HSU’s Journalism and Mass Communication Department responds to last week’s layoffs at KHSU radio station

The Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Humboldt State University (HSU) issued a statement letter this afternoon, to HSU and the radio-listening community in regards to last Thursday’s shake-up at KHSU’s radio station. A copy of the letter was also sent to HSU President Lisa Rossbacher.

The letter outlines the uncertain future of KHSU – which comes from the abrupt decision by the university to layoff its employees and let go of volunteers.

In a press release issued by HSU in the midst of the lay offs, it stated that the clean up at the station is intended to address “operational challenges at KHSU, prevent further negative impact to the University’s budget, and better align HSU’s financial support with its mission and with opportunities for students.”

But the statement letter signed by the Department Chair, professors, and faculty adviser’s of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department, brought up the distinctions between KSHU and KRFH, a student-run radio station at HSU.

“KRFH offers student-crafted news weekdays at noon, 2 , 4 and 6 p.m. during the semester. However, this is not the same type of programming as the content produced by professionals and community volunteers at KHSU,” reads the letter.

The letter goes on to say how the county, campus and journalism students have benefited from having a professional community radio station, KHSU. The eliminations of staff positions at KHSU has also ended a for-credit college course for senior journalism students at the station.

See the full letter from the Journalism and Mass Communication Department below:

We were surprised and dismayed at last week’s layoffs at KHSU radio station. Because students, alumni and community partners have asked, we would like to make it clear that our department was not involved in the university’s decision to fire the employees.

We are deeply concerned about the fate of KHSU, a National Public Radio affiliated station with a long history on our campus and in our community. We are also deeply concerned about the fate of Radio Bilingüe, now also silenced, which broadcasts the only locally-produced Spanishlanguage radio news programs in Humboldt County. The dismantling of KHSU abruptly ended a for-credit college course for senior journalism students at the station.

Still going strong is HSU’s KRFH student-run radio station, which broadcasts on a low-powered frequency at 105.1 FM and online at KRFH.net. KRFH offers student-crafted news weekdays at noon, 2 , 4 and 6 p.m. during the semester. However, this is not the same type of programming as the content produced by professionals and community volunteers at KHSU.

It is important to distinguish between the KHSU community radio station located at the HSU campus Feuerwerker House and our student-run radio station KRFH in Gist Hall. KHSU began as student media 58 years ago, but over the decades, it matured into a professional NPR-affiliate station operated by staff and community volunteers.

KRFH radio station is completely managed and operated by HSU students. The Journalism Department oversees the student radio station in addition to a number of other student media organizations: The Lumberjack weekly newspaper, El Leñador monthly bilingual newspaper and Osprey magazine. While journalism faculty members advise these student media organizations, students control the content.

KHSU has served an important role on campus and throughout the county and has complemented our student-run media. Our journalism students benefited from the opportunity to move from their training ground in the KRFH radio booth to work at KHSU under the experienced guidance and mentorship of the paid staff and community volunteers. Several journalism alumni work at radio stations across the country because of the combined experience they acquired at both KRFH and KHSU radio stations. Having two stations on one campus, a professional community station and a student-run station, has distinguished Humboldt State from other campuses in the Cal State system and around the country.

We hope this clears up any confusion over the connection between KHSU and our student radio station KRFH.

We are strong supporters of local media, and it is our hope that out of the current turmoil, a strong community-run station will rise.

Signatories:
Department Chair Deidre Pike
Professor Vicky Sama, Osprey faculty adviser
Professor Marcy Burstiner, The Lumberjack faculty adviser
Professor Kirby Moss
Cliff Berkowitz, KRFH faculty adviser
Amy Berkowitz, KRFH News faculty adviser
Andrea Juarez, El Leñador faculty adviser

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