Battle ensues over student talk show firing
Two students were fired from the student-run KSLC 90.3 FM radio station under what they called “suspicious circumstances” last week, resulting in both students feeling disgruntled, confused and angry.
The students, seniors Mike Maguire and Justin O’Connell, ran a showed called “Question the Official Story,” which aired Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:30-6 p.m. Guest speakers, including McMinnville Chief of Police Ron Noble and Poet Laureate of California Al Young, praised the show for its focus on providing alternatives to mass media and news radio coverage.
Maguire said when students tune into KSLC, they want something more Linfield related, which was what they aimed for.
“No one’s doing the news now,” Maguire said. “It makes no sense to stop it halfway through the
semester. It seems silly that they wouldn’t want this to continue.”
They received an e-mail Nov. 4 from senior KSLC General Manager Alex Maxson, effectively ending their stint at KLSC. Maguire had already been removed from his staff position before this, but Maxson allowed him to continue his show until recently, which she said was highly unorthodox. The e-mail listed several reasons for the show’s termination, including discussion of Halloween costumes on air instead of legitimate news on Halloween night and not following guidelines set forth for the show.
Maxson said the staff is supposed to follow proper criteria, not just babble about random events. She said she talked to Maguire about this before, and she said he said he would work on fixing the problem.
“I had been listening to some current shows, and they were talking about their Halloween costumes, not news,” she said. “They were just babbling on air.”
O’Connell and Maguire disagree. “I’m sure the reason wasn’t about Halloween,” O’Connell said. “We’re college students, not NPR.”
However, a conclusion has yet to be drawn as neither O’Connell nor Maguire have heard from the station since.
“Getting a hold of Alex is hard,” Maguire said. “I sent her e-mails, phone calls, text messages. I even left a voice mail that she never returned.”
Maxson, however, said she is open to talk to all her staff and disc jockeys.
“Communication is in the mind of the staff or DJs,” she said. “I feel there is great communication. I’m sure you could ask the other staff members and they would tell you the same thing.”
Maxson said Maguire called only once after being released from his staff position of news director, to which she responded by e-mail. However, she said she has not been contacted about the cancelation of the show, and she was not aware of any discrepancies.
Both O’Connell and Maguire said the raisons d’être listed in the e-mail, the Halloween incident and the guidelines, were not accurate. O’Connell said they talked about Halloween costumes for about 10 minutes Oct. 31, using it as a segue into how people were hanging effigies of political candidates as Halloween decorations.
Regarding the same incident, former Director of Campus Safety Mike Dressel was scheduled to appear on the show that night. Dressel canceled, however, leaving the hosts in a bind. They were left without another option.
Maguire also said he never handed in guidelines for the show, saying this failure is at best a suspect reason for termination.
“We were always totally aware of how our show went,” O’Connell said. “We were always improving. I don’t even think I could listen to our first show anymore.”
A lack of communication seems to reside at the heart of this issue, both O’Connell and Maguire said.
“Communication at the station is below par this year,” Maguire said.
While the station wanted a focus on elections or the news shows, both Maguire and O’Connell wanted to focus their attention on local issues stemming from the elections.
“[Maguire] was supposed to cover elections in his job, which he did not,” Maxson said.
One resonating incident involved Young’s Oct. 14 visit to campus.
“I had an interview with Matt Hodges the same day Al Young was on campus,” Maguire said. “I thought this was important to tape, so I recorded the Al Young’s lecture in the library. I had to make a choice.”
Other than just miscommunication, Maguire said the attitude and atmosphere at the station has changed considerably this year. He said there is a level of hostility in the new station, referring to the recent move to Renshaw Hall from Pioneer Hall.
Both O’Connell and Maguire said students and KSLC staff members have talked to them, saying they miss the show.
“The station is not better without the news,” Maguire said.
Maxson said, though, that the relationship just didn’t work out.
“I hope no other DJs hold this against the station,” she said.