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HSU students,Damian Jimenez and Megan Martin | Photo by Freddy Brewster

Student interns fired from radio station

The future of the KHSU radio station is still in limbo

Megan Martin and Damian Jimenez are out a job, out a class and wondering if the past few weeks of their work at KHSU was all for nothing.

They are just two of the student interns that worked at the radio station before it was gutted on April 11 by the Rossbacher administration. Martin and Jimenez were working under the tutelage of staff and volunteers, some of whom had been working at the station for over 30 years.

But now, with just a few weeks left in the semester, the former interns are left wondering, “WTF am I going to do now?”

“I feel cheated out of these last couple of weeks,” Martin said. “I really felt that these last few weeks were going to be beneficial to my college career.”

Hmuboldt State University student and former KHSU employee Megan Martin hugs former station manager Lorna Bryant outside of the station on April 11, 2019. | Photo by Thomas Lal

Martin and Jimenez were enrolled in the “KHSU Experience” class this semester and had their learning experience cut short by the decision to gut the radio station. HSU President Lisa Rossbacher said that part of the decision for the drastic cuts to the radio station was to promote more student involvement at the station. However, the interns at the station were given “zero notice” about the station firings.

“I walked up to the school and saw cop cars at KHSU and that’s how I knew something weird was happening,” Martin said. “I was reading stories on the Mad River Union about how the student interns were out of luck. [Frank Whitlach] was giving interviews about us students, without ever reaching out to us.”

Trying to find someone in the administration to answer any questions about the lack of student notice has a been quite the ordeal. Frank Whitlach, associate vice president of marketing and communications, has been hard to reach and is currently on vacation.

Vice President of University Advancement, Craig Wruck, and one of the main persons in charge of the firings, has been out of his office since at least the day of the KHSU firings and “isn’t available for an interview.”

President Rossbacher commented on the KHSU firings on the day of the kerfuffle, but has not been available since then.

On the day of the firings, Whitlach sent an email to the student interns reassuring them that their “student assistant positions will continue as planned for the remainder of the semester.”

However, that “reassurance” seems to have fallen apart. As of now the future of the student interns is being discussed with the Journalism Department Chair Deidre Pike and Whitlach about what the steps moving forward will be.

One option is to pay the students out for the remainder of the semester and to figure out how they will be given course credit for their work so far.

“We were student assistants, getting paid,” Jimenez said. “I depended on that money.”

The Associated Students of HSU also played a role in the gutting of KHSU. In an email obtained by the Lumberjack, Student Representatives Maddie Halloran and Eden Lolley were co-authors of the Associated Students Draft Resolution No. 2018-19-08 “An Act of Formal Support for Increased Student Involvement in KHSU Radio Station.”

The email says that the goal of the resolution is to “encourage the KHSU station to increase student positions, student-produced content, student air time, and more.”

“Craig Wruck came to our board in the fall and said that funds from HSU students is going towards funding [KHSU] and that there isn’t a lot of students employed there,” Halloran said. “The KHSU gutting took us all by surprise.”

Danielle Orr who has volunteered at KHSU for 39 years talks with former paid intern Damien Jimenez outside of Feuerwerker House where the KHSU station has been based on the HSU campus on April 11, 2019. | Photo by Thomas Lal

Both Martin and Jimenez said that they were never spoken to about their roles at KHSU and that the whole situation lacked clear communication between those in charge and the ones now suffering from the fall out.

“The university keeps on having this top down management style that says ‘more students need to be involved in the station,’” Jimenez said. “But I don’t think they understand the value of the station to me as a student. No one ever asked me why it’s important. I could go there and get professional experience. If there is just a bunch of students there, what’s going to make it not just KRFH 2.0.”

Also missing from the AS resolution is recognition of the declining numbers of the KRFH news class. Amy Berkowitz, faculty advisor for KRFH news, said there has not been “enough bodies to support it” recently.

“I have been asked on several occasions about helping KHSU and we have said that is not necessary because we have KRFH,” Berkowitz said.

The future of the KHSU radio station is still in limbo. Currently there are zero employees or volunteers at the station and a broadcast out of Chico fills the airwaves. With the dismantling of the radio station, the football program, and the 3rd Street Art Gallery, one has to wonder what’s next?

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