Date: Dec 3rd, 2009 5:03:52 am - Subscribe
Moving on from Harborough FM
To various people who had enquired about why I had left the radio station I was involved with, I had indicated that at some point I would tell the story - not that it is very exciting.
It would appear that media people, radio in this case, are just as motivated by self interest as in any other business even when using the community resource banner as a promotional tool.
From my perspective I moved on because I found a number of people to be dishonest, spiteful and unable to admit to errors of judgement.
I daresay they might say the same about me (and I believe that the initial justification of turning against me was to perpetuate one or several myths), however I am fortunate in that I know that my integrity is valued by other colleagues who have had my support over many more years than the wholehearted 16 months or so I was able to give to my home town radio station.
I am also fortunate in that I have been able to investigate the creation of a different set up elsewhere.
Regardless of whether that proves to be successful or not by other people’s measures it has already enabled me to show that community activities can be inclusive of all - this might create other issues, but hey that’s life!
(Actually, and with the benefit of hindsight, it has all done me a bit of a favour and I have had several much more interesting situations to deal with - those stories will have to wait for another day)
So what was it all about (you might ask)?
To be honest I really have no idea.
I suspect, however, that it was about control and influence.
About having people do as they were told without question.
Probably having intelligent experienced people suggesting that it is important to get facts correct and treat people with respect and consistency proved to be an inconvenience too far.
By not immersing myself 24/7 into the spin doctoring that everything is marvellous all of the time and observing that you earn respect through actions rather than by demanding it, I inevitably was going to end up on a crash course with those who might sell their grandmother to make a quick profit!
Possibly a future vision for local radio I expressed on training courses was not what was wanted.
And it was probably about money too!
OK, I am not perfect, but I have always been prepared to admit that.
If I do wrong I try to put things right.
If I am asked to do something and I say that I will, then it will get done.
If I am asked to provide something that I cannot then I will admit that rather than try to sustain an unsupportable stance.
Unfortunately I can’t say the same of those I had to deal with.
I have been on the receiving end of several unsubstantiated accusations for which I have been given no opportunity to defend my position.
In attempting to do so, and knowing the consequences of doing so, it has been interesting to observe untruths that have been further perpetuated and also the little bits of subsequent pettiness.
Sadly I had realised right from the off that nothing I could say or do would make any difference.
My show, the SRD Rock Radio Show, was removed from the website scheduling lists before I had been told of any decisions, and I was removed from the regular communication circular.
(I was later told independently that in a group meeting other presenters had been informed that I had done things - although no evidence has ever been presented to me.)
It was also interesting to note that that during my efforts to communicate and find an agreeable way forward (a compromise if you like) the story was changing along the way.
In closing the chapter and providing the simple courtesy of writing to confirm the situation from my perspective I have had no response.
I think that spoke volumes and endorsed what I had always believed - it didn’t matter about what was supposed to have happened, it was about sweeping things under the carpet.
I actually feel sorry for them.
My experience has served to reinforce much of the external perception of how the radio station is operated from people I have known for many years who live in the area. Those were perceptions that I had been working hard to try and alleviate through my involvement.
Without wishing to offend any honest second hand car dealers, the way things are run at the “community” radio station have been viewed by inhabitants of the community as little different to what had gone before with a local car dealership.
I have heard the following comments made about the people I tried (unsuccessfully) to reason with -
“What did you expect?
“Once a crook, always a crook”
“Harborough community radio? They’re all from Leicester!”
“It’ll only be about the money!”
Much of that perception may not be fair (for example many of the team are from areas such as Corby or Wellingborough), but I do know that my experience of trying to receive money owed to me was protracted.
I also know that the petty vindictiveness I have experienced has surprised me too.
My involvement was very quickly airbrushed away from the station website. I have already mentioned above the rapid schedule changes.
In identifying this had happened before there had been any engagement with myself, first of all there were denials but then this was obviously seen as irrelevant.
Access to the link below was also removed from the public domain very quickly, as clearly it no longer supported references to the regular schedule.
I had offered much compromise, indeed I was quite happy to step away and make things easy but I had hoped that there would be some genuine acknowledgement of things that may have been misjudged.
That did not happen.
It seemed that once minds were made up that was it.
In recognising that matters had been pre judged and concluded to a predetermined choice with great effort to shut it down swiftly. I chose to have a little sport.
The initial claim that things “would be done properly” very soon turned into frustration when it became obvious that I didn’t believe them.
My request for appropriate evidence of the accusations being made and how this had been communicated also created frustration.
As did my request to understand why they were ignoring the facts that I had made (accepted) suggestions for improvement that they were now saying they wanted to reprimand me for.
In extending the timeframe of the “case” beyond that which they had attempted to close down rapidly, I did offer several suggestions by which this could be achieved.
I wanted to see if those opportunities might be taken.
I decided that even though I could provide sufficient proof to substantiate my claim that money (reimbursement of costs) had been promised to me, I would give them every opportunity to reach agreement without me having to resort to the “Small Claims Court”.
Once again my suggestions of compromise were ignored.
The upshot of this situation is ironic.
In wanting to deal matters too quickly they had managed to box themselves into a corner.
Firstly, they ended up spending significantly more time on things than they had set out to, and secondly, the cost of that time must have been massively disproportionate to both the original amount owed and then even more so than the amount I would have accepted anyway.
By July 2009 (don’t forget this all started in June 2008!), when faced with the County Court over the non payment of money promised (and then denied), the mediating officer reported to me that they “just wanted things over and done with”.
A cheque arrived in the post two days later (with no acknowledgement) and probably they congratulated themselves that they had got off lightly because I did not insist upon full payment.
This was some 12 months after I had offered a compromise agreement with no payment needed to me!
Whether the donation to charity (part of the originally suggested compromise) that they had said they would make was ever paid I will leave to your imagination…………
Where are we now?
As far as I am concerned I had moved on when I realised that I was not dealing with people with integrity - June 11th 2008 - having been summoned to a meeting of which I had no prior knowledge, where I was insulted and accused of things that were not true.
After that date my actions were solely to prove to myself that my judgement was sound (seeing if a genuine complaint would see questioning of independent witnesses to verify events, asking for evidence to support accusations made, offering a compromise agreement etc.) in having come to that conclusion.
Further evidence of this was quite recent.
Somebody asked me if I had noticed that a link in the website photo gallery had been removed.
(This one - harboroughfm.co.uk/gallery/IanFrasermeetsBlazeBayley.htm)
I hadn’t, but it further illustrates the petty nature of those I fortunately do not have to deal with any more (see if you can find it from the “gallery” itself harboroughfm.co.uk/gallery - it would have been May 2008!).
I wonder if (and when) these two pages I have posted links to now will be removed completely rather than just “hidden” as they are currently.
As I have stated before, I wanted a local radio station to be successful.
If I am honest I would like to still be involved.
Having said that, I have never been prepared to stand by and turn a blind eye to things I believe to be wrong or sell my soul for personal gain as a consequence.
Therefore my brief involvement is something that will remain as an enjoyable interlude even if it ended with a sour taste.
As ever, I am happy to discuss any aspect of my commentary with anyone willing to engage in debate.
Just send me an email at email@example.com
I respect your freedom to hold an opinion even if it differs to my own, and thank you to the many people who have affirmed that sometimes it is correct to stand up to autocratic despots
And if anybody is still interested at this point, a lot of grief could have been saved if I had been given a fairly simple apology for the false allegations made…..
Beyond the CRUNCH
Date: Apr 3rd, 2009 5:31:06 am - Subscribe
Once more we enter a period of uncertainty and discomfort.
What did YOU do to cause it?
As I have sat back and watched the events in the financial markets unfold, I am reminded of the time (almost five years ago to the day) that colleagues of mine were made redundant in a period that was supposed to be at the heart of the good times.
Everything was on the way up, house prices were rising, business was expanding, all things were affordable.
Why redundancies then, of all times?
Inevitably these situations relate to egos.
As I recall it, my team were a buffer, control, constraint against the gung ho “do away with all manual controls and overview” brigade.
“Let systems manage the risk” they cried.
Various system weaknesses were, and had been, identified over several months and years.
A mature business will have anomalies that cannot be systemised perhaps without disproportionate investment.
Some of these may not have been profitable in a strict monetary case by case comparison but maybe represented the ethics of an organisation that wasn’t solely driven by larger and larger profits.
If something (a methodology in this case) isn’t broken, why change it?
“Automation makes things quicker and easier,” is the response.
(It also diminishes robust protection of risks and controls.)
Anyway, to get back to the point, the controls team after a management reshuffle ended up being managed by one of the “everything old is rubbish, everything new is brilliant” mob.
Similar to a “poacher” managing a gamekeeper, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
To stop all the system failures being highlighted the obvious solution was to do away with those who knew how to find them.
Amazingly, the problems disappeared like a thief into the night……
Justification was that boom and bust cycles had been confined to history.
New markets allowed “smoothing” of short term cash flow management (wholesale funding).
Why pay people to suggest this might not be the case?
“Show us the smoking ruins” was a memorable pronouncement!
Have you seen enough yet?
The man who signed off the redundancies trousered a hefty short term bonus for reducing staffing costs within the financial year (redundancy pay outs being transferred to a different pot).
The guy who suggested it received a promotion.
The motivation behind it all?
The right thing to do? Perhaps history will show otherwise.
On a small scale this may not have created the current crises, but multiply this arrogance across many departments across many large financial organisations and you can start to see why (with so many egos competing for more and more theoretical successes) it has all gone wrong.
What did I do to try and stop it?
I am still here.
I reported the corruption behind the management decisions behind choosing to make the original people redundant (both senior managers responsible left within two years), once my colleagues had banked their money having all decided to take it.
I continue to remind people that remedial, retrenchment actions and decisions could have been taken many months before they were. I remind people that the system wasn’t broken before others tried to fix it (and provide the evidence to prove this has been pointed out several times over).
Does that make me feel better?
I think about all those who have lost their jobs or homes because of corporate greed and avarice ruining small businesses and decimating communities.
I think about how the children of my generation will still be paying for the mistakes of today when they have children of their own.
Although I am a lucky one (at the moment) should I, could I, have done more?
I was appalled at the taunting of the protesters by city workers waving wads of money out of their office windows.
I do not agree or subscribe to the “rent a mob” crowd which invariably hi jacks peaceful protests, but even so that taunting epitomises all that is wrong in the banking world – no consideration for the greater good.
I hope the world recovers (it will take more than Mr Brown to save it).
I hope lessons from this recession are learned – they clearly weren’t from the early 1990’s.
If you would like to comment on this piece and contribute to a “credit crunch podcast” for Radio Lutterworth (www.radiolutterworth.co.uk), please email firstname.lastname@example.org who can arrange for recordings and credit crunch soundtracks.
Date: Dec 23rd, 2008 10:02:58 am - Subscribe
Well, well, well didn’t the “Uncomfortable Truths” blog throw up a lot of heated reaction?
My thanks to all who gave a response (especially those who chose to express disagreement) it is interesting to me that the general consensus was that it is worth standing up for what you believe to be correct – whatever the cost!
Probably for most that concept is to be admired until you have to make the choice, it is then that it becomes difficult.
Back to the responses.
I offered to meet with the most vociferous dissenter but have since heard nothing.
(If, however, my response did not reach you and you are reading this please contact me again and I can make sure you have a chance to consider further what I might have to say.)
To clarify why I might have chosen to use a public forum to air some views, it was only because it became obvious that despite my wish to thrash out the technical aspects of any disagreement this was not going to be possible. I had chosen not to embarrass anyone by making unfounded accusations (although I was subjected to that myself) but once the prosecutor, judge and jury were all obviously one and the same I had no other option to ensure that my side of things could be expressed in some way.
I might observe that it seems from HFM’s point of view any challenge to management’s version of events is not to be tolerated and then the issues can be swept away and closed down as soon as is possible.
I am quite pleased that I was able to continue some dialogue for several months, although this was only through one of the initial contacts.
It did not surprise me that the other party did not want further discussion.
I truly hope that Market Harborough’s radio station continues to develop in a positive way, I know it is not an easy task and financial prudency (i.e. running like a business) has to see the books balanced. Which is why I remain disappointed that the enthusiasm of (free) volunteers to try new things has not been utilised as much as it could have been.
I would still have that dialogue with the management because I do not have any problem with what they set out to do initially.
Sadly, I do not think they have the courage to face anyone who can express a point of view that might highlight potential weaknesses in anything they might be trying to do.
We shall see!
In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a cracking New Year!
Date: Nov 25th, 2008 7:25:20 am - Subscribe
Over recent months many people from around my local area have enquired as to why I no longer broadcast on the Community Radio Station, HFM, in Market Harborough.
I tell them the truth.
There was a difference of opinion and HFM’s management believe they have asked me not to contribute any longer.
So does this mean I was sacked?
To be sacked means that you must have had some sort of contract. It also means that you should have been told of a misdemeanour, warned against consequences of certain actions or have gone against specific instructions and probably given reasons why certain things were not allowable.
Any proper company would also have convened some kind of disciplinary process (including a right of appeal) to deal with matters.
Needless to say, none of this occurred - but I am not talking about me.
Despite what the HFM management might have suggested (if asked why one of the few presenters who actually lived in their broadcast area no longer contributes), it was my decision to leave them.
Once I had made that decision I will admit that I was potentially guilty of a degree of deliberate antagonism. This was knowingly done to see if various baits would be taken and also to test the honesty and integrity of statements I had been given.
The only sad part from my perspective is that many of the people I met and enjoyed the company of will never get to hear my version of events first hand.
The beginning of this sorry story of radio station management having an over inflated sense of self importance actually affected one of my colleagues at HFM.
To say he did not fit the mould of the projected bland “Cheese FM” (even though he produced on of the “specialist” programmes) is probably an understatement.
I liked him.
I understood he had more to offer than would ever be recognised by the very narrow view of the station, I knew he could achieve a great deal if allowed.
Like me he lived and worked in the community.
He made efforts to embrace the community by organising events and activities to be broadcast.
Each time he presented an idea he was faced with having to tolerate the management committee watering down proposals or delaying decision making, or changing the goalposts. His programme was very popular with listeners in a deathly slot (10pm to midnight) but the management never “got” it.
My support of this young man started when I recognised the surprising euphoria expressed by some members of “management” when they received a complaint against the show. To my fair minded nature the response was in excess of the rather childish and silly prank that had taken place.
Perhaps the warning signs were there when I heard the statement “next time he’ll be out!”
I was surprised, because even at that stage I was aware of issues that I considered demanded action where none had been taken.
Fast forward to May 2008.
You would think that a community organisation would embrace a charitable event and put significant weight behind it. Most reasonable thinking people would recognise that support for fund raising for an external charity has very positive connotations.
Being fair HFM did give over a 24 hour period to the event. Being critical, it did not give up any standard scheduling of advertising, was slow in confirming that the event would proceed and changed the nature of the original proposal that had been agreed.
Basically the impression from many external observers was that HFM’s management were not totally behind an event for which there was nothing in it for them (and we are talking money!).
Despite this, the volunteer team co-ordinated did a fantastic job and both the listeners and volunteers were enthused to the extent that most were asking if this was to be an annual fixture. Cancer Research UK benefited by over £2000.
There was fall out however.
One of the participants in the event did not endear himself to other members of the team. This may not have been entirely his fault as he had been levered into the event by the management. Ultimately though it culminated in a series of rants against how HFM was run, what the event was all about and threats to bring down the concept of the event (4 people working together) by walking out if he didn’t get his own way.
Sadly this was only confirming what had been anticipated.
It is fair to say that similar outbursts had been witnessed previously (in front of many more people - volunteers who freely give up their time). Again being fair, in the past the management had elicited apologies as a consequence, but a repetitive pattern of behaviour being tolerated (by management) alienates participants.
As a consequence, my friend and I had had enough really.
I have often resolved not to have anything to do with aggressive and/or bullying personalities that are tolerated by management.
I also resolved to test HFM’s management skills in understanding that the balance between voluntary and remunerated participants is a delicate one.
My friend chose to take a proactive approach, naïve and childish perhaps but no more. He was sacked and refused any right of appeal. Needless to say the punishment far outweighed the crime.
Prior to my awareness of my friend’s fate, I was accused of similar (without any presented evidence), and another matter (which had been dealt with anyway).
On the first point I requested the evidence (this never appeared), on the second point I challenged the insinuation - why was I being accused of not complying with a non specific and untimescaled instruction when I already had?
I decided to see whether there was any genuine interest from HFM’s management to do the right thing, and provided the means with which to address a more serious matter - a senior employee rubbishing the contribution and efforts of volunteers, and criticising and undermining the process of management.
It was the initial denial of awareness of any previous issues that made my decision for me - I don’t deal with people who engage in or tolerate bullying or victimisation of minorities (my friend).
Added to this was the supercilious lecture I had received regarding how I should treat broadcasting as a privilege that had been made available to me - I don’t like moral hypocrisy either.
From this point on I had withdrawn my services.
(At the supposed investigation of my formal complaint (for which the station has no documented process) none of the witnesses were questioned and no action was taken.)
I also decided to submit a request for expenses that I had incurred for which I had been promised an “arrangement” for reimbursement. This was a blatant challenge to see if verbal exchanges would be honoured and to see if the perceived (by members of the community) “money grubbing” reputation of certain elements of HFM’s management were deserved.
The response was not a surprise - it was this that stirred up an almost apoplectic denial of any agreement that I was due any expenses.
Despite the fact that HFM had not chosen to speak to me face to face (and indeed have actively avoided that engagement), I received a letter by recorded delivery saying my contribution was no longer required.
My conclusions from all of this?
1. HFM’s management do not want anybody to stand up to them
2. HFM’s management are cowards because they refused to engage in face to face dialogue
3. HFM’s management do not tell the truth
4. HFM’s management are not the pillar of the community they have set themselves up to be.
5. HFM’s management treat participants inconsistently and without proper procedure.
I have no axe to grind despite what may have been suggested, and I am not bitter. I treat what has happened to my colleague and I as something to be learned from and an opportunity to improve.
I want HFM to be successful but from what I have experienced I retain concerns over both it’s personnel practices and the long term viability of it’s operational “model” as a community resource.
Questions that people should ask of a community radio station might fall into the following categories:
1. What proportion of the team live within the community catchment? (less than 75% might raise questions of whether it is truly local)
2. How many local independent traders advertise and what proportion of major advertisers fall outside the local catchment?
3. How much programming comes live from local events such as local school concerts, sports commentary, and other community groups?
4. What fundraising is actively supported by the radio station for causes other than station revenue? Does the station support local charities and make donations of any kind?
5. What membership activity is promoted so that people are able to join this community group and have input into it’s operational strategy?
Unfortunately, if I am asked about whether it is worth spending money with HFM I now have to say “No”. If I am asked whether or not my experience suggests that HFM will become as established and valued as, for example, the Harborough Mail I would also have to say “No”.
My observation is that HFM has not evolved as it could have. I am pleased it is successful because of my interest in radio and the community, but I think it could achieve so much more.
Maybe I am being naïve but I have taken the opportunity to move on and test an alternative venture at Radio Lutterworth against the criteria above.
So far the community focussed idealism has proven an intoxicating attraction for volunteers and advertisers alike. I sincerely hope the policy of inclusion aligned with the original aspirations of Frank Davis (Radio Lutterworth’s founder) prove successful and will be channelling my energies in that direction for the foreseeable future.
If anybody wishes to join us at Radio Lutterworth, you can contact me email@example.com for more details, or look at the Radio Lutterworth website http://www.radiolutterworth.co.uk
(And if you wish to commiserate with my sad experiences at HFM let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org) or add a comment below.
Playlists from September 4th & 8th 2008
Date: Sep 9th, 2008 2:33:51 pm - Subscribe
Would it be beneficial to be a Werewolf? “New Music Monday” goes Progressive…..
Radio Lutterworth 97.5 FM is proving very popular by all accounts and has very much appealed to a much younger audience than many current typical radio stations (at http://www.radiolutterworth.co.uk
The SRD Rock Radio Show is filling the 10 pm to midnight slots for Mondays and Thursdays for the current RSL running up to September 9th 2008.
Tom Lathom continued to join me on Thursdays with Deborah De Vries joining me a couple of times on Mondays.
Instead of the kamikaze deer the previous Thursday, it had almost been a debate around the existence (or otherwise) of werewolves. The intention had been to consider whether this was mythology or reality but beyond asking the question of if there would be any benefits over normal homo sapiens, we had to contend with Tom’s friend Raoul, howling and pitching for a female werewolf to accompany him home…(!!!). Responses to the Q were quite entertaining nevertheless and can be viewed below….
Monday night was introduced as being the “Prog Rock” programme with some thought going into which (older) tracks could be mixed in with some newer ones that suggest there is an upsurge in the popularity of “Prog” (and are less than 10 minutes long…..)
The question was -
"What would be the benefits of being a Werewolf?"
earth_chylde2002 - Not having to shaveRevenge lmao
Maz – Speed, strength and more endurance!!!
Mingu – Definitely the parties!!!
leev211 - being practically immortal would be one as long as you keep away from the silverware
Artemis - Super human strength & immediate warm furry coat in cold weather.
Alan C - Waking up naked after a good night at Regents Park zoo with a load of "Mates" sounds like fun, the downside is sitting on the rooftop in the pouring rain howling at the moon. (Ask my wife, she has to put up with it)
Courtney Michelle <3 - You can rip someone's throat out without getting your **hands** dirty.
Trofim L - Contrary to popular belief, being a werewolf has no benefits. NO, you won't live longer. NO, you won't be stronger than a normal man or normal wolf. NO, you won't heal from any injury provided it's not made by silver. Whereas YES, you might end up killing your loved ones.
Auld Git - One benefit is in being able to get the freshest blood for making black pudding.
Again the two playlists from the traditional Thursday show, and the “new music Monday” version.
Despite the credit crunch, the premier Rock show in South East Leicestershire continues to roll....
4th September 2008
Deep Purple - Perfect Strangers
Deep Purple - Strange Kind Of Woman
Led Zeppelin - Heartbreaker
Van Halen - Hot For Teacher
Def Leppard - Ride Into The Sun
Queensryche - Take Hold Of The Flame
Alice Cooper - Elected
Opeth - Porcelain Heart
The Pineapple Thief - My Bleeding Hand
Rolling Stones - Shattered
Anything But Monday - School’s Out (www.myspace.com/anythingbutmonday)
Tesla - Street Fighting Man
Green Day - Sassafras Roots
Terrorvision - Middleman
Brides Of Kong - Human Slimeball (www.myspace.com/bridesofkong)
Dio - Mystery
Jeff Healey Band - While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Scorpions - In Trance
Fury In The Slaughterhouse - Radio Orchid
Foreigner - Head Games
Progressive Rock has quietly become one of the most thriving genres in musicdom. Things have moved on from the mega indulgent days of mellifluous mellotron solos and pixie fixated lyricism. Today's new prog bands have the wide ranging talent and bold ambition to slug it out with the big boys, and the amazing thing is that most of them are doing it on crisp packet budgets in sheds at the bottom of their gardens.
The sonic results are astonishing - this is awesome stuff that deserves much wider recognition, whether it be covers of older songs or brand new.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I brought to you "music to seduce girls by....."
8th September 2008
Rush - Spirit Of Radio
Rush - Countdown
Touchstone - Shadow
Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way
Breathing Space - Don't Turn A Blind Eye
Manning - Lost In Play
Paul Gilbert - The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway
The Pineapple Thief - Tightly Wound
Wired Desire - No one Sleeps
Mystery - Travel To The Night
Danone - Wasted Years
Credo - Too Late
Panic Room - Apocalypstick
Mostly Autumn - Tearing At The Faerytale
Led Zeppelin - Kashmir
No Man - True North (Edit)
Def leppard - Miss You In A Heartbeat
Whitesnake - All For Love
As always, ROCKIN’!!!! but sadly the last SRD Rock Radio show for a while as the present RSL broadcast has come to an end.
Listen out for some podcasts in the coming weeks - “On Line, On Air, and Rockin’ Your Block Off with Radio Lutterworth 97.5 FM…….”
Feel free to pass feedback direct to the Radio Lutterworth website at http://www.radiolutterworth.co.uk
E-mail email@example.com when we are on air;
or firstname.lastname@example.org at other times.
Tune in, Turn On, ROCK OUT!
The SRD Rock Radio Show “Blog” appears at
Yahoo 360! Via http://uk.360.yahoo.com/srdrockradioshow,
My Space via http://www.myspace.com/srdrockradioshow and,
Aeonity at http://www.aeonity.com/srdrockrad
Free Blog Hosting