November 27, 2003


Vick Mickunas


WYSO music director placed on administrative leave

Vick Mickunas, the WYSO music director and radio host, was taken off the air and placed on administrative leave last Thursday.

Antioch University officials would not comment on the reasons for the move nor what comes next, describing the situation as a personnel matter that cannot be discussed until it is resolved.

A 10-year veteran of the station, Mickunas hosts the music program “Excursions” and the popular “Book Nook,” an author-interview program.

Many local residents and station supporters responded to the news with alarm at what they perceive as continuing problems between some WYSO employees and station management. A year ago, News Director Aileen LeBlanc quit WYSO, citing difficulty working with station management. In the spring of 2002, the station’s general manager, Steve Spencer, cut several volunteer-hosted programs, sparking protests and leading to the formation of the group Keep WYSO Local, which has been critical of the station management.

The concern over Mickunas’s suspension spread beyond Yellow Springs.

“I’m stunned,” Sharon Kelly Roth, the director of public relations at Books & Co. was quoted as saying in a Nov. 22 Dayton Daily News article on the action. “He [Mickunas] is regarded as the best interviewer in the country by the authors who come to town. He’s so wonderful at what he does.”

Contacted by the Yellow Springs News on Monday, Spencer immediately hung up the phone. Tim Tattan, the WYSO program director, did not return a phone call, and an answering machine at the home of Mickunas said that Antioch University had forbidden him to speak to the media.

The Dayton Daily News reported that Mickunas was being investigated for “insubordination,” citing as a source an e-mail from Andy Valeri, who the Daily News described as a Dayton media activist who is critical of Spencer’s management.

However, since that time Antioch University officials have dissociated the action from station management.

Mickunas “was placed on paid administrative leave by the university, not by WYSO management,” Suzette Castonguay, the Antioch University director of human resources said in a statement Tuesday. “The university’s action was not related to Mr. Mickunas’s on-air performance; however we cannot comment on the reason for placing Mr. Mickunas on administrative leave because it is the policy of Antioch University that all personnel matters remain confidential. An internal investigation is underway, and when the internal investigation is completed, University officials will determine whether or not any further disciplinary action is warranted.”

According to Lisa Vantrease of Beavercreek, who called Spencer to register her distress at the action, Spencer said that he personally hoped to see Mickunas back on the air but that the Antioch University administration has “grave concerns” about Mickunas.

However, it is not clear what those concerns are or exactly which administrators have them.

University Vice Chancellor Glenn Watts, who oversees the station, has been out of the country since the beginning of the month, and is unavailable for comment. According to Castonguay, in Watts’s absence, decisions are directed to Chancellor Jim Craiglow, who spends most of his time at Antioch New England in Keene, N.H.

However, Bev Francis, a member of Keep WYSO Local, contacted Craiglow last Thursday immediately after learning of the action against Mickunas. She said that Craiglow reacted with surprise when told the news, and had not been told of the action.

Asked this week if he knew that Mickunas was going to be placed on leave before hand, Craiglow said “I’m not going to answer that.”

Told that Craiglow did not seem to have knowledge of the disciplinary action before it happened, Castonguay responded, “No one was aware before it happened. It just happened.”

Castonguay also said that it “would be inappropriate,” to speculate who was responsible for the disciplinary action. She did say that as human resources director she formally signed off on Mickunas’s administrative leave.

Randy Daniel, the president of the WYSO Resource Board, said that the board had no role in the actio n. He also said that “Vick is a great on-air personality and I hope it gets resolved.”

Daniel said that he has no concern about Spencer’s management style.

“People come, people go in any kind of business,” he said.

—Diane Chiddister