-quick scheme is a fraud? NPR isn't endangered? Paul Gardener is the name of Jared Leto's character in Urban Legend? It's sad that you know that, it really is. But I'm still right about this KKFI thing. I've got some friends at record labels, and they told me that the station's music director, a crusty throwback punker who goes by Brit Schitt, called and informed them of the impending format change. Or at least he called some other label, which called and told them. The music industry is pretty tight-knit; it doesn't take much time for these rumors to spread.
Here's Brit now -- he'll back me up. Odd that he wouldn't be at the station like he usually is at this time. They've probably got him running over to the Christian bookstore to pick up that new Hymns Gone Hardcore compilation.
Hey, Brit, peace be with you, my brother. What? It was all a joke? You resigned last week? Well, yeah, I guess if you only told people who sent out "shitty records," that's not too bad. And yeah, if they let you keep your Season of Our Discontent show Tuesday nights at 10:30, there must be no hard feelings. Whew, boy, is my face red. So, sorry, there's no reason to believe that KKFI is weighing requests from Christian organizations, and ... yes, Brit, go ahead ... you've heard that the Covenant radio network has been snooping around? Are you serious? "The current management will be the death of KKFI?" Hmm, you sound serious.
Well, let's get to the bottom of this. C'mon, I'll call over to KKFI. No, this won't be like the time I made you forward those thousands of messages for that bogus "Microsoft test run." We're really onto something here. Hello, Kathleen Kraushaar, director of sales and marketing? Shh, I'll put her on speakerphone.
"Brit, our alleged music director, spread some rumors as a vindictive going-away present."
Kathleen, isn't it a bit odd that KKFI is letting Brit keep his show if this stunt was indeed "vindictive"?
"We're overly nice here. People can just trash us right and left and we just let them. [Laughter.] Corporate America would slash and burn everybody, but we try to accommodate."
Is General Manager Robert Barrientos available? Thank you. All right, quick, while I'm on hold, this is what Brit told me about Robert: "His vision is one of a bland, white-bread KCUR clone. He knows nothing of the music, the subculture the station should cater to or the people that make up the station's decreasing listening."
Robert? Robert, what do you think of Brit's behavior?
"I trust him when he says it was just a joke. I wish he hadn't done that, but what do you do? It shows you how much we are being serviced by labels compared to two or three years ago, when hardly anyone knew us, and that's Brit's legacy. He got us to start reporting and established a rapport with the labels."
Do you have a replacement yet?
"Yes, John Jessup. He's not officially the program director, but he'll work with volunteers, train them, and help us to attract and sustain listeners. He's been in the business for more than 25 years, and he's the president of the local American Federation of Television and Radio Artists chapter."
The John Jessup? The former Royals stadium announcer? The man billed as "farmer" in the CBS miniseries Murder Ordained and listed alongside TV-movie titan Brian Dennehy in Burden of Proof? The coproducer of the late, lamented Kansas City International Jazz Festival? Sweet. Well, sounds like everything worked out well. Oh, just one last thing -- Brit mentioned the Covenant network. Is there anything we should know?
"We do get quite a few offers. Covenant called recently, and the Coventry network called in late 2002. The board has always said no immediately. They're determined to keep the station independent."
OK, so all we need to do is call a board member, and he'll say "we're not for sale," and this urban legend will be gone for good. Let's get Jim Olenick on the line. Jim, have you talked to any organization whose name begins with Coven lately? And Brit says there are some legal limitations that would make it difficult to transfer the station even if you were interested -- is that true?
"We're contacted probably every quarter by Christian right-wing broadcasters to see if we want to open negotiations. The license is subject to approval by the FCC. If we were to consider to transfer it to someone else, then you have to involve the nonprofit corporation stuff in Missouri. We haven't looked into that and don't want to look into it."
Well, there you have it. KKFI just says no to its Christian suitors, and it's not even considering a transfer, so everyone can rest easy and ... wait, Jim, you've got more? I'm sorry, please continue.
"There is a reality situation staring this radio station in the face. Our license is up for renewal within the next two to three years, and we have to be on firm financial footing. We have to have decent ratings, which means reaching more than 25,000 listeners a week, and we have to show that we're in a growth mode and ready to move into digital broadcasting for the FCC to renew our license. When it comes up for renewal, there is no buying or selling. The FCC says you had it, you didn't do well, now they've got it. That's the reality of KKFI. The light at the end of the tunnel isn't green at this point, and people need to be aware of that."
Man, that's pretty severe. I don't even want to think about that. Let's change the subject. Hey, did you hear that Mark Reynolds once fucked a goat?