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Lone WJFF board member presses on; Majority resigns in the wake of heated criticism

Turmoil leads to turnover at WJFF.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Linda Drollinger and Fritz Mayer
April 24, 2013

The mass resignation of all but one of the board members of radio station WJFF prompted this statement from Sonja Hedlund, the lone remaining member. “Sudden changes in the makeup of the WJFF Board of Trustees have created an unprecedented situation for us. We are working carefully with broadcast and non-profit attorneys to ensure that the proper steps are taken to re-build the board. Radio Catskill remains committed to making available to our listening community a broad range of ideas and ideals useful to a full and enlightened life. We are encouraged by support from our community of listeners and our family of volunteers and are eager to continue our services to the community.”

That came after an earlier statement from eight of the nine board members issued on 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.”

That followed a heated meeting on April 17 of the WJFF Board of Trustees (BoT). “The past four years have not been fun at WJFF.” That statement, made by one long-time volunteer during the meeting, apparently characterized the feeling of many volunteers toward WJFF management during station manager Winston Clark’s tenure; Clark resigned his post 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.

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.