Wednesday, November 10, 2010

So long, and thanks for listening.

Sometimes you meet a person who's one thing to strangers and another thing to friends. Marty Gold was one such person. On air, he went overboard to express emotions that many citizens often feel: rage and frustration. Off the air, he was a friend to every student who helped with his show. He asked about our course load, offered help where he could, and was excited to help us learn how to operate the sound board. He frequently asked me if I had any classmates who wanted to learn, or if there was any way he could help us with our studies of radio.

At first, I was deeply alarmed when I worked for his talk show. He said a lot of things I strongly disagreed with, in ways that seemed rude and exaggerated to me. But many of those he spoke out so fiercely against were invited onto his show and did attend - Mayor Sam Katz being the most notable one. Watching Katz and Marty joke around off-air was encouraging; it reinforced to my mind that the anger was "just for show" and that Marty would welcome even those who called to tell him he was outright wrong - just as long as he knew people were thinking about civic issues and starting to be more aware of what goes on in their city.

The accusation that there was no student involvement in his show alarms me. No students were asked if they were involved in his show. One of my classmates would have shown up to operate the soundboard for Tuesday's show, had she not found out via TWITTER that it had been cancelled. The first-year students who opped for his show weren't asked or told about the cancellation, either. Another classmate who often appeared as a student commentator on his show wasn't told either. And I, volunteer news director for the station, was not consulted.

I've been told that Marty's spot took up a convenient time for students. And even though most classes end at 5pm and his show went from 4 to 5:30pm, I'll agree that some classes end earlier and so that statement is valid. But Marty did provide opportunities for students - students who went on to have their own shows and to teach others, like I did. Students who weren't consulted before a decision was made.

As a longtime volunteer for KICK FM, and a PR student, I feel that we volunteers are an important internal audience who should have been given a voice. And I also feel sad for Marty - at the end of the day, he's a person with feelings too, and he genuinely did want to help any student who wanted to learn about radio. I feel that he is a loss to the college's radio station.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion of his show - there are days that I changed the station while he was broadcasting, too, if I didn't see eye-to-eye with him on a topic. But looking beyond that to the advertising he brought in for the station, the live-remote broadcasts he did that I assisted on, and his interest in helping students, I see opportunities lost.


  1. Amen, sister.

    I wish that I would have had more time to work with Marty. I agree with everything you said.

    When I emailed Marty at the beginning of the summer and espressed interest about working the soundboard, he emailed me back almost immediately. He wanted me to get started right away, and also wanted to know about the book I'm writing for my IPP.

    If I remember correctly, his response was something to the effect of "I would love to have you working with us, and I would like to do whatever I can to help you with your writing project." I remember being so impressed with that response that I knew I wanted to work with him as soon as possible.

    It's an unfortunate situation. I found out about it on Facebook.

  2. It's such a loss for the whole college- he was so accomodating and very friendly to all students. I just had the opportunity to be in the 'back scenes' during his show for a couple of times to observe. If I had more time then, I could've jumped in and join the team.

    He brought balance into some of the issues in the sense that he was the outspoken one, and taking the voice of those who were often unheard and left in the dark.

    I learned about it through Facebook, too- so sad and it's just not right for you guys who have been working so hard in running the show.

  3. Such a misstep not to ask long-time student volunteers for their opinion given that the termination was done because there was "no student involvement" in the show. Even worse -- volunteers had to find out through Twitter!

    Put aside all the lessons we learned in PR about internal communication -- what about just basic courtesy?

    Sorry to hear about all this.

  4. To be fair, both the college and Marty could learn valuable PR lessons from this debacle.

    The way that the college initially handled the situation and has handled the small public outcry is less than impressive. Clearly, hearing from students, the college/board didn't do their homework and investigate what Marty's impact was on students.

    Personally, I was on the fence with Marty - sometimes he was on, but most times I couldn't help but shake my head at the things he said. BUT, if he was a valuable resource for students, and if that comes from the mouths of students themselves, I would like to see the college acknowledge that and weigh what the students have to say fairly and openly.

    However, the way Marty has gone on the offensive this week has been anything but admirable. Yes, I get it- he's mad, his listeners are mad. But plead your case behind the scenes, don't come out guns blazing at the only place that gave you airtime to begin with (not counting his stint at CJOB) is hardly tactful.

    This isn't a free speech issue - if Marty thinks that, he's free to go broadcast in China.

    The college pays for the station, thus controls its content. Clearly something big enough happened to yank Marty off the air immediately instead of transitioning him out. Possibly something legal? I don't blame people for feeling like the college is hiding something, but it's absurd to believe the provincial government had anything to do with it.

    Thanks Danielle. Throughout the last week, your blog post is the only one I've read on this subject that was rational and well thought out, instead of knee-jerk reactionary from his supporters crying foul and teetering dangerously close to slander.

  5. his entire situation is disgraceful. And I applaud you Danielle for airing the thoughts of many of your peers.

    And to TJ - in many ways you make valid points. However, I think to call Marty's handling of the situation but appropriate is unusual. Given that his "public voice" has been so boldly taken away without notice - and given the outcry as a result - I think he's been very tame.

    A loss for us all. And a shameful example of knee-jerk toadyism from RRC. I am almost embarrassed to call myself a graduate of an instituition that would bow to pressure from "on high" to silence a voice critical of the system.


  6. TJ - Red River is constantly changing it's story, how can you believe that whatever 'reasons' they have isn't covering something up?

    I have been in contact with Mr Thomson and at first he said they wanted the students to have the prime time slot.

    Ok, then why didn't they move Marty's show?
    And when I questioned whether it was prime time or not it no one tuned in anymore because they were tuning in for Marty's show Thomson said that the number of listeners didn't matter that it could be zero and it wouldn't matter....

    ...what? Didn't you just say you wanted them to have the prime time slot specifically, that statement imply you want listeners?

    So I ask it if was just about experience why weren't students consulted? Why was the valuable experience that has helped students achieve success (Illegal Curve) taken into consideration. Students were learning a lot on Marty's show.

    If it was specifically about air time why couldn't students go on Marty's show more often for part of the show or even run their own show at a different time of day since number of listeners didn't matter?

    If it was about airtime wouldn't they have had students in there on Monday running their new show? This would have been planned and a student show would have been waiting for the available time slot....but no one was because this wasn't a planned decision.

    If this was a part of a review of the stations programs as they said they would have planned this and made all changes at the same time rather than "start with The Great Canadian Talk Show," as they say and then leave it without programming for several days looking for a replacement.

    So if it's not about the listeners and it's not about the experience or air time and it certainly wasn't a part of a "review" as they claim what is it really about?

    It was about someone having an issue with what Marty was saying, it was censorship plain and simple. All Marty was saying on his show was what local issues there were an his take on them and providing us with important information we would not have otherwise known about.

    I don't buy into conspiracy theories but something here is seriously wrong and we need real answers not cookie cutter lines. We will demand real answers and keep demanding until we get them.

  7. I am sad that his show is canceled I have listening to it for years!