by Tom Finkel
University of Missouri-St. Louis chancellor Thomas George today fired longtime KWMU (90.7 FM) general manager Patty Wente.
"Radio Active," an in-depth story in the May 8 issue of Riverfront Times, speculated that the probe was to address "deficiencies" uncovered during a recent audit of the station, including allegations that management used KWMU credit cards to pay for personal expenses and failed to provide documentation justifying other expenditures at the station.
Additionally, current and former staffers told RFT that during her nineteen-year tenure, the 51-year-old Wente orchestrated misleading fundraising drives, assigned staff to personal work and oversaw a "reign of terror" in which employees felt threatened to bring concerns to the university.
At 5:40 p.m. today UMSL spokesman Bob Samples issued a press release announcing Wente’s firing. Mike Dunn, general manager of the University of Missouri’s KBIA (91.3 FM) in Columbia, will serve as an interim replacement for Wente.
After the jump: the press release announcing Patricia Wente's termination.
UMSL spokesman Bob Sample’s press release, in its entirety:
UNIVERSITY REPLACES GENERAL MANAGER
University of Missouri-St. Louis Chancellor Thomas George today terminated the employment of longtime KWMU (90.7 FM) general manager Patricia Wente. The action followed a review of financial and management issues raised by current and past employees and outside auditors.
“KWMU is a St. Louis treasure,” George said. “This action is being taken to protect that treasure for the university and the community.”
KWMU is a National Public Radio affiliate with a 100,000-watt signal. The station is housed at the University of Missouri-St. Louis and licensed to The Curators of the University of Missouri.
George said that he has asked that KBIA (91.3 FM) General Manager Mike Dunn serve as interim general manager. Dunn has been the general manager of the public radio station on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus for 22 years.
“It is not unique that one UM campus loan expertise during times of transition and I’m thankful to MU for their cooperation,” George said. “I know that our award-winning radio staff here will work well with Mike as he oversees daily operations, as well as continues to review the station’s financial and management policies. We want to ensure that the proper checks and balances are in place to maintain our fiscal integrity and highest standards of professional behavior.”
I’ll report more news as it becomes available…