WBAI's Program Director Chris Hatzis has departed from the station suddenly and unexpectedly and somewhat mysteriously. We're hoping that he will at some point come forward and provide some explanation and perhaps some analysis. But will it help?
One thing we know is that the endless progression of managers in recent years has not helped. WBAI is still like Ken Kesey's story of "a family of fiercely independent Oregon loggers struggling to keep the family business alive amidst changing times."
Although Chris Albertson and a few others wanted Chris Hatzis to be the great white hope, there were reservations among others about the advisability of bringing in yet another manager who was unfamiliar with WBAI, with hopes that they would magically provide solutions to the station's programming problems.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Here's a novel idea: let the inmates run the asylum! Seriously though, there is a strong core of knowledge at WBAI, existing in people who have the depth of experience to provide the kind of guidance that's so desperately needed at the station. Why not give that a try? Rather than importing from the outside someone who is bound to be unfamiliar with the culture of WBAI, why not utilize the practical insight that already exists within the station?
Rather than imposing rule in a top-down manner, why not try governance from below? Assemble a consortium of workers - a super Program Council if you will, to figure out how best to proceed. That changes are needed is a given that everyone can agree on. But watching a newcomer like Hatzis react in an almost paralyzed manner and end up doing nothing to improve the station makes one realize that this approach is not working, and that it's time to try something else. And time is of the essence. The station really cannot afford another 10 months of someone getting their feet wet, only to find that they are not a fit, or have no idea what to do.
The New Sanity
The approach we're suggesting would be consistent with what economics professor Richard Wolff has been preaching on WBAI's airwaves for some time now: an alternative to the capitalist structure in which workers have little say; one in which the producers of an organization participate in running it. Why not put this idea to work at WBAI?
Of course it would take beaucoup de cooperation, congeniality and fellowship that WBAI is not famous for. Would it even be possible with the warring factions that still exist inside the station? We think that the balance of power is such right now that it could be possible, and that it might be important to seize the moment. Just an idea to be thrown into the mix, but one thing we can all agree on is that there have been too many failed managers at WBAI for too many years now, and that this has been hurting the station. Albertson's idea of a clean sweep has been shown to have backfired. In the end it may only be WBAI people themselves who can solve the station's problems.