I had my clearance revoked from the local community radio station (license held by the State University of New York) where I have volunteered producing radio shows for 6 years.
They said I failed the rules section of the annual exam, however I am a subject-matter expert in U.S. communications law, with a focus on Obscenity and the First Amendment. This is the area of the questions I am alleged to have failed.
My complete bio is here: http://binghamtonpmc.org/bio.html
(Also, having successfully passed the test on the last six consecutive tests, I now qualify for an exemption from taking the test! I don't need to take it, yet they required me to, apparently just to flunk me!)
The station is run by students, mostly from "downstate" which means New York City/Hudson Valley area. Binghamton is ~200 miles away.
One can imagine these kids from downstate -- who largely have wealthy parents working in financial markets -- have conservative/capitalist views. They come up here and try to tell us what we can say on our community radio station. And I'm an older guy with a grey beard! I find it highly disrespectful.
I first got in trouble when I interviewed people from a grass-roots organization who were trying to fight a new WalMart coming to town.
I informed people that if they were interested in this issue, to attend a public hearing. Here in America, where we have a guaranteed right of free expression and participation in government, this is called "exercising our democratic rights".
However, they accused me of an "illegal political call to action".
Illegal? Strange. The phrase "call to action" does not occur anywhere in the FCC rules! (Located in the CFR - Code of Federal Regulations). While this phrase does occur on the FCC website, it is only within the context of advertising.
This is their latest tactic to get rid of me. It may work, but I'm fighting back -- for a while anyway.
More info is here:
Email me: WilliamAHuston@gmail.com
Bill Huston's WHRW saga from Bill Huston on Vimeo.
who has called President Defleur or the Ombudsman
or sent me words of encouragement.
When will YOU write a letter of support?
-------- First Letter---------------------
From: Andrew Epstein
To add my two cents to this:
I too was told after three years of regular programming on WHRW that I would have to re-apprentice, allowing me only the potential of having a show for my last semester of senior year. Why? For one screw up last year for which I apologized and remedied.
I decided not to fight it. I was sick of fighting for my right to be a station member every single semester. I remember clearly when I applied for a PA show last year, I was told someone on the board said they rejected my show for its politics. I complained, and petitioned, and eventually I got my show. I don't have the time to do that this year. But I support Bill.
The station, a potentially valuable resource for the community, is being squandered for petty politics and autocratic rule-making. Don't alienate yet another long-standing community member like Bill Huston just because you may not agree with what he says.
"In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself." - Frantz Fanon
From: Matthew LaBarre <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 6:48 PM
Subject: Bill Huston and WHRW
To: President, Ombudsman, WHRW, etc.
My name is Matthew LaBarre, I am an alumni of BU SEHD. My uncle is a full time Professor in the Art Department, my other uncle (his brother) was recently the main speaker/Guest of Honor kicking off this years BUAC golf tournament. I wont name names, I only mention them so you understand that my family and I love Binghamton University and we hate to see people undermining it. I am also one of the people who was on Bill's weekly Philosophy of Yoga radio show. These recent events are very upsetting and I think at least deserves some real answers.
I want to share an instance that happened last semester during the airing of the yoga show because I think it reflects what may be in part going on here. A student member was rearranging records in the booth while Ana, Edmond and myself were in there an d on the air. This person was creating a lot of noise that was being heard on the air, Bill came in and asked this person quietly to leave (I am not sure who they were) and when this person finally did leave after there was some exchanging of words this person left by slamming the door hard and making a spectacle. In the hallway we could hear Bill and this person arguing and this person proclaiming "do you know who I am? I am a member of the eboard." This was in a you'll-be-sorry tone. I have to wonder if this has been an underlying contributing force, that there is not only some retaliation but also strong immaturity going on here as well. I would like to be proven wrong but there seems to be no answers or explanations and if Bill is accurate about this new information it seems he never needed to have taken this test that he has supposedly failed.
I cannot speak for the other that are claiming unfair treatment but it does cause me to pause and wonder if there is too little involvement from anyone outside – the administration, community members, etc. In this instance with Bill there seems to be no answers, no explanation, no recourse. Is this the same thing that others have been put through?
I would like to see some initiative and maturity start to place here to get the truth of what this is all about. I would at least like someone to explain these actions and decisions. There has to be some accountability here. If Bill is one thing he is an honest man who wants only to do the right thing, you cannot "take down" someone like him without having to explain yourself. I have had my own disagreements with Bill but I have never questioned his integrity and intentions. I am proud to say he is my friend and a mentor of mine as he should be to everyone at WHRW. It is easy when we are young, I speak for myself and to others at WHRW, believing that one can do anything and change the world. Bill is that ideal embodied even after years of having to battle against the grain. He does it day in and day out and is dedicated to doing what is right. I commend him for not dropping this and I hope I can help in any way that I can. I urge others to do the same.
Matthew Russell LaBarre
from: Mike Hudak
to: BU President, Ombudsman
date Mon, Sep 15, 2008 at 7:56 PM
subject Please investigate Mr. Huston's ouster from WHRWDear President DeFleur:It has come to my attention that Mr. William Huston, who has engineered and hosted shows on WHRW for many years, has recently had his "clearance" revoked for allegedly failing the station's annual exam. From having known Mr. Huston for many years, in addition to co-hosting a show with him on WHRW (which he engineered) during spring 2004, I hold his technical abilities and general knowledge of broadcasting in high regard. As such, I suspect that Mr. Huston's alleged failure of this "clearance exam" results from petty politics at WHRW, rather than from any intellectual deficiencies on his part. We may, in fact, be witnessing an attempt by WHRW management to thwart free speech through the guise of charges about technical incompetence.As an alumnus of BU (BA 1975; PhD 1986), and a community member who looks to WHRW to present community-affairs programming not available from other local broadcast media, I encourage you to initiate an investigation into the ouster of Mr. Huston from WHRW.
With best regards,Mike Hudak--Mike Hudak, PhDChair, Sierra Club National Grazing CommitteeDirector, Public Lands Without LivestockAuthor, Western Turf WarsPersonal website: http://mikehudak.comBiome Books: http://biomebooks.comMySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/plwlFacebook: http://facebook.com Mike Hudak (Binghamton, NY)
From Wilton Vought, co-founder of the Binghamton Progressive Media Center:
Dear WHRW Managers and Board Members:
I was dismayed to learn that Bill Huston has been denied his radio show on WHRW. I am concerned that perhaps this action was taken not for lack of technical competence on Bill's part, but for ideological motives.
Bill has a habit of pushing the limits of allowable thought and speech, and in doing so makes enemies along the way. To his credit, this does not deter him in the least. What these people, yourselves perhaps included, fail to understand is that Bill performs a valuable societal function by opening up space for others to venture beyond the confines of our corporatized, sanitized, one-size-fits-all culture. Reactionary forces will always seek first of all to apply pressure to the periphery, ever narrowing the limits of the allowable, and people like Bill naturally become a target. But with Bill Huston out of the way, I ask you...who is next?
However, my concern goes far beyond that of Bill Huston and whether or not he regains his radio show. I was born and raised in Binghamton, and have lived in the area nearly all of my life. I started attending Binghamton University (then known as SUNY Binghamton or Harpur College) in 1971, and became aware of WHRW at that time. As I became more familiar with the station's programming format, I grew to appreciate WHRW as a refuge for voices otherwise marginalized or silenced by society. Bill Huston has carried on in that tradition, and when you attempt to silence him you run contrary to the core mission of WHRW, that of providing an alternative voice. This mission is even more critical in our age of media conglomeration.
I urge you to rise above petty political differences and reinstate Bill Huston out of respect for the institution of which you are all members.
From Vera Scroggins:
hi, Mike,heard about Bill Huston and his revocation of engineer clearence;I've listened to him for years and like his programs;please reinstate him and reconsider the revocation ;thank you,Vera Scroggins
From Bob Ruane:
Dear President DeFleur:
I am writing to express dismay regarding community member Bill Huston and his alleged failure to pass his clearance test at WHRW Radio. It seems that this "failure" was based on a subjective rather than an objective decision on the part of the station's public affairs department.Since Huston is a veteran of local community radio, he is very competent in both engineering and programming content issues. He is also very informed and passionate regarding a wide variety of issues. I have enjoyed the programs of his that I have seen or heard. While Bill may be a bit abrasive at times, his views need to be heard because it is essential that our community be exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints.
I have known Mr. Huston for four years, and I believe four years is a sufficient amount of time to be able to assess a person's strengths. I believe Bill has a great deal to contribute to the WHRW public affairs department, and the revocation of his clearance is a serious miscarriage of justice.
Thank you for your time on this matter.
Robert Ruane Jr.
Another letter from Mike Hudak:
Dear President DeFleur,
You may recall my email to you of 9/15/08 bringing to your attention the matter of Mr. William Huston, long-time radio show host/engineer at WHRW, being excluded from WHRW for allegedly receiving a non-passing grade on the radio station's annual clearance examination.
Having attended, at Mr. Huston's request, the WHRW board meeting of 9/22/08, subsequent to the board's vote against Mr. Huston on 9/15/08, I can now provide additional relevant observations on this matter that you may find of interest.
First, Mr. Huston has successfully taken this clearance examination every year from 2002 to 2007. Without even further examining details, it seems odd that Mr. Huston (and indeed anyone) who has passed the same type of exam six times, would then fail such an exam.
Second, prior to the start of the 9/22/08 board meeting, while Mr. Huston and I were standing outside of the WHRW office, one of the WHRW board members walked by. Mr. Huston then engaged this member in friendly conversation regarding his vote the previous week to exclude him from the station. The board member was unequivocal in stating that Mr. Huston was excluded for refusing to take the annual clearance exam. Shortly thereafter, another board member came by, allowing for a similar exchange with Mr. Huston. Again, this board member expressed the belief that Mr. Huston had not taken the exam.
These were two of eleven board members who had voted to exclude Mr. Huston from WHRW, and while doing so were apparently acting under the misapprehension that he had refused to take the clearance exam.
Third, having witnessed Mr. Huston's 5-minute statement to the WHRW board on 9/22/08 in which he questioned the criteria under which he had been deemed to have failed the clearance exam, I can state that the video Mr. Huston has now posted on YouTube (9/26/08) of relevant portions of the board meeting are as I recall them. If you have not viewed the video, I invite you to do so at <http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Fourth, in familiarizing myself with this conflict between Mr. Huston and the WHRW board, I have discovered a structural deficiency in the board, which I can foresee leading to serious improprieties, including perhaps the one at hand. This deficiency is the allowing of current WHRW board members to simultaneously host/engineer a show on WHRW. Given the considerable power that the WHRW general manager wields over who can and cannot have a show on the station, it is obvious that this situation has the potential to further increase the power of the general manager through implicit or explicit intimidation of board members.
In conclusion, I point out that as Mr. Huston's YouTube video can now be accessed worldwide, it would be advantageous to resolve his dispute with the WHRW board in a timely fashion. The longer this matter festers, the greater will be the embarrassment to Binghamton University.
Also, toward reducing the likelihood of similar future disputes, I hope that serious consideration will be given to my proposal of disallowing radio show hosts/engineers from simultaneously serving on the WHRW board.
Mike Hudak, BA '75, PhD '86
Mike Hudak, PhD
Chair, Sierra Club National Grazing Committee
Director, Public Lands Without Livestock
Author, Western Turf Wars
38 Oliver Street
Binghamton, NY 13904-1516
Personal website: http://mikehudak.com
Biome Books: http://biomebooks.com
MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/plwl
Facebook: http://facebook.com Mike Hudak (Binghamton, NY)
From Tarik Abdelazim, Deputy Mayor of the City of Binghamton:
Good day, Francine. I was wondering if you might share with me your thoughts on the Bill Huston affair. As you probably know, he allegedly failed the WHRW test and his radio show was pulled. Now, I know first hand that Bill can at times be difficult to deal with, but the station managers shouldn't exploit the test as a means to deal with personality conflicts. I'm certain that Bill knows the FCC laws better than any station manager (his intensity does have its pluses), and I also know that many other DJs with years of experience have been given exemptions from the test. Bill should still be a DJ, no matter how prickly and difficult he may be. I offer my support in investigating why he was singled out by station managers. It just doesn't seem right.Please let me know your thoughts, Francine.Hope this finds you well.Sincerely,Tarik Abdelazim
From Lynn Senick:
I live in Montrose PA. and often travel to Binghamton. I enjoy alternative radio of all kinds even though there is not a large choice in this area.
Recently I was alerted to some problems with community accessibility to programming at WHRW.
There was a yoga program I enjoyed hosted by Bill Huston and he is no longer able to broadcast due to a problem with the rules testing.
Bill Huston has hosted several programs in the last six years and I have enjoyed some of them.
I do not always agree with Bill's viewpoints, but he does give useful information to the community with a refreshingly different viewpoint than what I usually hear on commercial media and I value that.
He is certainly technically capable to produce a program or he wouldn't have been able to have programs on WHRW for six years.
I saw this video on You Tube that was made by Bill and the rulings process seemed a little arbitrary.
http://www. youtube. com/watch?v=2OLvjpWpaJc
Could you review this situation?
I feel that WHRW is a community station and should give access to anyone in the community who is capable and competent to produce a program if there are available slots open for broadcasting.
From: Ed Kwiatkowski
Subject: Bill Huston Clearance
To: BU President Defleur, Ombudsman Montemurro
I recently became aware of the situation at radio station
WHRW involving revoking Bill Huston's clearance based on
failing the rules section of the annual exam. Since he has
been producing programs on WHRW for the past six years and
passed all of the annual exams with no problem, I find it hard
to believe that he would suddenly fail the latest one. I suspect
that there is some sort of personal conflict involved in
revoking his clearance. I have found his programs to be
interesting and thought provoking. In particular, the
program that he hosted with Vera Scroggins last year
and the more recent yoga program were very informative.
I, for one, would like to have more of these types of
programs available, produced and hosted by local residents.
I strongly urge you to review this situation and
reinstate Bill's clearance.
From Michelle Russo:
From: michelle russo
Date: Tue, Nov 11, 2008 at 9:18 AM
Subject: Highly Concerned about WHRW's Practices
To: email@example.comGood Morning Ms. Montemurro,I am writing to you because I have been very bothered by a specific situation that has occured over the last few months. It is regarding Bill Huston's dismissal from WHRW. I have been silent for some time about this because I have wanted to study the situation well. I am an alumni of Binghamton University and, currently, am a graduate student in the Masters of Social Work department.I have also lived in the Binghamton area for over eight years and have been an avid supporter of WHRW, much because it is a community radio station that intertwines the community and the university. I did listen to Bill Huston's programs but please understand, it is not just his program's absence that is driving this concern, but the way in which his dismisall was ensued. It really seems to me that there was extreme corruption in this arena and it disturbs me that no action has been taken to investigate or reconcile the situation. I have to say, I have not wanted to support WHRW the way I always have, in recent months.I hope that every effort is made to not only reinstate his position at WHRW, but that the policies and practices are looked into and remedied at WHRW.Thank you,Michelle Russo
From John Solak:
I can't say that I agree with Mr. Huston on a lot of issues, but I
have always found him to be interesting and smart and I would not
question his heart. The guy just wants some crummy air time on a
college station paid for by the taxpayers. I hardly think that is such a
big deal. The kid manager at WMRV obviously is drunk with his own
"coolness". I say let Bill Huston be Bill Huston! He's not out to hurt
anybody. Compared with a lot of current crap coming from that
transmitter, including students who have trouble operating the board,
the phones, cueing up a recording and swearing. Huston is quite
Thanks to several people who called to say
they had seen the show and called either the
President or the Ombudsman.
Date: Sat, 17 Jan 2009 13:28:16 -0500
Subject: Bill Huston's Allegations Against Mike Saltzman
From: John George
To: President, Ombudsman:
Just watched Bill Huston's video regarding his dismissal from WHRW. The production was well made and seemed to be on point. I got the impression from the video that his dismissal was for reasons other than competence or exam results.
I'm sure this is not the first correspondence you've received on this matter. I don't know Bill Huston personally, but as there is a lot of power associated with running a public access station, I would think there are FCC regulations as well as University rules that must be followed. So my question to you is, who is wielding this power? If Mike Saltzman is running this station with no oversight, from what I saw in Huston's video, he's running it at his whim and seems to be penalizing anyone he disagrees with or doesn't like. I'm not sure this amount of power should rest solely in one person's hands. Conversely, if all the decisions he's making meet with your approval, then this implies you are in favor of running your public access station in such a seemingly capricious manner. If this is the case I'd like your response as to who I should contact outside the University to receive further action on this matter.
In closing, I would ask that you look into this matter, and if you feel it's warranted, please restore Bill Huston's WHRW clearance.
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 10:19:03 -0500 (EST)
From: Mark D. Scudder <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I have written you in the past regarding WHRW General Manager Michael Saltzman's actions with regard to other WHRW members. Since he was first elected General Manager, he has removed six or more members in ways that violate WHRW's Constitution. I can verify personally that in at least two cases, he lied directly to David Hagerbaumer, in order to exaggerate circumstances to the point where Binghamton University felt they had cause to take matters into their own hands.
Mr. Saltzman rules WHRW by intimidation, many station members and even board members have described him as "a creep" or worse, they are scared to speak out against him. He once told a board member he does not even care about radio, he just enjoys being in charge. He has been accused of stalking a female station member for four months before becoming General Manager. Binghamton University has rewarded his behavior now for almost two years.
I asked you to investigate Mr. Saltzman but he continues to violate WHRW's constitution, yesterday taking action against William Huston, who was a pillar of WHRW, without giving Mr. Huston the opportunity to face his accuser and defend himself, a right afforded to him by the WHRW Constitution.
As the President of this University you are ultimately responsible for the actions of your students and staff. There are now a number of pending complaints with the Federal Communications Commission, detailing Mr. Saltzman's behavior and conduct on-air, where he frequently airs obscene material which is prohibited and could carry a fine to Binghamton University in excess of $250,000.00. WHRW's alumni are disgusted by Mr. Saltzman's behavior and your willingness to do nothing about it.
WHRW has in the past been a great asset to the Southern Tier at large. For almost 40 years it provided an incredibly important alternative media outlet in an area otherwise devoid of such a thing. It is shameful that it is now run in this manner.
I have little faith that my words will mean anything to you, but I feel I must express my outrage again at how this storied organization, which has meant so much to so many, is condoned by you while violating its own rules and the rules of the FCC which could cost the university a quarter of a million dollars per violation. You may run your University as you see fit, but I and countless alumni, many in the community in which you live and work, and local artists and musicians are disgusted by your lack of attention to this matter.
Mark D. Scudder
Thanks to everyone who has phoned or written letters of support.
PLEASE KEEP THEM COMING!!!
Please call or send letters to
- BU President Lois DeFleur:
- BU Ombudsman: Francine Montemurro
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