On June 6, at the Community Media of the Foothills board meeting, I presented an open letter directed to the KGEM board members that I would like to share with you.
While I think some time should be allotted for them to address the concerns brought up, I feel that it is important for the city and its citizens to understand fully what situation KGEM has been in and continues to be in under the leadership of Executive Director Lance Mungia, as experienced by a former employee of the station.
The letter reads as follows:
To the board members of Community Media of the Foothills:
My name is Angela Jackson, a former employee of KGEM Studios.
Last month, Executive Director Lance Mungia thought it suitable to fire me after a disagreement we had over verbal and written policies on May 6. In his incident report, he claims that I was insubordinate and that I belittled his authority.
I am here to tell that his report is almost completely inaccurate.
Not long ago, I was approached by a board member in an attempt to understand why such a mass exodus had taken place at the company: Justin Bowman, Karen Bullis, Mark Clark, Marlene Gibb, Travis Gray, Ben MaGaffey, Hanna Nielson, Patrick Van Slyke.
Most of whom have left within the past 18 months. Even some producers, after airing their work the required amount, have requested to not air their shows because of their negative experiences at KGEM. Others, while they still air their shows on KGEM, refuse to have the studio edit them, putting trust in third party editors.
The board member asked, “if people were so frustrated over how the company was run, why had no one come to the board meetings to complain?” That is not the question that should have been asked. Instead, I have a better question. In fact multiple.
For well over two years, the director’s booth in the studio was a mess, filled with archaic equipment no longer in use and not fit for a junior high school studio. It was cluttered with damaged equipment and wires that went nowhere. How long did it take for employees to finally get approval to clean it out? Then ask how much of it was done by the initiative of KGEM’s employees and not through Mungia’s encouragement.
The server used to manage the channels has long been in need of replacement, its developers even mentioned that they would not be supporting it in the near future. It has crashed multiple times, erasing thousands of hours of local producer content, some of which are irrecoverable. The main server was finally sent in to be repaired or possibly replaced. But when did that server get sent in? How long has KGEM been using the backup server that also has been known to be faulty? What steps have been taken to get a modern server?
In early November of 2015, a small accident took place and one of four HD cameras was damaged. How long did it take for the camera to be assessed? How long for the claim to be filed? What was the reimbursement used on? Can that camera be used in connection to view video on the switcher?
Executive Director Lance Mungia regularly complains about how much money KGEM does not have and how much it would cost to repair and replace all the equipment that is needed – yet did all of those appliances break at one time? Could nothing be put aside throughout the years for anything? What happened to applying for grants? What proposals have at least been written for a chance at gaining funds?
During the re-painting of the studio, Mungia made the right decision of purchasing artwork for the studio, to liven the atmosphere and promote creativity. But how much was spent? How many pictures and artwork were purchased?
Over three hundred dollars was spent on this whim, or about two weeks’ wages of a part-time employee. How many canvases still sit in the corner of the playout room? Of those that are hanging, how long has each one been there?
At KGEM, the employees work hard to provide quality productions for the local producers that come in, and they manage. But multiple times, almost regularly, Mungia has taken what little equipment they have on personal trips and projects. Memory cards, flash drives, wireless audio kits, and the handheld audio recorder have all be commandeered, most of the time without warning and all without written record, making a difficult task of using old and mediocre equipment harder. Is this appropriate?
A while ago, KGEM purchased two high-end, Macbook Pros; one of which is used daily in the staff room. Where is the other? How long has it been there?
Multiple times Mungia has claimed to have brought in many commercial projects that made KGEM money. How many did he bring in? Of those projects, how many did he spearhead to completion? Of those, how many actually made KGEM any significant money after expenses?
Of the producers that still use KGEM for its production, there are those who do not meet the requirements of free service, still others that are required to pay. Why do some pay but others, with the same lack of requirements, do not?
Not long ago, a board member asked, “if things were so bad, why hadn’t anyone come to the board meetings to complain.” That is not the question that should have been asked, but I will answer it.
Simply put, no one trusts the process. With constant mismanagement of the studio facility and its equipment, most, if not all, assumed the board was aware of it. How often have any of the board members gone to the studio, just to see how things were going? Ask important, discerning questions, actually investigating a possible problem instead of listening to one narrative, then dismissing it.
It is the board’s responsibility to manage the executive director, yet from my point of view, and others, he is the tyrant king and you his loyal court. Be it in ignorance or not, you have not fulfilled your duties as governing members of the KGEM Board. So I have a question for you: did you not volunteer for this position? Are you not public servants, in charge of the facility and how it is run? Why has all of this gone on right under you? Who really is in charge here?
Insubordinate: to be disobedient, to not submit to authority.
Early last month, Executive Director Mungia fired me after a disagreement concerning what policies should be verbal and written down. In his incident report, he claims I was insubordinate and belittled his authority of manager of the studio. I am here to tell you that most of his report was inaccurate and outright lies.
After confusion of which equipment was allowed to be used after proper training by a volunteer producer, I made the suggestion that it be put in writing so that all current and future parties were clear on the policy.
After each of us justified our position I stated “Well, I disagree, but you’re the manager.” To which he responded, “Yeah, yeah I am.” It was then that Mungia asked me into his office to discuss things further. I declined saying, “No, I’m okay thank you.” Is this what he meant by insubordinate? Surely this could not have been the reason why I was fired.
In Mungia’s report, he claims that I said, “he wasn’t a real manager.”
I never said that.
He claims that I said, “I’m not going into your f-ing office.”
I never said that.
He claims that I accused him of pulling rank.
I never did that.
Lance Mungia has twisted my words and lied about my responses throughout his incident report. What I did say and what actually happened is here in my rebuttal, but please, do not take my word for it. Ask the two witnesses that he has mentioned in his own report: Operations Manager Anthony Clegg and Studio Manager Peter Nile. Speak to them individually. Ask for their view point on what happened May 6. Question all parties involved instead of letting Mungia write the only narrative you hear. Investigate this and all that has been brought up tonight.
Early last month, I was approached by a board member in regards to what was going on at KGEM. On May 10, I was fired over a simple disagreement. Adults argue and move on. Children argue and retaliate. Children hold grudges and look for ways to get back at someone.
Executive Director Lance Mungia claims I was fired because I was insubordinate.
I believe I was fired because I questioned his reasoning in front of others and voiced my concerns.
I honestly do not expect anything to come from this, my intention was to finally do what no one else, for whatever reason would not or could not do; and if nothing does change, then I guess I know who really is in charge, and now, so will everyone else.
My name is Angela Jackson, a former employee of KGEM Studios, and glad to be of it.