City Desk

WPFW Staff Declare No Confidence in GM

Staffers and volunteer programmers at WPFW, the D.C. "jazz and justice" radio station that is also Washington City Paper's neighbor one floor below, have declared no confidence in the station's general manager John Hughes, they announced in a press release this evening:

“Mr. Hughes has shown a willingness to circumvent station bylaws, ignore process, and demonstrated an aloof and dismissive attitude to WPFW’s volunteer programmers and paid, union staff – whose salaries were cut by more than half in an austerity move – while the HR Director, Development Director and Business Manager maintained their full salaries,” said Robyn Holden, host of the “Robyn’s Place” program.

The list of grievances outlined in the ‘Letter of No Confidence’ included concerns about the station’s Development Department and its failure to pursue grants and secure other forms of off-air funding for the station, as well as a decision by Mr. Hughes, to increase on-air fundraising just prior to the year-end holiday season with an extra drive that follows on the heels of an on-air drive completed in October 2011.

According to the release, Hughes "has refused over the 10 months of his tenure to call an All Station Meeting with WPFW programmers, in order to share his vision of the station’s future." The 80 on-air programmers who signed the statement also accuse Hughes of failing to address the station's need to move next year, when the building it shares with City Paper is demolished.

This isn't, of course, the first time the D.C. outpost of the Pacifica chain has seen staff discontent. Members of the largely volunteer programming corps organized last August following the firings of WPFW's station manager and programming director.

Read the full statement after the jump:

WPFW-FM’s ON-AIR PROGRAMMERS AND UNION STAFF DECLARE ‘NO CONFIDENCE’ IN GENERAL MANAGER

Unprecedented ‘No Confidence’ Statement Delivered to WPFW Local Station Board Decries GM’s Lack of Leadership and Vision.

WASHINGTON, D.C. On-air programmers and union staff of Washington, D.C.’s “Jazz and Justice” Radio, WPFW 89.3 FM, have declared ‘No Confidence’ in General Manager John Hughes after ten months of lackluster leadership.

On Wednesday evening, November 9th, members of WPFW Programmers Association – a non-profit organization representing a broad cross section of volunteer on-air hosts, producers and programmers at the station – presented a list of grievances at a meeting of the listener-elected Local Station Board (LSB), regarding a sense of “rudderless” management at the Pacifica Foundation-owned public radio station, precipitated by a lack of vision and leadership from station GM John Hughes.

In a statement read into the LSB’s public record by Jazz programmer Willard Jenkins, the ‘No Confidence’ letter stated the programmers are “aggrieved that GM John Hughes has performed in a manner that is incongruent with the principles of democratization that are the cornerstone of Pacifica’s core mission and by-laws, and has refused over the 10 months of his tenure to call an All Station Meeting with WPFW programmers,” in order to share his vision of the station’s future.

The two page ‘Letter of No Confidence’ – endorsed by more than 80 on-air programmers at the station – listed a wide array of grievances against Mr. Hughes, formerly a program executive at Howard University’s PBS-TV station, WHUT-TV Channel 32, who had also been a Program Director and GM at Clarke-Atlanta University’s radio station. The statement said Mr. Hughes has refused to meet with programmers at any time during his ten month tenure to share his plans to revamp WPFW’s faltering development department, and address the need for the station, operating in the recently sold City Paper Building in Adam’s-Morgan, to relocate before a July 2012 deadline.

“The station’s programmers are concerned that Mr. Hughes has not been transparent regarding the se issues and are confused by his rejection of the Local Station Board’s hands-down recommendation of long-time WPFW programmer and Operations Director Bob Daughtry, to serve as Program Director,” said Miyuki Williams, host of WPFW’s “Sunday Kind of Love” program. The board’s selection committee gave its highest score to Mr. Daughtry for the position.

“Mr. Hughes has shown a willingness to circumvent station bylaws, ignore process, and demonstrated an aloof and dismissive attitude to WPFW’s volunteer programmers and paid, union staff – whose salaries were cut by more than half in an austerity move – while the HR Director, Development Director and Business Manager maintained their full salaries,” said Robyn Holden, host of the “Robyn’s Place” program.

The list of grievances outlined in the ‘Letter of No Confidence’ included concerns about the station’s Development Department and its failure to pursue grants and secure other forms of off-air funding for the station, as well as a decision by Mr. Hughes, to increase on-air fundraising just prior to the year-end holiday season with an extra drive that follows on the heels of an on-air drive completed in October 2011.

“Our concern here is that in a tight local, national and global economy, our generous new members and loyal, long-time renewing listener/supporters are being abused. By all accounts, we, the programmers can attest from calls of complaint we take in the studios, our listeners are suffering fatigue and tuning out from a constant barrage of on-air begging by our news, public affairs and music programmers,” said Jim Byers, host of the “Classic Edition of the Latin Flavor”.

“The programmers at WPFW collectively represent the lifeblood of the station,” said WPFW Music Director, Katea Stitt. “The programmers are the frontline of integrity between our community of listeners and the station, so as a Pacifica Foundation station, how can we say we stand for principles of peace, social justice and righteous change when we’re faced with the antithesis of those principles right here in our own house?”

The Executive Committee of the ‘PFW Programmers Association (whose name reflects a longstanding tradition by Washington, D.C. area listeners of dropping the “W” from the call letters), have invited and received acceptance from the Local Station Board to hold a closed meeting to discuss these issues and find a satisfactory path to resolution.

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