Monday, October 13, 2003

Leadership & funding. Gotta have it, but, how do you do it in a way that works for a group that is, by nature Anarchistic in nature? And, almost always, volunteer to boot? There's certainly no money to PAY anyone in a pirate operation (at least none that I've ever seen).

We also have the added issue of KGNU, the local public radio station in Boulder. They live off of donations, and are NOT NPR affiliated (which is a most cool thing). IMHO, they're the best public radio station in the country. So, you can't really do fund raising without taking away from them (at least to some degree).

We've tried a few things, but on leadership we've found that the benevolent dictatorship works the best. The key word here is BENEVOLENT. And this really ONLY works with small (a few dozen, at most) people in a group. One person has to be in charge and they MUST listen to and be sensitive to all the other members wants and needs (and responsive to them). If they aren't it simply won't work. Volunteers just do not stick around for someone who's a simple dictator doing whatever he/she wants. The person in charge has to create a sort of platform that allows the members of the group free expression. Some rules, but very very few are needed. Ours are: show up for the monthly meeting, pay your monthly dues, no drugs, no guns and no one under 18 in the studio. That's pretty much it. He/she must also be completely and totally fair in everything. Even one slip in this area undermines the benevolent part and leaves just the dictator at the helm. He/she has to be moderator, mediator, judge, friend, confidant, mentor, and sometimes parent. It's not easy and there are times he/she will want to say screw it, I'll just do this alone or with a couple of close friends. That does work but it disengages you from the community and limits what you do with the platform. It now becomes a sort of plaything for the guy running it and reflects, pretty much, just what he wants it to. That's OK, but it's not pirate radio. It's vanity radio.

Regarding funding, if you set your operation up to be low cost (really low cost) you can usually self fund it from the staff paying minimal dues. We pay $25 a month per DJ/member. This covers our rent, phone, internet access and utilities. If we can do this in Boulder (one of the most expensive places around to live with cost of living prices similar to Northern CA.) it's something anyone should be able to do anywhere else in the country.

We suppliment that with selling T-shirts. Although we have problems with DJ's giving them away a bit too much (pretty much killing any profit) eventually we'll get that formula down. Then we'll add coffee mugs. ;-)

Monk@kbfr.org

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