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WCQS declines to respond to challengers Board chair who promised response misses meeting
Saturday, 14 April 2012 19:18

Four members of the Ad-Hoc Committee for Responsive Public Radio — a group which has challenged WCQS-FM’s FCC license renewal — said they left the WCQS Board of Directors meeting March 21 “surprised and disappointed” that the board did not respond to the letter the panel sent to the it more than two months ago.

The committee’s letter included suggestions for how the station could be more responsive to the community.

“I had an e-mail from board Chair Bryan Smith saying that our letter would be discussed at an executive committee hearing and the results reported at today’s meeting,” Weaverville resident Fred Flaxman, the committee’s organizer, said. “Believing Smith to be a man who was good for his word, John Campbell, George DeWalder, Mary Hall Rodman and I sacrificed our lunch period to attend the board meeting.”

Afterward, Flaxman went home where he later discovered an e-mail from WCQS board Vice Chair Chuck Cloninger, who chaired the meeting in Smith’s absence, saying that there would be no response to the Ad-Hoc Committee’s letter because “the legal matter of your petition filed with the FCC to deny relicensing to us is still pending, we have no comment regarding you or your committee.”

WCQS’ chief Jody Miller did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking her response to Flaxman at mid-morning April 4.

In responding to the Cloninger’s e-mail, Flaxman said, “The FCC encourages parties involved in a dispute like ours to try to reach an agreement which would permit the Ad-Hoc Committee for Responsive Public Radio to withdraw its petition to deny WCQS its license renewals.

“So your refusal to meet with us or respond to our letter is further evidence that your station does not deserve to have its licenses to operate public radio stations renewed, and we shall add this correspondence to our FCC filing.

Flaxman went on to remind the WCQS board vice chair that should the FCC not decide in favor of the committee’s petition, the committee has the right to appeal and to take this matter to court.  But Flaxman said he feels that the committee’s license challenge will be successful, considering WCQS’s “track record of violating federal law and filing false affidavits with CPB.

“We thought it was in the best interest of all parties (except the lawyers) to reach an agreement,” which he thought would be possible if WCQS had the best interests of the community in mind. Fllaxman called it “an irresponsible decision on WCQS’s part to continue to spend listener donations on attorneys rather than programming and personnel, turning down the opportunity to reach an agreement with us on this subject.”

Flaxman wrote Smith, the board chairman, that he was going to recommend tohis committeeo that it take back its offer to withdraw the FCC petition, which depended on WCQS showing responsiveness to its concerns by meeting with the committee to discuss its issues with the station.

However, Flaxman noted, WCQS has not offered to meet with them or “even had the basic courtesy to respond in any way to our letter and proposals in more than two months.

“It seems that WCQS is so sure it will retain its FCC licenses that it decided to stiff us rather than meet with us or respond to any of our perfectly reasonable proposals for making the station more responsive,” Flaxman said.

He added that those 14 one-paragraph proposals are available upon request by e-mailing him at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . Anyone wishing to join the Ad-Hoc Committee should also contact Flaxman at that address, he said, noting that the it had 30 members when its FCC petition was filed.

As for what did transpire at the WCQS board meeting, Flaxman wrote to Chairman Smith that his committee members  “couldn’t help but notice how similar it was to an equivalent meeting at a commercial radio station.

“Virtually the entire public part of the meeting was devoted to audience ratings, income and the like,” he wrote, “with no discussion whatsoever of how well the station was serving its mission or the community, except for its effort to help other nonprofits while raising funds over the air for WCQS. No mention at all of local programming, or, more accurately, the lack of it....”

“In my opinion, ratings and money is not what public broadcasting is supposed to be about. When WCQS board meetings devote virtually all their time to the means (fund-raising) rather than the ends (high quality local, national and international radio programming), there is something terribly wrong with your priorities,” Flaxman asserted.


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