In the continuing controversy over Streetsboro school district station WSTB/88.9, which is still off the air as of this writing on Monday morning...
OMW hears that long-time WSTB general manager Bob Long plans to resign from his post later today, though he'll continue in his teaching job.
What's being called an "official statement" by Long has floated out of the ether and into our electronic hands, and we share it here:
Here's the reasoning behind my decision:
1. I feel that I have lost the confidence of the administration in my ability to serve as Station Manager.
2. This has been a heavy burden for me. It was difficult to teach my classes last week. It has been a difficult weekend as I try to prepare my lessons for next week. It's been very hard to concentrate on anything other than this. I need to get this behind me so that I can continue with my classroom responsibilities.
3. I feel the administration and I are in a stalemate situation. The education of my Broadcasting II (WSTB Radio) students has been impeded by the radio station not being on the air this past week. If I step out of the way, then the administration can begin the process of selecting a new Station Manager and getting the station back on air.
WSTB has been off the air for a week now, as school officials removed on-air computers over pictures said to be located on the computers...reportedly, pictures of an 18 year-old now-former student in the presence of alcohol at an out-of-town New Year's Eve party.
A Kent-Ravenna Record-Courier article late last week sheds a little light on the controversy from the other side of things. Quoting a piece of it:
Streetsboro Board of Education President Kevin Grimm said that only (WSTB IT director Dan) Kuznicki has been asked to not return to school property at the request of the district's legal counsel, but he is not "banned." He said the district's counsel is currently reviewing the photos.
"The administration wants to ensure our students are not in any environment that maybe harmful to them," he said.
Superintendent Linda T. Keller said the district is conducting an internal investigation on computers used to run WSTB that were seized by the administration Monday. As of Thursday evening, the station had not returned to the airwaves.
The article makes it clear that Long, who's been GM of WSTB for nearly 30 years, considers Kuznicki vital to the station's return and continued operation.
Meanwhile, the 88.9 FM slot in Northeast Ohio remains vacant, with unlistenable traces of Ashland University's WRDL occasionally floating into WSTB's usual listening area.
We'll wrap this item up by moving into a mini-editorial. We'll helpfully divide it from the rest of the item, for those who need that division to be clear.
OMW is not affiliated with any educational institution. We are not tasked with shaping the minds of students heading into an increasingly uncertain world. We realize that since the Dark Ages, when your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) went to school, "threats" both perceived and real to students have increased.
We're therefore going to step away from editorializing about the "student safety issue", as it's been framed by some, including commenters to our own items.
The concerns vs. the facts we see from here in this specific case seem a bit blown out of proportion, but again, we don't have students in the Streetsboro district, and we aren't directly involved in this situation at all...so we don't have much standing to comment on that part of it.
Put all of that aside, and let the educational system - and affected parties - deal with that part of it as they see fit to do...and let those parents and stakeholders react to that, as they see fit to do, if they don't think the system is dealing with it properly.
In our opinion, a long-time community resource like WSTB should not be lost over such a squabble, no matter what you think of the parties involved, or the specific situation that has made the news recently.
With Bob Long's impending resignation, we believe someone needs to step in - and NOW - and make it clear that WSTB, in some form, will return to the airwaves, soon...as in this week, if not today.
That's easier said than done, as the status of the stations' computers is still up in the air, so we don't know how they'd do it.
But the FCC only allows stations to be silent for so long, and they need to file for extensions if they don't return to the airwaves. We don't see a silent STA request for WSTB among the station's data on the agency's website, though it could well just not have shown up online yet. (Regular readers know we've seen the FCC online database lag behind reality before, so we're not reading much into that.)
To the Streetsboro district: Deal with "student safety" issues as you must, if they are indeed there. We're not telling you how to do your core mission of educating students, or protecting their welfare.
But WSTB is a federally-licensed facility, and a service to not just the student community, but the public. Don't let foot dragging threaten its decades-long history.
Again, this last part of the item is our own thought and opinion.
-- The Management