By John Colson
Sopris Sun staff writer
Two dozen people have applied to become the next station manager at KDNK, Carbondale’s community access radio station, and there is some hope that a new manager will be on the job within a matter of weeks, according to one station official.
The board has embarked on a national search to replace Steve Skinner, the long-time station manager who was dismissed late last year.
The station, founded in 1983, broadcasts to communities around the Roaring Fork and Colorado River valleys, and has a live-stream link on its website that brings in listeners from around the U.S. and the world.
KDNK board president Andi Korber told The Sopris Sun on Tuesday that the committee in charge of the search, headed up by local businessman Scott Levine, was planning to take its first, formal look at the list of 24 applicants at a meeting on Wednesday night, and begin the process of whittling the list down to a group of finalists before starting the interview process.
She said there are seven members of the interview committee, including station board members Levine, Heather Dalton and Lee Ingram; community “at-large” representatives Luis Yllanes and Sarah Murray; and staff representatives Luke Nestler and Bodhi Stanberry.
The committee, said Korber and Levine, was scheduled to meet on Wednesday evening (after the Sopris Sun’s news deadline for this edition) for a first formal run-through of the list, though Levine said he and others had already done an initial screening and come up with a list of eight applicants who seem to be the “really top contenders” for the position.
Still, Levine said, all members of the hiring committee will be able to go over the entire list of applicants, as the committee works to narrow the list of candidates to those who will be invited to take part in interviews.
As a starting point in the process, “We are using the job description as the basis of the selection,” said Korber.
The two-page job description, dated December 2016, lays out the duties of the general manager, stating that he or she “leads the staff, leads income generation and budget management, and bears primary responsibility for station operations.”
In addition, the description declares that the GM “develops strategy and policy with and reports to the Board of Directors;” writes grant applications (or oversees the grant-writing); recruits the core of volunteer disc jockeys that often are cited as the reason for the station’s unique qualities; and is responsible for hiring and firing of paid staff members.
The job comes with benefits and a salary of $55,000 to $60,000, depending on experience.
Levine, speaking from work on his cell phone, was unsure about how many of the applicants are from the immediate area and how many are from more distant locales, but speaking for himself, he said, “probably more of our serious candidates are from out of town.”
Nevertheless, Levine continued, perhaps three of the eight “top contenders” from the initial screening are from the local area.
“Everyone wishes they could hire locally,” Levine remarked, but he said the committee is bound to give all applicants equal consideration.
And, he said, the fact is that “the local workforce is very limited” in terms of people with experience and knowledge of community access radio rules, regulations and role in the community.
He said it had not been decided when, or even if, a list of finalists might be made public, prior to the offering of a job to one of them.
That, he said, is something the committee will be discussing, along with an array of other topics.
“We have a lot of talking to do at this point,” he said.
Both Korber and Levine expressed the hope that an offer can be made within weeks, perhaps by early February, but Levine added, “I don’t want to rush through this process.”
After reviewing the field of applicants and conducting interviews, Levine continued, “We may find that we all really like one person,” which could lead to a recommendation to the Board of Directors that it hire that person.
But, he said, it also could easily work out that the committee comes up with a list of three, five or even more desirable candidates, in which case that list could end up before the board.
At that point, although the exact procedures are still being worked out, “My guess is the board might want to do some interviews on its own” before making a final offer, Levine mused.
Overall, though, he stressed that the board invites community interest in the search.
“We want this to be an open, transparent and equitable process,” he pledged, with the end goal of selecting “a person who’s really going to lead this station in the next period of growth and development.”