Letters to the Editor, April 17, 2019

A dark day in Humboldt

It is a dark day in Humboldt County. KHSU, the station that we loved and listened to and worked for and gave our money to is gone. A ghost station with no soul has acquired its call letters. 

A huge thank you to all the staff, the volunteers, the people and businesses that supported it. 

I loved this station dearly as many of the (former) workers there knew. 

I contributed personally, my business contributed as an Underwriter, I did music shows on the air and I was always happy to be on the air during pledge drives. 

I was passionate about KHSU and I am seething with rage right now. Along with my deepest concerns for my friends who have lost their jobs WITH NO NOTICE.

My hope is that a phoenix will rise from the ashes and that we can create a true community radio station here. One where we can still listen to Halimah Collingwood and Danielle Orr and the Spirit of Vinny Devaney and all those crazy jazz, country and blues shows, and talk shows with local people talking about local concerns, and those esoteric middle of the night music shows that are just the craziest thing you ever heard!

We need them all. It’s called diverse public radio.

Until then... thanks for everything KHSU people... it’s been swell.

 Rick Levin
Blue Lake

The gutting of KHSU

The gutting of KHSU represents the arrogance, condescension and inhumanity of the Humboldt State University administration – a brutal parting shot from President Lisa Rossbacher, full-time president-in-absentia, and from Vice President of Advancement (what an irony) Craig Wruck, another bumptious administrator who knows nothing about broadcasting, has no experience in it. 

What a travesty that California taxpayers have had to finance the salaries and benefits of two secretive bureaucrats who have contributed so generously to the hateful reputation of the CSU administration as well as to HSU’s.

 No wonder the university is in decline, its enrollment in jeopardy, its retention rates perpetually substandard. 

Now we taxpayers have to pay for Rossbacher’s and Wruck’s lavishly financed retirements.

Their unilateral disemboweling of a priceless local institution reflects utter contempt for the Redwood Coast community. 

It is also a direct assault on the campus’s Department of Journalism, whose weaknesses will be compounded by the devaluing and corporatization of KHSU.

Self-evidently, Rossbacher and Wruck have no shame as they abandon the community in their opulent retirement, leaving heartbreak and wreckage in their wake. 

Paul Mann
Former KHSU public affairs host

Silencing local voices

So, I haven’t yet communicated with all of the People Formerly Known as the KHSU CAB [Community Advisory Board]. Yes, I’ve been in touch with my friends. I’ve noticed that some of us have responded to emails or Facebook postings. But about half have been silent. 

That makes me wonder. Did some of you know something the rest of us did not? I’ve spent the day in turmoil, I’m going to take half my day as vacation time because I got nothing done at work. 

Granted some of you may not have as flexible of an employer as I do. But I feel there have been two factions in our group for some time. 

I don’t know if some of you are secretly happy about all this, and have confidence you’ll be involved in the new KHSU. I don’t know if some of you still think Peter, Craig, and Lisa are honorable folk, deserving of respect. 

I don’t know if some of you unwittingly contributed to this outcome, and further if you’re happy or you’re bummed.

I only know that the station I have listened to since September 19, 1975, has now silenced our local voices, and life here on the North Coast will NEVER be the same. 

Yes, I sound melodramatic. It’s affected me that deeply that I’m prepared to pull out all the stops. Juliet and Ophelia, hold my beer.

So what do think, those of you that previously appeared to think we should be more accepting of the changes? Do you think it would have changed anything? I’m really curious. 

The People Formerly Known as the KHSU CAB, could our playing nice with the Visioning Statement have saved our little slice of heaven? Or do you see that we were played? Lied to (and gods know I hate ending a sentence with a preposition)? A plan was in place, maybe not fully formed, but taking shape.

Lisa Rossbacher lied to us. The review report was a sham. She and Craig Wruck get to retire with lovely pensions, courtesy of the taxpayers of California. But a group of my friends are now trying to figure out how to pay next month’s rent. 

I’m still processing. Obviously not as affected as those employees who were ESCORTED BY UPD to clean out their offices. 

And I haven’t even touched on the stalwart employees of “Advancement” who have had to answer the calls of all the betrayed supporters who are asking for their pledges back. 

Or the unsuspecting folks at NSPU in Chico who had no idea the request to help out a “colleague” was really a disingenuous ploy.

I’ve been living with this anxiety since Monday night, when Lisa breathlessly communicated her “just now” receipt of the review. 

But by Wednesday night, they had it all figured out – although to the People Formerly Known as the KHSU CAB, she said they were still trying to formulate a plan. No details. Asking us to take a “hiatus” as if we would ever be invited back. 

Do you feel played? I really want to know.

Your friend/maybe former friend, 

Barbara Boerger

Respect the community

Such a shocking purge as that which happened at KHSU should never have happened, and should be a wake-up call to the community. 

The clear need to address funding issues is no excuse for the unannounced dismissal of long-term staff and community volunteers, who deserve more respect.

When I was involved in Student Government at Santa Monica College in the early 1990s, I was surprised to find that KCRW, the NPR station based on the SMC campus, had absolutely no relationship at all to the SMC community. 

When the first Iraq War was on the horizon, and we had huge protests on the campus and the shut down of a local Army recruiting station, KCRW refused to even cover the newsworthy events, although the LA Times put the SMC protests on their cover. 

Someone had successfully worked to ensure that the disconnect between KCRW and the SMC community was complete.

HSU students, and the Humboldt community in general, need to work to ensure that KHSU remains a station that represents the community. 

The strong communities of HSU, Arcata and Humboldt County deserve to be respected and treated better by the HSU administration than the KHSU staff and volunteers who were callously dismissed this week.

Jason Kirkpatrick
M.A. Globalisation Studies, (HSU)
HSU A.S. President 1993-94
City Councillor/Vice Mayor, Arcata, 1994-1998
Berlin, Germany

A fraudulent scheme

Lisa Rossbacher, president of Humboldt State University should resign immediately. 

Collecting the community’s money in a fund drive for KHSU and days later firing employees and automating the station reeks of alleged fraud and alleged misappropriation of funds. 

As a founding family member, I am appalled HSU thinks of themselves as a private college. Administration, take note: you are a public college supported by tax dollars, grant monies and Title 9 monies. 

You can’t take this one back, make excuses, or blame others. This falls only on you. 

Thane and Karen Parton
Las Vegas, Nev.

So goes KHSU, may go KEET

“Actively pursuing collaboration with other public radio stations and seeking CPB funding to support this effort,” is a quote from the KHSU homepage official statement on the KHSU staff purge.

 I’m a KEET Community Advisory Board Member and PBS North Coast is also in danger of financially forced “collaboration” which would abolish our local PBS-TV station community identity, relations, and outreach. KEET is mandated by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), to pay the same surcharge every other PBS station in the country pays ($800,000). 

Although KEET is the third-smallest PBS station in the U.S. (only two in Alaska are smaller), we are required to pay the same rate as San Francisco or New York. 

“Collaboration with other public radio stations” (as noted in KHSU’s statement) will destroy local outreach and community relations; just as KHSU is forced into “collaboration” with other CPB radio stations, KEET is next to lose community identity unless our federal legislators intervene to lower the $800,000 rate or change the regulations surrounding this rate.

We’ve just (for the moment) lost our community radio programming, and we’re about to lose our local PBS programming too unless we all do something quickly by sharing our opinions with our legislators.

Nanette Kelley
McKinleyville (for the moment)

Evolve our identity

I am accepting your challenge, dear Editors, to “Kick it old school” by writing you a letter setting down for posterity my perspectives on McKinleyville planning. 

Having lived here for four decades, I have had time to reflect upon our region’s many assets and few shortcomings, and I believe that we are historically poised to build on those advantages and to correct those flaws, making this seaside community a standout on the North Coast.

I wince when remembering my realtor’s response 40 years ago when I asked her to characterize the local communities: “Well, Fortuna belongs to the cowboys, Ferndale to the dairymen, Eureka to loggers and fishermen, Arcata to students, and McKinleyville to the misfits because it has no identity at all. They call it ‘Oklahoma by the Sea.’” 

When I looked out from the airport and asked what town claimed the stunning ocean view before me, she said dismissively, “Oh, McKinleyville, but you won’t like it.” Like it I did though and have never stopped gazing in awe at its premiere asset, the Pacific Ocean. 

When out-of-town friends visit and gasp in appreciation as we drive north on 101 to the crest above Clam Beach, I repeat the promotion that this is the first place in Northern California where one can view the Pacific from US 101. 

What other northern community can boast that? 

Yet we rarely talk of this exquisite asset. And certainly our name doesn’t attract visitors or project images of ocean views and beach vacations.

Count me then among those who say it is time to rectify that. “McKinleyville” sounds like we revere a former President whose very statue didn’t even stand here and now has been gifted to those in Ohio who will find worthiness in his birth there. 

Now is the time to evolve in our identity to showcase our greatest assets – our beaches. 

Surely we can rename our region to reflect our ocean-side gift, as have communities like Carmel by the Sea, Oceanside; the list is long but not exhausted. 

And like Arcata that previously was Uniontown, we can retain “McKinleyville” for our business district if so many value it, but let us grow to incorporate what will identify us in the future, our seaside beauty. 

Further, while we’re re-branding our identity to acknowledge our coastal advantages, let’s also begin correcting our most blatant embarrassment, our insensitive mockery of those who stewarded this gem of coastline before it was “unincorporated”: Let us remove the inauthentic totem pole that represents and honors none of us. Mr. Erik Yahmo Ahqha Rydberg said it far more eloquently than I before the McMack board, and I agree. 

Granted, assets extend beyond beaches of course, our airport, business park, and enhanced Central Avenue to name a few, and our flaws, including as many have noted the lack of welcoming entries, extend beyond the totem pole. 

However, identifying with our greatest resource and removing our most insensitive totem would cost relatively little and reap much I believe. 

Barbara Morrison

HSU’s healthy help

Here’s a shoutout to the Humboldt State University clubs, the American Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) and the PreMed Society on the HSU campus. 

Last Thursday night they organized and sponsored along with the Associated Students an in-depth presentation on the cost- and lifesaving benefits of a single-payer healthcare system. 

Dr. Ed Weisbart spoke at the Kate Buchanan room to well over 100 participants, a coming together of “town and gown,” that can only bring positive results of communication and cohesion between the university and community members working for positive change. 

It was an inspiring and exciting event. Thank you HSU!

Patty Harvey
Director, Humboldt Chapters, Health Care for All/PNHP
[email protected]
PO Box 4531
Arcata 95518


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