KDHX Fires 10 More DJs, Despite Pending Legal Issues

This makes 13 DJs terminated so far this year

click to enlarge Ray was the first DJ to be fired this year.
Courtesy Tom "Papa" Ray
Tom "Papa" Ray was the first DJ to be fired this year.
The KDHX DJs ranks have officially been thinned. Less than two weeks after suspending kids' show DJ Paul "Grandfather" Stark, the community radio station officially let go 10 of its volunteer DJs. That includes Stark, host of the Musical Merry-Go-Round.

The station announced the terminations in a press release this afternoon. It also said that an additional 12 DJs must undergo mediation in order to continue with their roles.

Stark announced his termination on his Facebook page by sharing an email he had received from KDHX Executive Director Kelly Wells and Board President Gary Pierson.

Each of the other nine DJs — a roster that reportedly includes Hound Dog Brown, Caron House, Roy Kasten, Michael Kuelker, Christopher Lawyer, Rich Reese, Christopher Schwarz, bobEE Sweet and John Wendland — appears to have received a similar email:

Thank you for sharing your music with our listeners.
KDHX is moving forward and renewing its commitment to be an accessible resource for all people in St. Louis and the music community. This new vision for KDHX is critical to a thriving St. Louis and region.
It’s also critical to our success as an independent station. We cannot thrive if we remain a version of KDHX that has served a small segment of St. Louis. Therefore our board and staff have made some tough but necessary decisions to move our station in a different direction.
KDHX will not be moving forward with your volunteer service based on our reason to believe that your conduct is not consistent with the vision for KDHX as we move forward.
This decision pertains specifically to your role as a KDHX volunteer and does not alter your associate member status.
Gary Pierson and Kelly Wells

The release begins by describing a new vision for the station that it developed after a report about and for the St. Louis music industry from research and strategy company Sound Diplomacy that was funded in partnership with the Regional Arts Commission and the Kranzberg Arts Foundation. KDHX goes on to describe programming changes that have happened "as a result of the redefined vision," including the terminations, and alleges that "the volunteers who were dismissed displayed a pattern of behavior that was detrimental to KDHX."

“KDHX is committed to leveraging the unifying power of music to better St. Louis,” James Hill, vice president of KDHX Community Media Board of Directors, said in the statement. “While this new vision is exciting, it has not been universally embraced within our volunteer base, including some who have been with us for many years. Regrettably, we've had to separate from volunteers whose actions have compromised the station's financial stability. These are challenging but crucial decisions as we advance KDHX's mission.”

This round of firing takes the count of DJs shed this year to 13, a number that includes Tom "Papa" Ray, Andy Coco and Drea Stein.

This week, St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Scott Millikan denied Stein a temporary restraining order that would have forced the station to restore her position as a DJ. However, she still has a pending lawsuit against both KDHX and Wells. Representing Stein is fellow DJ Schwartz, who appears to be among those let go today.

That was one of three legal issues that Pierson referenced during a board meeting  Monday. He said that the station had hired a lawyer to deal with the matters and observed that the station was at a "crossroads."

One of the other issues involves an associate member meeting scheduled for next week. In it, some critics of the board hope to make a vote of no confidence in two board members.

This story has been updated to correct the name of the Sound Diplomacy report and to add context about its larger purpose.

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About The Author

Jessica Rogen

Jessica Rogen is managing editor for the Riverfront Times. Send her your food, arts, film, theater, music and other culture happenings.
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