|A field of dreams in Mendocino County|
Things are generally peaceful in Mendocino County in Northern California. After all, this is the area where some the finest wine and marijuana in the nation comes from.
But, not everyone is in high spirits these days. Chaos and accusations of malfeasance have risen at Mendocino’s local public radio station, KZYX, based in the town of Philo.
KZYX [link], operated by nonprofit Mendocino County Broadcasting, is a unique blend of NPR News, lefty talk programs such as Democracy Now! and music shows hosted by volunteers. Unfortunately KZYX is operated like an old-school community station where everyone has a say about the day-to-day operation of the station.
Recently reports have surfaced that KZYX may be in trouble with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), one of their largest sources of revenue. Last week a letter to the editor appeared in the Anderson Valley Advertiser [link] saying that two inspectors from CPB’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) had visited the station on April 17th and 18th seeking to audit the stations finances.
The author of the letter, Larry Minson, a former KXYZ Board member, employee and volunteer reported the incident this way:
Minson: [CPB’s visit was] precipitated by my account of improprieties by the station management, which I observed as a member of the KZYX Board of Directors.
Just before returning home, they [CPB] interviewed me for an hour and a half in a private conference room at the Fort Bragg Public Library.
During my interview, they asked that I treat our discussion as confidential until the process is complete, so I won’t go into any details at this time.
Minson also said in his letter that KZYX’s management had allegedly showered personal friends with made-up jobs via secret hirings and are guilty of criminally negligent Board of Directors.
Spark News reached out to CPB to verify that OIG inspection actually occurred but we had not heard back when this story was posted. We also contact KZYX's GM Jeffery Parker and did not receive a reply.
FIGHTING WORDS AT KZYX
|Scene of the Board meeting ruckus|
This isn’t the first time such acrimony and strife has occurred at meetings of Mendocino County Public Broadcasting’s Board of Directors.
According to a news report published on May 3, 2016 on the website Mendocino TV [link] police were called to Point Noyo, a local watering hole where an open Board meeting was in progress. The topic was the election of new Board members and some folks weren’t pleased with the choices.
[Lesson: Don’t hold Board meetings in a bar.]
A member of KZYX, who was not identified in the report, created a ruckus in the crowded meeting space saying he wanted his opinion to be heard.
Two KZYX employees, Jeff Wright and Derek Hoyle, physically defended the honor of the station. Things were ugly and fists were flying.
WHISTLE BLOWERS OR WHINERS?
Derek Hoyle is no longer an employee of KZYX. He resigned after 13 years at the station in 2017. Hoyle publically explained his decision in a letter to the editor of Anderson Valley Advertiser [link] titled My Life at KZYX:
I stood up publicly and privately and loudly for over a decade about how poor the management was at KZYX. I stood up and pointed out Illegal board and management behavior and I still kept my two radio shows [on the station].
Everyone else who dared speak out was banned from KZYX, but I had the goods on them and they knew it. During my time there I know of at least seven programmers who were kicked off the air due to personal conflicts with management. Nothing changed.
[KZYX’s] management and their supporters flocked to [Board] meetings to YELL over those who were speaking to let the public know the station management and board were acting illegally. [Reference to the Point Noyo fight]
This was accepted behavior by the board. All I ever got were rude insults and threats of losing my radio shows, from [KZYX managers.]
It was corrupt as hell there and [KZYX is] a sham of a community radio station.
Unless CPB’s audit turns up malfeasance, we assume that the complaints are coming from disgruntled folks who have too much time on their hands.