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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Super Carole is dismantling KBPS

We have precious little personal contact with the Portland public schools, but we do like to listen to their radio station, KBPS 1450-AM, in the car. During the day, they play music for kids, but after school and on weekends it's an excellent oldies station. From time to time, student announcers break in -- some polished, some not so -- from studios at Benson High. Apparently, they learn a lot about broadcasting, and life, and some of them wind up with actual jobs in radio after they graduate, usually after taking some additional courses at Mount Hood Community College.

This week comes the unfortunate news that the school district is laying off the general manager of the station, Bill Cooper, apparently leaving it to be run on a part-time basis by staffers whose main focus will be elsewhere. The bean counters who are leading this charge don't understand what it takes to run an actual broadcast station. Without adequate adult staffing, KBPS is going to suffer, both as something to listen to and as a training ground for Portland students. It's a penny-wise, pound-foolish move on the school bureaucrats' part, but ain't that the Portland school board way?

Comments (15)

Benson High School was one THE original magnet school for Portland. Students competed from all over the city to be admitted and it was a sign of prestige if you were a Benson student. You could tell a former Benson student if you were in another class with them such as at PCC, They always address an instructor as Sir or Ma'am.

Simon Benson -- you created quite a legacy and for a long time it worked. Now you and your school can both rest in peace.

Thanks for the kind words Jack. Its heartbreaking to think this resource that has been on the air in Portland for 89 years (since March 23, 1923) will be in danger of going away. Unless the manager's position is saved that is a very real possibility. As personally devastating as it is for me to be losing my job, but overriding concern is for KBPS. Any and all community support in the form of emails and phone calls to the superintendent and school board members is appreciated. Once again, thanks Jack for your support.

Carole Smith's dismantling of Benson is educational malpractice. Under Smith, PPS has seen great programs gutted, good programs starved, and failing programs propped up. All in the name of the ever elusive Equity Unicorn.

She has overseen a systematic dismantling of Benson’s top vo-tech program in order to stop the flow of students out of Madison, Jefferson, and Roosevelt.

Benson’s 81% graduation rate is second only to Lincoln, and is the only high school to graduate more blacks and Hispanics than white students.

Yet to meet unattainable target enrollments at poorly performing neighborhood schools, PPS is turning away close to 200 freshman from Benson, and has cut engineering and computer engineering programs.

Carole Smith really must go. Voters will never approve another tax until she is gone.

I first met Bill in the early 1970s when we were both students at MHCC, right out of high school. He already had an immaculate and impressive record collection at that time and was already spending time at KGW. If PPS lets him go, they will be losing a local guy with decades of experience in the broadcasting industry and an individual with enthusiasm and knowledge that cannot be easily replaced; certainly not be a couple of part-time folks for whom this is not a passion.

As a member of the Class of 1977 from Benson I weep school.

I can remember KBPS clear back when I was a kid....40s-50s. Strikes me as a perfect opportunity for one or more commercial radio groups here in town to set up a foundation to sustain KPBS, and then enlist volunteers from their staffs to run/supervise/maintain the station and mentor the students.

Alpha Broadcasting?....Pamplin?....KEX?...now's your chance. Can't miss.....it's for the children....for real.

Garage Wine:
Benson’s 81% graduation rate is second only to Lincoln, and is the only high school to graduate more blacks and Hispanics than white students.

Well, Carole will make sure THAT doesn't happen again!

KBPS alum Dan Eilers asked that his thoughts about the move to eliminate the KBPS manager position be posted here they are:

"I was shocked to hear that a decision had been made to eliminate the position of KBPS General Manager due to some potential re-prioritization within the Portland Public School system. Losing the manager puts the future of the radio station at risk. KBPS is a tremendous asset to the school district--one which I consider as having been critical to my educational and business success.

As a product of Portland Public Schools (Oliver P. Lent grade school, John Marshall High School) I view my part-time involvement at KBPS as possibly the single most formative element in those12 years of education. And the coaching on life as well as broadcasting from general manager Patricia Swensen was more important to my life successes than any single teacher, coach or counselor in those 12 years.

Allow me to briefly tell you my story.

Since graduating from high school in Portland in 1973 I earned a bachelors degree from University of Washington and an MBA degree from Stanford University. I put myself through school working in radio and television--my parents did not have the resources to pay for college for me. After Stanford I held several executive positions at Apple Computer (the top position was senior vice president of worldwide marketing--the chief marketing officer of the company) and, after that, CEO of three high technology companies in Silicon Valley. For the past 12 years I've been a managing director of a venture capital firm where I sit on boards of directors of start-up companies helping them to blossom into successful larger companies.

I credit KBPS including such hands on folks as Daryl Conser at that time with developing my communication skills, a love for technology as I learned the engineering side of radio, and, as mentioned, with enabling me to attend college. My father was a truck driver, my mother a stay at home mom, and I had to find a way to pay for my own education after high school. In my senior year of high school, thanks to training at KBPS, I was afternoon drive-time news anchor for KGW radio in Portland--at age 17. I was featured in a big article in the Oregon Journal (the afternoon daily in those days) as a remarkable young talent--all thanks to KBPS. KGW became a connection to KING in Seattle which owned KGW, and I was able to work in radio in Seattle while attending college. I then moved into television in Seattle as a field reporter initially and later an anchor. At age 27 I decided to go back to school for a graduate degree at Stanford with the intent of moving into the business side of broadcasting--again, something I could not have afforded without the savings from my time in Seattle broadcasting. As it turned out I fell in love with Apple's technology and never returned to broadcasting.

As is clear from the above history, KBPS was pivotal in my success. I'm sure that has been true for thousands of students in the past decades. I know I wouldn't be where I am had it not been for that radio station and the supportive people there. Don't let it disappear!"

Dan Eilers
Managing Director
Vanguard Ventures

So how many are willing to ante up for a school levy that might include saving it?

Mark, your nickname should be Stradivarius, because the politicians in this town play you like a fiddle.

I guess you could not fine tune my sarcasm. But I heard crickets.

Now, that's the Mark I know.

Don't blame Carole for the sins of the past. We all know the elephant in the room is pers and there's no stopping that freight train for at least another 30 years.

I would venture to guess, there are many graduates who could be tapped to set up a foundation that would be able to either buy the school or operate it as a Charter School, but that will never happen because the intent is force Benson to fail as a learning institution, not to just let it wither away. It seems that Carol finds no value in those who excel in a learning environment that includes the "trades" and I will bet holds front line - in he mind "uneducated" - workers in contemp, rather than respect them for having abilities she will never posess or understand.

Sorry to hear about the position being cut. It is likely the first step in dismantling the whole thing I hate to say. I too remember when Benson was actually a great vocational school.

I also remember when Jantzen actually made their swimwear next to Benson. I guess PPS thinks every student is going to end up working as a city planner or a diversity coordinator, not actually working with his/her hands.

IMHO, KBPS is the best station in town not including the local jazz station on the FM dial.

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