Stubbornness, Compromise & Discipline

6 days to go.

This one is a bit of a long one, but if you’re interested and have a few minutes you’ll gain good insight into other intricacies of community radio. The nasty sides.

You’d imagine that if everyone loved the same thing, radio, a community radio project would work perfectly smoothly with everyone contributing to the bigger cause. There’d be little conflict, little hostility, no problems! I’m going to quote some dictionary definitions in this piece of writing too – just to reiterate some points.

If you think that a project will run perfectly if everyone loves the same goal let me tell you right now from experience it is nothing at all like that.

I think I can speak from experience when I say if you’ve got a good idea you can be quite stubborn if someone doesn’t think it is as good an idea as you. Been there done that.

Stubborn: Having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons…

But of course you’re allowed to be stubborn, if you can compromise.

Compromise: An agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.

If you’re stubborn, and cannot compromise, then in my experience you have poor discipline. This is what I’ve deduced from some people I’ve came into contact with.

Discipline: The practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.

So. Let’s link the above to community radio to give it some context.

When we started planning to launch NE1fm 102.5 in 2006/2007 there were discussions on many things, but significantly on how we should sound. All important things really, what music do you play, do you play 80s/90s. Do you play modern, do you play odd stuff, do you play classical. Or do you do the whole lot.

From my perspective, in the early days, a lot of arguments seemed to derive from the vision of a certain member of CBIT’s board at the time. It was the opinion of more than one that this person wanted NE1fm to be the result of BBC Radio 2 and hospital radio smashed into each other using something like a hadron collider. Rubbish.

If this person thought their idea was a good one, excellent. If anyone disagreed it would be discussed in significant depth until one of two things happened. Everyone got bored of this individual justifying their idea to death, or everyone got bored of this individual justifying their idea to death. No compromise.

If this person disagreed with someone else’s ideas, they would question every single aspect of it, continuously until the person lost confidence or gave in. No compromise.

This person also didn’t like other people doing stuff like the station website – which they wanted to do, and never actually did a good job of. I remember my access being taken away and them telling me there must of been a problem with the site, I never believed it, but also never got the access back. They also had sole ‘complete admin’ of the early incarnation of the Facebook page, and sole access to the station Twitter. Everyone was locked out of those two eventually also.

As you can see here the project was starting to, from not just my perspective but others including stakeholders, become led by someone who was stubborn, could not compromise and had no self discipline.

Luckily CBIT has an annual meeting every year where directors all resign and are then voted back on to the board. This individual was not voted back on. And this was the beginning of NE1fm 2.0.

So continuing on to discipline, and disciplinary actions. I was part of the project because I loved what it was about. I didn’t enjoy having to discipline people for breaking rules – and it appeared that was one of the more significant parts to being a member with responsibilities  This is where you become disliked. Where the ‘haters’ start. But I’m only disliked by people who I’ve dealt with for breaking rules. A funny set of circumstances.

Here are some scenarios where, no matter what I’ve done, I’ve been in the wrong.

  1. Unauthorised Transmitter Access
    A trusted volunteer with remote access to all systems gained access to the transmitter. They disabled the studio feed and chose to play music they liked, themselves, to listen to at home. It was undone within minutes, the person locked out and subsequently excluded from the project.
  2. Breaking station rules.
    A Friday evening presenter in 2008 was caught with open alcohol in the studio. Despite the no drinks in studio rule, there was a more significant rule of no alcohol on you or in you when in the building. They were excluded from the project.
  3. Disrespecting the project.
    One broadcast audibly mocked the station rules, the implications that the show could have if they broke them, and then proceeded to break them anyway. Despite an SMS warning them, they then mocked that on air. They lost their show.
  4. Campaigns of abuse.
    Whilst being suspended/asked to take a break for an extended period, one volunteer began an internet campaign of abuse against the station. Including making unfounded allegations against the station and management. Allegations which they later apologised for. Unbeknownst to the individual, some people he was asking to front his campaign of abuse were reporting back to station management. One even confessed to being part of it, but that he was made to be part of it under duress. The instigating individual was excluded from the project.

If you want to run a community project, be alert for the above. Be alert to behind the scenes bullying, intimidation, and victimisation. Stop it before it gets serious. Make a stand against it.

Bullies are the first to cry bully.

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