ST. LOUIS – Dozens of volunteer DJs who started the year with KDHX 88.1 FM are no longer involved with the community radio station. At least 13 have been dismissed, and many others have quit or gone on strike in recent weeks.
Gary Pierson, the president of the KDHX Community Media Board of Directors, shared a statement Saturday morning addressing recent departures.
Shared via Facebook, Pierson claims longtime radio show host Tom “Papa” Ray was fired in February due to “a long-standing pattern of bullying, aggression, and harassment.” Ray was the first of many former KDHX DJs fired this year, followed by two more in August and 10 in September.
Pierson contends this decision has encouraged other volunteer DJs, also known as associates, to “intimidate, harass, and threaten current volunteers and their families, staff and board members.” He adds that this has transpired as associates have “demanded” Ray to return to the station.
“Under no circumstance will the station meet this group’s demands. … Volunteers are not entitled to be a part of any organization they are actively causing harm to, including to our station,” said Pierson in the final paragraph of the statement.
After dismissing 10 volunteer DJs in September as part of announced “fall programming changes,” KDHX said it had around 80 volunteer DJs. Pierson’s latest statement noted there are currently 54 volunteer DJs, and 47 people who have applied for volunteer DJ roles.
According to an open letter Friday from the League of Associate Members of KDHX, at least 13 volunteer DJs were fired last month or earlier this year. Since then, an additional 19 have quit or gone on strike in solidarity, and five others are on notice or under threat of termination.
Former KDHX associates have been in contact with FOX 2 since late-September and say they have been puzzled by many developments this year, starting with Ray’s departure. Fired associates have cited communication issues with management, underutilized resources and a decline in public events that allow KDHX to raise donations.
Additionally, some DJs fired in September told FOX 2 they were falsely accused of racism and sexism before Pierson reportedly walked back previous comments on the dismissals to the St. Louis-Post Dispatch.
The League of Associate Members of KDHX addressed the St. Louis community in an open letter on Friday, which was acquired by FOX 2. The letter refutes many claims made public by Pierson in recent weeks.
“We reject the language of scabbing and reject all harmful rhetoric. But we call on the entire community to honor and support this historic volunteer strike and reject management’s divisive and authoritarian tactics,” said the open letter.
KDHX is a non-commercial and independent community radio station powered by donations from listeners and has served the St. Louis community since 1987.