John Hay’s Morning Paper (email or snail mail subscription only) asserts that University of Louisiana at Monroe President James Cofer ($252,856/yr) was responsible for the termination of News Director Sunny Meriwether. Hays says Meriwether balked at administration requests to broadcast ‘infomercials’ to recruit students at the expense of public radio programs.
Reportedly, former General Manager Cynthia Pardue ran into the same problem and it led to her removal and installation of Joel Willer ($70,000/yr) as Director of University Broadcasting. We suppose that’s a little nicer title than Minister of Information.
The station does give Cofer a 15-minute question and answer show each Friday – a show at which Cofer dictates the topic and the questions that are asked.
College of Arts & Sciences Dean Jeffrey Cass ($126,000/yr) signed the termination letter. No one is hired or fired at ULM without Cofer’s OK, according to Hays.
At last night’s KEDM/Tonore’s Wine Cellar Beer Tasting event, we asked Willer and Community Advisor Board Chairman James Cuthbert, III if they had any comment. Neither would say anything beyond what was attributed to them in the Ouachita Citizen article yesterday.
The Board of Advisors is made up of area community members who counsel the station regarding the needs and interests of the audiences the station serves, advocates for the station by promoting its programs and assists with station fundraising.
Lincoln Parish News Online was able to visit with Sunny for bit last night, and we suggested that she should try and remain in the news business. As can be imagined, she’s a bit down over the events of the past week, but she did allow that already a couple of opportunities have come up. We hope to hear her voice on the radio again soon. She’s too good at what she does to not be.
There is a letter to the editor in today’s News-Star about the controversy.
We again want to point out the danger of government interference with the media. The King – or Maximum Leader, or however Power is labeled – always tries to control the message. It has been so throughout the history of mankind. It will always be so.