Friday, May 24, 2013

Time to step on the brakes...

I picked up the following this morning. It comes from Mitchel Cohen and appears to be addressed to Pacifica's National Board. I often disagree with Mitchel, but we are basically on the same wavelength when it comes to the desperate need for efficient management. As the voices of disgust grow louder, his plea to the PNB adds new thought to this tangle of confusion and misdirection: 

The Pacifica National Board must NOT lay off any more staff at WBAI. We are down to a skeleton crew already. That's the wrong way to deal with the financial crunch, by imposing IMF-like austerity on WBAI.

The PNB and local management must PROVIDE LEADERSHIP, by mobilizing all staff and listeners to undertake the following campaigns for the next few months; if those don't work, then and only then should the massive cutbacks be brought to the table:

1) Expand the donor base / membership by 50 percent, within the next 3 months. This can be done. In fact Steve Brown and I proposed ways to do this for the last ten years, and no management has said "Yes, let's try it!"  I'm not going to go into the details here, the plan has been laid out in quite some detail many times previously.

An increase in membership to 22,000 is required at the current average annual donation rate for WBAI to approach sustainability.

Expanding the membership base should be WBAI's #1 priority. The PNB has a responsibility to develop plans for doing that, before it considers laying off staff members.

2) Negotiate a new agreement with the Empire State Building for a not-for-profit rate, that would cut our antenna expenses of $60K per month by at least 50 percent. Bring in supporters among the City Council. There are reasons why this is achievable at this time that I'm not going to go into here. If management doesn't know how to do that, then APPOINT SOMEONE COMPETENT to put together a team to map out that strategy.

3) HIRE a competent program director who will focus NOT on fundraising for now, but on improving programming.

4) Advertise & promote the station in many venues, not just on WBAI's airwaves.

5) Immediately implement Steve Brown's proposal for revamping premiums delivery. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are pledged in each drive that go uncollected. Let those who know how to structure this properly have authority to actually go out and collect those funds.

There are more points, but MY point is that the PNB and management need to provide leadership as organizers, and not act as austerity cops. All of these require mobilizing listeners and staff in organized teams.

I and others have offered to organize within that framework, but seeing these proposals allowed to wither on the vine every time by management on national and local levels, I must insist that for them to succeed would require support from management and staff -- support that has simply not been there.

The PNB has the obligation to provide leadership for the next 4 to 5 months and let us turn this around. Of course, if the PNB wants to lose WBAI altogether, keep on with these austerity measures instead of EXPANDING the outreach, and you'll doom WBAI. Come on, PNB, be the leaders and organizers you are, not austerity cops! We have the well-worked out plans, let us run with them!  —Mitchel Cohen

And if you need more evidence of Berhold Reimers' incompetence and neglect, there is this note from Mitchel, inspired by Amy Goodman's fundraising pitch this morning:

"Last year I attended Dr. Gabor Mate's sold-out and wonderful talk in Berkeley on behalf of KPFA. Afterwards, I spoke with him and he offered to do a benefit-talk for WBAI when he was in NYC. I relayed this information to management, and followed up with both Gabor and WBAI.

As has been so often the case, nothing was done.

Now I hear on WBAI that Amy Goodman is pitching premiums by Gabor Mate on behalf of the station -- great! But imagine how much more powerful it would have been to have integrated the premiums with a series of workshops and larger benefits led by Gabor, with funds going to WBAI." Mitchel Cohen

A Footnote:

Frank LeFevre, Berthold Reimers' vainglorious Apologist-in-Chief, has made a feeble attempt to excuse Reimers for ignoring this fundraising opportunity. There is, of course, no valid excuse forsuch chronic neglect of duty by the GM. With such people as Reimers and LeFevre intimately involved in the station's governance, it is not difficult to understand why WBAI now finds itself on the brink of obscurity. —Chris

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