WBAI STRUGGLE – Sept. 2017

From the WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign

1. Our Hero: Elombe Brath Street Co-Naming

2. Station Update: Events, Fund Drive & Empire State Bldg. Lawsuit

3. Local Station Board Meeting: 7PM, Wed. 10/11. Maybe.  

4. Lynne Stewart Birthday Commemoration (Oct. 6) & Other Community Events


1.  Sat. 9/30, 11am-3pm: Naming a Harlem Thoroughfare “Elombe Brath Way”

The southwest corner of W. 125 Street and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., Blvd will be co-named “Elombe Brath Way” in honor of the remarkable man who lived and worked among and for us. Baba Elombe Brath, affectionately known as the “walking encyclopedia,” became an ancestor 3 years ago but will forever be in our hearts and minds, and at “125th Street & 7th Avenue” where much of Harlem’s legendary history occurred.

11am-1pm: On the street at W. 125th Street & AC Powell, Jr. Blvd., Harlem;

1pm-3pm:  AC Powell, Jr. State Office Bldg., 163 W. 125th Street, 2nd floor Art Gallery (In the event of rain, we’ll gather at the Art Gallery at 11:30am.)

2. Station Update

  • Special Events

Uptown Hall: Movement Required Sat. 9/30, 4pm

Imhotep Gary Byrd, Graham Witherspoon, Iesha Sekou, and others at the Apollo Theatre, 253 W. 125 St., btw. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., & Frederick Douglass Blvds., Harlem 10027 FREE; reservations suggested.

More: https://is.gd/q94wBi

Resistance Raffle Wed. 10/4, 6-9pm

James Irsay hosts and Tony Ryan provides the beat for an evening of food, fun, music, and chance at The Commons, 388 Atlantic Ave., btw. Hoyt & Bond Sts., BK 11217  Admission $20. More: https://is.gd/4uscng

  • Fund Drive

The Fall Fund Drive begins on Mon., Oct. 2. You can help shorten the on-air fund drive by giving now via the red thermometer at www.wbai.org

How to donate:

Online: give2wbai.org   Text: “transmit995” to 41444   Call: 516-620-3602

  • Empire State Building Antenna Lawsuit


On Thurs., Oct. 4, the case against WBAI brought by the Empire State Building management, Empire State Realty Trust (ESRT), will be back in court. In 2005, 4 years after the World Trade Center was destroyed and area broadcasters lost that transmitter location, the owners of the Empire State Building made what our longtime lawyer describes as a “take-it-or-leave-it” renewal “offer” containing a base rent and regular increases at a rate considerably higher than the previous lease-license.

In 2014, a year after the layoff of 75% of WBAI paid staff, WBAI’s General Manager advised ESRT that rather the $48,000/mth required under the lease, the station could only pay $12,000. (That amount matches an offer WBAI received from another vendor of broadcast transmitter space.) ESRT accepted that lower amount but in late 2016 turned around and sued us for the accumulated excess with demands for payments due to the end of the 2020 lease period, suggesting that we sell our prime center-dial location and move down to a spot with reduced listening range. To see letters of support and commentary, visit www.wbai.org/articles.php?article=3468. For firsthand information, i.e. the actual case filings, use this link to the court’s website: http://iapps.courts.state.ny.us/iscroll/SQLData.jsp?IndexNo=656145-2016&Submit2=Search

In March, before presenting a draft to the PNB but not before running it past his allies, including some not on any Pacifica governing board, the interim Executive Director of Pacifica, Bill Crosier, promised the California Attorney General (Pacifica is incorporated in California) that selling WBAI or swapping our license were among the things he would consider. He said the same of WPFW (Washington, D.C.) but not of his Houston home station, KPFT (where he’s created another big mess).

Now it seems from their court filings that the ESRT wants to call him on those promises.

Contrary to Crosier (https://is.gd/vr7MDr) and some other high-profile people (https://is.gd/coT8Y0), Justice & Unity OPPOSES THE SALE OR SWAP of WBAI’s 99.5FM dial position: https://is.gd/3Ev8qw.

Pacifica National Board Operation (from PNB Member Cerene Roberts)

Ahead of the closed session of the Pacifica National Board on Thurs., Sept. 28, Crosier has published a letter asking those who object to his board majority’s purge of two national board members to go along with the pretense that all is well. (That case is being litigated in California.)

They’ve arbitrarily called and arbitrarily cancelled several meetings since March but now wish to use the immediacy of the court appearance to silence those who object to the majority’s sustained abuse and systemic violation of the bylaws and good sense.

In his extended whine about the board meeting, Crosier fails to reference the chair’s inadequate knowledge of Robert’s Rules, his aggressive partisanship despite the requirement that a chair be impartial, or his habit of giving a minority member the floor / permission to speak, interrupting to take it back, and often attempting a censure. Nor is there any mention of the board secretary’s tendency to reframe or paraphrase rather than quote motions – as if wording were incidental – or his assuming rather than recording members’ votes, and his making up reports-out.

A competent chair would accept a member’s notice of a violation or allow a challenge to the chair’s ruling and move on, as was done throughout 2016, instead of ego-tripping and wasting meeting time berating members for daring to object to injustice, or muting them while using a conference call system in a manner that violates the Pacifica Bylaws.

Our foundation is in very deep trouble and effective solutions should involve the full board. Information should be equally and timely distributed. That has not been the case here. Because the national board is the ultimate governance authority within the foundation, no director should be excluded from its committee meetings regardless of their voting status on those subsidiary bodies.

Even the U.S. Congress can manage to do this but in Pacifica, exclusionary politics is the rule. It is killing us.

In spite of his public calls for “everyone” to come together to “save the station and network,” Crosier and his cronies have ignored requests for information necessary for some of that work. They have shunned and isolated people who have made significant contributions in attracting financial and human resources to WBAI while they simultaneously attempt to co-opt hand-picked others.

3.  Local Station Board Meeting: Wed. 10/11/17, 7pm

We may have a board meeting on Oct. 11, 2017, as second Wednesdays are the board’s regular meeting date, but we can’t be sure because the chair has blown off several meetings this year. The majority, the folks who oversaw the downward spiral since 2008 and did the disappearing act in 2016, seem content to meet occasionally, not apparently feeling any urgency about the station’s multiple predicaments.

Stay tuned for updates.

 4. Some Other Community Events

  • Sat. 9/30 (& 10/1), 8am-6pm: CEMOTAP’s Media Warrior Conference How To Be An Internet Warrior: Learn how to write a press release, stream events on your cell, get the word out, publish your own book, make simple computer repairs, build a computer for under $100. FREE. Info: 347-907-0629. Sat. in Queens, Sun. in Harlem.

Sat. CEMOTAP HQ: 135-05 Rockaway Blvd. Ozone Park 11420

Sun. BEPAA: CLARKE HOUSE, 286 Convent Ave @ 141 St., 10031

  • Sat. 9/30, 4pm: Meet Released Political Prisoner Rev. Edward Pinkney, whom Mumia called “the kind of preacher that Martin Luther King Jr. would have admired. Rather than build a mansion and live like a prince, Pinkney has, for years, advocated for his community, fighting for water rights, fair elections, and social justice for the people of Benton Harbor, Mich.” The Solidarity Center, 147 W. 24 St., btw. 6th&7th Aves. 10011. RSVP to iacenter at iacenter.org
  • Fri. 10/6, 6:30-10pm: Because We Remember …

A celebration of Lynne Stewart on her birthday. By Flavia Fontes: Lynne Stewart Documentary; singers & poets; and panels: “What is a Political Prisoner?” and “Getting Our Political Prisoners On the National Agenda” Donation: $5~$10, no one turned away. Theater 80, 80 St. Mark’s Place, btw. 1st & 2nd Aves., Lower Eastside 10003    http://lynnestewart.org

WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign 

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(212) 591-2111 

Inclusion on all sides of the microphone…