In non-profit lingo, boards of directors set policy, and committees that report to the board recommend action which must match organizational policy. At least that’s the way it usually works. But this week the program committee for KHEN radio, the Chaffee County community radio station based in Salida, appears to have gotten out a bit ahead of its skis. While the program committee apparently told Sandy Farrell that the one-hour political commentary show she had proposed could be scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Monday, the KHEN Board of Directors has yet to review the recommendation.
This is contrary to information spreading on a social media site called “Chaffee County Issues and Politics” in a comment posted by Chaffee County Republican Chair Dave Williams. Among his comments: “Ironically, the first week’s topic was supposed to be ‘is there a place in Salida for conservatives?’ Well, apparently not at KHEN.”
KHEN Board President Leslie Matthews say KHEN did not “pull the plug” as Williams claimed.
“We’ve postponed the program committee’s show schedule one week to allow time for the board of directors to review this,” said Matthews, who notified Farrell in writing on Aug. 2 of the postponement. “This came up and our board doesn’t meet until Aug. 5. We didn’t cancel it. We simply postponed it a week so the board could review the proposed focus related to our IRS non-profit status as well as our standing with the FCC [Federal Communications Commission]. [Farrell’s] application says it is going to be a political opinion show. KHEN is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit media and the protection of that status means that we have to be very careful about offering political commentary.”
The Facebook post by Williams specifically referenced local Chuck Rose (a former Salida mayor), who does a non-political issues interview show on KHEN, and KHEN’s subscription to air the National Public Radio show “Democracy Now” by Amy Goodman. Matthews said both are fact-based shows and that Rose’s interview format does not offer his opinion.
Matthews pointed out that KHEN vigorously protects its status as a nonprofit media. As in other nonprofits, committees recommend action to the board of directors but carry out actions upon the board’s direction, which are based on policy.
Matthews said the KHEN Board of Directors is consulting with one of the KHEN founders, Jane Carpenter, for her nonprofit expertise to address whether the show as proposed would jeopardize the station’s nonprofit status, an action that she included in her written notification to Farrell. She reiterated that KHEN has no problem with a conservative show.
“Our concern is our nonprofit IRS status, and that relates to all shows,” said Matthews. “It’s one thing to have an interview show where the opinions are coming from the people being interviewed. It’s another thing to have a program host giving their opinions.”
Farrell is the secretary of the Chaffee Republicans and formerly an on-air host at KHEN. She proposed a political commentary show called “The Other Side.” William’s social media comments referenced actions regarding KHEN as “get the far left folks off the air.”
He did not say how that would create a balanced narrative.
Editor’s Note: Ark Valley Voice Managing Editor Jan Wondra serves as a member of the KHEN board of directors.