Ronda Hauben on 27 Dec 2000 03:31:26 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Pacifica lockout of WBAI staffers

I received this notice about a lockout of senior staffers at WBAI from
another mailing list I am on and thought those on nettime would be 
interested in knowing of these developments.



>Date: Wed, 27 Dec 2000 01:06:59 -0000
>Subject: [J4Team] Pacifica's hypocrisy against Democracy Now!


Lockout at WBAI: Pacifica management fires senior s taff, changes=20
locks at New York station

Pacifica management fires senior staff, changes locks at New York=20

December 26, 2000

The national management of Pacifica Radio has fired several long-time
staffers at WBAI, the New York City community radio station that is=20
home to the award-winning show "Democracy Now!": program director=20

Bernard White, producer Sharan Harper, and station manager Valerie
Van Isler (see "Pacifica Management Move to Undermine WBAI's=20
Independence," ).

Accompanied by security guards, Pacifica executive director Bessie=20
Wash arrived at WBAI late at night on Friday, December 23, and
the locks both to the station and to individual offices. WBAI staff--=20
including "Democracy Now!"'s Amy Goodman--=A0 are now being admitted
the building only on a "controlled entry" basis until further notice.=20
White and Harper have been threatened with arrest should they attempt=20
to enter the building.

Pacifica has appointed WBAI afternoon talk show host Utrice Leid as=20
acting station manager. Last week, WBAI news director Jose Santiago=20
turned down the job, saying he had been falsely assured by management=20
that Van Isler was resigning voluntarily. Since the lockout, Leid has=20
asserted on air that the crisis is simply an internal personnel=20
dispute. Given Pacifica management's recent embrace of arbitrary=20
firings and other autocratic management techniques, this is at best=20
hard to believe.

The current crisis is reminiscent of last year's lockout at KPFA in
Berkeley, which also came on the heels of a number of politically=20
motivated firings. That lockout brought thousands of Berkeley=20
listeners out into the streets to protest Pacifica management's=20
actions and demand greater accountability to the community, in
with the progressive core values laid out by Pacifica founder Lew=20

Over the last year and a half, Pacifica's management has increasingly
orchestrated censorship-- including of FAIR's own radio show,=20
CounterSpin--retaliatory personnel moves and the disenfranchisement
listeners and local advisory boards in order to impose its often=20
regressive decisions on the network. FAIR had feared that Pacifica's=20
recent moves against "Democracy Now!" (see=20 ) were an
indication that the network was preparing an attempt to break the
independence of WBAI, one of the cornerstones of the progressive=20
community. The holiday firings and lockout have more than confirmed=20
those fears.

When FAIR asked for help in supporting "Democracy Now!" against=20
harassment from Pacifica management this October, members of our
list responded passionately and swiftly, writing over 1,300 letters
Pacifica in just over four days, and organizing demonstrations across=20
the country.

Since then, listener meetings and demonstrations have been ongoing,=20
and early signs are that listeners are responding to this latest=20
crisis with just as much energy. Despite the organizing difficulties=20
presented by the holiday season and below-freezing temperatures,=20
listeners have already begun to take action in New York City. Several=20
dozen people held a vigil outside WBAI's Manhattan studios on the=20
night of the lockout, and hundreds attended a demonstration outside=20
the building on Saturday the 23rd. Daily protests are planned outside=20
the station from four to six pm, beginning Tuesday,
December 26.

1. The group Concerned Friends of WBAI is urging New York City=20
listeners to attend a community planning meeting this Wednesday,=20
December 27, 6:30 pm at SEIU Local 32 B-J, 101 Sixth Avenue. For more=20
information, see: .

Concerned listeners in other cities should check the Save Pacifica=20
website for updates and for links to local listener groups that may
organizing in their area: .

2. Please call or write to Pacifica and let them know that you
support the locked out WBAI staffers. Urge the network to reinstate=20
Valerie Van Isler, Bernard White and Sharan Harper, and to cease=20
harassment of WBAI employees.

Bessie Wash, Pacifica executive director
Phone: 888-770-4944 x348 (toll free)
Post: The Pacifica Foundation
2390 Champlain St.


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