Thanks for the article by Brian Postelle in your Sept. 2 issue concerning the report issued by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's Inspector General about Asheville's public-radio station, WCQS. However, both the CPB report and the article left out these facts behind that report:
1) In clear violation of the law, WCQS did not have a meeting of its Community Advisory Board (CAB) for 13 consecutive years, from 1995 until 2007.
2) During those same 13 years, WCQS certified in writing that it was in compliance with all federal laws, FCC regulations and CPB rules in order to receive CPB funding.
3) WCQS received a total of $2,283,507 from the CPB during this period, which CPB is not allowed to distribute to a station that does not have an active CAB.
4) CPB has only two ways of punishing such a station. It can demand the return of those funds and/or it can cease all future grants to the offending station. Since either action would severely harm the station and its listeners, I wrote CPB requesting that they not take such action.
5) I informed WCQS of its illegal status in 2006 when I discovered that they did not have an active CAB in place. It took them a year to re-establish a CAB.
6) By law, the CAB must be independent of station management and the Board of Trustees, although it reports to the Board of Trustees. The bylaws of the CAB that WCQS put in place in 2007 were written by station management, and the Board of Trustees, according to those bylaws, must approve all CAB members. That may meet CPB's definition of "independence." It certainly doesn't meet mine. Rather it's an effective way of controlling the CAB and assuring that no station critics are allowed to serve on it.
7) The person responsible for this 13-year violation of federal law, which could have led to the bankruptcy of the station, is still running WCQS. He was quoted in your article as saying: "I think we have an excellent CAB now, but we were probably remiss in letting it lapse at all."
Don't the listeners of WCQS deserve a station manager who knows the law and abides by it? Someone who understands the importance of having an independent CAB? Someone who wants the community's advice as well as its money?
— Fred Flaxman