Cal Poly radio station at risk after sexually explicit fundraiser
July 17, 2014
By CCN STAFF
KCPR FM, Cal Poly’s student-run radio station, could be sold away from the campus following a fundraising promotion in which two student DJs offered to sell photos of their genitals in return for cash donations. For $20 dollars, the students would make the sexually explicit photos available on Snapchat.
Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Douglas Epperson said in an email shortly before the story broke that he saw no need to keep the station, which has been operated by students for more than 46 years.
“I am beginning to believe that we should sell the radio license” (we have had an offer),” Epperson wrote in an email sent May 19. “What were they thinking and how could it go so far with the faculty completely unaware!!!”
Epperson confirmed in an email to Cal Poly’s interim Director of Media Relations Matt Lazier that also went to Provost Kathleen Enz Finken, that he had been warned earlier about conditions at KCPR.
“I can confirm that the secretary approached me early this year regarding a number of issues,” Epperson wrote on May 27. “One of these was her desire to be taken off the FCC license for the radio station and another was her concern about the lack of oversight provided for the radio station.”
Epperson told Lazier and Enz Finken in the email that he had had multiple conversations with Glick about oversight of the station.
In another email following the promotion, Epperson asked Journalism Department Chair Mary Glick and Associate Professor Richard Gearhart, the faculty advisor for the station, to put together an organizational plan and structure for the station. That plan would have to prevent additional controversies and improve the educational value of the station, Epperson wrote.
“I am very serious about this — it is just one problem after another at a much greater frequency and magnitude than the other student media outlets without nearly the educational value of the other media outlets,” Epperson wrote in an email obtained through the California Public Records Act.
Epperson laid the blame on “poor student selection and/or poor faculty oversight.”
Gearhart, a graduate of Cal Poly and a news reader on KSBY TV, was hired three years ago as a tenure-track associate professor whose duties include advising the radio station. He had taught part time in the journalism department and College of Agriculture for a number of years before that.
More than a week before CalCoastNews published the story, Glick sent an email to Epperson in which she said that she saw the need for a manager for KCPR “preferably a faculty member with professional experience who can maximize the station’s potential.”
Some of the student staff at the station were aware of the fundraiser before it became news.
“In regards to the fundraiser, I was aware that this was happening and at first was slightly uneasy,” a staff member who’s name was redacted by Cal Poly, wrote in an email to Glick on May 19. “However in the signup//waiver form, they took full responsibility and stated that all retribution was due to them, not the station, so I dismissed my concern.”
One of the students involved said that the sexually explicit promotion was mentioned in at least one broadcast on the station.
“We mentioned the activity in a sense that it was ‘check out our Facebook for this promotion,’ ” the student whose name was redacted by Cal Poly wrote. “We didn’t explicitly walk through it on air, and it was not called to any action to take part in the promotion.”
Glick has announced a “Blue Ribbon Panel” to devise a formal plan for station oversight.
David Weary, a 1984 graduate, spent three years working at the station. After hearing about what was happening at the station, he offered to put together a committee and donate his time.
Glick responded with an email inviting Weary to serve on the panel. Weary had not heard from Glick as of July 16.
The College of Liberal Arts declined to make any person available to answer questions. CalCoastNews left a message for Glick but had not heard from her by press time.
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