Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – If the Humboldt State University administration’s strategy is to wait out, wear down and scare off the resistance to its policies regarding radio station KHSU, the plan may be working.
After three well-attended and often clamorous monthly meetings of the station’s Community Advisory Board (CAB), the fourth, held last Wednesday night at HSU's Native Forum, saw minimal participation. Only a handful of staffmembers and volunteers were present, and neither the station manager or vice president in charge of the station attended.
Development Director David Reed reported hosting an “awkward” KHSU Magazine that day, one which featured an interview with the station’s fired operations director, Katie Whiteside, since successfully re-homed at PBS North Coast (formerly KEET-TV). The show also included North Coast Journal Editor Thad Greenson, talking about that periodical’s story on the station’s recent troubles. The 5,196-word piece included no coverage of Vice President for University Advancement Craig Wruck’s alleged ill treatment of Office Manager Lorna Bryant, nor any mention of his lawsuit threats against the Mad River Union and Lost Coast Outpost over their news coverage of station issues.
“I made an editorial decision not to include that information based on a number of factors that I feel would be inappropriate to detail here,” Greenson said later. “However, I will say that Wruck’s threats and our partnership with KHSU in no way factored into my decision or influenced the story.”
Reed said the station’s postponed pledge drive will begin Sept. 28 or Oct. 3. Planning is complicated by the station’s need to move its entire broadcast operations into Feuerwerker House so that the Theatre Arts Building can proceed with a seismic retrofit. That project includes a cyclone fence surrounding the building, which makes it difficult for volunteers to get in and work.
Reed said membership has dropped about 10 percent, with around 117 members withdrawing and revenue down 4 to 5 percent.
Some at the meeting wondered why Wruck wasn’t present. As for Station Manager Peter Fretwell, he was on vacation.
When the board was asked whether Wruck’s threats against journalists were of any concern to the CAB, member Hélène Rouvier said she was. “We’re doing exactly what we’re not supposed to do,” she said. “We’re supposed to be supporting independent media, and yet we’re shutting it down.” Rouvier said the tactic is often used in the Third World to intimidate journalists.
Member Jana Kirk-Levine said she was concerned about retribution for her letter to the editor about station issues. But Wruck’s “intimidation threat” has also steeled the resolve of some KHSUers.
“It’s actually brought members of the community together to say, ‘This is baloney, we don’t put up with this in our community’ ,” Kirk-Levine said.