WKVI Corrects Harold Welter School Board Reports

On Sept. 5 and 10 of this year, news stories were aired on WKVI and posted on wkvi.com concerning the Knox Community School Board race and candidate Harold Welter in particular. It has since been learned that certain parts of those stories were inaccurate. In the story from Sept. 5, entitled, “Harold Welter withdraws Knox School Board candidacy,” a description of FCC guidelines concerning equal time was given, along with how they relate to the local school board race and a description of the waiver of equal time opportunities which would allow Welter to continue his duties as a sports announcer through the election season.

One line from the story read, “In past elections, other candidates have been willing to waive their equal time rights so that I could continue to broadcast ball games. In this election, however, one candidate did not feel comfortable with allowing that to happen.” That section was corrected shortly thereafter to read, “Several candidates didn’t feel comfortable with allowing that to happen, and therefore have declined to give WKVI a waiver,” which may have given the impression to some listeners or readers that all of the other candidates had declined to sign the waiver. In fact, not all of the other candidates were contacted nor given an opportunity to sign.

Additionally, the name of candidate Dawn M. Bailey was written incorrectly in the story. WKVI apologizes for the errors.

In the story from Sept.10, WKVI, WKVI-FM and wkvi.com aired and posted a story entitled “Welter’s Back in the School Board Race, Sports on Hiatus.” The story described Welter’s attempt to get his name removed from the ballot. He was later informed that, due to state law, the removal of his name from the ballot was not possible and that the equal time rules would still apply. One line from that story, “Welter offered the other candidates not to serve if elected in order to get their cooperation, but that offer was also rejected,” may have given the impression that Welter had contacted all of the other candidates opposing him with his offer, when, in fact, he did not. WKVI apologizes for the error.

Further, Harold Welter, acting in his capacity as WKVI Sports Director, appeared as a play-by-play announcer in the coverage of a high school football game on the evening of Friday, Sept. 7. Due to a miscalculation, Welter mistakenly appeared on the broadcast, during the first day of the 60-day political window prior to this year’s election, triggering the equal time provision of FCC rules.

On Thursday, Oct. 4, WKVI General Manager Pat Dunn met with school board incumbents William Kirk Bennett, Gerald (Jerry) Fletcher and candidates Dawn M. Bailey, Wendy McIntire, Larry D. Sennert and Valarie Williams to work out an agreement to provide equal time opportunities in accordance with the rules. At the meeting, an agreement was reached to air 15- to 30-second announcements for each of the candidates opposing Welter in the race, which are set to begin in a few days’ time.

In conclusion, it was never the intention of the staff or management of WKVI to provide an advantage for one candidate or disadvantage to any of the other candidates and regret any misinformation or misconception our errors may have caused.