The Channel 18/ValleyPBS board of directors is scheduled to meet Wednesday for the first time since the station’s top job changed hands again, prompting two former top executives to express concerns in published opinion pieces about the board’s governance.
Colin Dougherty, the station’s founding general manager and first president/CEO, and Phyllis Brotherton, who retired as the station’s vice president and chief financial officer after filling in several times as interim president/CEO, raised a clarion call for more public scrutiny of the station, including attending board meetings.
The board meeting is scheduled to start at noon Wednesday at the station’s office at 1544 Van Ness Ave., Fresno. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, board members will meet in person at the station or virtually, and the public may observe the meeting through Zoom, chief operating officer Nancy Borjas said Friday.
Those wishing to do so must obtain the Zoom link by emailing Borjas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ValleyPBS officials announced in May that documentary producer Jeff Aiello had been named interim president and CEO, replacing Lorenzo Rios, who served in the role for nearly two years. Rios, president and CEO of the Clovis Veterans Memorial District, had headed both the station and veterans district simultaneously.
Station Has Had 5 CEOs in 4 Years
Dougherty and Brotherton said in their published opinion pieces that they were concerned about the board’s leadership in light of a number of recent events, including the rapid turnover of CEOs.
Over the past four years, the station has had five CEOs: Phil Meyer, who served from January 2015 to November 2017; Brotherton, who served as interim CEO from November 2017 to December 2018; Jenny Toste, December 2018 to June 2019; Rios, June 2019 to May 2021; and now Aiello, who has produced several series for the station including “Outside Beyond the Lens” and “American Grown: My Job Depends on Ag,” and the documentary “Silent Sacrifice.”
Dougherty and Brotherton, noting that board bylaws are not being followed, said the public needs to hold the board accountable for following rules and regulations and for its leadership.
Board Bylaws Violated
The bylaws say the board should have 16 members, but in recent months, membership has fallen to as few as six directors.
The bylaws also state that the board should meet at least once a quarter, but the June 17 board meeting — the only one scheduled for the second quarter — was postponed “due to illness.”
In an interview last month with GV Wire, board chairwoman Karen Musson acknowledged that the board has struggled to recruit new members who represent the entire Valley and not just the Fresno area. The station serves millions of households from Merced to Bakersfield.
But she said Brotherton and Dougherty are uninformed about the station’s circumstances since their departures.
And she questions why the two aired their concerns so publicly rather than offering to pitch in.
“ValleyPBS is a mission, you either believe in it or you don’t,” she said. “To leave it and to badmouth it, it’s not something I would be very proud of.
“My druthers would have been, ‘How can I help you? Do you need help? Can I help you?’ ”