Letter From Paul DiRienzo to the Pacifica National Board

Date: Wed, 24 Feb 1999 11:31:04
To: mfberry@sas.upenn.edu
From: Paul DeRienzo <pdr@echonyc.com>
Cc: wlucy@igc.org, rosschre@aol.com, fmillspa@aol.com, acdarius@aol.com,
robrobin@erols.com, PRBRAM@aol.com,  rfarrell@kamber.com, harav1@aol.com,
byaley@aol.com,junemakela@aol.com, kford@nahb.com, mpalmer@cbrichardellis.com

Dear Pacifica National Board,

I have a long history at WBAI and Pacifica radio as a reporter, show host, engineer, just about any job you can imagine. I've acted as a volunteer, but most of the time I was paid for my work. Therefore I have something to lose in annoying my bosses, but the crisis now facing Pacifica is to important to be bypassed because of any misdirected impulse to not rock the boat. We must not run into the arms of the state, even if some of us admire and respect the current administration. Who is to say that the Democrats will be in power in two years and I doubt if any federal agencies under the leadership of George W. Bush will be as friendly as the CPB has been up to now. We might as well make our stand now before another Bob Dole gets up on the Senate or House floor to denounce us for broadcasting the words of a Mumia Abu Jamal or a Leonard Peltier.

Even if the Democrats were re-elected I still would not support allowing the federal government to pressure us into changing the way Pacifica does business . Pacifica was set up by a pacificst who decided not to serve in the military during a popular war. He forshadowed the Hollywood blacklists and the other horrors of the McCarthy era where those found disloyal were barred from being able to make a living. We should not be lulled into a false sense of security that the bad old days are over and will never be repeated. I have no such illusion, I know that a radical political perspective, a perspective that flies in the face of the "silent majority," those "good Germans" who will support some horrific war for reasons of patriotism, such radicalism will never be rewarded, it will always be punished. We should cast away our illusions that the Bill Clintons or Al Gores of the world  will save us, THEY WILL NOT, ultimately they will only persecute and prosecute us.

Pacifica's independence is its strength. It's ability to buck the trend and to be different is all this network has got going for it.. Don't let the bean counters tell you that we have "so many millions of dollars in capital," or our arbitrons should be much higher-- bullshit--  arbitron shares a prefix with the word arbitrary because such a measure of listenership  is always a matter of who we want to be listening. I'd rather our listeners be those who tune in to Amy Goodman or Dennis Bernstein then a poorly produced knockoff of "Prairie Home Companion."

I recognize that the next question is, how do we replace CPB monies that might be lost due to Pacifica's following a path of independence?  We are not making enough creative use of our resources in order to earn more funding from more listeners. The internet, the Pacifica archives, the energy and devotion of those mass of listeners who cannot afford a $150 premium must be harnessed. Unfortunately it seems we want to increase the number of wealthy and middle class listeners at the expense of the grassroots. Such a decision by this august body at this meeting  will be a disaster for the progressive community in this country. What the Christian -Right couldn't do will done by well meaning liberals and this great bequest, Pacifica, will be lost forever.

In closing let me inform you that I have a grievance currently through my union, the United Electrical workers against WBAI. It's unfortunate that after a decade of intense activity for Pacifica my job would come under attack by people who have failed at every turn to provide real leadership for such an important flagship as WBAI. I would not be in this situation of battling an institution I have dedicated a huge part of my life towards if Pacifica had the mindset of grooming and developing its own potential. How I've been treated is a direct reflection of the thinking that's led Pacifica to this precipice. A loyal and respected workforce will save money over a bunch of temps and per diems, but it seems management is all about looking good on the budget books today no matter what the costs to the future. Lets not continue to make these kind of mistakes, the future is in your hands.


WBAI Paid & Unpaid Staff Demonstrate!

R. Paul Martin (Chief Steward) rpm@glib.com
Christy Costello (Union Representative)

 P r e s s  R e l e a s e

 For immediate release

 Picket Line Outside WBAI-FM
 Wednesday, February 24, from 12 to 2 PM
 120 Wall St.

Demonstration to Protest Theft of Pacifica Foundation

 On Wednesday February 24, 1999, starting at noon, Paid and Unpaid Staff
from WBAI-FM, joined by listeners to the station and other supporters,
will stage a demonstration picket line outside 120 Wall St., site of the
progressive radio station's offices and studios.

 The demonstration will be to protest the planned changes in the bylaws of
the Pacifica Foundation, owner of WBAI and four other radio stations
around the United States, which would remove community participation in
the governance of the Pacifica Foundation and create a self selecting
Governance Board which would be answerable to no one.

 The new Governance Board created by this bylaws change would remove
representatives from the Local Advisory Boards (LAB) of the five
Pacifica owned stations leaving only "At-Large" members who would have
unlimited terms of office and who would then operate as a central
committee which would own the Pacifica Foundation and its assets, which
may total $300 million or more.

 Among concerns are that the new Governance Board would sell WBAI, for
which the Pacifica Foundation was offered $90 million in 1996, leaving New
York City without its premiere community radio station.  There is also
concern that the Board would change Pacifica into a carbon copy of the
corporate, homogenous radio networks which Pacifica was originally founded
to serve as an alternative to; such an abandonment of Pacifica's mission
would deny coverage of local community interests, as well as remove
community participation in the broadcast content of the five Pacifica
owned radio stations.

 Dr. Mary Frances Berry, Chair of the Pacifica Foundation, claims that
these changes are necessary for the retention of Corporation for Public
Broadcasting (CPB) funds.  However, this is not the case.  The CPB does
not require the abandonment of true community participation which the
bylaws change would affect.  The bylaws change is seen as a naked power
grab aimed at concentrating the ownership of the Pacifica Foundation in
the hands of a very few people, some of whom are from areas where they
can't even hear a Pacifica station, and many of whom have never helped
build the Pacifica Foundation over its 50 years of existence.

 The Pacifica Governance Board meeting will take on February 26 - 28, in
Berkeley, CA.

 Designated Union spokespersons will be available to the press during this

WBAI Advisory Board Meeting Feb 23

Date sent:       Wed, 24 Feb 1999 00:15:01 -0800
From:            Frank Lusardi <FLusardi@panix.com>
To:              freepacifica <freepacifica@penguin.josephson.com>
Subject:         WBAI LAB Resolution
Send reply to:   freepacifica@penguin.josephson.com

The WBAI LAB tonight passed a resolution calling upon it's two representatives to the National Board, Frank
Millspaugh and Andrea Cisco, to vote to table the current amendment to the Pacifica by-laws. The
vote was a voice vote and appeared to be unanimous.

The meeting was attended by the board, one or two station staff, and three members of S.O.S. All attendees were
given CounterPunch, The San Francisco Bay Guardian article and editorial, and several fliers.
Following are scribbled notes taken at the meeting. Almost everyone is identified by first name, because, well, it's late
and I'm a wee weary.

Frank Millspaugh reported that CPB funds go to supporting "Democracy Now" and Pacifica's national news.

Millspaugh reported that a consideration to simply have the LAB members resign from the National Board was not
feasible because that might be construed as a "change of ownership" in "FCC eyes" and would probably
require public hearings. He reported that a consideration for direct election of board members would "not be offered".
He said that the resolution to be voted on this weekend was in the "Board Booklet" and therefore complied with the
requirement for "prior notification", but would probably be "tabled for further research."

Millspaugh said that the National Board had been "taken aback" by the CPB interpretation, since Pacifica "had been
doing it this way for 20 years." He also reported that at a recent "Council of Chairs" Mary Berry had
stated that the National Board "should move ahead with dispatch" on the current by-laws amendment. He stated that
Berry has been "inundated" with calls and messages about the coming meeting.

Board member Andy said that the present concern over the CPB funding was a "red herring" and that "there is no
danger of losing CPB funding".

Millspaugh said of the impending vote: "I will be surprised if it moves to completion this weekend."

Board member Marian said: "It's very clear to me that there is an attempted coup taking place." She said it was
important to know who was on the National Board, stating: "I want to know who they are, who they represent."

Valerie Van Isler stated that WBAI received nearly $500,000 a year from the CPB and that two thirds of that money
goes to staff, providing employment for 10 people. She said that one third of the CPB money goes to
national news. She said that "should we lose that funding, we would be wide open to the Christian Right", open to the
station being sold. Van Isler stated confidently that the present concern about CPB funding was
"not a red herring".

Union member Sybil pointed out that there are strings attached to CPB funding. She stated that "Democracy Now" had
been warned not to do any anti-Clinton programming.

Board member Anne noted that she had received a "heck of a lot more" information about Pacifica reading the
CounterPunch article than she had in her 3 years as an LAB member.

S.O.S. member Patty asked (to put it mildly) why there was no demand for public elections, wondering why that
seemed so "outrageous" to an organization as "radical" as Pacifica.

Board member Hank expressed grave indignation at the fact that one of the fliers that he had been handed was not
"signed". Since the flier's source had handed the same flier to Frank Millspaugh with the comment that the
flier "calls for your head" it was quite clear to everyone present from whom the fliers came. The occasional board
member is, perhaps, less than observant.

- Frank


A tear in the gag - WBAI workers break the gag rule to mobilize the community

Date sent:       Wed, 24 Feb 1999 10:20:55 -0500
From:            Frank Lusardi <flusardi@panix.com>
To:              Free Pacifica <freepacifica@penguin.josephson.com>
Subject:         A tear in the gag
Send reply to:   freepacifica@penguin.josephson.com

Today, on WBAI's Morning Show, host Bernard White read Mary Berry's fax number and urged listeners to contact her.
Weather reporter Janice Bryant urged listeners to address "miscreants who want to do us ill." News reporter Robert
Knight urged listeners to express to Berry whether they wanted WBAI to be peoples' radio or "state radio".

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