Open Letter to the Community
We are writing to you not only as staff members and volunteers of KDHX but also as people who share the KDHX community. This is a community that we have all built together, and it is one that many of us rely on for connection. For many, including ourselves, KDHX serves as a source of joy, a wellspring of creativity, and a shining example of what media can be when free of commercial interests.
We have decided to speak openly about the dismissal, on February 28, of Tom “Papa” Ray from his show The Soul Selector in order to correct any misconceptions as to why it took place. We also feel that if we do not offer a clear account, the behaviors that he has exhibited will continue to be perpetuated by others, as evidenced by reactions from some members of the public since the news of his dismissal.
Tom Ray was removed from his volunteer role at KDHX because of a long history of bullying, aggression and harassment toward certain members of the KDHX staff and even some board members. He was not dismissed over one incident or issue but because of ongoing, problematic behavior. Members of the staff and the Board of Directors can attest to this pattern. He was given many opportunities, including mediated conflict resolution, to demonstrate that he was willing and able to work with KDHX in a constructive way.
We know this description of Tom Ray is probably difficult for some to hear. In the entire history of KDHX, only a handful of volunteers have been asked to leave the air. Given Tom Ray’s long history and his popularity, we did not make this decision lightly and this is not the outcome we had hoped for. However, we can no longer tolerate behavior that negatively affects others at KDHX and the organization itself.
Over the course of KDHX’s history, whenever a “controversial” situation has occurred, we have witnessed extreme and shocking reactions from some of our listeners. Some have been explicitly misogynistic and contain threats of violence, including death threats. In recent years, such responses have been amplified by social media and even local media outlets that are not in full possession of the facts. Unfortunately, we are witnessing this in full force once again this week, which has prompted the disclosure you are reading.
Are the intense reactions to decisions made at KDHX because people feel so strongly about the station? Yes, that is certainly part of it. Over the years, we have had countless conversations with listeners who want to share how much KDHX means to them. They express a deep emotional connection to the station itself and the people they hear on the air. We also recognize that when one has a strong emotional connection, change can spark fear—the fear that the connection you have will be altered, that the things you love and appreciate about KDHX might end.
A fear of change—and disagreement about why or how that change takes place—is entirely understandable, but it does not warrant abusive and threatening behavior and language toward the KDHX staff, the Board or volunteers. A fear of change most certainly warrants asking questions and offering feedback in a constructive way. We will always answer your questions. You may not always get the answer you want to hear, but we will respond to you.
We know it takes a lot to trust people you don’t know personally, but please know that both the staff and the governing board keep the station’s best interest and the mission at the forefront of all that we do. We are working diligently to ensure that KDHX thrives now and in years to come. We are glad to be a part of a community that values kindness, mutual respect and creative collaboration. And we thank our listeners for their patience, understanding and constructive dialogue so that KDHX can continue to be here for everyone.
Kelly Wells, Executive Director
Andrea Dunn, Director of Donor Relations
Ronnie Wisdom, Director of Media Communications
Joan Bray, Board President
Gary Pierson, Board Vice President
Nelie McNeal, Board Treasurer