Saturday, November 17, 2007



As the votes are being counted, Pacifica Radio's WBAI, FM 99.5, continues to function in a state of crisis. There is focus this past week on just how the election of a new Local Station Board pans out, in what can only be described as a crucial tally on the future of New York's alternative radio outlet. The station's recent Fall fund raising drive fell short of the targeted 1 million dollar goal, by more than 200 thousand dollars.

While staff salary cuts, even layoffs, are being discussed, the man in the center of it all, Program Director Bernard White, seems aloof, even unfazed, by the turmoil swirling in his midst and, for good reason. A favorable article in the current issue of the New York Amsterdam News openly sided with the Local Station Board faction that dominates that body and, thus, supports White's governance of the station.

The Amsterdam News and, members of the Justice and Unity Coalition (J-U-C), have painted the monetary and programming crisis at the station as, an internal struggle between the Black and White political Left. Yet, as the station's chief rival, WNYC radio, surges in both listeners and subscription base, WBAI remains mired in an ever deepening hole that currently stands at an audience level of under 200 thousand listeners and, an Arbitron rating of under 0.3.

Even the election for Local Station Board members has come under fire, as nearly 2000 thousand ballots failed to reach subscribers last week for the crucial vote that was set for November 16th. As questions arise about the viability of the current election simmer, so, too, does an under-current of a power struggle largely not seen by the public. Current Interim General Manager, Robert Scott Adams, has been stymied in making long overdue changes at the station since coming on board exactly one year ago.

In addition, he was recently snared in a sexual harassment charge and suit, by a female staff member, that became public in a scathing New York Post article on November 7th. Adams maintains his innocence but, his power and governance at the Pacifica station has been truncated. He has been forced to concede even further influence to the Program Director on several levels. One key and, recent decision, was to turn over control of the station's Premium Division to J-U-C friendly employees and cronies. That led to the resignation of a long time, and popular, employee named Paul Ashby.

Staff members view this transition as nothing short of the fox being in charge of the Chicken coop. At press time what is clear is that members of the J-U-C maintain even more control of the day-to-day operations of the station and now, control the purse strings, with supervision of the Premium Division. Paid Staff positions are in jeopardy, while the Program Director, whose very governance has placed the station in its current state, will remain in place. At least for now.

Results of the Local Station Board election, the fate of an embattled General Manager and, whether there will be salary reductions or even employee cut-backs, will not be known until after the Thanksgiving holidays. For now, the rest of the staff and, long time supporters of the station who know the inner workings there, can only hold their collective breath.


Anonymous said...

WBAI is bankrupt. Dan Siegel and Casey Peters of the Pacifica National Board are corrupt. Dan Siegel has been temporarily placed on the national board for one month to allow the WBAI, Justice and Unity corruption to continue.

Dred-Scott Keyes said...

This is Dred-Scott Keyes. Please remove my picture from this article immediately or face legal action!!!