Wednesday, August 4, 2010

More Thoughts on the KMBQ/KBYR Takeover

Like ex-Alaska Representative Vic Kohring, ex-KMBQ/KBYR General Manager John Klapperich somehow believed that if one affirms an ideal hard enough and long enough, it will come true, no matter what. I met both of these men in the mid-1990s, and they were often seen together over the years at the same events in and around Wasilla. Through mid-2007, at events where I saw both of them, Sarah Palin was often also there.

All three seemed to also believe that the power of the free market to come up with the best for everyone is not only a worthy mantra, but an unassailable truth.

Palin was never a successful business person, at least until she traded her sacred oath to the citizens of Alaska for a book deal in which she lied her goddam butt off in exchange for millions of dollars. Kohring was a somewhat successful sheet-rock contractor through about 1999. Klapperich projected an image of the savvy small-town entrepreneur. Until this Monday.

Kohring, as was obvious in the testimony, audio and video tapes of his 2007 Federal corruption trial, was so enamored with his zany version of free market economics, that he couldn't distinguish between right and wrong; between his perception of a Milton Friedman-esque duty to his constituents and to the letter and spirit of Federal law. Kohring's misperception has played out as minor tragedy. Palin's duplicity is playing out as major farce.

Emerging in the details of Klapperich's demise are items like his mortgaging of houses, properties and of his younger kids' college savings accounts; and of his inability or unwillingness to recently fulfill payroll tax obligations to his employees as required. But John wasn't about to skip out on these debts. He truly believed the solution was right around the next corner.

Like Kohring, Klapperich has been a relentless cheerleader for so-called "conservatism" in business conduct. As a prominent fixture at the Wasilla Chamber of Commerce during recent scandals there, Klapperich managed to keep his reputation intact in the broader Mat-Su Valley business community.

Far more than either Kohring or Palin, Klapperich's cheerleading for broader aspects of the Mat-Su Valley's sense of community has been genuine. I've been to soccer matches, basketball games, football games, track meets, parades, auctions, picnics and a plethora of community fundraisers, where John Klapperich was either the most vocal team supporter, was MC, or had another important, unpaid role.

While both Kohring and Palin despised our public schools (Kohring taught Palin to use his term for them, "government schools," for her first three local elections), Klapperich has been a strong supporter of the district in which his kids have been and are such outstanding students.

There will be no Track mysteriously disappearing to another state, Bristol pulling out of school with "mono," no 6th grade Willow looking at 2nd grade math flashcards, no TriG being hauled around the country, barefoot as the snow falls on him, with dirty diapers, in the Klapperich family. I've seen the Klapperichs, time after time, loving their kids, one way or another. It is something one all but never sees in the Palin family.

In the surprisingly pitiless comments at both the Anchorage Daily News and Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman articles on John's demise, a few commenters have derided John for the above traits, one labelling him a "community organizer, just like Obama."

John has often called me "my favorite liberal." I've heard him call others, like Katie Hurley, the same. He reinforced these statements, though, by respectfully citing examples of things in the community Katie or I had done. In that sense, John has shown a generosity and equanimity neither Kohring nor Palin have ever shown themselves capable of exhibiting.

John's attempt to turn KMBQ "green" with wind and solar power was Klapperich at his Quixotic best. His support of Shannyn Moore in 2008 and 2009 was genuine, even as he somehow hoped it might help, as John described to me, when I thanked him for the support, "our station's 'bottom line.'"

Driving through Glennallen last month, on the way to Chitina and back, there was KMBQ, by far the most liberal station in town, or for over 100 miles in any direction. John Klapperich put it there.


Anonymous said...

Hey Phil - keep up these sorts of comments and I'll have to start calling you "my favorite liberal." I, too, live in the Valley - and your site is one I check each day. While you and I have absolutely differing views on - wow, gosh, just SO many things - Israeli/Palestinian matters being somewhere near the top of the list - I always (well, usually always) appreciate your willingness to speak your mind in a rather fearless manner. I'm a big fan of your gardening prowess and appreciate how much you clearly love Alaska. Thanks for the work you put into the blog - and thanks for treating John Klapperich with kindness and honesty. Hope your trip to Chitna was productive ~

Philip Munger said...

anon @ 9:22 - We limited out in about 4 hours. Let's hope John stays active, positive and vital in the Valley.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Phil, for this writing.

I, for one, am so tired of failed fiscal conservatives claiming the unfettered "free market" fixes everything. Especially here in Alaska.

Real entrepreneurs don't try to bend the rules to their will, but to master them and adapt for success.

As an entrepreneur, and Valley business owner - I think it's time we gave some progressive ideas a shot and quit giving false accolades to people that only succeeded in a rigged and corrupt system.

I appreciate your warm feelings for the Klapperich's. Considering the profoundly hateful programming on KBYR - I hope they see the error in their ways and find a way to generate a profit on a community-wide approach instead of the narrow, right-wing rhetoric. I might start tuning in again, although I am still a little gun-shy, it might be awhile.

AK Sandhills said...

It's sad to lose local control over a radio station. As a progressive democrat who is nonetheless, addicted to right-wing talk radio, I am particularly disappointed. I just hope Rishi finds another home or brokers a good deal for himself with the new owners. It would be a shame if he were no longer a part of the local radio scene.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Phil, for your support of Mr. Klapperich. I am struck by how much heart, soul, and positive energy he has given to the community, and it is a shame that the rug was pulled out from under him this way, and at this time.

As you have pointed out, the contrast between him and Palin is stark. The world needs more of him, and much less of her. Wouldn't it be great if there were more "community organizers" trying to build up our country, and less divisive politicians working hard to tear it down with deceit, bigotry, and fear-mongering?