April 24, 2013 —
As you already know… WJFF is in crisis.
Just like anything painful, crisis can be a good thing if we are willing to find purpose in it.
In that regard, I would like to offer some thoughts and proposals to consider:
In the case of WJFF, what has been festering for quite a while has now erupted, which means we have an opportunity to re-form in a way that aligns us with our true purpose—that of a community radio station. For me, the way we do that is crucial to its success and healing.
As we all have witnessed, there is a growing polarization in our country and in our politics reflected in the fact that even Democrats and Republicans no longer sit near each other in the congressional cafeteria. So they don’t get to rub shoulders in a relaxed way which would allow for a friendly exchange of ideas, so essential to finding common ground and moving forward with respect for the other’s point of view.
Aside from three paid staff members at WJFF (the station manager, the assistant station manager and the volunteer coordinator), everyone is a volunteer—those who create the programs, members of committees and of the Board of Trustees and those who help in a myriad of small and big ways. All give out of the love of the station and the community. And everyone is flawed. We each have our strengths and weaknesses and like any good sports team, it’s important that we know and accept that, support each other in our strengths and cover for each other in our weaknesses, without judgment.
Proposal: Opportunities be created for the board, committee members and all other volunteers to spend time together at regular and planned occasions for the purpose of getting to know each other in a relaxed and social atmosphere. That could happen in small or large groups—perhaps a few people having dinner together or a large picnic where everyone is invited. This would help to alleviate the reliance on any one person as the source of information.
Proposal: That an outside professional “mediator” be hired to help us through this difficult time.
I do know someone who was recommended… who is very qualified and dedicated to community radio. In his covering letter… which accompanied his vita he said:
“My central interest and life work is to bring peace to individuals, to couples and families, and to organizations. The purpose of the workshop would not be to rehash decisions already made or to provide a forum for continued conflict, but to connect participants to the mission of the station and to each other in laying the foundation for cooperation in fulfilling that mission.”
Finally, and once again, we have an opportunity here to move into a more evolved, conscious and kind community radio station if we choose. It will take work and time and patience and forgiveness. But we can do it.
[These comments are excerpted from a posting on the Upper Delaware Community Network, an online bulletin board dedicated to building community by fulfilling both individual and community needs. Sterner is the founder and moderator.]