Future of WNC Community Media Center board in doubt after several members resign

Several members of the WNC Community Media Center Board of Directors have resigned, raising more questions about its solvency.

The board has been in the midst of a dispute with Buncombe County over funds to operate public access channel URTV. Meanwhile, the city of Asheville is in the process of seizing its video equipment and its staff isn’t recommending a renewal of the center’s contract.

Bob Horn, formerly the board’s vice president and spokesperson, announced his resignation in a May 24 e-mail statement.

“I resigned in protest. … I believe Asheville and Buncombe County citizens will never see their public access cable channel rise again for obvious political reason,” he asserts. “Especially, when you consider the way the demise of PATV was premeditated behind the scenes by disingenuous maneuvers of Buncombe County as stated at http://www.educateyou.comurtv.”

His announcement follows resignations by board members Joe Scotto, treasurer, and Dale Joyner. Matt Howard, who was appointed to the board by the city, has also reportedly resigned, although at this writing, Howard had not confirmed it.

Joyner describes the last meeting of the board, held May 12, as “a clown show,” asserting that it was “a big joke” and that she wasn’t in favor of taking legal action against Buncombe County.

Meanwhile, board member David Connor Jones reports that the Media Center’s attempts to find a lawyer to work on its behalf pro-bono were unsuccessful.

“It’s a sad state of affairs. It’s not been very organized getting a legal team,” he reveals.  “I think there’s things that could’ve been done earlier on, but no one really thought they [Buncombe County] would stonewalls us, but they did. Politically they could; it’s pretty easy just to say, ‘this is our opinion on the matter, we’re standing by it.’ Which basically says, ‘unless you take us to a court that’s going to rule otherwise, we’re not going to budge.’”

Jones says the board has also had a hard time finding production alternatives after it closed its studio operations on May 14.

“The plan was to try to keep the channel solvent until we could try to figure out a new place that would be cheaper, that we could run the channel out of, but that would’ve required renegotiating all kinds of things with the city and it looked like a long shot,” he explains. “It was going to take a lot of legwork to make it happen, and it wasn’t there, the board’s energy wasn’t there.”

However, Jones says that he’s not quite ready to officially throw in the towel, noting that he believes former Media Center Operations Jonathan Czarny is continuing to look at the feasibility of the station transforming itself into an internet-based portal for locally produced shows.  “I’m waiting to see it shakes out,” says Jones, noting that he and six other board members have not yet resigned.

“With everybody getting on high speed [internet], with flash video becoming as crystalline as it’s becoming, I think people are going to be going there to watch a show without commercials and be able to pick exactly what they want to watch,” he explains. “And I think there is a future in that, and I really don’t see why public access couldn’t do that. I would stay on the board, if that’s what it was going to come to.”

However, Jones admits that at this time, the board has no plans to further discuss those options and that it would be hard to overcome organizational, financial and contractual challenges.

“It looks pretty much as though it’s dissolved but I don’t feel comfortable saying that with any definitive authority,” he reports.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Jake Frankel
Jake Frankel is an award-winning journalist who enjoys covering a wide range of topics, from politics and government to business, education and entertainment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

11 thoughts on “Future of WNC Community Media Center board in doubt after several members resign

  1. So, guess where all of that state of the art production equipment is going that Jen Mass, Paul Snow, Kurt Mann and John Blackwell put together. The basement of city hall.

    The city will send a notice to the URTV board that they will not renew their contract. The only problem is who to send it to. There is no board.

    The city is considering opening up an RFP process for anyone who wants to start this thing all over again. Good luck.

  2. Bjorn

    It’s disappointing & (in my opinion cowardly) to see people jump ship when they encounter a moderate gale winds.

    Perhaps all sides may’ve forgotten the definition of the word ‘community?’

  3. The Executive Director and board forgot the definition of the word “competence.” They drove out good people and ran the organization into the ground. Now, here we are at the beginning again.

  4. Illuminatti_01

    The statement above “city is siezing it’s equipment”, is very telling.

  5. zen

    I agree with Tim. The early days of Kurt Mann and the others were the energy flashpoint days that got ruined by committee and, yes, ran the organization into the ground.

    To me, when mediocre rules, we all lose.

  6. Lasereye

    Well – here’s the chance for those in the community to try again and demonstrate they can do it better. I look forward to reviewing the innovative ideas brought together for the moneys being offered for operations; to witness the logistical master plans to provide a 1st amendment platform for citizens to speak directly to community – with the steady hand of local government dedicated to the success of a PATV cable channel for Asheville Buncombe County. I can hardly wait to watch the community come together to make it so!

  7. WNCCMC was operated and managed professionally in the almost 4 years that I was producing at URTV.
    That is the reason URTV has become the best in the state and a model for the nation.

    It was the constant negative attacks and the withholding of funds that resulted in the inability to keep the doors open.

    Ask any business what happens when the income is less than outcome.

    STILL….. The Slander Continues….. Keep it up folks…. the $$’s are adding up

  8. Illuminatti_01

    @ Glo……Expensive coffee machines and expenditures for high end local restaurants, groceries, plus highest deficit spending and salaries for PATV in the state, don’t have anything to do with the money being gone. BTW, I’ve not been able to find where that June 2010 raise (when they were saying they were going broke) was ever approved in a Board vote.


    I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

  9. Lasereye

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You know 1st amendment – freedom of expression. But it takes careful thought, insight and proof-of-point to make an observation which will catch the eye of a more critical mind to hold their attention – to seek out the truth and proof of the stated reality for themselves. For in God we may trust – but the rest of us – we must verify.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.