EDITORIAL: Setting The Record Straight
We have been passionate about contributing to the well-being of our community since we moved to the Santa Clarita Valley in 1990. Our track record speaks for itself.
During the last three decades that we’ve owned our local radio station, KHTS AM-1220, we have always taken pride in allowing the people of our valley to use the forum we’ve created to express their opinions without judgment from us. We will always continue to do that.
On October 16th, we had to make a difficult and unfortunate economical decision to lay-off two of our staff; news director, Carol Rock a full time position, and reporter Mark Archuleta a part time position. Carol was part of our KHTS family for many years while Mark was with us for only one year, we deeply cared about both of them.
Recently there has been misinformation reported. We believe it has become a part of the political race between our Congressional candidates, Lee Rogers and Congressman Buck McKeon and we trust our listeners and the community to discern the difference between our authentic intentions and an opportunity for people to twist and manipulate the truth for their own benefit.
It saddens us this decision is being exploited by Congressional candidate Lee Rogers. We can only believe it is because KHTS endorsed Congressman Buck McKeon for re-election. Any avid KHTS listener knows KHTS has frequently taken issue with Congressman McKeon on numerous topics. In fact, in the past six months we’ve had at least ten stories that questioned the Congressman.
Due to the need of a financial re-organization of the radio station, we had to cut costs by surrendering two paid positions, re-assigning the workload and bringing on one additional person to create a financial savings.
In many years in this business we’ve had to make these difficult decisions from time to time and we have never been falsely accused of making them for any other reason than the truth.
Our initial news story about the lay-offs did not go into detail. We now see how this could be manipulated to support certain agendas. Here are the specifics. Untruthful stories are being told about our October 5th meeting with Morris Thomas and Alissa McCurley in Congressman McKeon’s office. That meeting had been scheduled for many months, long before the race started heating up, in order for our news team to meet Alissa, Congressman McKeon’s new press secretary. Alissa is based in Washington DC. We were waiting for an opportunity to meet her in person when she traveled to Santa Clarita. Her timing was purely coincidental.
Our decision to pull Carol and Mark off of covering election stories and assigning another reporter to handle election coverage (and the debate) had been made three days prior to the October 5th meeting. We were losing our objectivity. Carol and Mark were informed they would be covering politics again right after the election, that is why we still wanted them to meet Alissa. Our instructions to our other reporter was the same we have always given our reporters; remain unbiased and balanced, give both sides a fair chance to respond, and if the story warrants publish it. We will save our opinions for our editorials. That reporter was also scheduled to be at the Friday meeting. He had a medical issue that prevented him attending. Our entire staff knew all these facts. We would never have attended the Friday meeting if our intention was any different. Nothing discussed in the Congressman’s office changed anything that hadn’t already been implemented.
In the past six months we have run more than ten news stories covering issues about Congressman McKeon. All but one of those stories has remained published on our website. The one story, the Mammoth story, was removed back in May. We did this because it was taken from a blog that was fed to Mark Archuleta by Congressional candidate, Lee Rogers. Rogers personally confirmed that to Carl in a telephone conversation that week. Congressman McKeon had not been given an opportunity to respond. We pulled the story. Mark and Carol were told we would repost the story if they obtained substantiated facts or another legitimate news organization covered it. This is something we require with any news story. It was their decision not to pursue it. Since then we have covered many issues involving Congressman McKeon.
The recent SCV Habitat for Heroes story was covered by Mark and written by both Mark and Carol. It was the announcement of the first of its kind Veteran’s Village planned to be built in Santa Clarita. Habitat had invited the three leaders instrumental in assisting us with this historic project to be keynote speakers at the press conference, CalVet Secretary Major-General Peter Gravett, Congressman Buck McKeon and Santa Clarita Mayor Pro-Tem, Bob Kellar. There was no mention in our story covering this event of either Bob Kellar or Congressman McKeon. We asked Carol to write a second story covering other key additional information not mentioned along with recognizing both the Congressman and Mayor Pro-Tem. Both stories are still published.
Our current layoffs had nothing to do with Carol or Mark’s performance at work. Both were given exit interviews and were specifically explained that they were being laid off due to financial reasons. They signed the forms agreeing to understanding. They were treated fairly and properly. We do believe it is improper to discuss further details of their employment with KHTS.
Although we know we cannot control how former employees react to our business decisions, we believe candidates for public office should stay removed from such matters.
We are confident our Santa Clarita community knows KHTS will continue telling the truth as we see it and always be forthcoming in our news coverage.