The general manager who led the Johns Hopkins University-owned FM radio station to solvency left his job abruptly this month, without a word to his former colleagues.
The university will not say why.
Officially, Ray Dilley, the general manager of WJHU (88.1 FM), resigned, effective Aug. 30, for unspecified personal reasons. Reached yesterday at his Baltimore home, Dilley said, "I'm in the middle of changing direction in work; that's all there is to say."
But Dilley, the former president of Vermont Public Radio who helped to establish National Public Radio's international operations, acknowledged he has no new job lined up.
A former colleague at WJHU said that Dilley did not announce his departure, and did not clean out his own office. "He left on his August vacation and never came back," the former colleague said, on condition of remaining anonymous for fear of a backlash from the station.
Staffers were informed of Dilley's departure with no other details by Dennis O'Shea, the university's chief spokesman, who oversees the National Public Radio affiliate. O'Shea, who has taken over as the station's acting general manager, said the university is launching a national search for a successor.
Dilley's most significant accomplishment in his three-and-a-half years in Baltimore was to operate the station in the black. For the first time in many years, WJHU balanced its books for fiscal year 2000, although it still owes a sizeable debt to the university. Contributions from corporate, foundation and individual donors were up significantly last year, station officials said.
In perhaps his most ambitious initiative, Dilley said earlier this summer that the station would create a news desk to cover local events. O'Shea said last night that those plans would continue unimpeded. In next few weeks, O'Shea said, he would meet with potential donors to request some of the half-million dollars needed to start the effort.
"Ray left the station in a much better position than he inherited it," O'Shea said yesterday.
Notably, O'Shea did not express any regret that Dilley had left the Hopkins station. "I'm not going to address it further," O'Shea said.