Dead Air – KSDJ staff members are slipping softly into the night. Why?

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

Ashley-Kenneth Allen, KSDJ 90.7 FM station manager, is often credited with reviving a struggling station and drawing more listeners with a consistent music format put in place two years ago.

But behind the scenes, abrupt staffing changes have plagued the station.

It seems most people don’t want to work there. Of the 13 students employed as staff members under Allen in the past two years, only three have stayed all school year or come back as a staff for the next year. And several replacements have also quit.

Only one staffer reportedly quit because of graduation. Other cited personal reasons or higher priorities, like classes or work. Some moved to other schools.

But can the attrition rate really be that high? Is there more to the story?

2002-2003 school year

Travis Creley and Matt Stassel were the first to quit, and they did it loud. In a March 18, 2003 Collegian story they accused Allen of sabotaging music choices and all but taking over their jobs.

Creley now works as a radio DJ in Sioux Falls, and says the working atmosphere at KSDJ was initially good since he and Allen both had a passion for radio.

But before long, friends Creley and Stassel clashed with Allen about who should do what at KSDJ.

“He was a big control freak. He basically wanted to run everything,” he said. “Sometimes I felt he’d be happier if he was the only one to work there.”

Allen refused to comment. He said as station manager he wasn’t allowed to speak about personnel issues.

Creley said it always felt like really immature behavior on Allen’s part.

For example, he said, Allen had a message board on which he would taunt Creley and Stassel. The two students would then reply on the same board.

“The environment of the place totally changed,” he said.

Samanatha Foote worked at KSDJ then. She says she remembers the message board.

“He was always pushing us to write stuff about Matt and Travis when they weren’t there,” she said.

Creley quit, graduated and moved on, but he says the experience still bothers him.

“College radio is supposed to be the most fun time in radio, and he’s making it more harsh and ridiculous than (commercial radio),” he said.

Stassel was out of town and unavailable for comment.

2003-2004 school year

Creley’s tale is eerily similar to events at KSDJ last year.

A new staff was hired on, with the exception of Aaron Wickre, who had finished out Stassel’s job through the end of the 2002-2003 school year and was rehired as music director for 2003-2004.

Once again, things started out well. But soon problems popped up–ones almost exactly like Creley described.

“He did my job for me,” said Wickre, who estimated he was allowed to do less than half of his assigned duties. Wickre, a senior sociology major and the longest-serving of Allen’s staff, credited his longevity to his ability to fly under the radar.

“I let him do whatever he wanted,” he said. “I didn’t really talk to him too much. He doesn’t really listen to you anyway. He’s a pretty good person, but he’s not a very good manager.”

Seth Koch was creative services director before he quit at then end of the semester. In his resignation letter he said he left because of classes and work. When asked to comment on his time at KSDJ he would only say, “I refuse to have anything to do with the whole f*****g thing anymore.”

Foote was hired to be the program director for the 2003-2004 school year, but she resigned along with Seth Koch and left for a different school in Sioux Falls. Now a part-time radio DJ there, she said she left because of KSDJ.

“At first it was going well, but soon Ashley was treating (the staff) like crap. He made it seem like the radio station was more important than getting an education. And then he started taking over my job.”

Foote said she had worked at a radio station before and it didn’t make sense that a station manager would do the program director’s job when he should be an overseer.

“I couldn’t do anything without his approval,” she said. “It got to the point where anything we did wasn’t satisfactory. After a while, everything he said or did torqued me off. When it comes down to that, I almost had no choice but to leave.”

Foote said she misses the good times she had at the radio station, even though they were bittersweet.

“He’s turned it into a great radio station,” she said. “That’s the only thing I’ll give him. The only thing. And really, the credit should go to the staff for putting up with him.”


Foote and Koch’s replacements, Stephanie Erschens and Jacy Riedmann, started this spring. As reported on the front page of the Collegian this week, Riedmann is now at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has filed an sexual harassment complaint against Allen. Erschens, a sorority sister and close friend of Riedmann, is program director at KSDJ.