News: WAIF Votes on Its Future

Sept. 13 board election to consider the station's rough year

Jim Fugett

WAIF (88.3 FM) has had a rough year in 2006, and the big question for members going into their annual meeting Sept. 13 is simple: Should the current board of trustees remain, or is it time for new leadership?

At least five former members of the community radio station won't be present because they've been banned from the station for some form of "conduct unbecoming a member" or alleged violations of internal policies. All five were banned because they spoke to CityBeat or were suspected of giving the paper information about internal workings of the organization (see "Watching at WAIF," issue of Feb. 22-28).

Included among them is Joe Wessels, a former board member who resigned his position in protest over an unrelated matter. Wessels has led a membership drive with the intention of bringing in enough new members to oust the current board.

The hearing on his expulsion from the WAIF membership was scheduled for Aug. 23, when he was out of town. Wessels says he got no response to his request to change the date so he could be present.

Wessels told CityBeat that the board went into "executive session" to decide his fate, but so far they haven't told him the outcome of that meeting.

In June the station entered into a contract with Hamilton County that requires The Real Stepchild Radio of Cincinnati Inc. to pay delinquent property taxes on the WAIF studio at 1434 E. McMillan Ave. in Walnut Hills. The taxes on the property went unpaid for four years, according to the county auditor's office.

The repayment agreement requires one-fifth of the delinquent taxes to be paid each year at the time that the annual tax bill comes due. In June, WAIF paid $3,069; the full $15,954 due could be paid off in approximately four years.

The checks will need to be cut by a new treasurer because Mike Wood, the board member who'd held that post, resigned. He remains on the board.

Other board members were present when the FCC came knocking July 11 for what board chair Donald Shabazz calls "a routine investigation ... to determine whether WAIF is in substantial compliance with FCC rules and regulations." But the FCC doesn't do "routine investigations," according to its Enforcement Bureau — all investigations are complaint-driven.

With unpaid property taxes, the city of Cincinnati suing for the return of grant money (see Porkopolis, issue of Aug. 2) and the FCC investigating (see "Naughty Stepchild," issue of May 3), members of Cincinnati's only community radio station have plenty to consider before casting their ballots. ©

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