WESU Board Meeting — 3/7/17
Meeting with CC of 9/11 Wake Up Call (These notes are more of a play-by-play than a summary since it was a very long discussion):
- We are in a new meeting space outside Ben M’s office because we have many guests this meeting. Three DJs and Rick are also here. Thank you everyone for coming!
- CC would like to hear about the evidence and justification for not airing 9/11 Wake-Up Call. Response that over the past year or two, people have been listening to the show and found guests or people whose clips that have played on the show that we don’t find credible and we don’t want to provide a platform for those voices. We don’t think those opinions or voices have been investigated. Specific concerns are guests who espouse beliefs that the Holocaust or Sandy Hook did not happen.
- CC says that she never had a guest on the show who doesn’t believe the Holocaust or Sandy Hook happened. Abby points to James Fetzer as an example, but CC says that she never mentioned his websites or promoted him in other way. Abby also points to Christopher Bollyn, who has never been on the show but whose work has been promoted on the show. She notes that Bollyn has talked about the “Jewish-controlled media” and that he has written for a publication noted by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a “hate group,” but CC challenges that the SPLC may not be credible.
- CC is concerned about guilt by association, but the board is concerned that guests on the show are promoted as credible but are not credible. Abby says that we don’t believe WESU should be a place promoting such voices unchallenged. CC does not understand or agree with those concerns.
- H, a DJ, says that she is questioning how this investigation into the 9/11 Wake-Up Call show started. Is it one person who heard one show? She is also concerned about guilt by association. H has guests on all the time about mental health and is concerned about having to account for everyone’s views. Where are the guidelines?
- Adam wants to draw a distinction between all of the things, saying that CC did not preface the speech by Fetzer by acknowledging his questionable views about Sandy Hook or the Holocaust. CC agrees that she doesn’t do that with any of her guests, but Adam argues that the context of the guests is very important and has been ignored on the show, not only in Fetzer’s case but in many others as well. He compares the incident to recent events at Middlebury College and how context about the guest in that incident was provided. CC says she would be open to providing more context and recognizing other harmful and dangerous things they have said in the past.
- Ben M saying that Adam’s concern is understandable, but he thinks that everyone is going to react however they are going to react. The proper response is to bring attention to the host in order to find a compromise. He wants to take into account the board’s, listeners’, and the producer’s concerns.
- Adam says we can agree that the process was flawed but that we should focus on what we can do in this moment, which is why we are meeting with CC in the first place.
- Abby thinks that we disagree on individual claims, but we are arguing guilt by association because we are saying that the guests are not credible and espousing hateful views. The board is concerned about the presentation of guests, which is CC’s responsibility on her show. Ben M explains the board’s concerns, saying that there are guests promoted by the show that the board is not comfortable with the station promoting without question or scrutiny. CC disagrees, saying that Fetzer is a credible guest since he is a professor and she has not found anything to fault on what he said on her show.
- Lara says additionally that we have limited spots for syndicated programming so we wanted to fill those spots with shows that we feel proud of and don’t have concerns with.
- Ben M saying that the evidence is not representative of the entire spectrum of the show and that the show has been widely supported by listeners. He suggests a disclaimer for the show.
- Adam is worried that he doesn’t feel as if the show is adhering to the mission statement, and Lara adds that the political climate of what “marginalized perspectives” means has changed in the nation. Lara says that we feel like the guests being legitimized on this program are doing harm to marginalized communities in this country, not necessarily on the show but in general. She says that if she tuned in and heard Alex Jones without any questioning of his beliefs, she wouldn’t tune into the station again. Adam also says that 9/11 truthers should not be thought of as marginalized voices because they are not systematically oppressed by the state, denied housing, denied jobs, etc. It’s hard to equate two different marginalized perspectives in that 9/11 truthers is not an identity being discriminated against.
- L, a DJ, observes that the show has been on for seven years but it is still a syndicated show, which reflects a larger issue that it hasn’t become a WESU show. He believes despite having fundamental disagreements about the content that the station has an obligation to do right by the show because of the length of time it has been on air. has an observation about the syndication part. Another DJ, M, agrees, saying that CC has expressed willingness to tweak her approach which shows good faith.
- In order to reach a compromise, Adam says that we need to understand each other’s rationale.
- Responding to L’s concerns, Zazie Zazie says that for our schedule first we put in the programs that we do in-house and everyone goes through a show application process and we review them all. A syndicated show has no review process, and we just change it every year depending on what fits best for that. There is no mechanism for reviewing it. The other changes made this year were done without any review. That’s how this programming decision happened because there isn’t a review mechanism for syndicated programming. She says that ethical concerns are always a factor in programming decisions, including the decision to reduce NPR programming.
- Abby says that we are not banning CC from being a staff member or having a show and therefore that we could review the show in the future. CC would even be willing to never air these guests or programs again.
- H reads the mission statement, which says that WESU airs material generally absent from the airwaves and provides opportunity for social and political engagement. She says that this show fits in with that. As a community member and producer and host, H feels very left out and very confused. What are the criteria for filling or not filling the other syndicated slots? She is concerned about board turn-around every year and wondering about how we are going to think about things that will change from year to year because the students change. It leaves some DJs in a state of confusion as to what is going on and what we can refer to for help. Abby agrees, saying we should talk more about board continuity.
- CC states again that she doesn’t think the guests she has on are uncredible. Wyatt brings up the idea that people who espouse anti-semitic or xenophobic views might be uncredible. We get to a point where we might simply disagree on these issues.
- Beth is saying that this conversation has been happening for six weeks, so her suggestion is to look towards the future but the problem cannot be solved in one meeting based on its past. She expresses disappointment in communication, but wants to move forward with more clear discussion.
- Ben M is saying that the board’s concern is if CC is having people on the show who are known as anti-semites, it is necessary to acknowledge those things during the show. It’s about asking those guests the hard questions. Ben M’s suggestions are to create a disclaimer (which we should be doing for all public affairs shows), to offer varying viewpoints, and to say if you take issue with anything you hear please let us know if you find it inappropriate. CC expresses that she is open to these ideas. Ben M also suggests that she go through the training program to create standards for her and her show and a process for review through show applications. If we are a community station, our biggest standard should be to respect each other and have an open communication.
- Ben G says that he is open to Ben M’s suggestions but we still need to figure out what those ideas and changes would be to properly address the board’s concerns because, at the moment, CC is willing to compromise but does not understand or agree with why the board is concerned. Beth agrees, saying that the conversation can’t be over after all of these weeks of debate.
- A proposed solution during the meeting: sending CC our concerns and outlines of what we would like to see, CC responding to those concerns in a detailed and concrete manner, and having her go through station training and a show application process to see if our issues have been addressed.
- Zazie addresses other concerns that CC has said that the board’s decisions are influenced by outside sources in emails. The board says that there is no one influencing them, and that these allegations have been off-putting and threatening. CC apologizes after L also insists that this is not the case.
- Ben M is asking for any last perspectives to hear from before we wrap. We are not at a place where we can make a plan moving forward. The board needs to regroup and where we are with this moving forward but this lays out a path. This may take awhile since students are on spring break the next two weeks.
- Ben M says it is a natural thing to have a problem like this. It is important that we have a public affairs guideline to prevent situations like this. The guidelines should in the long run prevent situations like this.
CS Production Help:
- Will anyone be here over the summer? CS wants someone to help her with production stuff, but no one in the room knows of anything. She should email the staff, but we will keep looking.
Board Note Discussion:
- Board notes kept as a resource and abbreviations for privacy, but they are open for anyone who asks. We need to make sure they are up to date and very clear and specific but the abbreviations need to stay in there for confidentiality.
- WesFest is coming up and Beth booked it! It is April 14th and she applied for an Open House like we did during Parent’s Weekend. It would be 1-2 hours. This is a Friday.
- Beth also says that staff members joining the discussion today was great and we should do that more. It would be great to have a united staff of WESU so that we can all be on a similar page.
- We need to get a Record Fair FB page out there before spring break hopefully. Wyatt will do that before spring break and Lara will get a promo out there.
- Vendor with a disability wants to use the first floor since he can’t use elevators, but we will make space for him on the floor and move some of the tables upstairs. Wyatt will forward the info to Ben M.
- Room for Laura Walker is in Downey with a capacity of 50 people. It’s lecture style but still small enough to be cozy. It is April 7th, Wyatt just asked if it would be okay to open up the conversation to community members.
- Wesleyan events staff said that the parking lot for a block party is no-go because of safety concerns, but Wyatt and Ben M want to talk to CL about it. The other idea would be Andrus, but we want it to be a community engagement thing instead of just geared to students. So we should talk to CL about this.
- If stuff happens over break, Helly and Ben G will be here for the second week.
- Spring break programming looking good – still a number of open spots.
- Ben M didn’t have a problem making an account yesterday, but new members are telling Babe that they are having trouble making an account.
- It might be a glitch since it is working now. Seems like it could be working now.
- Babe says that the calendar is good through the end of April now.
Studio B Desktop Files:
- Where did all of these files go? All the desktop files are gone, which has hurt some staff member’s files.
- It must have happened between last Saturday and now. Ben M will alert staff that we shouldn’t save stuff on the desktop or delete people’s work.
- The sooner the better for these things, especially since we are getting back from break so late.
- Wyatt will get the bumper sticker to us very soon.
- The mailing is going out over break, so we will need these designs very soon. Starting on-air pitching right when we get back.
- Julia says that the shirt is almost done, but that we should have it done by the weekend. She will send what we have to Ben M right now.
- We are also thinking about a tote bag with last year’s T-shirt design.
- Do we want a normal/classic one? Yes, we could throw that together very easily. We will look at the normal/classic ones in an email and decide then.