Another “Promotion” For Valerie Van Isler
At a Paid Staff meeting held at WBAI on Monday, March 4, 2002, General Manager Valerie Van Isler and interim Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation Dan Coughlin announced that Ms. Van Isler would be “promoted” from her current position to an unnamed job with the Pacifica National Office. Rumor has it that Ms. Van Isler will become the National Program Director of the Pacifica Foundation.
In light of the above the following question must be asked: What the hell was the 13 months of strife at WBAI about?
We are reliably informed that Valerie Van Isler was originally told in June 2000, that her contract with the Pacifica Foundation would not be renewed. In November 2000, Bessie Wash, then Pacifica Executive Director, offered Ms. Van Isler a new job with Pacifica which would involve Ms. Van Isler leaving as WBAI's General Manager. Reportedly this job would have required that Ms. Van Isler travel to Washington, D.C. a couple of days a week. Ms. Van Isler rejected this idea and Ms. Wash told her that she could either take the “promotion” or take a severance package.
Van Isler instead rallied her factional supporters around her and started a campaign to retain her job. She was replaced as General Manager during the infamous Midnight Coup of December 22, 2000. Her replacement as General Manager was former producer/host of Talkback Utrice Leid, who immediately set about establishing her own faction at WBAI.
The overwhelming majority of Paid and Unpaid Staff at WBAI had wanted Van Isler to leave, but they soured on Leid's behavior quickly. Most people felt that Utrice Leid was unfair in her treatment of those Staff whom she fired and banned from WBAI.
For thirteen months WBAI Staff were subjected to abuse, threats and an atmosphere at WBAI that was worse than ever, until Pacifica Management, having squandered almost the entire treasury, agreed to a settlement of the lawsuits, which had been initiated by Carol Spooner in 1999. This changed the makeup of the Pacifica National Board and at their meeting on January 12, 2002, the interim Pacifica National Board reinstated Van Isler along with all of her faction.
And now Van Isler has been “promoted” to another fake job not unlike the one she had originally rejected and mobilized her faction over.
In an interview conducted at the March 2001, Pacifica National Board meeting in Houston, Texas, Van Isler, seemingly still perplexed at her rejection by her former cohorts in Pacifica Management, said, clutching the plaque given to her in 1998 by the thieves of the Pacifica National Board, “I did everything that was asked of me.”
Ms. Van Isler also oversaw the ultimately successful attempt to bust the Union at WBAI by removing the Unpaid Staff from it.
Those who fought so hard to return Ms. Van Isler to WBAI claim they did so for the principle of fighting the Pacifica Management hijackers. In fact the leadership of this faction, which commanded a lot of prime air time on WBAI, never spoke out against those hijackers until November 30, 2000. They were silent when KPFK was dismantled and Staff were purged, They were silent about the lockout and physical destruction inflicted on KPFA. They also, in the words of Ms. Van Isler, “did everything that was asked of” them.
In the end, the Midnight Coup was probably the best thing that could have happened to Valerie Van Isler. Had she not been removed in December 2000, she would most likely have been removed a year later as the other General Managers who had supported the Pacifica Management hijackers were after the lawsuit settlement. Ironically, Van Isler, who had been asked by the Staff to leave in 1998, and who did the bidding of the now deposed Pacifica Management was returned to WBAI and is now to be a Pacifica Management presence. Clearly, for WBAI and Pacifica the suffering is not over.
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