Mass resignation at CapRadio board of directors in wake of scathing financial audit

A week after a scathing audit of Capital Public Radio’s finances was released, more than half of its board of directors resigned Wednesday night over what they said was a failure by Sacramento State leadership to “engage with the board in good faith.”

In a brief resignation letter addressed to Sac State President Luke Wood, 13 of the board members — including prominent business leaders and lawyers — said they were leaving because of disagreements over how to address CapRadio’s financial woes.

“In light of Sac State’s recent announcements asserting control over CapRadio management, and what we view as a failure of Sac State to inform and engage with the board in good faith to resolve CapRadio’s financial issues, we are resigning from the board effective immediately,” the letter said.

Sacramento attorney Roger Dreyer, one of the 13, said in an interview that he believed the radio operation could have been saved if the university had worked collaboratively with the board. He said efforts to do so were rejected.

“You have a board full of volunteers who give their time, who work extremely hard and tirelessly for CapRadio because for the most part they’re donors and believers,” Dreyer said. “Decisions were made years ago pre-COVID that turned out to be bad decisions or, retrospectively, maybe not good decisions.

“But the board was working at all times with the university and the university has access to all the financial documents, as is their responsibility.

“At no time did anybody from the university come to the board and say, ‘We’re seeing problems.’ There’s no malfeasance. This audit is not going to turn up anybody lining their pockets.”

In addition to Dreyer, others who resigned were Chair Andrea Clark, Vice Chair Cornelious Burke, Christopher Russell, Kim Silvers, Lisa Bader, Katherine Bardis-Miry, Richard Cummings, Kelly Freitas, Mónica Nainsztein, Marjorie Solomon, Doug Wagemann and Steven Weiss.

Additionally, CapRadio board’s treasurer, Bena Arao, resigned in a separate letter, according to school officials. Arao is the university’s senior director for resource and organizational management.

The university president responded with a note to the members who resigned.

“Thank you for your service and dedication to public broadcasting,” Wood wrote. “These resignations are accepted.

“The university looks forward to working to ensure a stable future for Capital Public Radio.”

Sac State has said that “inconsistencies” with CapRadio’s finances were first detected by university Chief Financial Officer Jonathan Bowman in 2021, which led to the audit, and that CapRadio’s expansion plans to move downtown contributed to the problems.

The resignation letter claims that any “such inconsistencies were not shared with the board; had they been, we could and would have acted immediately to avoid the current financial crisis.”

The board members also decried Sac State’s announcement late Tuesday that it would not pay to hire a new general manager for CapRadio whom the board had voted to hire at a closed personnel session earlier that day.

The letter said that after a seven-month search “we learned that the position’s funding, which had been generously offered by Sac State, was actually conditioned on the resignation of board officers.”

Now, Dreyer said, that GM candidate is no longer available.

“I believe that had there been collaboration with one another the radio station would have an infinitely better chance of surviving than it does now, because now it’s left without leadership, with a tarnished reputation, and it could have been avoided if there had been collaboration,” Dreyer said.

CapRadio currently is run by an interim general manager, Tom Karlo, a former San Diego public broadcasting executive who was brought in Aug. 15.

After Wednesday night, only nine board members remain including several faculty and administrative members of Sacramento State or Chico State, which owns the CapRadio-operated North State Public Radio. Another member is Nataly Andrade-Dominguez, the president of Sac State’s Associated Students, Inc., who had called Monday for some of her colleagues on the board to resign.