KZYX License Renewed by FCC
by Sheila Dawn-Tracy, September 23, 2015
On September 15th, after almost two years of delay, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) finally granted renewal of the KZYX license.
The news was first received by Director Meg Courtney through an email from Congressman Jared Huffman's field representative, Heather Gurewitz.
The nine page document can be found on the station's website kzyx.org, though it was only through multiple efforts that I was able to find the link, an effort that I could not successfully reproduce.
Despite a statement made by the newly hired interim General Manager Stuart Campbell (as of the September 7th Board of Directors meeting) on the morning news segment the following day that the FCC found no legitimacy to the claims of the five informal objectors, the official response of the FCC was "to partly grant and otherwise deny the objection." The specific circumstance in which the FCC found the station to be in noncompliance with its regulations was the failure of the station to have one full-time staff employee and one management level employee at the main studio during business hours. That finding was in response to Director John Sakowicz's objection that there was no staff present in the Philo studio when he arrived to do his 9am show, All About Money.
Former GM, John Coate's declaration to the FCC that Sakowicz may have been unaware that management was in an adjacent building on the premises did not satisfy the requirement that both employees needed to be present in the main studio. FCC Chief of Audio Division, Peter Doyle "admonished MCPB" for its failure to have adequate staffing on site.
The FCC cited the lack of names and specific information regarding the termination of three male programmers as well as the failure to provide affidavits from the three individuals to deny the claim of discrimination by objector M. Kathryn Massey. It further stated that such claims were matters to be adjudicated by the state courts or decided by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC.)
It should be noted that none of the objectors had ever filed a complaint with a federal regulatory agency before and had no knowledge of the level of substantiation that was required. The FCC did not ask for or give an opportunity for objectors to respond to a request to supply additional information which would have enabled validation. In fact, it was generally thought that after a second period of accepting additional comments was allowed and subsequently closed, that no further input would be considered. This proved not to be the case.
The FCC included 18 letters of support to the station penned between June and September 2015, 14 of which had been written after my public comment at the Board of Directors meeting of June 29th that not a single letter of support of KZYX had been written to the FCC during the initial open input period.
Had it been known that the FCC was still accepting information to be used in arriving at a decision, I would refuted the false assertions regarding my involvement at Board meetings and my role as a reporter made by both the former Board President, Elaine Herring as well as the acting GM John Coate in their sworn declarations to the FCC, under the penalty of perjury.
In the area of objection that the reduction of news content had not been adequate to keep the community sufficiently informed, the FCC decided that not enough evidence had been provided by the objector to show that the "station aired an insufficient amount of issue responsive programming to meet its public interest obligation."
With respect to allegations made by Sakowicz that employees (reporter Aanestad and News Director Brooksher) were wrongfully terminated, the FCC found that such matters are more appropriately handled by the EEOC or other government agency and/or the courts. It specified that the FCC does not adjudicate whether a station has complied with its charter or its bylaws nor does it have the authority to replace its General Manager.
In trying to return to the FCC document on the website, I happened upon a certificate from The California Broadcasters Association that found KZYX&Z "fully compliant with FCC rules." It was dated 2012. I believe that certification is no longer valid and should be removed. I also found the GM's blog unchanged with a picture of Coate still smiling happily though he has been out of the management picture for over 10 weeks.
While he was still Board President, Stuart Campbell stated that he would be administering the GM's blog and yet no updating of information is evident. While a lot of changes have occurred since Coate resigned, keeping the Board busy, it is misleading to retain outdated information on its website. Since it is apparently in no one's domain, it is an indication that a website committee be added to the newly created list of Board committees.
In other KZYX news, a short synopsis of the September 7th Labor Day Board of Directors meeting had the Board attempting to hire Stuart Campbell as its interim General Manager until it was pointed out to them that he had not yet resigned as President of the Board, creating a conflict of interest, however brief. It appeared that the agenda had not been structured in a logical order requiring the Board to table the GM hiring to the last order of business. Campbell did resign as a Board member. Subsequently Director Meg Courtney was nominated to replace him as Board President. The nomination was seconded and approved by the rest of the Board with the exception of Director Sakowicz who was absent.
As a Director cannot hold two executive positions on the Board, Courtney then resigned as Board Secretary. She then proceeded to nominate Jane Futcher to the position of Vice President, failing to obtain the resignation of the current Vice President, Director Bob Page. I tried to point out the error but was not recognized to speak by the inexperienced new Board President. Courtney then nominated Page to fill her former position of Secretary to the Board. All nominations were blithely seconded and approved without any of the Board members realizing that Page had not formally agreed to relinquish his position as Vice President.
The Executive Committee of the Board had decided it was desirable to hire an interim GM to insure the smooth operation of the station while in the process of locating a new person to fill the vacant position.
Director Ed Keller made the motion to hire Stuart Campbell as interim GM. It was seconded and passed by unanimous agreement. Campbell will be present at the station three days a week and be available in an emergency.* He intends to return to his teaching duties by February 8th.
A more detailed report of the September 7th Board meeting will be forthcoming. The next meeting of the Board will be on the coast on Monday, November 2nd. Location TBA.
*At the time of the Board decision to hire Campbell, it was not known that the part time arrangement of three days a week was in violation of the FCC staffing requirements.