Statement from the WMNF Board about Rob Lorei’s firing

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Dear WMNF listener-supporter,

I am writing today as the president of the 15-member board of directors of the Nathan B. Stubblefield Foundation Inc., which holds the broadcast license for WMNF 88.5 FM and sets policy for the station. Our board members and I have been reading the reactions of some of you to the news that the station is parting with longtime news director and co-founder Rob Lorei. We think it is crucial you hear from us at this time.

The board takes our stewardship and fiduciary responsibilities very, very seriously. While we set policies regarding employees, we do not directly manage any of the station’s employees (hire or fire) except for the general manager. But we are part of the grievance process, should Rob take advantage of it, and we promise him (and you) a full and fair hearing in this matter. Because we must remain neutral in the matter, we will not go into details of this personnel matter at this time.

We would ask, however, that you keep your trust in us and the station to live up to our mission of justice and fairness. We serve a larger community than just us on the board, or the staff, or the volunteers, or the programmers or our wonderful Radioactivists. We serve everyone in our listening audience. The board must do what is best for the station and its larger community, and we promise to do that.

In the absence of facts, however, we are concerned that wild speculation has surfaced time and again in comments about this unfortunate situation. Let me take a few words to address these:

  • The station is not for sale, and in fact, we received a query in the past few months to purchase the station and it was not even entertained by the board. The only thing that proceeds from a sale could be used for would be to create ANOTHER community radio station. So why would we sell the station? It doesn’t make sense.

Some have suggested withdrawing their support from the station, and we are sure a few have already. We respect your decisions about how you invest your hard-earned dollars, and we greatly understand that we have to maintain your trust in us to retain that donor relationship. We ask that you let our process run its course and that we make decisions with cool heads.

Rob Lorei, as are all our founders, is an amazing visionary in the history of the station. Reading the news today about him hurts. Everyone at the station and on the board hurts as you do. And we hear you.

But as in almost all personnel situations, the full story will never be aired and tried in the media. We owe it to our employees to treat them better than that, and we will act accordingly in this situation. What you read and hear about this matter will be just the tip of an iceberg of facts that we will investigate in our grievance procedure to ensure Rob was treated fairly.

For now, please give us the benefit of the doubt while airing how much this has hurt you. That pain is real and we support everyone expressing it. But there will be no easy answers or a simple narrative to a very complex situation.

Thank you for your support and for your time to hear us out.

 

Yours in equality, peace and economic justice,

David Harbeitner