jr273 (at) outfm.org
WBAI is in a most perilous period. Repeated delay in premium delivery through the decades has contributed to ever-lengthening pledge drives with diminishing returns. I want to be part of helping guide the station through to safety.
I've been a producer with Out-FM, the progressive LGBTQ show, and Health Action since 2002, and a staff rep on the Local Station Board for over three years.
When I joined the board in 2013, I hoped some disagreements would be worked through, but found that the dominant group insisted on both micromanaging and blocking progress. Conflict persisted, problems remained unsolved. Many progressives looked on in horror -- looked away -- and finally, in significant numbers, tuned away.
But another board group – the minority until recently-- has tried to meet by-laws-mandated responsibilities, including annual evaluation of the General Manager, not actually done for this GM since his hire in 2010. A motion by a minority finally got through in late 2014 creating a GM Evaluation Committee of which I became chair; results of detailed surveys of staff and LSB, interviews of department heads, and the GM's self-evaluation have already been submitted to the LSB. If re-elected, I'll push the board to do timely annual evaluations of the GM and the Program Director.
Since January when the 2015 Local Station Board election results created a 12-12 tie, the former majority has boycotted every monthly meeting. They allege bylaws violations in the earlier replacement of a term-limited member -- a claim rejected by the Pacifica National Board.
This LSB "quorum attack" by half of the board’s 24 members is paired with a local lawsuit by some of them, including multi-millionaire junk mail marketer, Steve Brown, over the board seating. Their California allies have also sued Pacifica over board composition. These lawsuits drain WBAI’s and Pacifica’s already depleted coffers, diverting money desperately needed for things like annual audits, key to restoring our CPB grant and fulfilling premiums.
This abdication of care by the former board majority -- including several staff representatives -- has brought the station to its current desperate state.
I will work to remove LSB members who evade their duties for extended periods. We need a functional LSB with members who show up, willing to work.
On another point, selling or swapping our frequency is the last thing we should do. WBAI’s legendary progressive programming has benefitted from our strong signal with a wide reach. That location should never be sacrificed for short-term economic expediency.
Some board members are now working with management to implement a "pay as you go" plan to jumpstart off-air fundraising. As capacity expands, we need to use tried-and-true methods like annual fundraising award dinners. But mechanical financial fixes are not enough - we also need good relationships with the communities we are intended to serve.
I urge you to also vote for Vajra Kilgour, who has a solid track record of board service, standing up for producers' interests and for keeping BAI alive.
I welcome your ideas.
vajra.wbai (at) gmail.com
I’m a longtime housing activist and the associate producer of Housing Notebook. After serving in the 2000’s, I’ve been back on the Local Station Board since December, when another staff member was term-limited. The bylaws mandate the use of the runner-up list from the last election to fill vacancies. The group that had been in power for the previous seven-plus years, and has led the station to near-collapse, could apparently not countenance having to share power when my addition to the board - followed by the 2015 election results - created an even split. So they have chosen to boycott all 2016 LSB meetings to prevent a quorum and jam up station business.
The boycotters include staff representatives Reggie Johnson, R. Paul Martin, and Shawn Rhodes. In addition, some members of this group have brought a spurious, contradictory, time- and money-wasting lawsuit against the PNB’s agreement on compliance with the bylaws on term inheritance, and also against other decisions the plaintiffs originally supported or benefited from.
The boycott has certainly prevented some business from being done, and has caused a drastic reduction in WBAI’s representation on the Pacifica National Board at a time when WBAI’s future - which is becoming ever more precarious - is being debated there. Nevertheless, with a harmonious and hardworking group at meetings, and availing ourselves of a provision in Robert’s Rules of Order that permits a board to conduct business where there is an emergency, several initiatives that the former board majority had stymied for years - particularly the implementation of a far-reaching fundraising plan they had refused even to submit to the PNB as required - are starting to move forward.
I have been serving as board secretary and have been faithfully keeping the minutes up-to-date.
Bickering over controlling the direction of the station must cease, and we must all pull together to reverse WBAI’s dire financial situation - or we may soon have nothing left to fight over. We must also be vigilant about preventing anyone from attempting to sell or swap our signal, and be very wary of people who mis-attribute their own suggestions to do so.
And to be clear, while selling a signal requires a membership vote, that vote is not local. It would be a network-wide vote where multi-year internet-based and on-air targeting of management has created so negative an atmosphere that there are people willing to shut down our station.
Producers deserve support, training, opportunities to collaborate, and processes for preemptions and program changes and cancellations. A constructive LSB can use the bylaws to require accountability. Choose representatives for whom posturing and puffery are not more important than productivity.
John Riley, of "Out-FM," is also running as a staff candidate. John has been dedicated and tireless in his service - especially in bringing a long-overdue evaluation of the General Manager to a conclusion and is deeply knowledgeable about radio in general and WBAI in particular. Please rank us high on your ballot!