JOY FM responds to call for board spill
The board of Melbourne gay and lesbian community radio station JOY 94.9 FM has responded to calls for change at the top.
A petition, signed by high profile members including founder John Oliver, has been circulated in recent weeks. It’s urging a spill of the board, citing ‘bullying’, growing tension and a ‘disconnect’ with LGBTI communities.
Melinda Rich, JOY President has responded on behalf of the board in a letter to JOY FM members. In it, Ms Rich gives a detailed response to each of the allegations raised.
The financial health and sustainability of JOY has always been a challenge for successive Boards and this is not new. We have strong plans in place for Radiothon and for JOY to be able to report a good financial result at our 2018 AGM. We are heading into the most crucial time of our financial year and your Board is focused on the ongoing viability of the station. Unfortunately, there have been matters raised that have caused an inordinate amount of time to be spent on seeking a resolution.
In recent days, a small group of JOY members has sought to bring into the public domain internal matters that deserved to be dealt with in house. This has caused a risk to the reputation of JOY when such matters are put in a one-sided and biased way, particularly at this crucial time of year. We do not wish to breach the privacy of individuals involved in these matters, but the time has come for some facts about the way your Board has constantly engaged and investigated the issues that a small number of members have raised. Your Board has diligently followed a process to listen, mediate and seek to resolve these issues.
I will address each of the allegations that have been circulating in recent days.
“Enough of the bullying”
The JOY Board takes very seriously allegations of bullying and has investigated these and found they cannot be sustained. It is important to understand that directing a person in a professional and respectful manner and requiring them to do their job effectively, correctly and appropriately does not constitute bullying.
“Enough of the lack of action by the board”
Your Board has spent endless hours in discussions, meetings and engagement with various parties to reach a fair and equitable resolution. Your Board engaged a long standing and significant supporter and life member of JOY who is very highly regarded and respected in our community and the wider community to investigate all these matters. This person would have done so independently and thoroughly and was required to report back to the Board and all stakeholders with a suggested plan of action for resolution. This offer was rejected on the basis that this person was not independent, despite their longstanding experience with JOY, their integrity and their commitment to JOY.
This person graciously withdrew from investigating these matters and another person of the same high standards of integrity and reputation was approached and they agreed to undertake this role. This person has been in contact with parts of the group and to date they have not responded, other than by publicly releasing a document calling for a Special General Meeting. It seems that this group does not actually want the matters investigated, and that they prefer to make allegations and accuse the Board of not dealing with the matters properly.
It is clear to the Board that there appears to be no will in this group to effectively and honestly engage on these matters and resolve them. In the absence of the independent investigator being engaged by those making the allegations, there is little the Board can do to resolve these matters. The Board cannot continue to be distracted by a small group who seem to have no intent to be constructive. It appears that the group’s objective is to run a vicious and calculated campaign to undermine your Board, our volunteers, staff, and supporters, and to maximise damage to JOY.
We have become aware that these spurious allegations and statements have been distributed to both current and past JOY members by email and also on social media. It would appear that the email database of JOY has been stolen, copied and removed from JOY without authority to facilitate this and we will be reporting this to the Victoria Police.
“Enough of breaking the rules of JOY’s constitution”
This matter was addressed earlier this year when action was taken to ensure that it did not continue, and the Board documented the matter and its resolution, and dealt with the matter firmly and correctly.
“Enough of the low morale”
The most recent survey of volunteers indicated that there was a very high level of satisfaction with the culture of JOY, with our programming, leadership and that the station is in very good shape. Our listenership is at record highs, we are enjoying excellent support from sponsors, and our content is of the highest quality. Our recent broadcast from Mardi Gras in Sydney across multiple channels is an excellent example of the reach and impact that JOY now has.
“Enough of the disconnect with LGBTI communities”
We have no evidence of this being the case. In fact, the level of engagement, liaison and cooperation between JOY and other community organisations has never been higher. We enjoy respectful, sustainable and cooperative relationships with our colleague organisations. Many of them have reached out to us in recent days offering support.
“Enough of seeing dedicated volunteers disrespected, unappreciated and upset”
There is also no substantive evidence of volunteers being disrespected and unappreciated. We all know that there will be people who are sometimes upset with decisions made by JOY to ensure its sustainability, relevance and success. We endeavour to communicate all decisions in a professional and respectful manner and the fact that someone does not like a decision and is upset is sometimes an unfortunate fact of life.
In closing, it is worth remembering that JOY is 25 years old in December this year, which is a marvellous achievement and a credit to everyone who has contributed to JOY over the years. JOY is now a modern media organisation, and is the voice and communication hub for the LGBTI community. Your Board must ensure the ongoing health and sustainability of JOY, and ensure it is well positioned for its next 25 years. That is not only the right thing to do, but it is also our duty as Directors and members of the Board. We have approached these matters in good faith and with the very best interests of JOY at the heart of all our decisions and deliberations. It is now clear to us that we are the only ones doing so.
As a membership organisation, our Rules of Association provide mechanisms for members to raise concerns, and the JOY Board respects this. We will continue to respond to any reasonable requests from our members appropriately and fairly, but your Board will not stand by and let a vicious and ridiculous campaign impact on the station that we all love and cherish.
It’s yet to be seen whether the response from the board is enough to diffuse a potentially damaging rift within the community radio station.
This week has also seen some personnel additions at JOY, with Goggle Box‘s Wayne and Tom now on air 6:30am-9am every Thursday.