Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Humboldt State University President Lisa Rossbacher appears to have suspended meetings of radio station KHSU's Community Advisory Board until the members explain themselves.
In a letter dated Sept. 17 (see below), Rossbacher cites confusion over a June 27 decision by the CAB to forward a letter to her citing the lack of confidence community members have in KHSU General Manager Peter Fretwell. Rossbacher notes that the decision was reported as expressing the will of the CAB rather than community members, and asks for clarification.
"The essence of the issue is whether you individually understood your vote was to convey the opinions you heard during your public meetings or to express the CAB’s collective decision to vote 'no confidence',” Rossbacher writes.
Continues Rossbacher, "I am requesting that, before you convene any further CAB meetings at HSU, you individually and privately reply to me about your understanding of what you intended in your vote at the June 27, 2018 meeting."
According to people familiar with the CAB, "at least" five members responded with message to Rossbacher. However, it remains unclear whether this month's CAB meeting will take place.
In a related development, people familiar with the station claim that this week's Thursday Night Talk (TNT) show was to have four CAB members as guests, but that the show has been canceled by Fretwell.
Update: Administration responds
HSU Associate Vice President for Marketing and Communications Frank Whitlach confirms that the TNT show featuring CAB members was canceled by Fretwell, and a promotional blurb on the station's website removed.
"Peter decided that they would not do that topic," Whitlach said. "He questioned the station's ability cover the story fairly and completely." Guests scheduled for the canceled show included only members of the CAB, with no one from station management or the university administration present to offer alternative perspectives.
Whitlach stressed that the editorial "firewall" between the station's staff and the university administration is fully intact, and that the decision to spike the show was solely Fretwell's.
Whitlach denied rumors that CAB members have been "banned" from the campus. "Not true," he said.
He also observed that Rossbacher hadn't canceled the meeting outright, but had diplomatically "requested" that the CAB not meet until the intentions of the board members at the June meeting were clarified.