John Hughes Must Go

After nearly a year of frustration at trying to work with John Hughes for the benefit of WPFW, 80 percent of the on-air programmers signed this letter of “no confidence in Hughes at the close of 2011:

To Members of the Pacifica National Board and the LSB:

We the undersigned programmers of WPFW radio in Washington, DC, representatives of the ‘PFW Programmers Association, a non-profit organization representing a broad cross-section of WPFW programmers, hereby issue this public letter of NO CONFIDENCE in WPFW General Manager John Hughes. We issue this letter with full expectation that our concerns will be met with speedy redress.

We are aggrieved that GM John Hughes has performed in a manner that is incongruent with the principles of democratization that are the cornerstone of Pacifica’s core mission and by-laws. As programmers we make up the very lifeblood of WPFW’s on-air presentation and on-going representation and we demand to be regarded with respect and inclusion.

• Mr. Hughes has failed to formally present to the Programmers any strategic, long or short-term development plan(s) to address the impending crisis of finding a new home for the station prior to the current lease holder’s July 2012 deadline for vacating WPFW’s current premises.

• Mr. Hughes is placing the Pacifica Network in jeopardy of another potential lawsuit. His inefficient and non-transparent handling of the current Program Director vacancy has undermined the integrity of the process.

• Mr. Hughes’s decision to reject all three PD candidates submitted to him by the MASC Committee raises serious questions as to his vision regarding the on-air sound philosophy, political, and musical direction of WPFW Jazz and Justice radio. In these critical times, politically, economically, and socially WPFW’s on-air philosophy must adhere steadfastly to our station’s original mission. We are concerned that Mr. Hughes has other intentions.

• Mr. Hughes’ management and leadership approach demonstrates insensitivity to programmers and staff. He is aloof, arrogant, and often dismissive of programmers’ concerns, engendering divisiveness.

• Mr. Hughes has refused – over the course of his 10-month tenure as GM – to call a mandatory all-station meeting on a range of programmer concerns, despite repeated calls for same from programmers, the Programmers Association and the staff.

• Mr. Hughes has failed to respond to calls for investigation of a highly questionable potential conflict-of-interest matter regarding pledge gifts promised by a WPFW contractor. To date this matter remains unresolved.

• Mr. Hughes insists on raising funds primarily through frequent on-air pledge drives in close proximity. Current economic conditions indicate that on-air fundraising alone is insufficient to meet WPFW’s goals. His sole reliance on this method as a primary fundraising tool disrespects listeners and members. Further, it demonstrates an unwillingness to address WPFW’s chronically flawed development department’s lack of ability to secure funds through off-air means.

The programmers at WPFW collectively represent not only the lifeblood of the station but we are also highly regarded members of Washington, DC’s professional, political, and social community. We request an immediate hearing and redress of our grievances.

We hereby declare that we have NO CONFIDENCE in the management ability of John Hughes at this critical stage of WPFW, due to his lack of leadership or vision.

*November 8, 2011 *names have been updated daily since the 8th

1. Andrea Bray
2. Andrea Thompson
3. Aramus Thompson
4. Askia Muhammad
5. Ber-an Pan
6. Bert Withers
7. Bill WItherspoon
8. Candy Shannon
9. Carol Tyson
10. Charlie Dee
11. Chester Chichester
12. Chris Deproperty
13. Clarence Lusane
14. Cyreita AYeni
15. David Lozell Martin
16. David Whettstone
17. Don Walker
18. Elliott Gross
19. Esther Iverem
20. Gloria Minot
21. Guy Middleton
22. Hassan Abdul Ali
23. Helen Viksnins

24. James Pope
25. Jared Ball
26. Jay Winter Nightwolf
27. Jim Brown
28. Jim Byers
29. Jim Dombrowski
30. Jo Reed
31. John Crawford
32. Joni Eisenberg
33. Katea Stitt
34. Katherine Cromwell
35. Kenny Barnes
36. Kimberly C. Gains
37. Kofi Kissi Dompere
38. Lakeisha Harrison
39. Liz Hill
40. Lona Alias
41. Luke Stewart
42. Malcolm Wiseman
43. Marcello Tolliver
44. Miles Willis
45. Millie Ware
46. Miss Lollipop
47. Miyuki Williams
48. Mwiza Munthali
49. Myrrh Cauthen
50. Naji Mujahid
51. Nana Kwabena Brown
52. Nathan Giles
53. Netfa Freeman
54. N’Kenge Toure
55. Norberto Martinez
56. Oscar Fernandez
57. Pamela Brewer
58. Rick Williams
59. Robert Frye (Captain Fly)
60. Robert Northern (Brother Ah)
61. Robyn Holden
62. Rope Flanagan
63. Rusty Hassan
64. Sheila Reid
65. Steve Hoffman
66. Terry D. Kester
67. Tim Masters
68. Tom Cole
69. Tom Porter
70. Tony Carr
71. Tony Regusters
72. Verna Avery Brown
73. Verona Iriarte
74. Von Martin
75. Warren Scooter McGruder
76. Willard Jenkins
77. Yolanda Turner
78. Zarinah Shakir
79. Zezeh Lusane

List updated 12/02/11


40 comments on “John Hughes Must Go

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  20. One aspect of Mr. Hughes’ thinking focused on the average age of the WPFW listener. It is said to be 55. All of the broadcasters are trying to go after the “younger audience”. And it may be true that the District itself has a younger population than before, but that is not true for the metropolitan area. The Baby Boomers, ones born in the years after World War II, constitute the fastest growing group everywhere, and this generation is more prosperous than previous generations of older people (and therefore able to make and honor pledges of support). It seems to me that this would be the group to cultivate (or one of the groups), not one to give up on! Seems like Mr. Hughes has a lot of things backward.

  21. In my lifetime from Segregation through integration I have seen enough to ask…who is John Hughes working for? Whose agenda, hidden and otherwise is he there to instill?/install.

  22. Thanks Stefani for supporting. This letter was actually sent a year ago before the current debacle of John eliminating shows. SIgning was still a brave act though in the face of such a petty tyrant.

  23. I want to give kudos to Robyn and others for signing even when their shows have not been axed. This is about community locus of control and fair treatment of staff an programmers, not to mention donors who give out of appreciation for local voices and programs on pfw; it’s no about whose programs stay and whose go. Solidarity!

  24. I invite the following programmers to explain why they did not sign the letter of no confidence:

    BOBBY HILL (interim prog dev)
    EUGENE DEWITT-KINLOW (still on air)
    MARK LEVINE (still on air)
    GARLAND NIXON (still on air)
    NANCY ALONZO (still on air) Have you been on location or out of the country?
    DONNIE MCKETHAN (still on air)
    LARRY APPLEBAUM (still on air)
    -Decipher members are still on air, but only nick-names appear on the schedule; so their names will be added later if they also chose no to sign the letter.
    -What is “Texas Fred’s” other name?
    -Is Jame Pope “James Funk”?
    -Is Jim Brown “Roach Brown”?
    -Ryme has been off location for a while, but her progressive positioning suggests she would have signed had she been in the country.

      • The gentleman to whom I was referring is the general manager. Sorry if that wasn’t clear. Apparently I got my inquiry in the wrong feed. Dunno how.

  25. Not only am I mortally wounded by what I just reading and hearing over these past two days, but I am ready to link arms with you as best I can. I apologize to all of the affected programmers and staff for not being a more attentive and action-oriented listener…I should have gone “beyond” the surface and put my shoulder to the “plow” of active participation instead of deluding myself that my financial support would make everything alright. Whatever I can do, I am ready to do it…

  26. Thank you for this comprehensive entry. The bouncing ball aspect to filling the PD position troubles me too. Feel free to read my extensive comments under a more recent blog entry.

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