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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

“Clever Levers,” and Other Thoughts on John Richards’ Salary

Posted by on December 27 at 15:08 PM

Lots of interesting comments have attached themselves to my earlier post about KEXP DJ John Richards’ salary… Including this one, from “Tyco”:

One of the most clever levers ever devised to exercise control of the arts is that silly old myth that your level of integrity is determined by your dedication to making no money…

John Richards apparently works hard, sticks to what he believes in regardless of detractors, conceivably even declines higher paying opportunities to that end and meanwhile wears numerous hats in the process of earning his well deserved salary. This guy is supposed to further shun the rewards of a job well done? He earns below industry standard for morning drive time DJ in a market this size, but he’s supposed to make nothing, right? Would that make it better?

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$90k is about the top of what anyone in a non-profit should be making - these are public service enterprises right? No justification for pulling down corporate bucks.

I'd be happy is this DJ is the highest paid person at KEXP.

I fear, however, that his management gets paid even more - with much less justification.

I think there's a big point to be made aside from the regular plea for donations, the non-transparency of KEXP's operations, the dang large salary earned from a state-owned license, and other issues that have been broached already; the big issue in my mind is this:

What the fuck does John Richards do that deserves a $90,000/year salary?

Do I think he should work for free? Well, when I worked at a university-owned radio station, I did, so I'm a bit biased. Given the bizarre organizational situation that KEXP is in, that's admittedly unrealistic, but I don't think it's quite kosher for someone that works for an organization that gets a large portion of its funding through listener donation to earn nearly $100k a year. If he doesn't like it or doesn't appreciate the concerns, let him move on to a different station that will pay him whatever he thinks he's worth. Honestly, I don't get why this person is so irreplaceable.

I agree Joshua - all this talk of people deserving big bucks because they could get them elsewhere - or because we have to pay it to lure people who already get it elsewhere - is bullshit.

This year it also resulted in recruiting a new UW president for a scandalously large salary for a state employee. What's he do to deserve that?

It's all just a self-perpetuating system whereby the people who already earn big bucks can pay each other even more. It's a pyramid scheme for those in power.

I'm sure there are plenty of people who would kill for the opportunity to do just as good a job - or even better - for less.

But they're not "qualified" by having already been accepted into the charmed circle of recruitment targets.

There outta be a law limiting salaries to, say, 10 times more than the minimum wage.

Is any human being worth more than ten times another - or even that much?

Quality, experience and professionalism come at a premium and random college students frequently can't reliably meet those standards. This goes for a lot of so-called "easy" jobs.

If you work for nothing, people tend to value you and your work as such.

Some of us have more self-respect than that and don't apologize for it; sorry if you don't.

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