Tuesday, December 24, 2013


An all-new holiday celebration that is at once Christian, Hebraic, Kwanzaic, Solsticial, Pagan, Dutch, Gaelic, NSA-cent, Comedic, Firesignish, Pythonish, Ratpackian, Lennonesque. Dylanesque, Devotional, Tchaicovskian and, above all, Earthwatchian!

Including a trenchant commentary on the "color" of Santa, the origins of "Black Peter," and the cultural revisionism of that "Duckin' Dynasty".

Please join us on Christmas Night
Earthwatch with Robert Knight
Wednesday at midnight on WBAI 99.5 FM
http://stream.wbai.org  or http://wbai.org/playernew.html

Holiday musical selections and satirical performances include:

Wendy and Lisa, Closing of the Year,
Kwanzaa Celebration Song,
Stevie Wonder – That’s What Christmas Means to Me,
Sammy Davis, Jr.- It's Christmas Time All Over the World,
Bing Crosby – White Christmas,
Elvis Presley – Blue Xmas,
Monty Python – Christmas in Heaven,
Stevie Wonder – The Bell for Freedom,

A Very Special NSA Christmas – with ACLU, Richard Eskow and Dartanion London,
An Earthwatch Commentary on Xmas colors and Duckin’ Dynasties,
Emma Kopp on the Dutch origins of ‘Senterklaas’ and ‘Black Piet’,

Bob Dylan – Must Be Santa ,
Firesign Theatre – ‘Toad Away’,
The Maccabeats - Candlelight Hanukkah,
The Mediaeval Baebes - We Three Kings,
The Temptations - Little Drummer Boy,
Karina Skye - The 13 Days of Solstice,
Frank Kelly – The 12 Days of Christmas, Irish Style,
Tchaikovsky - The Nutcracker Suite, Op 71a, and
John Lennon - Happy Xmas [War Is Over].

Anchor: Robert Knight
Origin: WBAI/Pacifica
Contact: rknight@wbai.org

Sunday, December 22, 2013

WBAI CAB Meetings Schedule

The WBAI Community Advisory Board will be meeting each Sunday in January at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn starting at 100 PM on Sunday, January 5th, 12th, 19th and the 26th. Be prepared to work.  

THE WBAI COMMUNITY BOARD is  permitted to review the programming goals established by the station, the service provided by the station, and the significant policy decisions rendered by the station. The role of the board shall be solely advisory in nature and these meetings are open to the public to share their opinions about WBAI.

All are welcome to come.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Holidays on WBAI/Pacifica

Christmas Eve on Earthwatch with Robert Knight: a holiday celebration that is at once Christian, Hebraic, Solsticial, Pagan, Dutch, Gaelic, NSA-cent, Comedic, Firesignish, Pythonish, Dylanesque, Devotional and, above all, Earthwatchian!

​So please, join us at midnight on Christmas
Earthwatch with Robert Knight
Wednesday at midnight on WBAI 99.5 FM or stream.wbai.org
or http://wbai.org/playernew.html

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Could Amy Goodman save WBAI?

From an LMA, that is?
An LMA is definitely not the way for WBAI to go, according to Gary Null. Here's what he said today:

Amy Goodman
Gary Null: BAI is not alone today. We have thousands of more sources of information, and we have to get good programing that finds a market, that finds an audience that then supports the station. And that's what we're doing now. We're beginning. It's a process. But until that happens, we'll be hearing more of my show than what I want or the audience wants. But it's necessary until we get up on our feet, and our goal is to get up on our feet so that we're not leased.

The last thing any of us wants is the sale of the station or the leasing of the station. If we lease the  station you have to ask, why would anyone want BAI? Well they'd want 99.5 and the 50,000 watts. They don't want WBAI, there's nothing there. We're flatlined in terms of our audience, we'd have no value there.  And then they would bring in some corporate Democrat liberal group like MSNBC, and that would justify it for most people. Oh, they're from the left. No, they're from the Clinton left, the Obama left. Is that what you want? I don't. I won't be a part of it. So let me make this very clear: the day that happens is the last day I'm on BAI, because I will not support that.

But in any case, our goal now is to support the station, to keep it alive, to keep it viable, and we're given an opportunity to do it right now. So that's why we're doing this, we're pulling out all the stops to do everything to get good programming on, new programming.

Luanne Pennesi, who does a regular segment on Gary's PRN show, had something interesting to say a few days ago (on 12/9). This is an opinion, and we don't agree with everything Luanne says about Amy Goodman here, but we think her suggestions for avoiding the LMA Option are food for thought.

Luanne Pennesi: The other day I had mentioned information about  Amy Goodman: the truth about Amy's empire, the fact that she stole Democracy Now! from Pacifica, and is even being paid by them. And she even uses the word "Pacifica" in her title. Well I got such a flood of feedback - emails, phone calls - from people who never realized what she did.  And really, Gary,  her audience according to the statistics and her fund-raising is very small. And she even took a chunk of Pacifica's audience to her TV show. Now I'm not judging her in terms of the quality of her journalistic talents at all. But look at some of the things - she supports the official AIDS theory, she supports Big Pharma, and even with the facts about the 9-11 conspiracy  she doesn't support that at all. And people are really responding to this.

So here's a positive solution for helping Pacifica save millions of dollars immediately. It's a way for the foundation to become fair, transparent and really democratic in a positive way. How about this to clean up Amy Goodman's bad karma?

Number one, forgive the debt that Pacifica owes her. I think they owe her about 2 million dollars at this time. She can afford that, she's a very wealthy woman. Her salary is almost $150,000 a year, her Democracy Now! corporation, of which she is CEO, earns 6 million a year, of which 20% or 1.2 million is profit. Her corporation has - are you ready? - 13 million dollars in net assets.

So how about if she donates about 2 million dollars to Pacifica, the very foundation that made her who she is? That would pay off all of Pacifica's debt. She's drawn over $10 million from this foundation. I would say, cancel her contract with Pacifica. I mean, what is the criteria for her getting paid for a show? And what's the criteria for not getting paid for a show? Most all the other producers at Pacifica work without pay for the good of the station. I mean it's not like she's the top fundraiser for the station either.  

So it would be great if she'd just step up and do these things immediately, so that would prevent the need for these ongoing fund drives that happen all year long. And just one more thing, in case the audience doesn't realize it  -- nobody else that I know of has used Pacifica's lawyers to represent them in order to negotiate a private contract between her and Pacifica. The same lawyer that represents Pacifica is representing Amy Goodman. Now you tell me, is this a conflict of interest?

Gary Null: I don't know. I don't know who represents her now.  I just knew that the lawyer at the time that she was given Democracy Now! and this contract, I know that he represented Pacifica and negotiated on her behalf. That was not a transparent deal. But I think the idea of forgiving Pacifica's debt is a good idea. And I believe that if you have a foundation and you have 13 million dollars and  you could contribute to Pacifica to help it with 1 - 2 million that would be terrific. Or to help it raise funds beyond what it's capable of doing, those are positive. So those two ideas - to forgive the debt and give a donation - those are very positive, and I would hope that something like that actually happens.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Radio Free Eireann special on Mandela

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Memorial for Father Paul Mayer

Sunday, January 5 2014
Judson Memorial Church
55 Washington Square South
2:00 - 3:30 Service
3:30 - 5:00 Reception
Our friend and comrade, Fr. Paul Mayer, died last week at 82 years ....

Very sad. But WHAT A LIFE! (check out the great photo below, being arrested at Occupy Wall Street, I believe)

Many folks might have seen him at anti-war, social justice and environmental demonstrations, without knowing his name.

He was also a great friend of WBAI.
Mitchel Cohen
Wednesday night on WBAI’s “Earthwatch with Robert Knight,” a tribute to the late Father Paul Mayer:
Civil rights leader, environmentalist  and global humanitarian, The Rev. Paul Mayer, passed away on November 22nd.  Tonight we shall hear Father Paul in conversation with WBAI’s ”Earthwatch” and “Five O’Clock Shadow.”  So please join us on WBAI-99.5 / wbai.org at Midnight Wednesday for an Earthwatch celebration of a Conscience for the Generations!

Audio Promo:

So sorry to hear of the loss of our friend and great spirit Paul Mayer, the civil rights leader and global humanitarian.

-Robert Knight
"Earthwatch / Five  O'Clock  Shadow"
WBAI . 99.5FM . wbai.org

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Gary Null bashers

A bunch of fossilized naysayers on our "favorite" message board are presently conducting one of their xtreme negative propaganda campaigns against Gary Null.  Excuse me, but is that the same Gary Null who just saved  WBAI from a tanking fund drive? You bet. Surprising? Not really, as most of them are negative about all things WBAI.

As the old buzzards circle around, waiting for WBAI to die, disparaging, lampooning and slandering anyone who engages in efforts to help the station is the latest sport. Thus it makes sense that they are now aiming their hateful rhetoric straight at Gary Null.  The oddest thing is -- or maybe not so odd when you think about it -- is that not a single mention has ever been made on that board about Gary's glorious creation - the Progressive Radio Network (PRN) -  which has been taking Internet radio by storm, experiencing wild growth in listenership  and may be instrumental in putting BAI out of business. Maybe that's why? No, that couldn't be it, because they hate WBAI so much that they would never begrudge him that. No, they are simply in total denial.

Another thing they never mention is all the prize-winning documentaries Gary has produced. To listen to them you would think he was some kind of quack who sells dubious health products to innocent victims, blaming him for the home shopping network WBAI has come to resemble during marathons. As if that was Gary's fault.  BTW Gary's PRN does not resemble a home shopping network, does not require producers to pitch. Just sayin'.

Gary has always been controversial and the target of attacks for holding views that  are often ahead of the times, and because of his confrontational style and refusal to back down. It's just sad that some of these attacks are now coming from WBAI community. But then we don't really consider them to be part of that community, as they live in their own little fantasy world of 40-50 years ago.

Note: we're not accepting xtreme negative propaganda comments that can't be rationally debated. Go over to Albie's blog if you want to make those kinds of attacks.


Tracy on the debt issue, response to the CAB letter

A communication  from Pacifica Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg  to Jim Dingeman, followed by an earlier one to which this one refers:

Hi Jim,

A couple of things: some of your money section isn't quite right. The severance is an issue of course, but WBAI also owes at least $95,000 in legal fees for the Bernard White case (recently dismissed, but the bill remains) and arguably perhaps some additional legal fees beyond that. In addition, $30,000 is owed to WPFW-FM for a $115,000 bailout in the last few months as only $85,000 was repaid from the last fund drive.

The current financial state, if I understand things correctly, is that there is about $25,000 left in the bank, the aforementioned $30,000 owed to WPFW and a tower payment of $45,000 and a payroll all due on the last day of November. So nothing is quite self-sustaining yet and WBAI will have to borrow a sum of $50,000 - $75,000 sometime in the next week from another station to get to December, when the brief fundraiser planned is unlikely to generate enough to pay that back and cover December and January expenses as well. So yeah, you do need help and not just a little of it.

It's not for me to volunteer that KPFA will loan you 75K and I'm not going to do that here, but we have to stop underestimating the stress it is causing through the whole network. Unless we can get commitments from all of the other stations that they will reserve a certain amount of money to helping to get WBAI through the next six months (and I think we can assume another $300-400K or so will be needed on top of what WBAI can raise on its own), then I'm not sure we're having a reality-based conversation about giving it 6 more months.

We went through this with BAI's budget at the finance committee. Yes, we're a lot closer to sustainability if we hypothetically start at $0 than we have been in a decade. But we *aren't* starting at $0. And management had no solution for that and I can't say that I do either, which is why I'm not willing to kick in the teeth any possible solution before we've even looked at it.
And I find it really weird that other people are willing to.

You tell me that KPFA and KPFK will each dig up another $200K to support WBAI through this transitional period and oky-doky we have a deal. You find a bequest for a quarter million and maybe we have a deal. But you say "give us a little help beyond the $3.3 million little help we've already gotten", and I'm not sure where exactly that's coming from. If WBAI had cut its expenses down to $90,000 a month in 2006 when Pacifica still had money in the bank, then hey, sure absolutely, no problem. But it took six more years after 2006 and in those six years, a whole bunch changed - in Pacifica and in radio as a whole.

So I think the honest process goes: tell us *how* to get through those six months you want. It can't just be a one-way demand of the other 4 stations.


Previous communique:

WBAI’s phony, manufactured money crisis

According to Steve Brown, as he states in his letter to Pacifica Treasurer Tracy Rosenberg, that's exactly what it is:

Tracy –

Love you for trying! But the only ones whom your sensible explanation will reach are (a) those who understand the situation, and therefore need no explanation, and (b) those who also understand the situation, but pretend they don’t, and try to keep anyone else from understanding it.

I refer, of course, most specifically to Ed Manfredonia, who is obviously too smart to be as stupid as he pretends. I also include whichever persons or organizations may have prompted and/or paid Ed Manfredonia to behave as an incontinent troll, whose mission is clearly to befoul as many parts of the Pacifica community as he can slither his way into, sometimes with faux naïve accusations of financial impropriety, but more often with vile, sexually-loaded attacks on various board members of WBAI and Pacifica.

Please ignore trolls like Manfredonia and save your (surprisingly still abundant) energy for the things that matter -- for as long as they continue to matter – which, given Pacifica’s present trajectory, might not be much longer.

Now – about positive effort: May I say (for the umpteenth time) that it is of no help to keep repeating that Pacifica’s troubles are caused by its taking in less money than it spends. I mean, duh! This is no more helpful than saying that a prize fighter lost a fight because he decided to step into the ring with one arm tied behind his back. The helpful and pertinent information in both cases would be -- not what was done -- but why it was done.

Prize fighters are not stupid enough to step into the ring with one arm tied behind their backs. Even if they were, their handlers would not allow it. Unfortunately, WBAI’s handlers are not so conscientious. They do let WBAI step into the fundraising ring with one arm tied behind its back. In fact, they have been letting it do so, every day, for at least the past 10 years. Which is why WBAI can’t raise enough money to stay alive.

The truth is, WBAI was always capable of getting enough money to cover its expenses – except for the fact that, from as early as 2003, all of its handlers (aka general managers), when shown how to raise large sums of money, would invariably say, like Bartelby, “I would prefer not to.” Hard to believe?

Here are some examples.

EXAMPLE 1: When WBAI managers were shown (as early as ten years ago, and every year since), how they could collect the 30% of fund-drive pledges that traditionally went uncollected (a loss of about $1.2 million per year, or about $12 million to date), each one declined – even though collecting that money involved no expense, nor any drain on station staff or resources. To this day, station management still “would prefer not to,” and still, therefore, continues to lose up to $1.2 million per year (a sum that, all by itself, would be enough to pay off all of WBAI’s debts, and ensure its ongoing solvency virtually forever).

EXAMPLE 2: As early as 2003, it was explained to WBAI management how to place membership ads in left-leaning publications -- such as The Nation, The New York Review of Books, Columbia Review of Journalism, Mother Jones, and many others, as well as how to place WBAI “teaser” banners on left-leaning websites such as AlterNet, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, TruthDig, etc. When test ads and teaser banners were created, it was found that they could raise up to $60,000 each time they ran (the average was $15,000-$40,000), with the station having virtually nothing to do but deposit the checks.

But that wasn’t all. That’s because the money raised when the ad ran was not the only benefit of the ad. For each ad also signed up as many as 1,400 new WBAI members. And since each member is worth approximately $133 per year to WBAI (i.e., $2,400,000 yearly revenue divided by 18,000 members), it meant that an ad which made up to $60,000 when it ran, would also generate an additional $125 x 1,400 = $175,000 in donations during the rest of the year, for a total of up to $235,000 per year. (My numbers may be slightly off, but their thrust is 100% accurate.)

But that was for just one ad, running one time, in one publication. If a successful ad were to run three times a year in that publication, it could (allowing for a 50% fall-off due to reader fatigue) raise up to $352,000 a year. And If 2 or 3 or new ads were created for that publication (as, in fact, they were) the amount could be as high as $1,056,000 per year in additional revenue, with virtually no effort on the part of the station (other than the effort of depositing the checks). As with the uncollected pledge revenue, mentioned above, this source of revenue, too, all by itself, could have paid off all of WBAI’s debts, and ensured its solvency virtually forever. But management was not, and is still not interested (don’t even ask about the half-dozen feeble-minded reasons offered for its lack of interest).

[Whoops. Last minute note: As of 8 PM tonight, Berthold has tentatively given me a yes on fundraising ads. Let’s see how it goes.]

EXAMPLE 3: Offering 3-month trial memberships for $1 to listeners who are non-members “so you can sample the joys and rewards of being a WBAI supporter.” Why do this? Because although we have barely 14,000 members who send us an average of $133 a year, we have approximately 182,000 non-member listeners who never send us a dime. But we can assume that these non-member listeners like us, and like our programs, because – well, because they are listeners. So allowing them send us $1 for a 3-month trial membership would give them a way to relieve their liberal guilt about listening for nothing (which is a kind of theft). We would make this offer for 1 minute, at the end of every show, 24 hours a day, for two weeks. We would repeat it every 4 months. I estimate we would get at least 25% of those listeners to respond. That would be about 45,500. We would then have their names, addresses, emails and, perhaps, phone numbers. This would enable us to promote them in the usual way, by selective email and snail mailings. Within a year we could transform up to 25% of those into full members. This would bring WBAI membership to approximately 27,000 within 12 months, higher than any WBAI membership level in history. These members, all things being equal, could generate up to $3.6 million in revenue – an amount that, with its concomitant $900,000-$1 million in grants, bequests, and CPB payments, would double WBAI’s current revenue stream and allow it to hire a full-time 20-person paid staff, pay off its debts, and easily fund ongoing operating expenses (without having to conduct ruinous month-long fund drives).

EXAMPLE 4 ... but why go on? I have a dozen of these, and I am sure you get the idea. Which is that WBAI’s crisis is, as it has always been, a phony, manufactured money crisis, with no basis in fact, but only in stupidity and incompetence, fortified by overweening arrogance. Without a significant change in management, and management attitude, things can only end badly for WBAI, in the short term, as they will also end badly for Pacifica, in the long term (which, given the way things are going, may not be very long at all).

Stephen M Brown

Summer Reese announcement regarding WBAI's General Manager and Program Director

From Summer Reese to WBAI Staff

Dear All:

Berthold Reimers will continue as General Manager of WBAI.  I have recommended that the LSB proceed with evaluating the GM as soon as possible.

The National Office will assist with a standardized evaluation instrument by the end of the calendar year, if the LSB has not formalized its own evaluative process in conjunction with HR advice, by that time.

Robert Hennelly, who has been producing the morning drive-time show for the past two months with Michael G. Haskins, will come on board in December as interim Program Director.

Mr. Hennelly brings a wealth of radio experience to the position and will be an integral part of the management team moving forward.

Thank you all for your continued dedication to WBAI and the Pacifica Mission.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

WBAI CAB meeting Sunday Nov 24th

There will a CAB meeting at the station starting at 1:00 PM tomorrow on Sunday, November 24th. The station is located at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. We will discuss and hear people's opinions about the latest developments concerning the PSOA/LMA and the firing/not firing of Berthold plus the new hire of the IPD. We welcome people's opinions on programming issues.  As of this meeting we will be having reading material on different radio alternatives and issues to be read and commented on passed around.

This includes papers and studies on the latest in new forms of radio broadcasting nationally and internationally.

Whatever needs to be done we will get accomplished.

All are welcome.


[ Between 6th & 7th Avenues. ]


1. Sat. 11/23, 2-5PM: Emergency Community Meeting on the Dismantling of WBAI
2. Pacifica National Board may soon decide to lease away WBAI’s signal
3. Context for the New Petition: Keep WBAI in control of its programming
4. Serious Concerns about One WBAI Bidder:
* Would Slash Public-Affairs Programming
* Current Station Features Consistent Pro-Israeli-Government Programming


Please sign the new petition (even if you signed an earlier version), and urge your friends and colleagues to do the same:
Pacifica National Board: Keep WBAI in control of its programming - go to


1. Sat. 11/23, 2-5PM: Emergency Community Meeting on the Dismantling of WBAI
How to Destroy a Legend: WBAI public affairs and news staff laid off, and their severance not paid, national office staff purged, Free Speech Radio News forced to close down, needed network-wide CPB money delayed for months, imported programming forced onto the air at the expense of covering local communities – especially those of color, another rash of arbitrary national management departures via transfers or “administrative leave.” Now there’s serious talk of leasing out WBAI. Solicited proposals are in the hands of the Pacifica National Board which meets on Monday, Nov. 25.

What can be done to stop the dismantling of our station and network? Join us at a meeting to get updates and plan strategy to re-route this train on Sat. Nov. 23 from 2-5PM at the International Action Center, 147 West 24 Street – 2nd floor, btw. 6th & 7th Avenues, Manhattan.
More details at www.justiceunity.org


2. Pacifica National Board may soon decide whether to lease away WBAI’s signal
Despite a cash infusion from the October pledge drive, WBAI’s financial crisis persists. But rather than seriously consider and support implementation of many proposals by staff, listeners, and board members for off-air fundraising strategies, the Pacifica National Board is now secretly considering leasing WBAI to another organization. The mechanism would be a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA), sometimes called a Local Marketing Agreement (LMA), which would grant de facto control of management and programming to the outside entity for a fixed number of years.
In October, the National Board directed the Interim Executive Director, Summer Reese, to post a Request for Proposals for leasing, with a November 6 deadline (see http://www.wbai.org/lsb/documents/RFP%20for%20WBAI.pdf ).

All discussion of this vital decision about the future of the station as we know it has been done in secret.

Six weeks after the National Board directed Ms. Reese to meet with the WBAI Local Station Board to brief them about this matter, she finally proposed a meeting this week – but in secret session. It’s possible the Pacifica National Board may take up the leasing question at its conference-call meeting this Monday, Nov. 25.


3. Context for the New Petition: Keep WBAI in control of its programming
In September, when word first leaked out about the National Board’s consideration of leasing, the WBAI local board’s Finance Committee unanimously passed a resolution urging the Pacifica National Board not to do so before trying other fundraising strategies, and to have local discussions of this matter in public. Justice & Unity launched a petition on change.org, demanding that this course of action be followed by the National Board.
Now, we have updated the petition to include recent developments, and -- after the Pacifica National Board rejected a motion to discuss the Request for Proposals in open session – have added a demand that the National Board’s discussions and decisions on leasing must be MADE IN PUBLIC. Again, the petition link is

Leasing out the signal would mean losing WBAI's input into program decision-making, and depending on the lessee chosen, could be devastating to serving Pacifica's mission. It could also further the harmful trend in recent months to cut back WBAI’s local, progressive programming covering community issues and movements.
Justice & Unity believes that if after exhausting other fundraising possibilities, there is actually no financial alternative to a lease, the Pacifica National Board must publicly consult with the WBAI LSB and the WBAI paid and unpaid staff, to develop a set of principles/criteria by which any lease proposal would be evaluated. These should include compliance with Pacifica’s mission, maintenance of significant amount of current WBAI local public-affairs programming, ample opportunities for audience participation, financial viability, and multi-media potential, among others. Also, a key requirement, not just a preference, should be that any lease term must return control of WBAI in the shortest possible time.


4. Serious Concerns about One Known WBAI Bidder:
* Would Slash Public-Affairs Programming
* Current Station Features Consistent Pro-Israeli-Government Programming
The bidder reportedly recommended by Ms. Reese, is Auricle Communications, owner of WFMU-FM (http://www.wfmu.org ), a mainly-music station in Jersey City, and a smaller station in New Hope, NY. Ken Freeman, Auricle’s and WFMU’s manager, has confirmed that his organization is one of the bidders on WBAI. In fact, he flew to Houston in early November to attend the Pacifica National Board meeting in order to make his case (the leasing issue ended up not being addressed at that time). Freeman told a WBAI local board member that his proposal for leasing was for only about 35% of the programming to be public-affairs -- a major reduction from WBAI’s current mix -- with the rest being music and arts. He would decide which shows to include, with the input of an unspecified advisory group.

An Internet search found alarming information about a Director of Auricle Communications. That Director, Nachum Segel, who (according to Auricle’s IRS 990 form) receives a salary, hosts a daily drive-time show on WFMU called “JM [Jewish Moments] in the AM” (http://jmintheam.org ). According to archived programs, Segel has repeatedly aired uncritical interviews with Israeli government officials and supporters, justifying the policies of occupation, war and repression. This type of programming is totally contrary to the Pacifica mission of promoting information and dialogue toward the resolution of conflict among nations and peoples.

From: info@justiceunity.org
Justice and Unity
PO Box 2690, Manhattanville Station,
New York, NY 10027

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Summer Reese's letter to WBAI producer Fran Luck

Lest we forget, here's what Summer said:

Dear Fran and WBAI Community,

I will be doing everything I can to keep the station going and to allow all of the positive outpouring of support to manifest beneficially for the survival and future of the station.

Hopefully, my goal is to come to New York immediately following the PNB meeting in Houston, work with Berthold on a smooth transition of operations  and appoint interim management. This will give me the opportunity to meet with the stakeholders in WBAI and work with the new transitional staff.

At the PNB meeting in Texas, I will be recommending to the Board that it consider and discuss any proposals offered, but not take a final vote on any offer at that meeting.

 A deliberative process of this magnitude should not be entered into without careful consideration of all possible outcomes. We will be receiving offers
until right before the meeting.

I believe the Board can winnow the field of offers to those it wishes to
consider further, refine its points of inquiry and clearly indicate the most favored elements and outcomes.

After all of the above, further negotiation, legal consultation, vetting of the third-party entities, additional Board discussion and voting would need to occur.

This process will take some length of time to execute properly, even with me working diligently with our legal counsel, FCC and any potential interested parties.

During this time, I believe every effort should be made to save the
station, including raising money to build proper studios at our present location, debt forgiveness, major donor engagement, and bringing in any number of friends, supporters, colleagues, community leaders, etc. to cause a rebirth at the station. I am open to all positive ideas, efforts and

There is no desire to enter into an LMA or PSOA, it is simply being considered as an option to preserve the station and not lose the license, if it can not be sustained by its audience and community.

If those dynamics and statistics can be changed, the entire discussion will
change. I will continue to do everything I can to keep the station on the air and address the difficult circumstances with which we are confronted as effectively as possible. Thank you for writing to me.

Summer Reese

The Global Gender-Based Violence Threat

The Lasiewicz Foundation is pleased to announce that today's Congressional Human Rights Commission hearing on violence against women globally was recorded by staff of WPFW and excerpts will air on tomorrow's new broadcast.

The audio portion of this hearing is available to the public and media producers at the following website: http://audioport.org/index.php?op=program-info&program_id=65506&nav=&

All around the world, women and girls are vulnerable to rape and other forms of physical and sexual violence - crimes collectively referred to as gender-based violence (GBV). According to the World Health Organization, 35 percent of women worldwide have experienced some form of GBV, with rates exceeding 70 percent in some countries. Such violence can significantly affect the ability of women and girls to participate in political, economic, and peace and security initiatives. Additionally, GBV exacts a tremendous human toll on nations and has implications for global diplomatic and humanitarian efforts around the world.

This hearing explored the range of threats that women and girls face around the world. It will also examine the extent to which U.S. development and humanitarian assistance programs address the specific needs of GBV survivors in emergency, post "emergency, and development environments.  This hearing will draw on the instructive experience of organizations working to combat GBV in India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Haiti.


Catherine Russell, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women s Issues, Department of State;

Carla Koppell, Chief Strategy Officer, USAID (Former Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment);

Cristina Finch, Managing Director, Women s Human Rights Program, Amnesty International USA;

Francisca Vigaud-Walsh, Senior Policy and Advocacy Officer, Women's Protection and Empowerment Unit, International Rescue Committee (IRC);

Ravi Kant, President of the Board of Directors, Shakti Vahini, New Delhi, India;

Guerda Constant, Executive Director of Fondasyon Limy Lavi, Haiti.

IN: (Ambassador Russell) Thank you very much
OUT: (Guerda Constant) and more secure.

Recorded and produced Robb Simms of Pacifica Radio WPFW-FM, Washington DC.

Funding for recording and production of this program has been graciously provided by the Lasiewicz Foundation.

Gary Null speaks about Pacifica, gives kudos to Berthold Reimers

Gary Null spoke about Pacifica today:

One personal statement, and this is only my own personal statement. I believe that it's time for Pacifica to really change itself, on every level. I believe that we have been suffering from massive hubris, and as a result our average audience is about 67 years of age. We have forgotten two entire generations and we have been programming -- though essential programming -- such narrowly defined programming that it excludes the vast majority of people.

And it's very leaned towards a political left perspective. It should be leaned towards a truth perspective, that empowers people, so you don't exclude those that have a different political or religious philosophy. And we do. And we actually pride ourselves on it, at least many of the programs do. We'd rather elect (sic) a program director  who has no background in radio or communications or dealing with a larger audience, but who is politically aligned ideologically. The same with station managers, and the same with many hosts and producers. This has been part of the internal struggle in this network for decades. And it cetainly accelerated during the last 10 years, into its death spiral.

But I think it can be turned around, I'm still optimistic. That's why I still stay here. But also, in the future, if you turn on at noon and you do not hear me, there's two simple solutions: one is to call the phone number: 619-550-0869. Hundreds of thousands of people listen over the telephone, and that way you'll hear me broadcasting live from our studios at Progressive Radio Network. Or you can just go to the Internet and you can get on that way. This way no matter what mistake has been made you're not a part of it.

Berthold Reimers

That said, Thank you, Berthold Reimers, thank you, Summer Reese. Berthold is doing a magnificent job. He's overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, in fact not appreciated at all, except for those of us who say thank you for getting out 3,500 premiums.  We're up-to-date including the water filters. As of today every single premium - unless I missed something - has been honored because he made that a priority. You paid for it, you deserve it and now you're getting your premiums. That's the first time in years. Thank you Berthold, for doing a good job and honoring the audience first.

Gary Null

Call for a special WBAI LSB meeting

The WBAI LSB will meet on Friday, November 22, 2013, in executive session to consider confidential personnel, contractual and legal issues.

The WBAI LSB will meet in public session on Friday, November 22, 2013, starting at 8:30 PM at 388 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn, NY, to address urgent matters that are before the LSB and PNB pertaining to:

1. Report out from executive session. (2 minutes)
2. Selection of time keeper. (1 minute)
3. Consideration of a proposal to enter into a Public Service Operating Agreement. (30 minutes)
4. Reports about the situation at WBAI from:
a. The Treasurer with a motion from the local Finance Committee. (5 minutes)
b. The General Manager of WBAI. (5 minutes)
c. The Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation. (15 minutes)
d. Discussion of reports. (20 minutes)
5. Public Comment. (30 minutes)
6. Statements regarding WBAI’s Management. (10 minutes)

This meeting will adjourn no later than 10:30 PM.

This call for a special meeting is made by:
Robert Young, Chair of the WBAI LSB
Mitchel Cohen, Secretary of the WBAI LSB
R. Paul Martin, Treasurer of the WBAI LSB

Jim Dingeman's response:
 Given the squabbling over the timing and the date the practical consequence is that some people will not be able to attend.  After all, their lives are not completely dominated by this soap opera.

As I understand there was to be time allocated for the WBAI CAB to report on what they have been gathering on the situation…hmm..I wonder where that went?

Finally, sorry…but a half hour is simply not enough time to have people come and deices this issue.

that was clearly deliberately done and at this time the idea that the collective insights of the members of the LSB is enough to answer the many thousands of listeners who have yet to deal with this is to me simply pathetic and deliberately designed to stifle the full of expression of people who actually pay to hear the air…80% of the money comes from the public….their opinion is objectified and stereotyped in a design like this.


We have to agree.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WBAI CAB MEETING AT 100 PM this Sunday November 24th 2013 at WBAI

There will be a WBAI COMMUNITY ADVISORY BOARD this Sunday, November 24th, 2013 starting at 100 PM at the station which is located at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. The station is at the Brooklyn Commons on the Third Floor. It between Hoyt and Bond Street a few blocks west of Barclay Center.

We will be updating folks on the Leased Management Agreement Issue. We understand there are 10 proposals that are being considered by the Pacifica National Board. They will be having a phone teleconference this coming Monday.

We will also discuss the status of Berthold Reimers as General Manager. I am attaching reading material which I would like to discuss the following CAB meeting with people.

We welcome your comments and insights about the programming at WBAI RADIO. We also intend to continue to pack and prepare premiums for shipment so please be aware that this will also be going on.  In addition, keep your eyes out for sudden announcements of a open LSB meeting with Summer Reese to have you express your concerns. There has been a big controversy over whether to have these meetings with her this week in Executive session exclusively or intermingled with public comment.

The WBAI CAB since this latest crisis has begun have unanimously been in favor of open meetings.  We feel that if people are being asked to help pay for the enormous costs that WBAI has incurred they at least are deserved a full account with their comments and critique. Attached is letters and resolutions  Unanimous Resolution of the Listeners Attending the WBAI Community 
Advisory Board Meeting on November 10th, 2013

Ms. Summer Reese

Executive Director 
Pacifica Foundation


Whereas, we the listener-sponsors of WBAI/Pacifica, are outraged at what is happening at our station; and 
Whereas the local station board (LSB) has not represented our interests for a long period of time; and 
Whereas the current crisis is the result of past dysfunction; and 
Whereas in our most resent fund drive, we listener-sponsors exceeded the targeted goals;
Resolved: That we go on record as opposing any LMA; and 
Further Resolved: That we demand retention of the General Manager during this crises period; and 
Further Resolved: That we demand an opened meeting with the LSB to address the future of our station; and 
Further Resolved: That we demand a meeting with Ms. Summer Reese, Executive Director, on Tuesday, November 
12, 2013 at 7:00 P.M., at 388 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11217.

The following Listener-Sponsors were among those attending:
Marilyn Voyt-Downey * Carl Makower * Tarun Kranadas * James Sagurton 
Nicolas Chango * David Suker * Jonathan Weil * Elton Owusu 
Kenneth Porter * Ronald Fecher * Patrick Robinson * Nenette Knpke 
Roberth Hennlly * Susan Hues * M. VanderHeyden * Adam Korany 
Saint – Clair Jackson * Anita Luftig * Louise Lessard * Kyle Scott 
Mitxchel Cohxen * Bob Levis * John Foust * Marianita Damari 
Len Kleinman * Matt Mazza * Lucio Cacharani * Nia Knowell 
Deb Russell Brown * Boukan Collins * Dr. Beg

November 18, 2013
Dear Summer,

We are responding to the news that you want to fire Berthold Reimers as General Manager of WBAI. According to Pacifica procedures there are two other parties involved in the decision to replace a General Manager: the Local Station Board and the National Board. As these two boards undertake their evaluation of Berthold’s work, we would like to contribute to the process by offering our observations. But first we want to address our comments to you. We feel that your decision to replace Berthold must have been based on a distorted view of his performance resulting from a lopsided reliance on input from his detractors.

As you are well aware, the GM’s responsibilities include at least three different money-related jobs: Chief Financial Officer, controller, and bookkeeper (not to mention data entry clerk). It is Berthold’s responsibility to make financial projections; to pay bills on time, to document everything and provide reports to the ED, PNB and LSB. Berthold does all of this, sometimes even without the information he needs from above (Pacifica) and below (reconciled bank statements). In the absence of sufficient staff, he has even devised makeshift controls and checks to protect the integrity of WBAI’s finances.
Operationally, Berthold’s heaviest responsibility is the planning and organization of fund-drives and premiums. He collects and analyzes an enormous amount of data, studying past performance to determine which premiums to place at what time-slots for maximum revenue. He monitors this daily during fund-drives and makes adjustments as needed. Berthold has to plan, maintain and monitor inventory of premiums, coordinating their acquisition and distribution despite uncertain cash flow and limited personnel. Of course there are still problems and many justifiable complaints, but it should be acknowledged that the premium situation has improved significantly during Berthold’s tenure.

Berthold has also made it his priority to develop new revenue sources. Under his watch, the WBAI Buddy program has grown dramatically, now bringing in nearly $14,000/month. This program also requires continual monitoring and analysis.

The General Manager job clearly requires mastery of the use and interface of numerous specialized software programs—financial, subscriber and inventory—not to mention Excel. Berthold is very good at this. Indeed there seems to be little disagreement about Berthold’s strengths as a spreadsheet guy. In fact, one of his main critics identifies this as a shortcoming, arguing that Berthold is “just a spreadsheet guy.” What is not generally understood is how absolutely vital this is. Without the acquisition, management, manipulation and analysis of data, it would be impossible to make the daily, weekly, monthly and longer-term decisions and projections necessary to run the station.
Whoever manages WBAI must be a spreadsheet guy, and we have been lucky during this difficult period to have a very good one at the helm. But Berthold is not “just” a spreadsheet guy.

The GM must also be a “people person.” Berthold has to maintain good relations with many “outsiders”: City College, key vendors, the landlord, allies and media. But most of all, managing WBAI means dealing with countless “insiders”—producers, LSB and PNB members, staff, volunteers and listeners—in a tense environment fraught with nasty factional fighting. Somehow Berthold has been able to work with everyone, often bridging the divide between factions. This is no small matter.

We think it is important to point out that Berthold has not only maintained good relations with many of the laid-off staff; he has also been able to recruit, manage and inspire volunteers to accomplish work once done by paid staff. 
Berthold’s detractors complain in a general way about his communication skills, but this criticism, we feel, would be more constructive if rendered more specific. Berthold would welcome an opportunity to meet with his critics to listen to their specific concerns so that he can focus on areas where he needs to improve. 
In the meantime, Berthold cannot regularly speak with every producer on a one-to-one basis; nor can he meet with every listener who shows up at the office demanding his time and attention. Members of the LSB are sometimes understandably frustrated due to lack of information, especially financial information, they feel should be forthcoming from the General Manager. Often, however, the information or reports they seek require key components from Pacifica that are not even available to Berthold himself.
It is rarely mentioned that Berthold speaks four languages: English, Spanish, Creole and French. This gives him an inestimable advantage in communicating with New York’s diverse population of listeners and supporters. 
Despite the relentless pressure on Berthold to focus on the short-term unavoidable issues and problems facing the station, he has nonetheless carved out time (by working very long hours) to consider the long-term as well:

** He is always open to new initiatives that will broaden our audience—demographically, nationally and internationally. 

** Berthold has been especially attentive to seeking out and mentoring younger people to apprentice at the station. 
** In keeping with Pacifica’s mission, Berthold has reestablished long-dormant relationships with nearly a dozen off-Broadway groups.

** When Berthold realized that there were still thirty years of WBAI on analog tapes, he facilitated their digitalization and transfer to Pacifica Archives.

** He has encouraged and facilitated a wide range of fundraisers that bring in much-needed cash and also promote the station in different communities.
On top of all this, over the past twelve months the station has moved TWICE. Berthold planned and coordinated both of these moves and dealt with all of the logistical and communication problems inherent in the process. It was not flawless, but it was pretty damn good.
None of this is to say that the situation is satisfactory. We recognize that the station desperately needs serious attention to programming and marketing, and people with those backgrounds and skills to complement Berthold’s talents and strengths. Ideally we would have three different people: a GM, Program Director and a Marketing/PR Director, but for now we don’t have the money. In the meantime, Berthold has been concentrating on what ABSOLUTELY has to be done to keep the station afloat. WBAI has survived (barely) for many months without a Program Director, but the station could not survive a month without “a spreadsheet guy.”
You have given WBAI tremendous support this past year at huge personal sacrifice, Summer, and for this we are very grateful. Thanks to you and to Berthold and to the continued support of our listeners, the station has been steadily recovering. But it is far from stable, and the transition to a sustainable footing is still in a delicate phase. All the more reason, we think, to not jeopardize WBAI’s survival by jettisoning a tried-and-true manager. With all of the layoffs, Berthold is responsible for at least six different jobs at this point. He has demonstrated the versatility, flexibility and diplomacy required to run the station during protracted crises. He can manage despite the infighting. This combination of skills and talents is not easy to come by. Why would we give it up?
James Sagurton (New Jersey) 
Najee Sabir (New Jersey) 
Bob Levis (Manhattan) 
Dani Lamar (Brooklyn) 
Melissa Ennen (Brooklyn) 
Jim Dingeman (Manhattan) 
Mitchel Cohen (Brooklyn)

This is a post from Tracy Rosenberg
Hi Jim,
Here are my answers. I understand they may not be adequate. I do not have direct access to the books at WBAI.

What is the exact grand total of debt owed by Pacifica ?
I have not seen an accounts payable document since the spring of 2012. At that time, the total debts were about 1.6 million, about 1.2 million at the national office, about 200K at WBAI and the remainder divided between KPFA and WPFW. KPFK and KPFT were largely debt-free at that time. The majority of the national office debt was to Democracy Now and at that time totaled about $800,000. $100,000 was owed to FSRN, and the balance was largely owed to attorneys, primarily KPFA labor lawyers and the White and Hicks cases. I have recently received a legal bills breakdown and can confirm that the Hicks case has been largely paid, there is still a large unpaid balance in the White case of approximately $90,000 and KPFA has legal bills of $120,000 or so remaining unpaid. My understanding is that Democracy Now is probably owed around 1.4 million by now, and FSRN, as we know is owed $200,000. I don't believe there are any other large outstanding debts.

What is the contribution of WBAI in specifics in regards to this ?
WBAI has not paid more than 1/2 of its shared services portion for most of the past decade. Usually it has not even paid a quarter. Had WBAI been able to do so, the amount missing would have more than covered all of the outstanding debt as the book receivable to the national office from WBAI is more than $3.5 million dollars (over 12 years). Essentially, although all of the stations are financially tight at this time, the Pacifica debt problem is the cost of subsidizing WBAI's operations and "waiving" their share of the network expenses pretty much since the beginning of democratization. The financial structure for the network depends on expense-sharing. When one station consistently does not pay their share, the structure does not hold. Even 1/2 of the unpaid amount would have prevented the significant assumption of debt, but for political reasons, no PNB and no executive director felt able to cut WBAI's costs significantly over the year.

People want to know what are the specifics of the money owed to DN? What is the role of WBAI in all this?
See above. I do want to say the 2nd Democracy Now contract, which was signed on the identical terms to the first contract, was a negligent act by Ambrose Lane, corporate counsel Dan Siegel and the 2007 PNB that paid no attention to the significant decline in DN pledges nor to Pacifica's needs to invest in equipment and technology to stay relevant and competitive in the media landscape. Had WBAI been able to pay its portion of shared services, there is still a statement that $600,000 annually to DN may not have been the best use of money. However, WBAI largely did not pay shared services and Pacifica used the other stations share to cover the DN payments for as long as it could and when that became impossible because overall revenues started to slip, finally began to default on the payments to DN, largely in 2010 when KPFA stopped paying shared services as well due to operating deficits and the foundation posted its largest ever operating loss.

What is the amount of money owed to the NO from WBAI as regards to payment into Central Services?
The books say $3.5 million. I do not know how far back that balance sheet is going, but my guess would be it is to 2002.
How long has the non payment of the money to Central Services going on? How much has been owed by WBAI over a period of time? Is it ten years? 15 years what is the actual number?
From my understanding, in 2002, when the iPNB took over, the books largely had to be recreated, so I don't know that I am in a position to say anything about pre-2002 operations. If it helps any, at that time Pacifica had a much larger debt of close to $6 million dollars and was able to negotiate it down and pay off virtually all of it, so it is not impossible to climb out of a hole. What one needs to do is stop making it bigger. I am going to say $3.5 million over 12 years. I am not swearing as to the accuracy of that figure, but I am providing it as my best estimate. I will also say that half of it and fiscal stabilization going forwards would entirely mitigate the debt problem and the rest needs to be considered water under the bridge as it is simply the operating reserves we should have and don't and the investments in equipment and upgrades that we should have made but didn't.

Is the amount of money outstanding that is owed mainly due to WBAI?
Yes. KPFA played a role in 2009 and 2010 by running large deficits, but that was somewhat mitigated by their cash reserve and it was not until they spent up all that money and started defaulting on shared services to pay their bills that it impacted the rest of the network. The deficit spending was corrected on the fall of 2010 and back shared services paid in installments from Jan of 2011 to June of 2012. KPFK and KPFT have largely paid for themselves, although both stations do run small deficits from time to time. WPFW has sometimes added to the debts, but since the scale of the station is small, it has only made a small contribution compared to WBAI which is twice as large and runs much larger deficits. So I would have to say that yes it is mainly due to WBAI.

How has that money owed tracked over the years and what discussion or policy discussed to deal with it?
That's a harder question. One of the reasons Lonnie Hicks was removed as the CFO in January of 2009 was a perception that he was covering up the extent of the subsidies to WBAI. While I had no access to any PNB materials prior to 2010, I suspect that is true as many people that I knew on the board at that time profess to be surprised by what now seems to be common knowledge. The convention of releasing financial statements with the supposition that shared services payments are made (accrual accounting) contributes to the lack of clarity and Pacifica may want to consider a move to a cash accounting system if and when there is a competent CFO. In 2008, a balloon loan was proposed by Save KPFA'er Sherry Gendelman, then an interim ED, that would have provided an infusion of cash in return for a mortgage on KPFK's building and a large multi-million dollar payment due in 2013. It was defeated by one vote. Had it been approved, KPFK's building would have been repossessed earlier this year. Many people think that proposal was an admission that subsidizing WBAI on incoming receipts was about to fail. As it did. Grace Aaron hoped that management changes at WBAI implemented in the spring of 2009 would turn things around, but while they did improve slightly, it was not enough to compensate for the crazy fixed expenses and the station continued to lose money every year.

How is the outstanding debt impacting on policy?
The finance committee tried to acknowledge reality in 2011 and "officially" sanctioned WBAI to pay only 9.5% in shared services instead of 19.5% and trimmed the national office budget accordingly. That is part of the reason the overall deficit in 2011 was the smallest of the last five years at $600,000. We were optimistic about WBAI in 2012 (as revenue had been trending upward), but unfortunately the hurricane pitched WBAI into a catastrophe with no reserves, and I don't think anyone had any ability to deal with $500,000 just not being there. (The stations are on average presenting $10,000 in surplus - if we're lucky). WBAI did raise money in the spring of 2013 to replace the Fall 2012, but then couldn't continue to raise enough to also pay the spring 2013 expenses, which was the equivalent of two major fund drives back-to-back). The upshot is that whatever you would consider sound financial policy has had to come second to shifting money around constantly to meet emergencies and there are all kinds of reasons why that's a bad way to operate. Costs money, prevents planning, takes up time and leads to mistakes.

If there are documents, great.
I wish. If I did a great document search, I probably could find some helpful things squirreled away over the years, but my time right now doesn't allow for the great search. I hope this email is
reasonably helpful and I will stand by everything I say here.


Who benefits from a PSOA?

Actually, they're now calling it a PSOA (Public Service Operating Agreement) rather than an LMA (Lease Management Agreement). Not sure when the nomenclature changed, or why, but putting that aside, we're  now seeing various people advocating a leasing arrangement for WBAI.

This post by one of the WBAI naysayers on the Blue Board pretty much sums up the "for" argument:


 assuming the lessee performs according to contract, pacifica benefits by relieving itself of the risk of continued BAI cash suck. pacifica can use the lease period to hold the license whiled developing a plan for a BAI renaissance, and to accumulate or obtain funding to execute the plan. listeners in the NYC metro will benefit immediately from new programming, and ultimately from a reborn BAI.  


two WBAI employees, TBD.


up to two, TBD.


the remaining national program, still announced as ``from pacifica,'' is DN!. other than that, pacifica has no real national identity.


we don't know what goes on in those numerous executive sessions.

 > What gives?

the capacity to support BAI nonsense and malfeasance gave out.

Our thoughts on the subject:

Why would a PSOA be desirable?

Because a PSOA can do for WBAI what WBAI cannot do for itself.

What is that?

A PSOA can run commercials. WBAI is not allowed to run commercials because of rules that regulate Pacifica stations.  Pacifica has to lease out WBAI to a third party in order to do that.

Don't we see the hypocrisy here?  Or at least the irony that a glitch  is making all of this necessary in order for WBAI to be "reborn"? Or are we missing something?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Special Pacifica National Broadcasts on WBAI

The Pacifica National Office will be preempting all daily WBAI programming on Thursday, November 21st as well as the following day, Friday, November 22nd. Friday's  programming will focus on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Friday's programming will start at 9 AM and will last until 5 PM that day.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Summer Reese visits WBAI: the plot thickens

Once you get past the humorous parts of these interactions, there's some serious stuff to consider at the end.

A letter from Steve Brown to MC, bearing today's date.
First, the letter to which he is responding:

If the interim Executive Director (until she signs the contract) wants to meet with the WBAI LSB, she could at the very least email a message to the LSB Secretary or any of the officers. I'm certainly not going to jump through hoops for her and start scrambling all over the place just because she imperially snaps her fingers and expects the moon to blow her kisses.

On the other hand, if the WBAI LSB wants the officers to set up an emergency meeting with Summer Reese for Tuesday, say, and IF the other officers agree on the date, I will be delighted to again invite the suddenly taciturn iED to a meeting at a reasonable time and place, even though she seems to have blocked my emails and phone calls for at least 3 months, now.

HOWEVER, I absolutely refuse to approve of an official emergency meeting of the Board if she will only meet in Executive Session with the LSB, and will not first meet in public session with the listeners and staff.

Mitchel Cohen
Former WBAI LSB Chair
Steve Brown's response to Mitchel Cohen

Dear Mitchel –

Yesterday night, Pacifica Executive Director Summer Reese got off a plane from California after an emergency flight to New York, which she had evidently felt it necessary to undertake in order to address two urgent matters:

(1) the status of WBAI’s general manager, and (2) what steps (if any) the national board had taken with regard to a possible Lease Management Agreement for the station. The moment Summer got off the plane, she sent a polite message asking if the LSB would make time to meet with her, at its convenience, to discuss these important matters, both to inform the LSB of the national board’s thinking, as well as receive the thinking of the LSB. She asked that her meeting with the LSB take place in executive session, because the discussion would touch on contractual issues and personnel matters that were legally privileged and could not be discussed in a public forum. This seemed to me both reasonable and proper.

How did the LSB respond? I did not see any response – not from the Chair of the LSB or its Vice Chair or from any of its elected members. But what I did see was a response from you, appended below. This response seemed to hijack and short-circuit the prerogatives of the elected Local Station Board, even though you are not an elected member of this board, and had not been delegated by it to speak on its behalf to the executive director.

So unless I missed the “Mitchel Cohen Special Privilege Clause” in the Pacifica’s bylaws, I do not think you have either the legal right or the moral authority to issue ultimatums to the executive director, especially in such a snide and bossy tone of voice, as if you were berating a lazy serf who had failed to polish your boots to the precise level of glossy perfection that your position merited. I call particular attention to the passage in your email below, in which you draw yourself up on your tippy toes and announce to Summer Reese, in the petulant tones of a thwarted 3-year-old: “I'm certainly not going to jump through hoops for her and start scrambling all over the place just because she imperially snaps her fingers and expects the moon to blow her kisses.”

Then, to really show her who is boss, you add: “I will be delighted to again invite the suddenly taciturn iED to a meeting at a reasonable time and place, even though she seems to have blocked my emails and phone calls for at least 3 months, now” – as if inviting the executive director to meet with the LSB were your prerogative (and as if your righteous thunder against her was not so transparently and pathetically the result of your hurt pride at not having your emails and phone calls answered, as if our executive director had nothing else to do but sit wistfully by her phone waiting for you to call and invite her to the prom).

Finally, as if you were the Pope making an announcement ex Cathedra, you conclude with this presumptuous ultimatum:  “HOWEVER, I absolutely refuse to approve of an official emergency meeting of the Board if she will only meet in Executive Session with the LSB, and will not first meet in public session with the listeners and staff.”

May I humbly point out that you do not have the right, let alone the power, to make official demands on the executive director – certainly not the right to “absolutely refuse to approve of an official emergency meeting of the Board.” As a non-LSB member, you simply cannot parade about as if you were speaking for and reflecting the will of the LSB (which it must be said has not done much speaking nor demonstrated much of a will in the past year or more).

I can understand your frustration over the difficulties at WBAI and Pacifica, Mitcxxhel. But you are not a member of the PNB, and not a member of the LSB, and not a member of station staff. Yes, you are a listener, and as such you certainly do have a right -- even a duty – to speak out for what you believe to be the best interests of WBAI. But you do not have the right to pretend to speak for the LSB, or make it appear that you do. My suggestion – and I have no more than the right to suggest – is that you try and adopt a more courteous tone with those who might not share your views. A little more humility might also serve you well in making your recommendations, many of which are sensible and in a saner station environment would have long ago been adopted.

Stephen M Brown
Mitchel Cohen's response 

Steve Brown has maliciously taken a private email I'd written to the private LSB list, and posted a decontextualized portion of it publicly. What he fails to mention -- and no one would otherwise know (since it was a private email) -- is that not only was I not addressing Summer Reese as he claims, but I was responding to Carolyn Birden in what was supposed to be a confidential discussion. So there was no insult addressed to Summer as he states.

Additionally, Steve selectively removed what I'd actually written to give the impression that I would refuse to abide by the LSB's wishes and call a meeting of the LSB this week to meet with Summer Reese. Steve says that I wrote: "I will be delighted to again invite the suddenly taciturn iED to a meeting at a reasonable time and place, even though she seems to have blocked my emails and phone calls for at least 3 months, now".

Steve then snidely (though colorfully) remarks, "as if inviting the executive director to meet with the LSB were your prerogative (and as if your righteous thunder against her was not so transparently and pathetically the result of your hurt pride at not having your emails and phone calls answered, as if our executive director had nothing else to do but sit wistfully by her phone waiting for you to call and invite her to the prom)."  First of all, I did not see the email containing Summer's message that was passed along  to me by Frank Lefever until 3 a.m., after subwaying home to Bensonhurst after meetings (and food) all night.

My complaint that she cut me off her "response list" months and months ago is not one of hurt pride (come on, Steve, who the *^$% cares?!) but of her failure to write to me directly as Secretary of the LSB -- her job! -- so that I could timely communicate with the rest of the Board.  Equally important is Steve's inference made by intentionally deleting the key part of the sentence he quotes from me. See if my restoring of what Steve deleted changes its meaning for you (I underline the part that Steve deleted):  "If the WBAI LSB wants the officers to set up an emergency meeting with Summer Reese for Tuesday, say, and IF the other officers agree on the date, I will be delighted to again invite the suddenly taciturn iED to a meeting at a reasonable time and place, even though she seems to have blocked my emails and phone calls for at least 3 months, now."  In other words, if the LSB wants me to set up the meeting with the still-interim Executive Director, I -- as Secretary -- would do so.

So what's really going on?  Summer Reese has apparently come to town primarily to REMOVE BERTHOLD REIMERS as General Manager. She cannot legally do so without the LSB considering the question. If the LSB considers it but turns her down, then she is legally bound to take it to the PNB and obtain the national board's approval -- or else, she is not allowed to fire Berthold. Steve knows this. Thus, his support for her demand for a meeting in Executive Session, to get that process started. Summer wants to lease out the station, and removing Berthold is a necessary step. And is fearful of facing the public about that.

She is collaborating in that with one of WBAI's elected Directors to the PNB, Carolyn Birden. Along the way they have fooled or convinced two of WBAI's other Directors, Manijeh Saba and Janet Coleman, into going along with their destructive scheme, which would mean the end of WBAI. Steve Brown is cynically latching on because he wants Berthold Reimers out as GM, whom he criticizes for not doing many necessary things over the last few years. I agree with much of Steve's criticisms of management (although I think Berthold has greatly improved, does an enormous amount of work, and could lead us out of the mess we're now in).

But firing Berthold and bringing in a "turn-around" expert as a prelude to a lease arrangement, which will become a prelude to selling the station outright, will not fix things. Additionally, there is absolutely no financial reason for Berthold to be fired and for Pacifica to be considering a leasing arrangement. WBAI just completed a successful fund drive. We have decreased costs by moving out of Wall Street (* - See below) and by (very sadly) laying off 3/4 of the paid staff. We reduced costs by $1.1 million, and with the exception of a lump-payment of $225,000 for severance to those who were laid off, we've caught up with most of the current bills. However, we need 5 or 6 months for those reduced costs to kick in. Basically, this means that we need Pacifica to loan us TIME.

We have a number of fundraising events scheduled. Last week's Pete Seeger/David Amram/Tiokosin Ghost Horse concert netted WBAI around $10,000. There are also two bequests that WBAI anticipates receiving, one of close to $100,000 from our wonderful friend Jim Krivo, who died a few months ago. The other from a wealthy benefactor who left WBAI more than $1,000,000 but whose Will is tied up in court. We're also expecting around $25,000 more over the next months from pledges that were made but not yet paid, and a large grant -- I think it's around $170,000 -- from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. MORE than enough to sustain us through the next 4 or 5 months, in addition to the upcoming winter fund drive.

If Pacifica would just allow us the time, I have no doubt whatsoever that WBAI could stand on its own 99.5 feet in a few months. So why the rush to cut off its head NOW and review the leasing roposals NOW?

Could it be that the moment Summer Reese signs the papers to become the new Executive Director she loses her seat on the Pacifica National Board, and who knows where things will lead on the National Board?

Is WBAI being used opportunistically as a political football in some other scheming factional nightmare? I think that that's at least part of what's going on, why the rush is happening. It's simply awful. And for WBAI's Directors to not understand that we are being used that way, and that Berthold is the "collateral damage" in the wider scheme, is tragic.

It's all about those HERE who have given up on saving WBAI and who want to lease it out for 5 - 8 years; those from Berkeley who want to sell WBAI outright and apply those receipts to their own stations, which are doing as poorly as WBAI, or even worse, and could use the money; and those of us like myself and the vast majority of listeners and staff who understand that the importance of holding onto and improving this listener-sponsored, non-commercial, free speech,  anti-war radio station far outweighs the personal frustrations and factional slights that have made them bitter fools and stripped them not only of their vision of WBAI's potential, but of WBAI's ACTUAL and greatly improved financial situation.

Mitchel Cohen
former Chair of the WBAI Local Station Board,
and currently Secretary of the WBAI LSB

* Note: Carolyn Birden and others argued vehemently in the Summer of 2012 for remaining at the Wall Street location for another three years, and condemned me for even looking for other spaces, claiming I was undermining then-Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt's "master plan" -- there was none! So when I met with the owner of the building on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn in which WBAI now resides and proposed that WBAI move there, the resistance was palpable. That resistance cost WBAI a pretty penny; if it were not for Hurricane Sandy forcing WBAI to move from Wall Street, we would have been forced to close up shop altogether. But many persisted against that bureaucratic wall. Alex Steinberg (a fellow Brooklynite) and I set up meetings between the Atlantic Avenue building's owner and the new iED, Summer Reese, and, separately, with Berthold Reimers. We walked them around the neighborhood. They liked the building and negotiations began. The Manhattanites were none-too-thrilled. But this is not mostly about stuck-up Manhattan vs. working class Brooklyn -- that's real, but only a tiny part.

From Pissed Off WBAI Workers (POWW)

From the Facebook page of Pissed Off WBAI Workers comes this:

Is Berthold Reimers really leaving on November 15? Aaccording to the bylaws, this may not be as cut and dry as anticipated.

"Both the Executive Director and/or an LSB may initiate the process to fire a station General Manager. However, to effectuate it, both the Executive Director and the LSB must agree to fire said General Manager. If the Executive Director and the LSB cannot agree, the decision to terminate or retain said General Manager shall be made by the Board of Directors." (Article Seven, Section 3 D.)

Did y'all really thought that this process would ever be easy? Once again "Doomed by Democracy". I'm so tired of this.
Then this:
Here it is. The following statement comes from Berthold Reimers as of 4:45 pm Thursday, November 14.

"There have been lots of rumors around my situation at WBAI. Let me clear the waters. I did not resign from my position nor did I intend to leave this position in the near future. I wish to continue in my position indefinitely".


BAI doings this weekend

Saturday Nov. 16

Pacific Executive Director Summer Reese will be arriving on Saturday. According to LSB member Frank LeFever:

 "I believe she will be meeting with Berthold Reimers. The LSB has not been told that anyone has been fired. It will have an emergency meeting with Summer next week to clarify the situation.

The "LMA" (PSOA) bids and discussions of them in the PNB have scarcely begun. There is still time to persuade a majority of PNB directors that WBAI can sustain itself, once past the immediate speed bump (severance pay, mainly)."


There will be a WBAI CAB meeting on Sunday , November 17th, starting at 100 PM . A tremendous amount of packing to be done is being organized to get accomplished, some glitches solved and of course we will discuss the LMA option and the implications of the firing of Berthold Reimers, the General Manager.

We will also be delving further into the programming issues…all are welcome. The meeting is open to the public. The station is located at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

Jim Dingeman

388 Atlantic Avenue
(between Hoyt St. & Bond St.)
Brooklyn, NY

Nearest subways: A, C or G to Hoyt Schermerhorn, walk down Hoyt to
Atlantic Avenue, turn Left, 2/3rds of a bloc. Or,
2,3,4,5 to Nevins St., or
N,B,D,Q,R, 2,3,4,5 to Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Arena station. Walk
up Atlantic Avenue 3.3 long blocks. Also,
#63 bus, which goes all the way up 5th Ave. from Bay Ridge, turns
Left onto Atlantic Avenue. Get off at Bond St.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Steve Brown on Pacifica's debt to Democracy Now!

Letter from Steve Brown

David ---

Nothing I have said should be construed as belittling Democracy Now! or Amy Goodman. Regardless of how much or how little she may fund-raise, DN! is still one of the best shows on the Pacifica network, and should always be broadcast on all 5 stations. My issue is not about her content; it is about her contract.

Amy Goodman is entitled to negotiate the best contractual deal and the highest payment she can get for DN!; but by the same token, Pacifica is also entitled – actually required – to negotiate the best contractual deal and the lowest payment it needs to pay for DN! I do not think that Pacific ever did that. And since all subsequent contract renewals with DN!, after the original signed contract ca. 2001, have been kept secret, it is likely that the terms have gotten worse for Pacifica, not better (or it would have boasted of them, not hidden them).

Right now, Pacifica owes DN! somewhere around $2 million. It is a legal debt, by contract, like it or not. But Pacifica cannot possibly pay off this debt now (or probably ever), given its declining revenues and enfeebled station finances. To put is bluntly, paying that debt would destroy Pacifica as we know it.

So what are Pacifica’s options? It can either negotiate down the DN! debt -- or it can default -- the way Argentina defaulted on its unpayable debts to foreign bankers, and thereby rescued its economy. Or the way I think Rick Wolff and Michael Hudson and Joseph Stiglitz would advise Greece and Spain and Italy and Ireland to default on their debts to foreign bankers, in order to rescue their economies.

But that is up to Summer Reese and the PNB and DN! Are they talking? Who knows? Does Pacifica have a Plan A ... or a Plan B ... or any plan at all? Who knows? Which has always been Pacifica’s problem.


Earthwatch at midnight

Tune to Robert Knight's  on WBAI tonight at midnight for: new info about the Trans Pacific Partnership from ,  plus: taking a look at ObamaScare, plus: a celebration of Lou Reed.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Statement to Summer Reese from WBAI LSB Member John Brinkley

To my LSB colleagues:  I urge you to join me in making the following statement to Summer Reese, Pacifica Executive Director, and to the Pacifica National Board.

To Summer Reese, Executive Director of Pacifica:

We strongly protest your blatant violation of the Pacifica bylaws in firing WBAI General Manager Berthold Reimers "Mr. Reimers has confirmed for Local Station Board member John Riley what has become an open secret - that he (Mr. Reimers) was explicitly fired by you, effective November 15."

Article 7, Section 3D of the Pacifica Bylaws clearly lays out the only process allowed for terminating a station’s general manager:
“Both the Executive Director and/or an LSB may initiate the process to fire a station General Manager. However, to effectuate it, both the Executive Director and the LSB must agree to fire said General Manager. If the Executive Director and the LSB cannot agree, the decision to terminate or retain said General Manager shall be made by the Board of Directors.” 

The LSB has never received any notice from you requesting Mr. Reimers’ termination or inquiring about any local board decision regarding his removal.

This statement in no way reflects on the merits of the individual who occupies the position of general manager – it is purely a statement of principle that the bylaws must be followed.

We demand that you revoke your bylaws-illegal attempt to terminate Mr. Reimers and allow the proper evaluation process by the LSB to go forward expeditiously.

106 FREE Pacifica Archive programs

There are now 106 Pacifica Archive programs available on the Internet Archive. Prime drama and music from the good old days. Minds Eye Theater, Free Music Store and the like....



Homepage: https://archive.org/details/pacifica_radio_archives_grammy_2013

A little birdie told us

This just in but not verified yet -- from a listener who called  in to the Personal Computer Show this evening: Bernard White and MNN (Manhattan Neighborhood Network) Cable have submitted a PSOA bid for WBAI. A PSOA (Public Service Operating Agreement) is similar to an LMA(Leased Management Agreement).

Hmmm... does that mean... Dan Coughlin?

Also heard on the same show and also unverified: three LMA offers have been made.

More later...

Friday November 15 Meeting with Summer Reese

From Mitchell Cohen:


Public meeting concerning WBAI radio, hopefully with Pacifica's
Executive Director Summer Reese. (She has not confirmed, but is
expected to be in NYC at WBAI on that date, so I've reserved the
space and am calling this meeting.)

FRIDAY, November 15, 2013
6:30 pm
388 Atlantic Avenue, ground floor
(between Hoyt St. & Bond St.)
Brooklyn, NY

Nearest subways: A, C or G to Hoyt Schermerhorn, walk down Hoyt to
Atlantic Avenue, turn Left, 2/3rds of a bloc. Or,
2,3,4,5 to Nevins St., or
N,B,D,Q,R, 2,3,4,5 to Atlantic Avenue - Barclays Arena station. Walk
up Atlantic Avenue 3.3 long blocks. Also,
#63 bus, which goes all the way up 5th Ave. from Bay Ridge, turns
Left onto Atlantic Avenue. Get off at Bond St.