eyescratch on 5 Jan 2001 19:48:45 -0000

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] WBAI

[ having witnessed the thwarting of the FCC initiative
   to allow the licensing  of low power radio transmitters
   for community groups by a coalition of lobbyists comprised
   of NPR and commercial broadcasters, this comes as no small
   surprise as the frequency tussles heat up -- >>
                           << --  whose patented FTP for WAP? ]


This Saturday, January 6, there will be a DEMONSTRATION at WBAI, 120 
Wall St., just east of Water St., at 12 noon.  Bring 10 people and 
have them bring 10 people.  It's urgent that we send a message to 
management at this critical time.  Bring noisemakers and signs, too.
WBAI Update
December 30, 2000

Following the "Christmas Coup" which took place last weekend at 
Pacifica station WBAI in New York, Bernard White, WBAI's Program 
Director, Wake-Up Call host and 20-year veteran was fired, along with 
Sharan Harper, Wake-Up Call's Executive Producer and WBAI shop 
steward.  Pacifica's Executive Director Bessie Wash came to the 
station late Friday night and, with a locksmith, changed the locks on 
all office doors, as well as the station's main doors. When served 
with their termination papers early Saturday morning, Harper and 
White were threatened with trespass--and by extension arrest--if they 
came to the station.  A court order was taken out by Pacifica against 
Bernard White,  Sharan Harper and van Isler.

Wash also named former Talk-Back host Utrice Leid interim General 
Manager, who is replacing recently ousted GM Valerie van Isler.  On 
Tuesday, December 26, 3 more unpaid staffers were banned from the 
station: Janice K. Bryant (line producer on Wake-Up Call); Serene 
Roberts and Eileen Sutton (volunteer news reporter).  A fourth 
staffer, Rachel Barr, was banned on Wednesday.  On Tuesday, Leid 
called the first staff meeting since the lock-out, which by all 
accounts was a grueling, contentious affair.

Security guards have been in place at the station since Sunday night, 
December 24, and access to the station is still restricted. Guards 
have been reported roaming through the station at different times, 
using cell phones or walkie-talkies.  Many staffers say the 
environment is intimidating and tense.

Many programmers on the air are openly expressing their concerns, and 
in some cases their outrage, at the Pacifica take-over.  Some have 
been running educational programs to educate listeners about 
Pacifica's now pro-corporate national board. But, many have also 
expressed private fears that they may, at any moment, be taken off 
the air in retaliation for their views. So far, there is no official 
gag rule in place, though staffers say they were warned by Leid in 
Tuesday's staff meeting to show "professional responsibility" on the 
air.  Staffers say Leid chastised the on-air reporting of what she 
considers merely "internal personnel matters."  They say Leid told 
programmers who discuss the crisis on air that they are "abusing the 
listeners' trust."

A memo was also issued by Leid threatening "disciplinary action" 
should any staff member help White, Harper or van Isler get into the 
station.  A vote taken at Tuesday's staff meeting to bring back White 
and Harper and reverse the firings and bannings numbered 20 in favor, 
no opposed, and 2 abstentions.

On Wednesday night, December 27, upwards of 1100 concerned listeners, 
WBAI staff and press packed a union hall in lower Manhattan to 
protest recent developments and get information.  The standing-room 
only crowd heard impassioned speeches by many WBAI regulars, 
including Bernard White, Janice K. Bryant, Amy Goodman, Grand-Pa Al 
Lewis, Bob Fass and Robert Knight.  Committee reports were also read 
by members of Concerned Friends of WBAI, which sponsored the event. 
A large demonstration is being planned, and there have been daily 
protests outside the station this past week.

Although there are conflicting press reports as to whether Wash or 
Leid made the decision to fire White and Harper, Wash recently said 
on the air in an interview with Leid that Leid now runs WBAI, and it 
is in her power to rehire both White and Harper if she so chooses. 
Currently, White's possessions are being packed up and presumably 
will be sent to him.  Of the 6 staffers so far ousted or banned, 4 
are African-American, including the two top office-holders, White and 
van Isler.

For more information, and daily updates, and to be put on an email 
list for up-to-the-minute information, call 718-707-7189 or 

To write to the Pacifica Board:

Contact Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash to protest her actions,
and to demand continued independence for WBAI. Call toll free: (888)
770-4944, ask for Bessie Wash at ext. 348.

Or call: (202) 234-7487
Or fax a letter to: (202) 884-0860
Or write: 2390 Champlain Street N.W. Washington, DC 20009
Or email:  bmwpacifica@aol.com

Write to the other board members - their addresses and contact info are
enclosed below.

Dr. Mary Frances Berry - former Chair, now "consultant"
c/o U.S. Civil Rights Commission
624 Ninth Street NW #700
Washington DC 20425
phone: (202) 337-0382
FAX: (202) 376-7558
contact info at University of Pennsylvania,where Dr. Berry is on
the faculty
e-mail: mfberry@sas.upenn.edu


David Acosta, Chair
phone: (713) 926-4604
FAX: (713) 921-2780
e-mail: cpadga@aol.com
(he may have disconnected his email and FAX)

Ken Ford - Vice Chair
11303 Sherrington Ct.
Largo, MD 20774-2317
Phone: (202) 822-0228
FAX: (202) 822-0369
e-mail: kford@nahb.com

Ford works at the National Association of Home Builders, 1201 15th street,
NW, Washington, DC 20005. National Association of Home Builders general
numbers: (800) 368-5242 or (202) 822-0200 within the Washington, D.C.

Frank Millspaugh - WBAI
32 King Street
New York, NY 10014
phone: (212) 741-0839
FAX: (212) 924-7409
e-mail: fmillspa@aol.com

Bob Farrell - KPFK
c/o Los Angeles Sentinel
3800 S. Crenshaw, PO Box 11456
Los Angeles, CA 90008
phone: (323) 299-3800 X 255
FAX: (323) 299-3896
e-mail: rfarrell@kamber.com

Lee, Bertram M
800 25th St NW,
Washington, DC 20037-2207
(202)965-6223, 965-6224

John M. Murdock
Epstein Becker Green, P.C.
1227 25th Street,
N.W., Suite 700
Washington, District Of Columbia 20037
Telephone: 202-861-0900
Facsimile: 202-296-2882
Email: jmurdock@ebglaw.com

[Note: this is the corporate law firm -- specializing in
union-busting and HMO representation -- that represents Pacifica in
the suits by listeners against the Foundation's misfeasance. ]

Michael Palmer - KPFT
KPFT Senior Associate, Industrial Properties, Houston, TX
CB Richard Ellis
2500 W. Loop South, Suite 100
Houston, TX 77027-4502
phone: (713) 840-6646 or (713) 960-8583
FAX: 713-960-8583

Palmer's business specializes in buying and selling radio stations.

Karolyn Van Putten - at large member
Western Public Radio
Fort Mason Center, Bldg. D San Francisco, CA 94123
phone: (415) 771-1160
e-mail: KvPPhD@aol.com

Wendell L. Johns - WPFK
Fannie Mae, Washington DC
phone: (202) 752-8193
e-mail: wendell_i_johns@fanniemae.com

Valerie Chambers - KPFT
e-mail: VChamber@pop.uh.edu

Andrea Cisco - WBAI
e-mail: acdarius@aol.com

Pete Bramson - KPFA
e-mail: prbram@aol.com

Rabbi Aaron Kriegel ? KPFK
e-mail: HARAV1@aol.com

Tomas Moran ? KPFA
e-mail: tomasmoran@aol.com

Rob Robinson - WPFW
e-mail: robrobin@erols.com

Leslie Cagan - WBAI
e-mail: LeslieCagan@igc.org

Beth Lyons - WBAI
e-mail: BethLyons@aol.com

Lynn Chadwick - Former Executive Director, now "consultant"
Washington, DC
address, phone and fax not known
e-mail: lynnchad@aol.com


...from author, teacher and media critic Ed Herman.

December 30, 2000
Another Call for Action

Edward S. Herman

   One of the most crushing series of blows to the U.S. left, and
to democracy in this country, has been the gradual transformation
of the five station Pacifica Radio network from locally-based and
left-oriented stations into centrally controlled, mainstream
institutions. Before 1990, all five stations in the network were
locally oriented, locally managed with strong inputs from local
audiences and employees, and both highly political and progressive.
During the 1990s, however, three of the stations--Houston,
Washington and Los Angeles--were pushed into the mainstream by the
Pacifica management, with only KPFA in Berkeley and WBAI in New
York City remaining as holdovers of the earlier tradition.

  On December 26, however, the Washington management seized control
of WBAI, removing the long-time manager Valerie Van Isler, firing
Program Director Bernard White and producer Sharan Harper without
notice, changing the locks on the doors in the middle of the night,
and installing a new manager from within the WBAI staff secretly
primed for her new job. Only people on an approved list, which did
not include Pacifica Foundation board member Leslie Cagan, were
admitted to the station on December 27. There has been nothing
democratic about any actions of the Pacifica management for many
years, and with one of its board members a member of a law firm
with a specialty in union-busting, the management has long mastered
the art of using every trick in that trade.

  It will be recalled that the Pacifica management had tried to
remake KPFA in Berkeley several years ago, locking out the
employees, firing many, bringing in security forces and
strikebreakers, but meeting such resistance, with 10,000 protesters
in the streets, and getting such negative publicity that the
management had to retreat. The stalemate resulted in a tacit
settlement that gave KPFA and WBAI temporary autonomy and led to
the appointment of several new representatives of the audiences and
stations to the Pacifica board.

  But this settlement was only temporary, and the new board members
quickly discovered that they were not listened to and were kept
outside any decision-making process, sometimes by illegal actions
(and two of the dissident board members have an ongoing suit
against the board based on these illegalities).

That the central management was on the march again, and that a 
takeover of WBAI might be in the works, was suggested by the 
sustained attack on Amy Goodman and her Democracy Now! program that 
escalated this past
September and October. Goodman has long been harassed by the
Pacifica top management for her lack of sympathy with Clinton and
general failure to stick with the approved media agenda. She was
brought to Washington in September and told quite clearly that her
focus on East Timor, capital punishment, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Lori
Berenson (etc.) was excessive. Former board chair Mary Frances
Berry called her "troublesome," and said that she had "embarrassed"
the network, possibly meaning Berry herself and her friends and
colleagues in the Democratic Party. In October Goodman was once
again brought to Washington and directly threatened with
termination unless she refrained from using volunteers and cleared
her programs in advance in Washington (among other demands). She
immediately filed a grievance with the union for harassment and

  A problem for the Pacifica elite is that Goodman's show heavily
outdraws their regular news programs, and most other Pacifica
programs as well. This makes it awkward for them as they claim to
be reforming Pacifica in the interest of enlarging audience size,
which they have been trying to do by substituting popular music for
politics (and softening any politics that remains). But Goodman's
show and its successes in drawing audiences suggests that critical
politics can be quite popular if done well. That she is regarded
negatively by the Pacifica brass reflects political bias and a
determination to defang and depoliticize the network in accord with
the biases of the top management and their constituency. The
constituency of the "old Pacifica" was the local audiences and
employees and volunteers; the constituency of the "new Pacifica" of
Bessie Wash and Mary Frances Berry is Washington power brokers,
officials of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the
Democratic Party.

   Even the New York Times notes that the Pacifica Foundation was
initially based on "a lack of corporate control and its dedication
to peace," and represented "grass roots, alternative broadcasting"
(Jayson Blair, "Pacifica Foundation Locks WBAI Station Manager Out
of Office," Dec, 28, 2000). The "new Pacifica" has changed course,
and has abandoned both its grass roots base and alternative
broadcasting. Its attack on Amy Goodman and the current takeover of
WBAI are a part of this de-democratization and political neutering.
This process has resulted from the capture of the Pacifica
Foundation by a small group of liberal technocrats and Democratic
Party-linked officials, who have added to their controlling board
membership businesspeople in the real estate, construction, and
corporate law fields to support them in their remaking of Pacifica.
They have moved Pacifica's headquarters from Berkeley to Washington
DC, in keeping with the shift in their constituency from audiences
and employees to Washington power brokers.

  We are dealing here with a kind of coup d'etat, and a systematic
destruction of a major left institution in the wake of that coup.
Given the importance of the media in hegemonic processes, and in
contesting those processes, what is happening to Pacifica, and now
WBAI, should be first order business for the left. This was our
only radio network, and it is being destroyed!

It is a horrifying fact that a chunk of the left actually signed Saul 
Landau's letter in 1999 which defended the Pacifica management and 
urged the left
to stop its "Pacifica bashing," with "Pacifica" identified with the
management group that was destroying the old Pacifica and picking
off left journalists and stations one by one. Some of the signers
are people trying, for example, to contest corporate globalization,
a subject on which Amy Goodman and the old WBAI would give their
contesting position extensive and friendly coverage, but which the
emerging "new Pacifica" will ignore or treat perfunctorily. (The
"new Pacifica" Washington station WPFW, formerly run by current
Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash, has been notoriously
uninterested in protests against not only the dominant political
party conventions, but those against the World Bank and IMF.) The
lack of left solidarity involved in signing the Landau letter is
equalled only by the sheer short-sightedness and stupidity of
helping destroy a media institution that was a natural ally, if not
part of the left itself.

  The battle over Pacifica and WBAI is not over. There are mounting
protests against the WBAI takeover, and there are at least three
legal suits in process against the Pacifica Foundation control
group. I would urge people to get into action now. This is
important! It was encouraging to see the New York Times finally
come up with an article on December 28 putting the WBAI takeover in
a negative light for both tactics and implied violation of
organizational purpose. This is the time to move into action with
letters, phone calls, picketing, and contributions to the funding
of legal responses to illegitimate authority. Information on the
issues and names and actions under way can be obtained from these
key sites:

800-825-0055 to volunteer
718-707-7189 for e-mail and updates

Sites: general info and background

Committee to Remove Pacifica Board:
707-526-2867, Carol Spooner for info

                          ```   <0B@@$ggG%3^`
            X@@@B$$$$@@@@@@$0B$$BBBB0(   ^VGB$B$@@@@$$@(^
           G@@$$0B$@@@@@@BBBB@@@@@0B8`     `/B@@@@@@@$@G%^%3
          <@@@$BB$@@@@@$@@@@@@@@@@$BC        X$@@@@@@@@$8g@$
         ^B@$$$B@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@BC         `VgB@@@@@@$@@@^
         ~@$0$@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@$0C.           </GB$@@@@@@@
         @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@XC`                ^8gG@@@@
         @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@$@B/(3G0$BGCX`      ~8$g88/$@@@
         @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@3. V8G80@@@08/<`   ^(33<   g@@0
         @@$$@@@@@@@@@@@@@@$`  <^`    ^(<<<^  ^^^~ <VV g@@^
         @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@$8   ^.` (<V@@$((<` ^VCX^@@$.C@0`
         @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@0`  `^~gB%<X@@@/     <<  /(   @V
         (@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@0^           ^<                ^
          %@@@@@@@@@@@@@@V             `
          .@@@@@@@@@@@@@%`^                          >Yes, i like it!
            B@@@@@@@@@@0(.^^`           ^^
             :$@@@$$0$@V< .^^^..       ^</XX$0<(8%
               3@@@@3%%^`  ^^^`.`      ^ :3G@0C/G3
                `@@@@@@ `  `^^ `^~<` `.
                 $@@@@@^     ` `^<<.```^`  <VV<<XV^
                 0@@@@@B``````  ^<^^`^<C@@@@$@@@@@$8:^
                 /@@@@@@C`~~.``  `~~`.<X0g0BB0GCX/^^^^
                   <@@@@8`(/<<((^^^.^``^^<XV3G3GC< ~^
                    `0@$3 <///((((^^^`^~^^<<(/(<^`^^
                        ` `^((<//(/(<<<^  `^^^<</:
                        `   `^<//(((<<//////XXV33/
                    3X^      `^///XC33333CC3CCVV^`
                 ^:///(/(//^   ^~<(/VC%%%33CV/` ``/X
            `<(((((:((((/VVCVVCC//^^<:(((((<^^    V%<^
           N!C3 P!TCH4HHH!!! HTTP://www.eyescratch.cz/syn/

Nettime-bold mailing list