December 5, 2002

front page
more news
ad information
contact information


KWL responds to claims made by WYSO Resource Board members

Members of Keep WYSO Local are attempting to address a complaint raised in a public statement by several WYSO Resource Board members two weeks ago by seeking the instigator or instigators of harassing phone calls and e-mails.

The statement, signed by seven WYSO Resource Board members, accused Keep WYSO Local of engaging in “reprehensible behavior” and using “brutish tactics,” and called on Antioch University administrators to stop negotiating with the group.

The statement was signed by Resource Board president Randy Daniel and members Chuck Vella, Jeff Dundon, Joe Colvin, Nancy Nash, Alex Williams and Ed Humphrys. Resource Board members Char Miller, Fay Ellis Jones, Bonnie Parish, Dionne Kennedy, Neil Meermans and Glenn Watts did not sign the document.

At a recent Resource Board meeting, Daniel said the statement represented the opinions of the signers only and not of the entire board.

The signers issued the statement, Daniel said in a later interview, as “an expression of our desire to move the station forward, to focus on the future and not on the past.”

As an example of “reprehensible behavior,” the statement said that Keep WYSO Local members “generate a steady barrage of e-mails forming vindictive and hurtful personal attacks upon station management and board members.”

Recently, Antioch University Chancellor Jim Craiglow said that he has received abusive voice mail messages by individuals claiming to represent Keep WYSO Local.

Keep WYSO Local spokespersons have said that they do not generate or condone uncivil communications.

“We feel strongly that this shouldn’t be happening, that people should be treated with respect,” Keep WYSO Local member Lisa Goldberg said in an interview this week.

Keep WYSO Local is a loosely group of activists who oppose programming changes made last spring by WYSO General Manager Steve Spencer, and who have questioned the way WYSO is managed. The group has raised $42,000 in pledges from supporters in an alternative fund drive, and has promised to turn the money over to the station if compromise is reached.

“We are trying to get at the root of the phone calls,” said Goldberg, who stated that the group has been in contact with Craiglow in an attempt to identify the caller. So far, she said, evidence indicates that the caller lives out of state and is not associated with Keep WYSO Local.

Group members have also requested that WYSO Resource Board members or station management turn over the inflammatory e-mails so that the writers can be identified, but they have received no response, said Keep WYSO Local supporter Michael Jones.

“We have asked to see them,” said Jones. “If someone in the group has done this, we will apologize and reprimand the person.”

In an interview last week, Vella, who drafted the Resource Board members’ statement, said that while the statement signers believe those who sent the e-mails were Keep WYSO Local supporters, they are not positive.

“We made some assumptions based on patterns of behavior,” said Vella. “Do I have proof that they’re associated with the group? No, I do not.”

In a prepared statement submitted to the News after the interview took place, Vella said, “Whether or not we can ‘prove’ that the authors of some of the reprehensible e-mails were members of the group that calls itself ‘Keep WYSO Local’ clouds the issue. Members of the Resource Board do not necessarily know the names of each member of the group that calls itself Keep WYSO Local and we are not interested in finding out their names. We are, however, able to make a distinction between those people who are attempting to support WYSO during difficult times from those who would undermine the organization.”

Vella said Keep WYSO Local has undermined the radio station by holding the alternative fund drive which he identified as another example of “reprehensible behavior” because it diverts money away from the station.

But the organizers of the alternative fund drive had no intention of harming the station, said Goldberg, but rather sought a mechanism for registering the support of listeners who don’t agree with the programming changes but still value WYSO.

“We thought deliberately and carefully about how to best get our point across, and to give current and new WYSO members a way to show that they would give if they could,” said Goldberg.

The effort grew from a feeling among many people that their attempts to communicate opposition to the programming changes were dismissed by station management as views of a small minority, said Jones, who stated that 500 persons have pledged in the alternative drive.

“It was a way to give disaffected people a collective voice,” he said. Most importantly, said Goldberg, Keep WYSO Local hopes to reconcile with station management so that the station can have the funds.

“We really do want to turn the money over,” she said.

News articles in the Yellow Springs News that examined Spencer’s past difficulties as station manager at KOPN in Columbia, Mo., are further examples of Keep WYSO Local’s “reprehensible behavior,” Resource Board member Nancy Nash said in an interview last week. She called the articles “an improper use of information.” When told that the articles were written by a News reporter and not by Keep WYSO Local members, Nash maintained that Spencer was “targeted” unfairly in the articles, and that other local business managers were probably not given such attention.

Keep WYSO Local’s use of the call letters “WYSO” in its name and on its Web site is one of its “brutish tactics,” said Daniel, explaining that WYSO is a trademark name and cannot be legally used by other entities.

However, groups or Web sites frequently use the names of corporations or other entities in their own names, and are protected in doing so by the “fair use” law, said Ellis Jacobs, a Keep WYSO Local supporter and an attorney.

“It’s a groundless charge,” Jacobs said. “It’s clearly and obviously protected free speech.”

Keep WYSO Local would like to focus on ways to work together with the WYSO Resource Board rather than reasons to stay divided, said all of the group members who responded to interview requests for this article. Those who attended last month’s WYSO Resource Board meeting felt encouraged by the “respectful, hospitable” tone of the meeting, said Keep WYSO Local supporter Al Denman, and hope that tone indicates a willingness on the part of those who signed the statement to step back from the statement’s harsh language and find common ground.

“We want to reach a resolution to this conflict,” Goldberg said.


—Diane Chiddister