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14 CapRadio board members resign following devastating audit, citing lack of support from Sacramento State

CapRadio's current headquarters on the campus of Sacramento State University on Sept. 28, 2023.
Chris Hagan
CapRadio's current headquarters on the campus of Sacramento State University on Sept. 28, 2023.

Updated Oct. 5, 1:25 p.m.

More than a dozen Capital Public Radio board members resigned effective immediately Wednesday night, including the current board chair and officers, according to a letter obtained by CapRadio's newsroom.

The letter, sent to Sacramento State President Luke Wood and CapRadio Interim GM Tom Karlo, details what the board members called "a failure of Sac State to inform and engage with the board in a good faith effort to resolve CapRadio's financial issues."

Wood responded to the letter Wednesday evening, accepting the resignations.

"Thank you for your service and dedication to public broadcasting," Wood wrote. "The University looks forward to working to ensure a stable future for Capital Public Radio."

Last week a California State University Chancellor's office audit found numerous instances of financial mismanagement at the Sacramento-based NPR member station. The audit also comes one month after CapRadio laid off 12% of its staff and canceled four music shows.

Sacramento State, which holds the station's FCC license, announced it would take over operations and financial management of the station. That included appointing Jonathan Bowman, the university's chief financial officer, to oversee CapRadio. The university said that in 2021 Bowman noticed inconsistencies with CapRadio finances which led to the university requesting the audit.

In the resignation letter, the board members contend that Sac State leadership has rejected multiple requests to meet to "better understand the decisions that were made" and felt uninformed with announcements that were made to the public.

They also stated that any financial inconsistencies identified by Bowman were not shared with the board in 2021, when the university stated.

"Any such inconsistencies were not shared with the board; had they been, we could and would have acted immediately to avoid the current financial crisis," the letter reads.

CapRadio’s board met Tuesday evening, though the meeting was closed to the public due to discussion of “personnel and related matters.” In an email later that night, Sac State said the board voted to “move forward in hiring a new general manager at the cost of nearly half a million dollars a year,” and that it did not support the decision and wouldn’t fund the position.

However, in the letter, the board members wrote that at the meeting, "after a seven-month search process, we learned that the position's funding, which had been generously offered by Sac State, was actually conditioned on the resignation of board officers."

Though the resigning board members wrote they valued the staff and listeners of the station, they felt their "only recourse at this point is to step down."

"Through all of this we have continued to believe that the station is best served through a true partnership of Sac State and the Board of Directors," the board members wrote. "The dynamic has now shifted in a direction that we do not understand structurally and that we disagree with strategically."

The board members who resigned include board chair Andrea Clark, vice chair Cornelious Burke, secretary Christopher Russell, past board chair Kim Silvers, Lisa Bader, Katherine Bardis, Richard Cummings, Roger Dreyer, Kelly Freitas, Monica Nainsztein, Marjorie Solomon, Doug Wagemann and Steven Weiss.

Board Treasurer Bena Arao, a director of the business and administrative services at Sac State, also resigned from his board position Wednesday. He did not sign the letter sent to Wood and Karlo, university officials told CapRadio.

Disclosure: This story was reported and written by News Editor Chris Hagan and edited by Insight Host Vicki Gonzalez and Digital Editor Claire Morgan. Following NPR’s protocol for reporting on itself, no CapRadio corporate official or news executive reviewed this story before it was posted publicly.

Chris Hagan is the Managing Editor, Digital Content for CapRadio.