. . . screenshot of the homepage – the only webpage WBAI has, showing the audio button of the relay, https://www.wbai.org/ . . .
[Vernile’s letter, then a commentary.]
Dear PNB Director,
Immediate action must be taken to address a dire financial crisis that seriously threatens the viability of the Pacifica Foundation. As a result of the ongoing financial shortfalls and poor payroll planning at WBAI, the Foundation lacks the financial reserves to pay: (all of our) or (national and PRA) staff salaries, health care, needed legal and engineering services, required insurance for our loan and legally required audit services.
Paramount, we have a legal obligation to have the resources available to pay our staff. Our financial condition makes it clear that it will be impossible to sustain this legal obligation without immediate action. The Pacifica handbook is clear that when payroll cannot be made that layoffs must be made immediately.
In addition, unless action is taken, we will also lose our NETA partner by month’s end due to nonpayment. NETA support includes: HR, retirement administration, audit coordination, payroll and finance. This will be catastrophic for our operations, employees and listeners.
Under its current management and strategy, WBAI is exposing the Foundation to insolvency. In short:
• WBAI has repeatedly missed payroll, employee health insurance payments, and payments to Pacifica Central services.
• They have failed to meet the last 2 payroll cycles and lack the cash reserves to meet the next.
• WBAI studio rent is currently behind by two months.
• WBAI constantly requires the support of the other Pacifica units, PRA and our affiliates to maintain current operations. This is no longer possible, as our reserves are virtually exhausted.
• WBAI’s accumulated debt to Pacifica Central Services is over $4 million
• WBAI is currently subjecting its listeners to over 140 days of on-air fundraising, rarely reaching its modest goals, despite being in the largest metro area in the US, on a prime, mid-dial FM channel.
The accumulated debt and ongoing financial mismanagement threaten our larger Foundation and its current, vitally important work that serves hundreds of thousands of US residents and online listeners worldwide.
So, with a sober understanding that the survival of Pacifica is at stake, we need to cease local staff operations at WBAI and operate the station via a remote Pacifica network feed as allowed by FCC regulations. As soon as financially and logistically possible, a plan will be drawn up to address how we can rebuild the station into a vibrant local going operation.
Pacifica will undertake the task of rebuilding WBAI, advancing the service at the other four Pacifica stations, strengthening our services to affiliates, redirecting badly needed resources to the Archives and completing a long overdue list of organizational projects that all directly impact Pacifica’s viability.
Please keep this document confidential because it may affect our relationship with our creditors.
John Vernile, Interim Executive Director
(this letter is undated; read online using Clouseau’s best friend, or download)
The WBAI website has closed, simply having a homepage with an audiofile button: https://wbai.org/.
There are two takeaways at the start of this new crisis:
- no evidence has ever been presented to justify smashing WBAI; &
- the IED is not carrying out a policy of the Pacifica National Board; instead, he’s probably coordinating with the core of the breaker faction, with them keeping the PNB paralysed, with its 11-11 split.
Despite this dictatorial bluster by the IED – and he is proving to be an IED – no evidenced case has EVER been presented within Pacifica to smash WBAI. Not by an IED or ED, not by an ICFO or CFO, not by a Chair of the board of directors, not by any group of directors, or an individual director. Not even by the current incarnation of those who have been trying to break up Pacifica for longer than a decade. No-one has presented an evidenced case. As the Interim Chief Financial Officer has told the PNB Finance Cttee, she hasn’t even got current monthly statements, be they management or financial, for any station, let alone the Foundation as a whole.
As repeatedly demonstrated here, & at Chris Albertson’s blog, http://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com, it’s spurious to say WBAI is the problem. The Executive Director appoints station managers; the Executive Director is responsible for all major contracts. If fiefdoms exist it’s because the ED, & the PNB, want an easier life – that’s until the moment when the strained string snaps.
Instead of evidenced argument, there’s been a splutter, then a stream, & now a flood of assertions, unsubstantiated claims, citing a putative fact ripped from its context. And power need not be constrained by reason, as we saw today.
This is the latest written report from WBAI Treasurer R Paul Martin, dated 11Sep, six pages, given to his Local Station Board: https://glib.com/treasurers_report_2019-09-11.pdf
To the same meeting was a report by Pacifica directors Alex Steinberg, James Sagurton, & Shawn Rhodes, & its accuracy has been proven by events:
- “the goal of these behind the scene machinations is not the revival of WBAI but its dismantling”
- “We believe WBAI is in grave danger”
- “a series of events has transpired in the past two weeks that should raise the alarm bells about the continued existence of WBAI as an independent radio station”
- “a group of Directors on the PNB is intent on usurping the role of the WBAI LSB in evaluating management. They are intent on removing WBAI’s management team by executive fiat”
- “we are once more hearing about why a team from California should be sent immediately to take over and manage WBAI”
- “This report is meant to alert the WBAI LSB and WBAI staff, listeners and supporters to the dangers we are facing”
This, combined with the PNB being paralysed, means that what we have is planned chaos.
The political context now facing us has two main elements:
- station chauvinism exuded by the majority of the KPFA LSB, in the Bay Area, allying with smaller stations who may be happy to see WBAI stitched up https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/09/03/californian-station-chauvinism-raises-its-destructive-head-again/; &
- a complete inability of the opposition to exercise leadership by coming up with a plan to cope with falling membership, failing fund-drives, & the $3.265m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community (FJC), &, in the last month, to counter a renewed attempt to break-up the Pacifica network.
The immediate task is to counter this coup. The PNB Finance Cttee meets tomorrow, Tuesday, 8.30pm ET, livestream link at https://kpftx.org/. WBAI’s Local Station Board meets Wednesday, 7.30pm ET (the same evening the LSB’s meet in DC, WPFW, & Houston, KPFT). The PNB next meets the following day, an hour earlier than usual, also at 7.30pm ET. Whether quorum is achieved will depend on the breaker faction, which started the paralysis of the PNB when it tried to push its move for a new Pacifica constitution at the Su29Sep PNB meeting.
https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20191010, with livestream link at https://kpftx.org/
Some obvious questions: who planned & executed all the logistics in today’s operation, including hiring the ‘security guards’, all funded by Pacifica listeners? how long has this planning been going on? who authorised this expenditure of listeners’ donations? and who went to the trouble of designing the graphic that is now WBAI’s sole webpage?
Early take by RealWorlders, not worried that they may be alerting the creditors (as if): http://amsterdamnews.com/news/2019/oct/07/wbai-shutting-down/ (11.15am ET)
Oddly, the Amsterdam News cites “a letter from the station’s owner, the Pacifica Foundation”, which isn’t on its own website, https://pacifica.org/, & doesn’t seem to be in the public realm. “‘Due to ongoing and continued projections fo [sic] further financial loses at WBAI, local operations are being discontinued as of October 7, 2019 […] We realize this news will come as a deep and painful shock, but we can no longer jeopardize the survival of the entire network.'” [This is a statement Vernile distributed, not under his own name but that of “Pacifica Foundation”; it’s here: https://pacificaradiowatch.home.blog/2019/10/07/the-cowardly-letter-sent-by-vernile-he-didnt-even-have-the-guts-to-sign-it/]
More RealWorlders alert the creditors: https://patch.com/new-york/new-york-city/wbai-radio-station-abruptly-shuts-down (12.31pm ET)
The New York Post has its completely derivative take, as any reader of this blog will readily appreciate, simply being the mouthpiece of IED Vernile’s letter: https://nypost.com/2019/10/07/new-york-based-wbai-radio-abruptly-shuts-down/ (1.56pm ET)
And the NYT? . . . & then the WSJ? . . . Maybe Bully John will get asked for an interview, just like when he helped out Charlotte Church . . .
Here’s the NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/07/business/media/wbai-pacifica-layoffs.html (4.39pm ET)