This is a piece by Jeff Lange in Volume One, Number Three of “Spread the WORT” — the newsletter of WORT-FM (Madison, WI) just as it was going on the air in 1975. I’ve always loved this description of the consensus decision-making process we used to run the station. All due apologies to Pogo…
The big deal? The sentence that really catches it for me is “we ad WORT don wanna tred up on the wee miroridy vuponts, so we jus wade undill eberyone am finely agreed.” Still works for me today, some 35 years later. Thanks Jeff!
Here’s my translation, since many of you aren’t native-English speakers and might find this pretty tough to read in Jeff’s native Pogo-style language. Apologies to Jeff for any mistranslations.
Yes, it’s a curious fact, that nobody is ever able to quite explain, how decisions get made at this particular radio station. But they do. This is a grievous hard and ticklesum thing for newcomers to digest. Take, for example, the familiar caller who, in a fever pitch of excitement, has phoned up the station with his or her (or “it’s” for that matter) idea for a program. Rnnng. He (let’s just say it’s a “he”) says “My dog can bark heavy metal rock n’roll — can he have 5 hours on Tuesday nights?” Well, the person at the station (say it is a person) says “Isn’t that the same thing as what’s on WBRK every night?” The caller replies “Yes, but my dog barks badder!” Then that, says the person, is a question for the Program Committee.
The best thing then is if the caller hangs up, thinking all is well for the Program Committee will do its duty. But if the caller says “Oh, what’s the Program Committee?” then the person has to explain: The Program Committee are all the people that come to the Program Committee Meeting. You can come. So can your mother. It’s Friday at 8pm. No, they never vote on anything. Voting is against the rules. So is parliamentary procedure. They just talk about things until everyone is agreed, and that is consensus — the highest form of unanimity.
Then the caller says “oh.”
Then the person at the radio station should continue: “Yes, it’s a curious fact, but it seems to work. So far, at least. We at WORT don’t want to tread on the wee minority viewpoints, so we just wait until everyone is finally agreed. Nope, it’s never failed yet… which just goes to prove: you can make some of the decisions all of the time, and all of the decisions some of the time…”
Then the caller says, “can you put me through to the general manager?”
“No, there isn’t a general manager. Would you like to talk to Sarah-Gene?”
“She the owner?”
“Nope. She’s just another volunteer.”