Feulner’s status at radio station is unclear
July 18, 2008
Thirty years after Blair Feulner filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission to create KPCW-FM, the iconic "voice of Park City" is absent from the airwaves.
Feulner, who helped found the local National Public Radio affiliate, announced Tuesday that it was his last day on the air for a while.
"This morning I have the difficult task of informing my many friends and contributors to KPCW that today will be my last day on the air, at least for the next six months," Feulner said while signing off Tuesday.
Feulner watched as the population of western Summit County grew from 2,000 to about 25,000 people. He was there when KPCW signed on at the War Memorial Building on Main Street in 1980.
"It’s been a long, strange and wonderful ride, and I want to say thanks to all of you who have supported the station for all these years," he told his audience Tuesday. "Thanks again for your support and good night and good luck."
It has been a tumultuous year for Feulner in which the umbrella organization he established to oversee public radio stations in Park City and Salt Lake City was forced to sell its Salt Lake frequencies.
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Feulner resigned as president of the non-profit Community Wireless of Park City March 25, but remained an employee of KPCW, said Joe Wrona, a Community Wireless executive committee member.
The reasons for his departure are unclear, but in an e-mail to The Park Record, Feulner stated, "I am hopeful that an agreement will be reached that will mean I’ll be behind the microphone and back on the air doing news six months from now."
But as "an employee of Community Wireless, [Feulner] does not have the authority to write his own ticket," Wrona told The Park Record Friday.
"His employment status with Community Wireless remains under review, and I am uncomfortable commenting further on that issue at this time," Wrona said in a telephone interview Friday.
Feulner announced July 15 "that he was departing for what he hoped would be deemed a sabbatical," Wrona said.
"He did not have the approval of the board of trustees for that departure," Wrona said. "As of this moment, the board of trustees has not authorized a sabbatical for Blair Feulner."
Besides Wrona, other Community Wireless board members include Bill Mullen, Judy Hanley, Bob Wells, Tina Lewis, Bill Coleman, Flint Decker, Diane Foster, Mark Fischer, Rich Sonntag and Tom Sly.
"The board of trustees of Community Wireless consists of people who were handpicked by Blair Feulner because of their friendship and loyalty to Mr. Feulner over the years," Wrona charged Friday. "We have obviously been placed in a very difficult dilemma by Mr. Feulner’s statements and actions, and we are struggling to try to make decisions that are in the best interest of Community Wireless, and that do not constitute a betrayal of the trust that Community Wireless listeners, donors and employees have placed in the board of trustees."
Friday, Feulner did not comment except to say he is "appalled" by Wrona’s statements to the press.
"I’m still negotiating with the board regarding the leave of absence and other issues," Feulner said in the e-mail Thursday.
Wrona did not say if board members disagree about a severance package for Feulner if he permanently leaves the station.
"I am not comfortable at this time discussing internal debates occurring amongst board members," Wrona said.
Feulner made headlines when his past six-figure salary at Community Wireless was compared with those who oversee larger public radio stations and earn less.
But when Feulner resigned as president in March and became an "at-will" employee, his salary at the station did not change, Wrona said.
Wrona, Foster, Mullen, Hanley and Decker comprise the Community Wireless executive committee.
"The executive committee has been meeting regularly to deal with Community Wireless issues and has been grappling with those issues on a weekly, if not, daily basis," Wrona said.