KDHX Elections Have Just 1 Candidate, Hand-Picked by the Board

And hey, it's time for another pledge drive!

Mar 5, 2024 at 4:11 pm
A group of protesters critical of KDHX's leadership pickets outside of the station's headquarters during last week's Associates Meeting.
A group of protesters critical of KDHX's leadership pickets outside of the station's headquarters during last week's Associates Meeting. ZACHARY LINHARES
As KDHX (88.1 FM) once again sticks out its hands and asks for money during its pledge drive this week, the ongoing behind-the-scenes drama sees the station's leadership continuing to shut out its staff of volunteer DJs from the organization's governance. For the upcoming vote for a new board member, the board put forth only one name — leading critics to label the election as "a mockery of democracy" that "flouts the [KDHX parent company] Double Helix bylaws."

Caryn Haddix is the lone candidate on the ballot for this week's election, for which all active volunteers, also known as associates, are eligible to vote. According to KDHX's bylaws, the yearly process begins with the volunteers nominating potential new board members in advance of the station's annual Associates Meeting, which was held on Thursday, and wraps up with the tallying of votes seven days after that meeting. The nominee with the most votes then goes on to serve a three-year term.

But this year, things went a little differently. For the first time in the organization's history, according to the League of Volunteer Enthusiasts (L.O.V.E.) of KDHX, a nonprofit formed in response to the station's firing of numerous volunteer DJs over the last 12 months that comprises many of those same now-former DJs, the board took the extraordinary step of implementing a vetting process that ultimately whittled the number of nominees down to just one.

"The director approval process creates an election in name only, effectively creating an all-appointed board," the group of former DJs alleged in a statement Monday afternoon.

"Simply put, this is a power that the board has seized for itself without the consent of the associates or the approval of the community," the statement also alleges. "Moreover, it is deeply concerning that the very people — the volunteers — who do the vast majority of the work at the station are being denied meaningful representation on the board. Volunteers contribute to KDHX because they love the station. This one-candidate election, with its predetermined outcome, is an insult to their efforts."

L.O.V.E. of KDHX says the volunteers still at the station nominated multiple candidates this year, including Kip Loui and James Williams. Loui, it should be noted, is one of three people the station's volunteers had attempted to seat on the board at a special election in September, one that board president Gary Pierson has decried as illegitimate and which is now the subject of a lawsuit. According to the organization's bylaws, the station's board of directors is meant to comprise 15 people, with 3 chosen by the volunteers through this voting process and the rest appointed by the board. (At present the station's website lists just seven board members, one of which, James Hill, died in January.) It's meant to be a system that gives the station's volunteers a say in its governance.

Yet in response to the this year's nominations, KDHX sent out ballots to the station's volunteers that only included Haddix's name. After alleging that "[i]t is the board’s obligation to review all candidates and evaluate their alignment with the organization’s values and strategic plan," a note included with the ballots provided a bulleted list of its response to the nomination of three total candidates:

-One candidate is currently suing the board of KDHX. Because of the lawsuit, the board was not able to accept the nomination, and the nominee was not placed on the ballot.

-One candidate was not included in the ballot for this election but has been asked to join a board working group.

-One candidate has been placed on the ballot.

In a statement, Loui expressed frustration with his exclusion from the ballot. "I was told by an anonymous Facebook poster that my name wasn't included because I was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the station, but the only reason I'm in a lawsuit is because I wasn't seated after being elected in September! So it's circular logic on their part," he wrote.

Meanwhile Haddix, an attorney who works as a legal and business consultant at her own firm, Sei Cani Consulting, apparently survived the vetting process despite having had her law license suspended for six months by the Missouri Bar in 2014 following an order by the Missouri Supreme Court (she was reinstated four years later). At issue in that matter was the fact that in 2009 and 2010 she'd communicated ex parte, or outside of a courtroom, with a workers' compensation commission arbitrator about matters pending before that arbitrator, conduct she later self-reported.

Sent a detailed list of questions about the vetting process, Haddix's suspension, L.O.V.E. of KDHX's assertions and the exclusions of Loui and Williams from the ballot — as well as one question inquiring how the nomination of Haddix, who is white, aligns with KDHX's stated goals to better serve, and be represented by, members of the community who have historically been underserved by the station — KDHX Executive Director Kelly Wells sent a statement addressing none of those questions. Instead, she mentioned the station's pledge drive, noting that "[l]istener support ensures that everyone has access to the power of music and the joy of discovery."

That statement, in full:

"Yesterday, KDHX kicked off a month-long fundraising campaign with our regular, annual Spring On-Air Drive. Listener support ensures that everyone has access to the power of music and the joy of discovery. From March 4 to March 10, we are encouraging listeners to give as generously as they can to support this irreplaceable radio station at Support.KDHX.org

Our volunteers are more engaged in serving our listening community than ever before. Our board, staff, and volunteers are working in lockstep to continue our positive momentum in 2024. This includes collaborating on station programming and community outreach. In the coming weeks, KDHX will announce more exciting programming additions to our radio schedule.

Worth noting: The hyperlink on the URL, which makes it clickable, was included in the emailed version of said statement.

You're welcome to donate, if you'd like.

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