This letter is a response to the [cover] article published on Nov. 4 [“Lost in Transmission: Amid Heated Controversy, WPVM Charts New Course,” Xpress]. When local, independent media choose to write about another such entity, as in this instance when the Mountain Xpress deigned itself impartial enough to weigh in on the internal workings of WPVM to report gossip as “news,” it opens up a self-serving, myopic wormhole that does nothing to further the critical conversations we need to be having in our community.
Let’s not forget that Asheville’s best political reporter, David Forbes, now bangs out a living blogging for Patreon donations because he was fired from the Xpress for challenging the suppression of stories while trying to unionize the workforce. It also bears mentioning while WPVM has been smeared in your publication, you have simultaneously championed the fundraising efforts of another local radio station, Asheville FM. The takeaway here is those who work in the glass houses of independent media shouldn’t pile bricks outside their front doors.
Now to the more pressing concern of sparking community-minded conversation: I’m proud to announce WPVM has given me the opportunity to launch Asheville’s first truly independent nonpartisan political talk show. Since moving here, I have worked tirelessly for grassroots nonprofits and the local economy. The Venture Local conference, which debuted in 2011, was my brainchild. I helped ensure an independent, pro-cannabis candidate was on the ballot for district attorney. I challenged the former chief of police on the practice of filming peaceful political protests and won a victory for the First Amendment.
I’ve written for the Xpress, published opinion pieces in the Asheville Citizen-Times, collaborated on stories for WLOS News13, and given interviews on 880 The Revolution. In all that time I never hesitated to speak truth to power and call out corruption and ineptness, regardless where it might be found.
It doesn’t matter if you’re Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative. I have no knee-jerk loyalties or party affiliations. My only litmus test is [whether] you are trying to make Asheville a better place, or simply advancing your own self-interests. I believe WPVM is taking a huge risk bringing a controversial voice like mine on the radio. That fact alone should silence critics who believe there’s been some “conservative” takeover of the station. However, the proof is always in the performance; that’s why I invite the community to join in a real dialogue about important local issues on Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. on WPVM.
Onward and upward.
— Jonathan Robert
Editor’s note: Xpress Publisher Jeff Fobes responds: Regarding our recent story about WPVM, we gathered extensive documentation and interviewed key individuals in order to provide what I believe to be accurate and balanced coverage of the disputes surrounding the composition of the Friends of WPVM board of directors and related issues. Regarding your reference to David Forbes, I disagree with your characterization of the facts. For the record, we enumerated the reasons for his termination shortly after the event in a publisher’s response to a letter to the editor. It can be read at http://avl.mx/23h