CARBONDALE — A community radio station manager claims the station's Board of Directors has been hands-off and absent in the management and day-to-day operations of the business, and he and volunteers need them to resign so the entity can move forward.
In an open letter to the Southern Illinois community, Dave Armstrong, station manager at WDBX 91.1 FM, Advisory Board members and some volunteers called for the resignation of the station's governing board — the Heterodyne Broadcasting Co.'s Board of Directors — Armstrong's bosses.
The station volunteers shared the letter on the radio station's Facebook page, calling for the resignation of the Heterodyne Board of Directors, which runs the station. The radio station is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation.
The letter-writers criticized the now two-member board for being distant and disengaged in the oversight of the station.
Armstrong said he planned a meeting with the board on Dec. 12, intending to discuss future direction for the station.
Shortly after they came together, the three board members entered executive session, to which Armstrong said he was excluded. During that meeting, one of the board members, Navreet Kang, resigned. He said the other two board members left without talking to him.
Armstrong said the next day, he and some advisory board members and volunteers wrote an internal email to Egert and Turk, setting the one-week deadline to respond to their concerns.
After the seven-day deadline, the group posted the open letter to its Facebook page.
In the open letter, the letter writers suggest that once the board resigns, that a committee convene to appoint a new seven-member governing board.
"A timeline of one week was set to begin this process — to have a meaningful meeting with this goal in mind, and to start the difficult work necessary to move forward," the open letter reads. "It was also made clear that after that week, a lack of meaningful engagement from the Board members would result in our public expression of those demands, and a call for the resignation of all current Heterodyne Board members."
The letter was signed by Armstrong and five advisory board members, 11 volunteers, one underwriter/volunteer and one listener-supporter.
Sometime after the station was founded, the Heterodyne Board appointed an advisory board. Armstrong said that after some time, the advisory board members realized they had no real power or say in the management of the station.
Armstrong said, overwhelmingly, the community response to the letter has been positive.
Gene Turk, one of the Heterodyne Board members, said Armstrong plans to take over the station and privatize it. Turk, who said he was also speaking on behalf of fellow board member Tom Egert, said his next steps were to enjoy the coming holidays.
“It’s sad … that he is using a public forum for his own personal soapbox, not even soapbox, trying to take over,” Turk said.
"I want to enjoy Christmas," Turk said, "and then after Christmas, we’ll sit down and try to figure out what should we do here."
Kang noted that anyone considering taking over the station or the board needed to note that that came with a financial responsibility, such as management of about $75,000 in loans for the station. He and Turk said about $70,000 of that was for the building mortgage and the other $5,000-plus for a lot next to the station on Washington Street.
WDBX is run by about 100 volunteers — excluding Armstrong, its only paid staff member. The station has an operating budget of $100,000, about two-thirds of which comes from community donations and the other one-third from underwriters and sponsorships.
Now that Kang, who handled the station's financial matters, has resigned, Armstrong said he is not sure who would authorize the payment of his paycheck. But,he added, he is not worried about that at this point.