This letter was sent to The Nation regarding a very inaccurate article they published about the current Pacifica crisis.

UE Local 404 letterhead

May 8, 2000

The Editors
The Nation
33 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Dear Editors:

Once again The Nation shows its bias in favor of Pacifica Management, this time with it's article "What's Going On at Pacifica?" by John Dinges. This article could have been written by the public relations firm Pacifica Management hired for a time last year. Actually, maybe it was written by them.

Dinges gets so much so wrong in his article that it's hard to believe that he spoke to anyone who wasn't spouting Pacifica Management's line. But maybe that's what passes for reporting at NPR and The Nation these days.

The lockout at WBAI occurred in 1977, not 1976. WBAI Staff weren't rebelling "against the Pacifica board's attempt to remove some programs," they were resisting an attempt by a new Program Director to turn WBAI from a station concerned with issues to a music station. Dinges' claim that producers barricaded themselves in a control room for six weeks is absurd on its face. Didn't he wonder how people ate and went to the bathroom if they were barricaded in one room?

The reality is that there was never any barricading at WBAI. During the entire crisis people could enter and leave the station at will, even some Local Board members regularly came to the station. The Staff of WBAI stayed in the station from February 11, 1977, until they were evicted or arrested by police on March 11, 1977. It was the WBAI Local Board of 1977, that locked out the Staff and shut down the station until April 1, 1977. The Staff was never consulted about, nor did the Staff ever debate, selling the frequency.

When speaking of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's (CPB) dictate disenfranchising Local Boards, Mr. Dinges doesn't mention that this action was a result of outgoing Pacifica Executive Director, and CPB insider, Pat Scott's letter to them asking that they do exactly that. However, Mr. Dinges ignores the fact that the CPB's own Inspector General found that the Pacifica National Board had been in violation of CPB rules for years by closing their meetings to the public and refusing to even allow anyone outside their inner circle to see the minutes of those meetings. The CPB ignored its own Inspector General's reports, but acted on Scott's letter within days.

Pacifica Management seems to quote Arbitron ratings as suits their mood. We've been given Arbitron ratings for WBAI which are about 20,000 higher than the numbers quoted at the February Pacifica National Board meeting. Whether or not you think that the Arbitrons are an appropriate measure of the impact of community radio, alternative radio, certainly there shouldn't be a shell game played with them.

The Pacifica National Board hasn't done anything constructive for Pacifica stations in years. It should stop trying to bust the stations' Unions and realize that progressive radio is not simply a numbers game.

———————————————————————— In solidarity,


R. Paul Martin
Chief Steward
WBAI/UE Local 404

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