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Majority of WJFF board resigns; a new era for Radio Catskill?

By Linda Drollinger
April 19, 2013

“The past four years have not been fun at WJFF.” That statement, made by one long-time volunteer during the heated April 17 meeting of WJFF’s Board of Trustees (BOT), apparently characterized the feeling of many volunteers at the meeting toward WJFF management during Station Manager Winston Clark’s tenure; Clark resigned his post at 5 p.m. on Friday, April 12. Adam Weinreich was named interim station manager until a new station manager can be hired.

Tempers flared in a room so full of volunteers that they spilled into the hallway and down the stairwell of the Jeffersonville Village Hall. Most of them were forced to stand for the duration of the meeting. The board decided that a larger venue must be found for future meetings. Although several were mentioned, none had been selected by meeting’s end.

Board President Dawn Dorcas opened the meeting with a prepared statement acknowledging the dissatisfaction among volunteers that prompted Clark’s resignation. Defending WJFF management, she asserted that actions by Clark and/or the board had been taken to ensure WJFF’s viability and sustainability.

Dorcas stated that at year-end 2008 Radio Catskill had an operating deficit of $58,100. On April 1, 2009, it had $116,822.92 in assets, and by April 1, 2013, it had assets of $344,538. All of these assertions were challenged by volunteers, who called for an audit of WJFF’s books and requested that the board step down.

Calls for the board to step down were prompted by three central issues. The first issue is the board’s alleged complicity in Clark’s unilateral decision-making. The second issue is the question of whether or not Radio Catskill is in compliance with FCC and Corporation of Public Broadcasting (CPB) regulations requiring regular, open meetings of a Citizens Advisory Board (CAB); the board contends that Radio Catskill is in full compliance, but the volunteers insist that it has been in violation of those regulations since the board-ordered dissolution of its CAB in 2009. The third issue is an allegation of voting irregularities in the most recent board election. A complaint was lodged claiming that volunteers were being pressured by a board member into supporting one candidate over another. And board members acknowledged the possibility that not all eligible voters had received ballots.

Resignation Announcement
The following statement was issued by eight members of the WJFF Board of Trustees on Friday, April 19. “It is with profound regret and sadness that we have resigned as members of the WJFF Board of Trustees. In recent months, and in particular in our last two board meetings, we have been subjected to personal attacks and unfounded accusations of financial and ethical violations, none of which are true. We believe our efforts have stabilized the station’s financial position and improved its programming for the benefit of the wide WJFF communities as we have strived to look outward rather than inward. Any further debate as to the future of the station can now continue without us. We wish Adam Weinreich, the interim station manager, success in his endeavor and thank the many dedicated volunteers for their work and support.”

The statement was singed by Dawn Dorcas, President; Rose Brown, Vice President; Fern Lee Hagedorn, Secretary; Michael Propst, Treasurer; Steve Van Benschoten; Deborah Chandler; Darlene Midlang; Art Steinhauer