Static heard at KZFR

Big changes at Chico’s community radio station

Some big changes are taking place at Chico’s community radio station. First, David Guzzetti has done his last Woody and Friends, his Monday-morning show of Americana music and lively banter. Second, the station’s Board of Directors last week laid off Jill Paydon (pictured), the station’s general manager. And Amy Terhorst, the development director (read: chief fundraiser), is leaving at the end of the year to do similar work for KVMR, the community radio station in Nevada City.

Listeners will miss Guzzetti most of all, of course. His Monday-morning show was one of the longest-lived (16 years, the same amount of time he served on the Chico City Council) and one of the most popular on KZFR. It was also one of the best at raising donations during pledge drives. Those who know the sometimes fiery Guzzetti weren’t surprised by the way it all ended—by his getting angry mid-show about developments at the station and walking out of the studio.

“I’m pretty sad about my personal decision,” Guzzetti said in a phone interview. He said he’d miss doing the show and listeners’ words of appreciation most of all. “I received so much love about that show,” he said.

The immediate issue had to do with a feeling that he’d been disrespected when he tried to join the search committee hiring a new general manager. The conflict aggravated ongoing dissatisfactions he had with the station, he said.

It had been a hard year for him—his Concow house burned down, his music collection with it, and the man he sold his catering business to was killed in a car crash. He just can’t do the show any longer, he said.

Although his resignation had no direct link to Paydon’s exit, Guzzetti did say that there was a growing rift between the paid staff running the station and the many programming volunteers who do the shows.

There’s general agreement that Paydon, who became GM in 2004, “did a great job there,” as long-time volunteer Bobbi Tryon put it. “There was a lot she did that was very good,” especially when she first arrived, Tryon explained. “She was the right person at a certain time.”

Tryon attributed Paydon’s layoff to “a change in management direction” that had been long in coming. Paydon had wanted to develop a paid management team and had put less emphasis on volunteers, and the board wanted to put the emphasis back on the volunteers, she said.

This particular soup had been simmering for some time. Back in April 2007, the members of the station’s Program Council had resigned en masse, protesting the growing power of paid staff and what they said was the increasing irrelevancy of the Program Council.

Ultimately the council was reconstituted, but the issue clearly didn’t go away completely.

The station has begun a nationwide search for a new general manager, said board President Dan Carter. It’s looking for someone who can create a “more volunteer-based organization,” he added. “This is an extremely difficult time. It’s really hard.”

He called Guzzetti “an icon” and said he too was sad Woody and Friends no longer would air.