SPRING COUP AT WBAI - PACIFICA ORDERS CHANGE OF LOCKS AT WBAI TRANSMITTER
The following was circulated by WBAI's General Manager, Tony Riddle, late last night, to the WBAI staff and the Pacifica National Board and its Chair, Grace Aaron (who is based in Los Angeles). In the absence of a permanent Executive Director, Aaron doubles as Interim Executive Director of the Pacifica Foundation, which holds the license for WBAI and four other stations. The opening sentence of Mr. Riddle's email is: "It has been brought to my attention that you have issued an order today to change the locks on the WBAI transmitter room in the Empire State Building tomorrow." We are urgently attempting to learn more about the situation.
This is extremely serious -- it allows the new national controllers of Pacifica to directly program the station from any location at any time. We remember vividly that during the 1999 Pacifica coup at sister station KPFA in Berkeley, programming was remotely piped in from Houston.
Also ominous is that this new step comes just three weeks after the Pacifica National Board rejected a motion by Nia Bediako, Justice & Unity's sole representative on that board, to publicly discuss Aaron's idea of putting WBAI into "internal receivership"--i.e., a National Office takeover of the station's managerial control and programming. Note that Nia's motion was to discuss the "receivership" idea itself, not legal advice about it, as Aaron claimed in urging it to be kept secret. Also, note that the other three National Board members from WBAI - listeners Carolyn Birden & Jamie Ross and staff member Kathy Davis - voted to maintain secrecy. (Birden later called receivership "one of several options being considered" and "one of several possible solutions to WBAI's problems.")
We must fight back! Send an email to the Pacifica National Board at email@example.com -- which reaches each board member individually, including Grace Aaron. Please send a cc to firstname.lastname@example.org. Demand that WBAI's autonomy and local control of programming be maintained and protected!
We will be back in touch soon with follow-up info on next steps in the fight-back. For updates, call the Justice & Unity Hotline at 212-591-2111. To join the Justice & Unity update list, email email@example.com.
In the meantime, the station is in the midst of a (previously planned) 3-day emergency fund drive (today, Fri. & Sat.), to help deal with its financial crisis. Please donate generously and volunteer to answer phones. To donate or to put your name on the list to get into the building, call 212-209-2950. You can also donate via PayPal at www.wbai.org.
To: WBAI Staff Notices <WBAIStaffNotices@yahoogroups.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org
To: Grace Aaron, IED Pacifica
Fr: Anthony Riddle, GM WBAI
Re: Order To Change Locks on WBAI Transmitter
Da: April 1, 2009
It has been brought to my attention that you have issued an order today to change the locks on the WBAI transmitter room in the Empire State Building tomorrow. I have several questions that deserve honest answers:
1) What is the purpose of this action?
2) Why was I, the General Manager, not told?
3) Why was our engineer, who is responsible for keeping us on the air, not involved or given access?
4) What is the purpose of making such a change without any notification?
5) Is there an intention to change control of WBAI's air in any way?
Our listeners, supporters and staff deserve to know exactly the truth as to what is going on.
Furthermore, any changes in operation of this unit should be following a transparent and obvious process. If this action has followed such a process, then I ask that you lay it out plain for us all, now.
Thank you for your response.
Click HERE to Download memo from WBAI General Manager Anthony Riddle