This Wednesday, 16Oct, a group was again outside the Pacifica building in Berkeley, protesting the breakers’ coup against WBAI & Pacifica. (Vid is 15:58.)
One speaker is Tom Voorhees, a Pacifica director, & KPFA listeners-delegate (1:36). The breakers are trying to oust him as a director, replace him by a breaker, turning the PNB back into a 11-11 paralysis. Two weeks or so after the launch of their petition for a new Pacifica constitution, the breakers on Th26Sep called a KPFA delegates assembly to oust Mr Voorhees. This takes place Sa26Oct. It’s crucial that he’s supported both within the meeting & outside. https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20191026
This video was made by the Labor Video Project. They also published another one today, on Monday’s home invasion station invasion. Steve Zeltzer spoke with Chair Carolyn McIntyre & Vice-Chair Michael White of the WBAI Local Station Board, & station manager Berthold Reimers. (Carolyn was misdescribed in early court documents as a “McGuire”.): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyamU2dvvtU (11:56)
It’s important to note that the action by IED Vernile violates the union agreement, according to Becky Hayes from Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television & Radio Artists, SAG-AFTRA:
From: Becky Hayes
Sent: Monday, October 7, 2019 5:52 PM
SAG-AFTRA demands to bargain over the effects of WBAI and Pacifica’s decisions to cease assigning work to SAG-AFTRA members employed at WBAI, effectively laying them off as of today’s date. We request to meet at the earliest availability.
In addition, in accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, SAG-AFTRA demands immediate payment of the following for all covered bargaining unit members:
• Four (4) weeks’ notice pay under Article XVI(A)(4)
• Severance of one day of pay per month of service (up to a max of 125 days) under Article XVI(A)(5)
• Payout all accrued and unused time, including, but not limited to, vacation, comp time, etc.
• Payment of any and all other monies owing to each SAG-AFTRA member in connection with his or her employment.
We would also like to highlight other applicable sections of the contract including Article XVI(A)(7) which provide that the Company “shall recall all employees on layoff within the previous eighteen months” “before hiring new employees” to perform the work covered by the collective bargaining agreement.
The demands above are on behalf of any and all covered employees, including, but not limited to, Michael Haskins, Reggie Johnson, Max Schmidt, Shawn Rhodes, Leonard Lopate, Jesse Lent, Ilana Levinson, Juliana Forlano, Graceon Challenger, Barry Brooks, Andrea Katz, and Ian Foster.
Additionally, we believe the Company has already violated Article XVI(A)(1) by failing to inform the Union at least four weeks in advance before the layoff took place, thereby depriving us of the opportunity to “economic alternatives to the proposed layoffs,” of any nature.
Finally, please see the attached information request [not included], made in connection with the above demands.
This is copied, without alteration, from the website of WBAI Treasurer R Paul Martin: http://www.glib.com/sawaya_farewell.html. It starts with the preface Ms Sawaya wanted any re-publication to start with. (Peter Franck chose not to do this when he published her letter on his legal practice’s website; maybe that’s why it only carries a few lines, with no ‘read more’ hypertext, unlike his other pieces.https://culturelaw.com/special-information/.)
September 24, 2008
To: Pacifica National Board, Local Station Boards, All management and staff, Affiliate stations, collaborators, and stakeholders in Pacifica Fr: Nicole Sawaya, executive director/CEO
On August 3rd I gave notice to the Pacifica Board that I would be leaving. September 30th (end of our fiscal year) will be my last day. Concurrently, I had written myself out of the FY09 budget, as the Foundation is hard-pressed to support two well-paid executives. You lead from the top.
Lew Hill is the founder of Pacifica, now almost a 60 year old non-profit media organization. If I could have a conversation with anyone to explain my departure, it would be with Lew Hill. So, I decided to write him a letter.
Feel free to read it, and to share with others who care about Pacifica. All I ask is that this preface always accompany the letter as it sets the context.
I thank you for the opportunity to serve!
September 23, 2008
Dear Lew Hill,
Greetings. My name is Nicole Sawaya, and currently, I’m the executive director and chief executive of the radio endeavor you started called Pacifica. It’s changed a lot.
You wouldn’t believe what your ‘killer app’, as some might portray it in 21st century lexicon, has spawned. Now there are 5 stations licensed to Pacifica in densely populated and roiling urban areas – millions of human beings within ear shot, all with easy access to the cheapest and most accessible broadcast mediums on the planet, radio. Yes, the planet. There is an Archive of programming and folios spanning decades – a repository and collection of voices that truly belongs to the people as part of the history of our country and the world. And, there are over a hundred smaller stations scattered through rural and urban settings — cities and towns and ridge tops — affiliated with Pacifica and broadcasting our programming – a network that has been in place for quite awhile.
Beyond that, your notion that the listeners would voluntarily financially support radio, journalism and cultural exchange, created a model for many, many non-commercial educational radio stations to apply. Your vision of public ownership of the airwaves put into practice with the radio license you applied for and grew as the first non-profit community licensee station, gained great traction and has been replicated exponentially.
We don’t exchange The Subscriber radios anymore for pledges, and you wouldn’t recognize how the fundraising marathons have changed – it’s a bit like an on-air shopping experience. But listeners continue to support us voluntarily with their hard earned money, and they’re not necessarily just bound to radios to listen to us.
An aside: When I was (briefly) general manager of your first station, KPFA, there was a Subscriber radio in the office, but it was tucked away and dusty. When I discovered it, soon after taking the job, I was so excited to learn of its history. It completely inspired me as Pacifica was heading to its 50th anniversary. So elegant, so innovative for its time, so smart.
Mr. Hill, what you conceived has had one of the highest impacts in media history. Not just the staunch belief in listener support, but your notions that journalistic enterprises should remain unfettered from any sort of business support in order to maintain credibility; that to help in striving for a more peaceful and just world, radio (or what we now refer to as media) programming should give access to myriad viewpoints and in-depth news, coupled with an exposure to the arts and to cultures and happenings from all over the world; that innovation is vital, have all lived on. You were a pioneer.
Fast forward to today.
Our country is at war. Our government is a death machine abroad and a fear machine at home. Our broadcast media is, in general, mind-numbingly useless, filled with shameless propagandists and completely profit driven. The earth’s climate is changing radically and the gap between rich and poor is larger than the Grand Canyon, with by far the larger group on the poor end. I could go on, but it would take a while.
Your Pacifica is showing signs of stress as well.
Sadly, it is no longer focused on service to the listeners but absorbed with itself and the inhabitants therein. I call it Planet Pacifica, a term I coined during my hiring process. There is an underlying culture of grievance coupled with entitlement, and its governance structure is dysfunctional. The by-laws of the organization have opened it up to tremendous abuse, creating the opportunity for cronyism, factionalism, and faux democracy, with the result of challenging all yet helping nothing. Pacifica has been made so flat, that it is concave – no leadership is possible without an enormous struggle through the inertia that committees and collectives and STV’s (no, not sexually transmitted viruses, but single transferable votes) can engender.
Pacifica calls itself a movement, yet currently it is behaves like a jobs program, a cult, or a social service agency. And oftentimes, the loudest and most obstreperous have the privilege of the microphone. There are endless meetings of committees and ‘task forces’– mostly on the phone – where people just like to hear themselves talk. Sometimes they get lucrative contracts from their grandstanding. It’s been grueling for someone in my position, someone like me who is not a process person, much less a political gamer. I keep asking: what’s the endgame? Paralysis has set in, coupled with organizational drift.
The programming isn’t attracting many listeners anymore, either. It skews towards the narrow in its editorial stance, leans towards the niche, and change to the programming can’t occur without a fight. The listening audience is small, in other words, the stations have yet to grow into their large signals.
Business practices are oftentimes shoddy and opaque and mirror the culture of our times – lots of self-interest with a focus on individual needs as opposed to performance, affordability, or the common good. And we’ve hit some tough economic times without having the general will to do the hard work necessary in order to ensure sustainability– contracting rather than continually expanding the size of our financial obligations. Basically, resources and airtime have been allocated for internal political purposes at the expense of service to audience, innovation, or the care and feeding of our broadcast physical infrastructure. Some of this has to do with the fact that very few people either on air or off air actually have radio experience, other than being part of Pacifica.
That was not the case with you, nor is it with me.
Conversely, there are many dedicated and smart people working within Pacifica. They may not work at full speed – it is rather ‘comfortable’ especially for those who work unsupervised – but they make a consistent effort to give voice to the voiceless and hold government and power accountable. And those who work without self-interest or giving constant grief to management (a four-letter word in Pacifica) are to be applauded.
The overall media landscape has changed fundamentally. I find it exciting and wanted very much to bring Pacifica into the 21st century. The demographic of our country has changed as well, not to mention all the new generations now active and alert to the world around them. It is, to quote Victor Hugo, the best of times and the worst of times. Apparently, it’s always been like that.
Pacifica could take advantage of technology, both at the front end (content and programming) and the back end (infrastructure and business applications), but that would require the general will of the internal stakeholders, and that general will is not cohesive enough or even amenable to altering the status quo.
I have given notice and will be leaving Pacifica shortly. Despite my best intentions and determined and focused efforts, I was continually thwarted to do the job I was hired to do. I did my best to apply my knowledge, expertise, and creativity to Pacifica, and we made some forward progress.
I gave to those responsible for the governance and oversight, plans, clarity, and transparency. They cannot deny knowledge of the state of the network. Whether they act on it, or just call in consultants to tell them what time it is, is another issue. I tried to dispel magical thinking in all arenas and was relentless in my attempts to get some best practices and collaborations in place.
I had some success.
It’s not necessary for me to alliterate those successes. Despite being handed an enfeebled situation and having no resources to work with, I gave it my best shot and worked hard. And despite having to fight for every inch of standing, not to mention authority, I have enjoyed working with those who actually work and accomplish bona fide deliverables of consequence and service.
We stand now on the shoulders of hundreds, if not thousands of those who have contributed internally. And Pacifica is much loved and valued by its listener supporters. Pacifica will carry on, and it has been a challenging opportunity to, albeit briefly, help out.
I hope that all stakeholders remember that Pacifica is a public trust, a veritable weapon of mass information, and keep a big vision in play rather than petty politics.
Red Wave gets the Gezi penguin of approval from PacificaWatch
Can Pacifica cope with the youfff, here we’re talking about people under 35?
We’ll soon find out, because something’s happening in New York. The organisation that benefited most from #feeltheBern was the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, a middle-of-the-road social democratic group. They grew perhaps tenfold, & much more in terms of active members. It’s become the principal home in the US of anti-capitalists who aren’t anarchists.
The DSA’s largest chapter is NYC. And they’re in WBAI. A weekly one-hour, drive-time programme, 5pm Tuesdays, Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), is usually hosted by two members, Jack Devine & Lee Ziesche. In fact, it seems to be de facto proprietary – and I’m not talking Pacifica:
NYC-DSA now has a weekly radio program, Revolutions Per Minute on 99.5 WBAI. If you are interested in getting involved come join! There’s room for everyone, no experience necessary!
Not surprisingly they’ve got a slate of candidates, the Red Wave, in the current WBAI Local Station Board elections.
They have seven listener-candidates & two staff-candidates, here in ranked order: Safia Albaiti, Michael Mordowanec, Charlotte Albrecht, Rosa Palmieri, Simone Norman, Jez Zerbe, & David Torcivia; Jack Devine, & Amy Wilson. (As for the competition, there are 26 verified candidates for the nine listener-seats, & four for the three staff-seats, so Red Wave will win at least one of the latter.) “We’ll have a website up soon with a detailed platform and vision”, in the meantime, https://www.facebook.com/RedWaveWBAI/ & https://twitter.com/RedWaveWBAI (luv the Pisa transmitter, non-Stalinesque socialist realism, in the honest sense). https://airtable.com/shrnu59exwc0rRKad (gives the rankings, & also has a form for email updates from the Red Wave Collective)
It’s also surprising that no statement stresses that the candidate isn’t a grandparent or great-grandparent, making the slate a fresh broom for WBAI. This isn’t to be ageist, simply drawing attention to perhaps the biggest persuasive plus they have: voters, one suspects, don’t plumb so much for candidate politics as they do for personal characteristics, & with everyone knowing that Pacifica is getting even older, lots of voters will be pleased that under-40s, even those in their 20s, are running. Letting voters know this will certainly not harm their chances.
Then on 5Mar this year (results certified 18Mar), Hazel Pinder did the same with three such votes, out of 830 voting (other low achievers, likewise getting elected, were Dacio Quintana with five; Michael White, nine; Jim Dingeman, 12; Carolyn McIntyre, 13; & King Downing, 14). You see how even being a parent comes in useful? Remarkably, our Hazel was then elected in the second round, the only candidate to do so, having picked up 88% of Errol Maitland’s 198 redistributed votes! So, sadly, all down to the slate, not Hazel’s magnetism. The first & last rounds of the nominal 2018 pseudo-election: https://mega.nz/#!yz4lEChK!AzaYP0_nv9b30hYQGb3xr3O71DnY7msBracGaajIkhg & https://mega.nz/#!6zxxHajY!J2dOgxN6paySjOENYqugm8A2hMBAdwkXKjY0lnxaCaM
Redistributed votes. The Pacifica voting system meant that March this year, for the WBAI listener pseudo-election, once one got 60 votes one got elected, be it the first round, the 25th round. (For the staff, it was 17 votes.) And how many in the NYC chapter of DSA? . . . “5 500+”. (At the 19Nov2018 ‘record date’, there were 6 806 WBAI listener-members & 177 staff.) https://www.socialists.nyc/ & https://mega.nz/#!fyAwGICZ!-4uWYMHZW3CHxt6yCOITu006SVZ4AyNPjT9bWw6csb0 (Election Final Report 2018, pp. 7-9, 9, 1, 19; in Stalinist style, no longer publicly available on a Pacifica site – with Pacifica, its pervasive & entrenched anti-transparency culture, integral to its unthinking common sense, download written records whilst you can!)
Red Wave have set things up nicely, giving the WBAI members a test. How will they respond to the shock of the new, the shock of the youfff?
Will the Red Wave sweep all before it? Or will it be dammed, reduced to a ripple?
Can WBAI cope with this injection of youfff?
Or will WBAI carry on, undisturbed, confirmed & contented in its alienation, as if #feeltheBern never happened?
WBAI is fortunate to be presented with this opportunity, for Red Wave to bring a two-generation shift to the LSB. But will it be a step too far for the WBAI members?
This is a test of Pacifica’s capacity to change with the times, to embrace a harbinger of the future.
What transpires will be a portent, evidence of Pacifica’s capacity to re-new.
And the Gezi Park penguin graffito? There are very few green spaces, let alone parks, in much of Istanbul, population c. 20m, especially in the built-up retail areas. Gezi was to be destroyed, turned into shops & a barracks (where’s the surprise). People protested. When the rioting police moved in at 1am, Su2June2013, CNN International covered the attacks live; CNN Türk carried on showing their documentary, Penguins: Spy in the Huddle, starring 50 spycams. (Would have brought a smile to the face of Gil Scott-Heron.) Penguin graffiti ensued, along with a popular chant, responding to a police supply problem: ‘the people demand the old tear gas’.
. . . Pacifica has its peculiar way of surviving: the necro-economics of the golden corpses . . .
✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞ ☦ ✞
The Comedy of Terrors. Vincent Price plays an undertaker; Peter Lorre, his assistant. Business is slow; creditors at his door. The Vladimir question: what is to be done? Bingo! Increase demand: raise the death rate. So Vince & Pete take to the night, murdering. Then, being in the neighbourhood, they offer their services to the bereaved. Problem solved.
Pacifica is a radio network. Income evaporating, having halved over the decade; creditors at its door. What’s saving Pacifica is corpses. Golden corpses, the bequests. But there can never be enough, can there? Especially with cashflow being so acute.
No explanation has ever been given for the unforgivable axing of this programme, the funniest on Pacifica.
The complete absence of a sense of humour also meant that the KPFA admin excised this multi-year programme from the archive. Satire never loses its bite. So a back-handed compliment – one we could do without.
The Pacifica advocates of the loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, have presented it as a good Samaritan, doing it out of the kindness of its heart. In fact, FJC is in a competitive market as a manager of donor-advised funds, a sector of the charity industry. One of its money-making operations is running a fund that lends at prime-plus, the Agency Loan Fund, ALF. Donors to FJC can lodge money with ALF, as can outsiders, all hungry for those extra percentage points of interest earnt.
FJC had been having problems finding borrowers for these prime-plus loans: only 46% of ALF had been converted into loans at 31Mar2018, the very time of the 2Apr Pacifica loan (its latest auditor’s report, year-end 31Mar2018, page 20; page 22 of the PDF). So, of course, Pacifica was welcomed with open arms. Sentiment this was not. http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/FJC%203-31-18%20FINAL.pdf
The greatest aid to Pacifica transparency, on this or any matter, has not come from the National Board, the PNB. No, this came with the documents leaked W26June2019 on a Facebook group, then co-moderated & -administered by Grace Aaron. She was then, as now, Chair of the Pacifica Foundation. Most of the documents concern the loan from FJC. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacificaRadiowaves/permalink/1264765520345396/
There’s also an advertising (underwriting) contract as part of the loan, signed 23Mar2018 by iED Livingston; please see below.
The $3.7m loan was reduced to $3.265m loan when Pacifica was unable to collateralise the KPFK transmitter site lease, at Mount Wilson. This was because it’s federal land administered by the Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service, & they wouldn’t give the necessary permissions. (The documentary evidence is contrary to the story being told in 2018 by Grace Aaron et al. that the attempt was to collateralise the transmitter, not the site lease – please see the loan agreement, Sec. 2.1(d); p. 5.)
What did the Pacifica National Board (PNB) commit the members to when it accepted FJC’s offer of the money?
the signed loan agreement is dated 2Apr2018, & it has a three-year term;
significantly, Pacifica directors agreed to a contract that details only two ways to pay the principal by 2Apr2021: selling as many broadcasting licences & station buildings as it takes: “a swap or sale of one or more radio licenses or a sale of other Pacifica owned assets” (Recital B; page 1);
annual interest at three percentage points above US prime rate (Section 2.2; p. 5). (So, an annual 7.75% when the loan started; 8%, effective 14June; 8.25%, 27Sep; 8.5%, 20Dec2018. [UPDATE: 8.25%, effective Th1Aug2019.] The three-year interest charge, with the coming recession dragging down the rate, will be less than $800k.);
the default rate, such as after a late payment – not least the paying of the principal on time (Sec. 8.1; p. 13) – is the lower of either 18% a year or the maximum under law (Sec. 1.1(10); p. 2);
Pacifica directors, with no public discussion, agreed to carry advertising, & on 23Mar2018 signed a contract with an advertising broker, F. Y. Eye, Inc.; FJC chose to make Pacifica do this “in lieu” of its “origination fee” (Sec. 3.1(2); pp. 6-7), & you may wonder why – details below; &
FJC never waits for a loan to default: it sells the loan on when it’s only “potentially impaired”, to the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation; details below.
Pacifica’s immediate future is structured more by this contract than anything else.
As part of the FJC contract, on 23Mar2018 iED Tom Livingston signed an underwriting contract on behalf of Pacifica, for it to carry advertising. This hasn’t been acknowledged publicly by any Pacifica body, not least the Pacifica National Board (PNB). The details now follow.
Appended to the loan agreement, signed by
Pacifica & FJC, is an unsigned underwriting contract (pp. 25-7). It
is “substantially in the form” that Pacifica has agreed to sign with the
NYC advertising broker, F.Y. Eye, Inc. (Sec. 3.1(2); pp. 6-7 &
25-7) – a corporation founded by its president, Lorin Silverman . . .
yes, the President & Treasurer of FJC, and President & Treasurer
of the Marty & Dorothy Silverman Foundation, which buys FJC loans
that are “potentially impaired”, not even in default (FJC policy,
disclosed in any of their auditor’s reports & IRS form 990’s – the
latest: pp. 10-11, pp. 12-13 of the PDF, http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/FJC%203-31-18%20FINAL.pdf; & Schedule O, p. 90 of the PDF, http://fjc.org/uploads/user-uploads/image/file/990%20FY17%20-%20For%20Distribution.pdf). And, yes, it was Lorin’s signature that lent the money to Pacifica.
It should be noted that the chronology in the loan agreement, the talk of ‘Pacifica has agreed to sign’, has to be juxtaposed with the fact that this advertising agreement was actually signed just over a week earlier, on 23Mar2018. It was done by iED Tom Livingston, a contract with F. Y. Eye, Inc., dated 2Apr2018 (linked below). Signing for the latter was its President, Lorin Silverman (yes, a busy guy). Pacifica has publicly issued no document demonstrating that Livingston had been authorised by the PNB to do this. Likewise, there is no public Pacifica document showing that the PNB had agreed to advertising via the FJC loan. Such is the life of a secret society – moreover, one funded directly by the members, members who were never consulted on this matter. Moreover, members who have never shown any evidence, at any time in Pacifica’s 73 year history, of being enamoured to advertising on the Pacifica airwaves. Such is the anti-democratic disposition of the PNB majority. Shameless authoritarians. Eat yer heart out, Lew. https://mega.nz/#F!PloCiSqJ!9rLejSkttE7gCVCCq3q86g?qkxynCxQ
[Please note the convenient tabs at the top of each page of this blog: the blog feed (replicated vertically, top right of each page); sources on Pacifica & its operating environment, with many links; annual auditor’s reports, covering the period from 1Oct2004 to present; &, lastly, details of the $3.7m loan from the Foundation for the Jewish Community, FJC, taken out on 2Apr2018.]
[Welcome! This blog started Th18July2019. This was the day the Pacifica ‘leadership’ told the world they’d blown it – again. They’d discarded an executive director, Maxie Jackson, who had been trying to give the radio network a sound foundation, & therefore the possibility of a sustained future, rather than being in perpetual firefighting mode, quenched somewhat by the occasional shower of a bequest. Listeners, after all, can only take so much ZR, Zombie Radio. And they deserve so much better. Pacifica needs its renaissance. Bio-economics, not necro-economics.
When I can make the time, I’m adding, as context, older material that I’ve written. Most of that comes from the blog of Chris Albertson, a former station manager of Pacifica’s WBAI in NYC, https://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/. Sadly, Chris died in April this year. He was a gentle man, kind, and decent. This blog is dedicated to him.]
. . .
Spreading knowledge to improve transparency & accountability – all too often a conceit, a pious hope even. Many know what’s best but refuse to act. But when one cares, other than trying, what else can one rationally do? This is steadfastness, sumud.
So, yes, it’s often banging one’s head up against a brick wall, or the breakfast table. And, yes, given that normal people are quite limited in their incompetence & cock-ups, & for how long they let things go before seriously addressing what’s going wrong, one occasionally does have the sneaky suspicion that just a tad of Pacifica’s dysfunctionality might be intended, simply left to fester, making it easier to break up the network to the benefit of any station happening, against all the odds, to be making an operating surplus. Yes, Mr Burns is the metaphoric elephant in the studio.
This blog will assemble mostly publicly available info on the Pacifica radio network, known legally as Pacifica Foundation, Inc. The info will be commented upon, particularly for the gaps, &, importantly, a special striving will be made to ask the most illuminating questions, especially about what is not being said by decision-makers & the documents.
Pacifica entered a new, critical, phase in its history on 2Apr2018 when it signed the largest loan in its history, with the Foundation for the Jewish Community, known legally as FJC. The loan was $3 700 000 (albeit now reduced to $3 265 000), pretty onerous for a now annual $11m organisation that last made an audited annual net income in fiscal 2006. Yes, 2006. That run of consecutive losses, through fiscal 2017 (the latest statements), has totalled at least $12 745 968. (‘At least’ because the 2017 auditors refused to declare whether the statements were materially accurate: they found insufficient supporting evidence.) Pacifica last had audited net assets at 30Sep2012; & last had audited net current assets (that is, liquidity) at 30Sep2009. Yes, 2009. Not surprisingly, to get the loan, it had to give FJC as collateral all its property, every chair & coffee cup, besides the station buildings used by, not owned by, KPFA, KPFK, & KPFT (those in Berkeley, LA, Houston).
Pacifica decision-makers come & go, but the institution is noted for its obdurate & deep secrecy culture. Nevertheless, the co-signed loan contract between Pacifica & FJC was leaked on W26June2019, published with other documents on a public Facebook group, co-moderated & -administered at the time by Grace Aaron (she chaired her first public Pacifica National Board, PNB, meeting on Th9May this year). As an aside on the matter of info flow & speech advocacy, supposedly Pacifica values, my application to join that FB group, thereby acquiring the right to comment, has remained “pending” for three weeks now; two FB messages have gone unanswered, even unacknowledged; as context, this year just six people have joined. https://www.facebook.com/groups/PacificaRadiowaves/permalink/1264765520345396/[UPDATE: the remaining gatekeeper let me in M12Aug, as if I’d wandered up the same day – rather than almost 50 days before.]
Pacifica power is now even more concentrated because Grace Aaron became the executive director on the evening of F5July: yes, Maxie Jackson left his job that day, “resigning”, according to Aaron’s statement, ‘Executive Director Transition’, at the Th18July PNB (13:18, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3). Committee meetings M8 & Tu9July had quietly disclosed, without using his name, that he had been disappeared. The most contemptuous was from director Mansoor Sabbagh, a KPFK staff delegate, to the PNB Finance Cttee: “we have got rid of our Executive Director” (44:46, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/finance/190709/finance190709b.mp3; unbelievably, R Paul Martin, WBAI’s stalwart treasurer, didn’t seem to know that Maxie had gone). With Pacifica being Pyongyang, without word from The Dear Leader this must have been unrestrained hubris. Quite pathetic, really, coming from Pacifica’s Uriah Heep. Yes, all human life, & much more, is found in PacificaWorld.
Well, be that as it may. The Personnel Cttee’s ED evaluation had stitched Maxie up M1July; the next day’s private PNB gave him an offer he couldn’t refuse; & Ken ‘I-can’t-help-it-if-I-sound-like-an-associate-of-Jimmy-Hoffa’ Aaron did the rest.
And being Pacifica, for over two weeks, no public announcement of the dismissal. No press statement. No statement to staff. No statement to listeners. Nothing on the website, https://pacifica.org/ (except ‘Contact>Foundation’ had a change, “Interim Executive Director”, but then gave “Bill Crosier”, which was true upto 23Jan2018– still there as of F19July; no surprise, as the latest item in the ‘News’ section is dated 25Feb2015). And even now there’s no explanation. Contempt for listeners & staff alike. A complete lack of manners. Just milk them for cash. Last night’s words, or lack of them, an insult. The behaviour, cowardly. A board of directors, lacking in integrity. But what’s new?
Pacifica’s inability to cope with an ED determined to bring industry norms to the network, comes on top of all five Spring Fund-Drives failing, & cashflow becoming seriously more acute than usual in June. Unable to generate an annual net income since FY2006, & now with the added burden of the c. $300k annual FJC interest charge, Pacifica now finds itself descending into necro-economics: relying on rich corpses to offer up bequests.
Pacifica, through its actions, & inactions, is faced with declining & ageing listenership, declining membership, declining listener-fundraising, & grants cut off through lack of listeners & audited financial statements (the FY2017 auditor made things worse Th27June by refusing to declare that the statements were materially accurate, having no alternative given the acute lack of supporting financial records). To cap it all, the PNB majority has now driven out a moderniser & technician, ED Maxie Jackson. He was behaving in a completely, not just un-Pacifican, but anti-Pacifican way: trying to raise standards, trying to lay the basis for Pacifica to improve its competencies, structures, & processes in broadcasting, programming, community involvement, fundraising, bookkeeping & accounting, & governance.
This was never going to end well. Being told home truths, & pushing for best practices rather than the same-olde-same-olde, just ruffled too many feathers, just upset too many people. The whiff of NPR-lite. The ED simply didn’t understand Pacifica. The ED simply had to go.
So what’s the plan? “[The] Pacifica Foundation is in the process of hiring a highly qualified radio, television, & multimedia professional to hold the interim position of executive director. More information will be forthcoming. A formal search for a permanent executive director is already in progress” (‘Executive Director Transition’, Th18July PNB; 14:00, https://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb190718/pnb190718a.mp3). Sounds reasonable. The sort of thing a normal radio network would say. But what are the prospects?
Consider the evidence. There were seven ED’s 2004-2009; since then, with Aaron, there have been another nine. So 16 in 15 years. Maxie lasted nine months. How many other outsiders, since 2009, have lasted longer than Maxie? One: Arlene Engelhardt, 2009-2012. Pacifica is so toxic for outsiders that there were only two others amongst these nine: John Proffitt, five months; Tom Livingston, eight months. Maxie was the second-choice: Numero Uno, at the last minute, decided to tune in to a PNB livestream. He immediately withdrew his application. Today, as yesterday, which media professional will risk their career with Pacifica?
So much for the current goings-on. This blog, in an attempt to give context & coherence, will begin with posts of work written in 2018 & 2019, corrected to remove the few errors pointed out to me. They were kindly published by Chris Albertson, a former station manager of WBAI, at his longstanding blog, https://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/. Sadly Chris died in April this year, & his blog cannot be added to. He was a gentle man, kind, and decent. This blog is dedicated to him.
But first I post the materially objective quantitative starting point, the annual auditor’s reports, here those covering the period from 1Oct2004. (These don’t include the reports by the pensions’ auditor, which I have been unable to obtain.)
Readers are heartily invited to comment, of course, & it would be even better if you also submitted posts & shared ideas on what should be covered & discussed. Please email me at either firstname.lastname@example.org or, for end-to-end encryption, email@example.com.
For convenience, the main longer pieces I’ve written are downloadable as PDF’s here (I had sent them to all delegates of the five Local Station Boards on 16Nov2018): https://www.mediafire.com/#mr2t6dtdeknsd