According to a report released Thursday by CPB Ombudsman Joel Kaplan, the president of Robin Hood Radio must choose between running the station or running for a spot on the local school board.
Marshall Miles is president and co-founder of Sharon, Conn.-based Robin Hood Radio, which operates WHDD-FM and an FM and AM repeater. Miles is campaigning for election to the Region One Board of Education in Sharon in November. Four complaints filed with CPB questioned whether Miles was unfairly using his station to further his campaign.
Miles also runs a separate political blog focused on that Board of Education that was the target of an FCC investigation in 2012. The FCC ruled that Miles had separated the two entities in a way that allowed for him to keep blogging.
In his response to Kaplan, Miles denied violating NPR’s Code of Ethics and Practices, which states: “We’re not advocates. We may not run for office, endorse candidates or otherwise engage in politics in a participatory or activist manner.”
In Kaplan’s report, Miles said: “We’re not NPR journalists. We never pretend to be NPR journalists. We don’t call ourselves news people. We don’t get paid for what we do. We do this as a public service.”
Kaplan, however, wrote that Miles’s protestation that he was not a journalist and offers to give equal time to his opponent were not enough. Kaplan added that the FCC decision about endorsing or criticizing candidates on a separate blog were a “far cry” from actually running for office.
In closing, Kaplan said Miles must make a choice.
“There is nothing wrong with Mr. Miles running for a seat on the regional board of education,” Kaplan wrote. “There is also nothing wrong with his presiding over a public radio station. What is wrong is that he should not do both at the same time.”
“It is wrong; it is unfair; it is a conflict of interest and it should stop,” he added.
In a blog post, Miles responded: “I don’t agree with it, and wish [Kaplan] himself had come out to interview people instead of having an intern make a few telephone calls and not get the big picture.”