board members quit
Concerns about the direction of WYSO public radio and the effectiveness
of the WYSO Resource Board have been raised again as two members resigned
from the board.
Char Miller and Fay Ellis Jones both submitted letters of resignation
this past week to Antioch University Chancellor Jim Craiglow.
Miller resigned in protest over concerns she has with stations management,
including General Manager Steve Spencer, and both women cited concerns
about a lack of oversight by the Resource Board.
Several board members disagreed with their former colleagues assertions,
while saying that the Resource Board is trying to work better together.
My decision to resign is motivated by a systemic pattern of behavior
on the part of the WYSO general manager, the vice chancellor and the Resource
Board executive committee, Miller wrote. Those behaviors range from
incompetent management and administrative oversight of the station
to a misuse of public funds by Glenn Watts, the Antioch University
vice chancellor, and Spencer, Miller said in her letter.
Miller recommended the disbanding of the Resource Board due to ineffectiveness.
The board does not represent the WYSO listening community and is
populated by underwriters and friends of the WYSO general manager,
Miller said that the board, while given oversight responsibility for the
stations budget in its bylaws, has not seen a budget for WYSO in
over a year.
No board can function effectively without a review of the budget
and monthly financial position of the endeavor to which it provides advice
and resources, said Miller, who first raised concerns over the boards
effectiveness and the stations fiscal health last July. The station
later reported a $100,000 deficit for last fiscal year.
Watts said that he sent a station budget to the boards finance committee
for review six weeks ago, and that anyone may see the budget in the Antioch
College library. Its not a secret document, he said.
Ellis Jones said that while the boards bylaws give it oversight
authority, in reality the vice chancellor is running the station
and ignoring recommendations of the board.
At issue is which body, the university or the board, has the authority
to oversee station activities, both Watts and Resource Board members said.
While the boards bylaws give it oversight responsibility for the
stations finances and management, that oversight responsibility
is only advisory, Watts said.
Under the current structure, the board is not a governance board
but an advisory board, he said.
The lack of clarity does contribute to the boards difficulties,
said Chuck Vella, vice president of the Resource Board.
From our perspective, its an issue, he said. The
bylaws are ambiguous.
Currently, he said, the board is working with the university trustees
and administrator to clarify its role and responsibilities.
Watts also said he believes that WYSO is healthier than ever, with lively
and popular programming and the largest audience weve ever
While Miller said that she believes Watts and Spencer want an ineffective
board, Watts said, I think the role of the board is important.
I believe most of the board feels paid attention to.
In an interview this week, the Resource Board president, Randy Daniel,
said, We appreciate the contributions that both Fay and Char have
made and are disappointed to hear that theyre leaving the
Daniel said that he disagrees with Millers assertion that the board
is ineffective. I think we are broad-based and trying to be more
so, he said. We are working hard to do the best we can.
Watts, who oversees WYSO, said in an interview that the resignations and
former board members criticism took him by surprise. The board recently
held a retreat, he said, and we thought it was highly successful
and we made progress closing the gaps between members.
Spencer was out of the office for several days this week and was not available
for comment. Craiglow could not be reached.
The resignations reduce to 11 the number of remaining Resource Board members,
who include Daniel, Chuck Vella, Joe Colvin, Nancy Nash, Bonnie Parrish,
Neil Meermans, Ed Humphrys, Dione Kennedy, Alex Williams and Jeffrey Dundon.
In her letter, Ellis Jones, an Antioch University faculty member, cited
as her main concern that the station, under its current leadership,
is divorced from any educational mission.
The board has had no representative from Antioch College for more than
two years, she said, adding that she has repeatedly requested that the
colleges seat on the board be filled, but I dont get
Ellis Jones said that the lack of a college voice has contributed to the
stations moving away from its original educational mission.
The college has not had a representative on the board because it hasnt
found someone willing to assume the responsibility, Watts said.
However, when told that Antioch professor Ann Bohlen volunteered for the
position many months ago, Watts acknowledged her offer but said that her
vision of the station may have been different from that of other
board members and that being supportive of the station is a requisite.
When told that retired professor Al Denman has also offered to fill the
college seat, Watts said that according to the bylaws, the college representative
must currently be employed by the institution.
Watts said that he hopes to fill both the college seat and the Antioch
University McGregor seat, which Ellis Jones held, in the near future.
Were working on ways to create a closer educational relationship
with the college, he said, including continuing a class in broadcasting
that was revived last fall after a hiatus of several years.
Regarding her accusation of misuse of public funds, Miller
said that the board communicated to Watts its concern that Spencer allegedly
had excessive absences from work.
I believe when the manager doesnt come to work and still collects
paychecks, thats a misuse of funds, she said.
Watts would not comment on the question of Spencers alleged absenteeism.
Thats a personnel matter, and Im not at liberty to discuss
it, he said.
The board also had developed a performance plan for Spencer that, she
said, Watts did not communicate to the station manager.
It was not clear whether Watts did share the plan with Spencer. If
I say yes it sounds like Im endorsing the plan, and
if I say no, it sounds like nothing has been done, he
said. Neither is true.
Antioch Universitys handling of the performance plan reflects its
dismissal of the board, said Ellis Jones.
In defense of the board, they have tried to do their job. They have
made recommendations to the university for certain actions, but those
recommendations have been ignored, she said.