Humboldt State on Katie’s firing, who’s in charge, the difficulty of change

Mad River Union

Note: The following email message was sent today from Humboldt State University to HSU personnel, station volunteers and members of the public who inquired about the recent firing of former KHSU Program and Operations Manager Katie Whiteside. – Ed.

From: Craig C Wruck <[email protected]>
Date: Fri, Jun 8, 2018 at 4:59 PM
Subject: KHSU
To: "Wruck, Craig" <[email protected]>
Cc: "lisaann.rossbacher" <[email protected]edu>, Tom Hinz <[email protected]>

Thank you for your comments and concerns regarding KHSU.  After discussions with members of the KHSU Community Advisory Board, President Rossbacher has asked me to respond to your message and to reaffirm the University’s commitment to KHSU and diverse public radio for the North Coast.

As you are aware, our Program and Operations Director Katie Whiteside was terminated in mid-May.  This was a personnel decision made after much consultation.  For reasons of confidentiality, and out of respect for our former employee, we cannot discuss the details of personnel decisions.  Nevertheless, I recognize that we should have taken more care to communicate with our listeners and supporters about this change.  I apologize for not ensuring better communication.
 
Our actions have triggered speculation and many rumors about KHSU, and some community members have questioned what this change means for the future of the station.  Please allow me this opportunity to provide additional information and to correct some misinformation.
 
First of all, Humboldt State University remains committed to KHSU’s local community programming.  The University values KHSU as a vital public radio service for the community and the region.  The station supports the mission of the University to educate, to promote understanding of social, economic, and environmental issues, and to develop responsible members of a diverse society.  Even though specific programs may be moved or changed from time to time, the University will continue to maintain and strengthen KHSU’s unique programming.
 
There has been speculation about moving the station.  The KHSU studios are moving to a different location at HSU, the Feuerwerker House located on LK Wood Drive at Library Circle.  This move is necessary because the University’s seismic retrofit construction project is making the Theatre Arts building uninhabitable for a year or more.  Improvements are being made to Feuerwerker, including adding studio and control spaces so that KHSU’s operation will continue without interruption.  KHSU is one of a number of University programs being displaced by the construction.  These moves are being paid for by the University as a part of the seismic retrofit project.  It has not yet been decided whether KHSU will move back to Theater Arts following the construction there.
 
Some have wondered who “owns” KHSU and who is responsible for running the station.  Humboldt State University is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate KHSU as a public radio service and the University Advancement division of Humboldt State is responsible for the station.  The University provides the studios, facilities, transmitters, and other equipment required to operate the station and create its programming.  From a financial perspective, the University covers about 44% of the cost of the station, listener supporters cover 24%, underwriting covers 19%, and 13% comes from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
 
The day-to-day management of the station is the responsibility of the General Manager who reports to the Vice President of University Advancement.  The General Manager and the Chief Engineer are employees of the University.  Other station staff are employed by the HSU Sponsored Programs Foundation.  The KHSU Community Advisory Board is a group of volunteers representing the interests of the communities throughout KHSU’s broadcast area which provides the General Manager with feedback on programming, policies, and community outreach and helps to set station priorities.
 
I hope that this information is helpful.  I realize that this change is difficult for people to understand, especially because of the need for confidentiality about the circumstances leading to the decision.  Nevertheless, I hope that you will remain a listener and supporter of KHSU and join us in delivering diverse public radio for the North Coast.
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Craig C. Wruck
Vice President, University Advancement
Humboldt State University
707 826-5101 - [email protected]
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