October 24, 2002

front page
more news
ad information
contact information


Antioch chancellor lends support for WYSO as group stages protest

WYSO protesters

Ira Beryl Brukner was among those who participated in a demonstration outside the WYSO studio Thursday, Oct. 17, after the station’s news director, Aileen LeBlanc, resigned, citing problems with station management.

Tensions between Antioch University and Keep WYSO Local heated up last week as Keep WYSO Local members protested the resignation of WYSO News Director Aileen LeBlanc and university administrators attempted to stop a Keep WYSO Local fundraising concert.

In addition, the university chancellor, Jim Craiglow, last week gave his full support to WYSO management, which has come under fire for changes at the local public radio station.

The concert by MUSE, a popular Cincinnati women’s choir, scheduled for this Saturday, Oct. 26, 8 p.m., in Antioch’s Kelly Hall, will take place after all, after several days of negotiating between MUSE and Antioch University officials, who sought to stop the concert because it billed itself as a fundraiser for Keep WYSO Local.

In a compromise solution, the concert will proceed as a “celebration of women’s music,” according to organizers, but will not serve as a fundraiser.

Keep WYSO Local was formed last spring in response to program cuts at WYSO, where General Manager Steve Spencer removed from the air several long-running volunteer-hosted shows, including “Women in Music,” a women’s music program that ran for more than 25 years. Keep WYSO Local members are seeking the replacement of the volunteer-hosted shows, as well as changes in what members perceive as a top-down, autocratic management style at WYSO.

Although MUSE had signed a contract with Antioch University several weeks ago to use Kelly Hall and had already done extensive advertising, organizers were notified last Friday that the contract would not be honored and the concert would not take place, according to MUSE representative Dorothy Smith. Antioch University Vice Chancellor Glenn Watts told the group in a letter that Keep WYSO Local’s goals were “inimicable” to those of the university. Watts, a member of WYSO’s Resource Board, serves as university overseer of WYSO.

“We’d already put money out, we’d sold tickets,” Smith said.

Copies of Watts’s letter had also been sent to Craiglow and Antioch College President Joan Straumanis.

University officials sought to stop the concert, Watts said this week, because they felt Keep WYSO Local members who organized the event had not clearly identified the concert as a fundraiser for the group.

“We felt it was a misrepresentation of purpose,” Watts said. “We were asked to approve a concert, not asked to approve a fundraiser. Keep WYSO Local is antithetical to the purposes of the radio station, and to use our resources to do damage to ourselves didn’t make a lot of sense.”

While MUSE considered alternative concert venues, Straumanis stepped forward to offer “wise leadership” and a compromise, Smith said. Straumanis suggested that the concert go on, but that the event no longer be considered a fundraiser. MUSE organizers and Watts accepted the compromise.

“It was a significant compromise,” said local concert organizer and Keep WYSO Local member Katie Egart. Although the event is no longer a fundraiser, Keep WYSO Local members will have an opportunity to speak, she said. “We’re not being silenced,” she said.

While all of the proceeds from the concert will now go to MUSE, the group, which traditionally donates proceeds to progressive causes, will decide how to use the concert revenues, Egart said.

Last week’s resignation by LeBlanc sparked two Keep WYSO Local protests. LeBlanc, the winner of many state and national broadcasting awards for her weekly news program, “Sounds Local,” said that she had no other job offers but was leaving due to problems with station management.

Responding to LeBlanc’s departure, last Thursday, Oct. 17, more than 70 Keep WYSO Local members and supporters staged a demonstration outside the radio station’s Livermore Street location on the Antioch University campus. Some called for a change in station management. The group also visited the Glen Helen Building, where the Antioch University Board of Trustees was meeting.

A smaller group of Keep WYSO Local supporters demonstrated in the rain downtown and at the station headquarters on Saturday morning.

Last Thursday, the first day of WYSO’s fall fundraiser marathon, Craiglow issued a press release in support of WYSO and station management.

“With more listeners than ever in its 44-year history, an engaging program schedule unrivalled in public radio and a core of dedicated and talented professional staff and volunteers, it is time to celebrate and support the kind of public service that WYSO provides,” Craiglow said.

Craiglow also said that the university is “exceedingly proud of WYSO and fully supports the job” that Spencer is doing.

“Mr. Spencer came to Antioch four years ago and has since managed to raise the station’s significance and profile within the Miami Valley. As a recent graduate of Antioch University McGregor’s Graduate Management Program, Steve fully understands how to apply Antiochian values to the daily operations of a public service oriented business,” Craiglow said.

Regarding Keep WYSO Local, Craiglow said, “Despite repeated efforts to hold productive dialogues with representatives of Keep WYSO Local, we have found that there is no way to fully address their complaints to their satisfaction.”

While LeBlanc’s resignation last week sparked frustration and anger among some Keep WYSO Local members, the group seeks reconciliation, not an adversarial relationship with the university, said Keep WYSO Local member Steve Bognar.

“We appreciate all the time and energy Chancellor Craiglow has put forward on this issue,” Bognar said. “We very much hope that we can continue to work with him. Everyone wants to resolve this. It’s painful for everyone.”


—Diane Chiddister