By Eric Lam
The CKLN Board of Directors has suspended the hosts of the International Connection radio show following an acrimonious board meeting last Friday that dissolved into a shouting match in the halls of the Student Campus Centre.
Following a closed-door session during which a CKLN-appointed task force reported on their investigation into the complaints filed by Greg Duffell and Daniel Besharat, the board unanimously agreed to a motion to suspend all “programming activities and privileges” of the radio hosts.
The board also dismissed the complaints, filed against Chair of the Board David Barnard, News Director Kristin Schwartz, and Program Director Tim May, none of whom were present.
“I assure you, their complaints were without merit,” said Jeff Semple, one of three members on the task force. “But (CKLN) has been advised legally, that we can’t discuss the complaints because they involve private matters.
“We wish we could set the public record straight and comment, but right now, we can’t.”
Duffell and Besharat, who arrived at the meeting dressed as the Blues Brothers — complete with sunglasses and fedoras — complained that they hadn’t had any communication with the CKLN Board or the task force during the investigation, and were told of their pending suspension on Thursday night “through e-mail.”
At least one of the complaints alleged that $500 donated to the International Connection in 2002 was redirected to another program, without the knowledge of the two hosts or Mary Young, who donated the money.
“If you pledge for a show, it goes to that show,” Doug Barrett, another CKLN task force member confirmed.
As for Duffell and Besharat, Barrett shrugged.
“I’m not sure what will happen. Obviously they won’t be on the air, but other than that…”
CKLN issued a press release that the Eyeopener received on Tuesday, confirming that Duffell and Besharat were suspended and not permitted on CKLN property.
According to the CKLN Board of Directors, the pair were seen videotaping people as they entered the Student Campus Centre on Sunday morning.
“It’s almost like Halloween came early,” Tony Barnes, a CKLN volunteer for 17 years who attended the meeting, said. “This Blues Brothers junk, it’s all just a joke. These guys are jokers, acting like clowns.
“Their behaviour wasn’t indicative of taking this seriously. They’re misrepresenting the spirit of CKLN.”
Dagna Pielaszkiewicz, a student member of the CKLN Board, took offense when Duffell began shouting after being suspended, calling the board “fascists.”
“There’s nothing worse than being called a fascist,” she said. “The meeting was held in camera (in secret) not to make a shroud of secrecy, but to protect the privacy (of those involved).”
Duffell, handcuffed to his “briefcase of blues,” and Besharat argued loudly with Barnes and other CKLN volunteers in the hallway outside the boardroom when the board closed its doors.
“Based on just your word you want to cripple the organization?” Barnes asked. “You’re making allegations without evidence. Prove it.”
Duffell shook the briefcase, still cuffed to his hand, claiming the evidence was inside.
But they couldn’t show it to media because of the Board’s privacy rules.
“It’s a circus,” one man muttered. “Like a hornet’s nest.”
For now, CKLN will continue with their fundFEST charity drive, but they may have already lost at least one donor.
“I expect if I donate to a show it be credited to the proper show,” Young said. “I haven’t been treated properly by management. I haven’t donated since, and I might never again. “We’ll see what happens.”
– with files from Josh Visser