KHSU’s Community Advisory Board Submits Vote of No Confidence in General Manager


Graphic from KHSU

The following letter was submitted to HSU’s Administration by its Community Advisory Board today following a tumultuous six weeks after public radio station KHSU’s General Manager Peter Fretwell fired popular, longtime program and operations director Katie Whiteside. 


Peter Fretwell

Peter Fretwell

Craig C. Wruck, Vice President, HSU University Advancement, Dr, Lisa Rossbacher, Humboldt State University (HSU) President
Tom Hinz, KHSU Community Advisory Board (CAB) Chair
KHSU Community Feedback to Humboldt State University
June 29, 2018
Peter Fretwell (KHSU General Manager), CAB Members

Since May 15, 2018, the members of the KHSU Community Advisory Board (CAB) have received a deluge of communication from community members at an unprecedented level. We have been contacted via social media, phone and email, receiving correspondence addressed to the CAB as a whole and to individual CAB members. Casual meetings with friends, acquaintances, and strangers at public places or events, and even in our work places have led to outpourings of questions and concerns regarding KHSU.

The last two CAB meetings were held in larger venues to accommodate increased crowds of concerned individuals, a significant change compared to the typical attendance at the CAB’s monthly meetings. Members of the public, the community of listeners who engage daily with KHSU and those who support KHSU have spoken loudly, repeatedly, and with great passion with regard to their concerns, the strained relationship between Humboldt State University and KHSU, and their lack of confidence in the KHSU General Manager.

The message from those of the KHSU community who have engaged with the CAB in the last month is clear, and the CAB would be remiss in its duties if we did not share that message with those who make the guiding decisions for KHSU. The members of the KHSU community who have voiced their opinion, through the conduit of the KHSU CAB, formally submits their vote of no confidence in Peter Fretwell as General Manager of KHSU, and respectfully requests his termination.

There is a troubling lack of transparency from HSU with regard to community relations in regard to KHSU. The community hopes that HSU understands how important KHSU is to all of us. The listeners and volunteers, in partnership with HSU, have kept KHSU vibrantly alive for over fifty years. Many of us are HSU alumni and consider KHSU to be our most important link to HSU.

Thank you for your time and attention.


A quorum of the CAB



  • Film Professional

    That a CAB would make such a recommendation is a very strong statement, and hopefully represents the handwriting on the wall.
    This is a complex situation, and NO part of it reflects well on Mr. Fretwell (PF) or HSU!
    PF has only been at the station for about 15 months. He comes from an Evangelical Christian and conservative radio talk show Host background. (Not a good fit for KHSU or Humboldt county!! Read about him here: It is believed now that the VP at HSU who hired him, Craig Ruck (sp?) is the force behind this push for change. And the belief is that they want to change KHSU into a more ‘all NPR’ clone station. That is easier for management (no bothersome students and community volunteers!). The local contributions are, of course the parts that make KHSU such an appreciated and valuable local resource.
    Of course the BIG issue is PF’s totally unjust firing, in May, of Katie Whiteside, who was regarded as the “heart” of KHSU for her 30+ years there (22 years on staff). People LOVE her! She trained and helped so many people. And PF harassed her, made her job hell. Then made up some BS excuse to fire her.
    This issue is NOT GOING AWAY!! PF and HSU have opened a can of worms. Even the Pres of HSU is in the bullseye. Lisa R has refused to even meet with KHSU’s largest donor, and a BIG donor of HSU, to discuss what’s going on. Shit will be hitting the fan soon.
    My guess is that they will cut PF loose and hope it will all go away.
    PS: A video of the May CAB meeting, where even the majority of his staff speaks about how difficult it is there, can be found here:
    PPS: Want more info? Read the 2 letters to the editor and the guest opinion piece (by Alan Sandborn) in the NCJ this week/ ‘on news stands now!’.
    PPPS: Make your voice heard. STOP DONATING TO KHSU NOW (short term pain for long term gain). Email them to say, ‘No more contributions until PF is removed’:
    And write HSU President at: (

  • Yeah, if Fretwell is fired, maybe we can get Katie to come back to KHSU.

    Now, if we could just get rid of Rossbacher. She’s an awful president—totally anti-social, not transparent about the University’s dealings and a completely ineffective leader. Perhaps she and Fretwell can help each other pack their suitcases and hit the road out of Humboldt!

  • I withdrew my financial contribution to KHSU over this issue. I am not alone. Money talks folks.

  • Hear hear.I totally agree with Kim the administration is the problem. KHSU needs a real degree of separation from campass and the CAB board needs to really be running the affairs of this community resource. I am one of over 80 members and underwriters currently withholding our support, and my support will not come back without real change. We are the agents of change we want to be in this world.We should not let the Machiavellian ambition of a few individuals destroy something we have built and come to love. KHSU needs more local programming not less. The homepage should evolve into a real news organization. Children’s programming needs to come back to the weekend a.m. as well. KHSU needs to become more like KMUD,the voice of the people.No doubt this makes Mr Ruck and Mrs. Rochbacher uncomfortable and it should we are coming for them next.

  • Mr. Fretwell is a wolk in she eps clothing. He is manipulative and speaks ill of his staff to other staff members among other things. Some staff are fearful of him. That alone should be enough to say goodbye to him. I too have withdrawn my support. I love KHSU but must take a stand. Money talks.

  • Hey hey ho ho Peter Fretwells got to go!
    Hey hey ho ho Peter Fretwells got to go!

  • Why not donate to the student station KRFH 105.1 broadcasting from Gist Hall? No sense in all this community support going nowhere. That radio station broadcasts at 100 watts and serves Arcata, Eureka, McKinleyville and Blue Lake.

  • Im re routing my money to food for people. We always donate to FFP but will increase donations now. KMUD has its issues that surface now and again, nothing is perfect.
    The behind the scenes doo doo needs to be investigated. Some good investigative reporter (do we have any of these here anymore?), should dig deep.

    • Film Professional

      You are so right, Emma G!
      An Investigative Reporter could look at: 1). PF’s hiring process, and the agenda Mr. Wruck set for him; 2). PF’s professional history and his political and social alliances; 3). PF’s behavior on the job at KHSU, where there have been numerous allegations of employee harassment, and other employees who ‘don’t feel safe’ on the job with him; 4). Mr. Wruck’s perception and subsequent agenda about ‘the KHSU problem’ (speak to the KHSU CAB for info from their meeting(s) with Mr. Wruck); 5). What Ms Rossbacher and Mr. Wruck knew (and when) about the circumstances around the firing of Katie; and 6). Why Ms. Rossbacher has been silent on the changes/problems being caused at KHSU by PF, the alleged harassment, and why she did not respond to a request for a meeting with one of the station’s biggest underwriters and a large HSU contributor. (That alone seems odd, if not rather suspicious).
      Where is the ambitious reporter who wants to take on that juicy and layered story??!!! (Yes. That is intended as a challenge. Lol).

  • This would seem to be ripe for investigation via the recently formed partnership between KHSU and the North Coast Journal.

  • WHY did she get fired?!?!

    • Film Professional

      Oh. Employers hide behind ‘I can’t talk about it’, as allowed by the law.
      What IS KNOWN is that PF did not offer Katie guidance to supposedly ‘improve her performance’. No warnings. No options. If PF was a good ‘Boss’ he would have supported Katie’s ‘development’ as an (more ideal, from his point of view) employee. We have ALL experienced Katie Whiteside’s talent, skill and commitment, whether in person or as a listener (when her voice is heard as the local Host on Morning Edition in the morning and on All Things Considered 12 hours later).
      Nope! PF had it out for her.

  • They, of course cannot tell why. I am close to the aggrieved staff member(s )and I can tell you,because it is public , that Mr. Fretwell created a hostile work place. He, for whatever reason “did not like” Ms. Whiteside. They pulled out from their rear ends, a bogus narrative.
    Read up on Mr. Fretwell and ask yourself why in the world was he hired?
    I took my money away and I encourage like minded folks to do the same .

  • All the whiney people, where do they all come from… all the whiney people where do they all belong….

    • Remember the line that it’s the squeaky wheel gets the grease? These folks ain’t whining, they are squeaking! As for our family we will be withholding contributions till this issue is resolved.

      We’ve been listeners and subscribers to KHSU ever since we discovered the station a a few decades ago. NPR programs gradually pushed out some of the student done programs I enjoyed.

      If you like KHSU and approve of the path they are taking then contribute, don’t just insult those that disagree. This is not only your right but your obligation.

      Those of us who do not approve have the same right to withhold support and express the reason why.

      Money talks and bullsh.. walks.

  • Father McKenzie writing the words to a sermon no one will hear…Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave…

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