Wednesday, September 3, 2014

WBAI: A look at Fiscal Year 2013

Here, ready for downloading, prepared by Pacifica CFO Raul Salvador, is the financial breakdown covering the Fiscal Year: October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013. It tends to blanch somewhat the rosiness of Mitchel Cohen's BR-issue glasses. Indeed, in his role as spokesman for the Atlantic Avenue Optimists Club, Mitchel's chronic state of denial almost went into overtime. Here's how he sees it, as posted by him on Nalini's PacificaRadiowaves list:

The WBAI LSB Finance Committee will be reviewing this tonight (Wednesday). All are welcome to attend.

Please note that the document compares what had been budgeted to the "actual" figures for that year, which included Hurricane Sandy and the move-out from Wall Street. According to the document, WBAI's total income was 3/4-of-a-million dollars less than the budgetary expectations. 

When one looks at the breakdown, there are some questionable, large deficits that need to be examined, especially: 

Listener Support --less by $189K
Website Income -- less by $111,000, BUT there is zero website income -- including BAI Buddies -- recorded in that category, so something is awry there in the way this is recorded
Crafts Fair Income -- off by $161,000. WBAI hasn't had a craft's fair in, what, 15 years? I think David Rothenberg's theater ticket premiums used be mis-applied under this category
Grants Income -- off by $119,000. Does this mean that the predictions made in the budget for Grants were over-estimated, and if so, why?

Does this include the national one-day fundraiser following hurricane Sandy, which we were told netted around $200,000 for WBAI? (I don't see where that is indicated.)

Meanwhile Salaries and Related Expenses came in at $400,000 over budget. (How could that be?) I caution folks not to jump to conclusions -- there are often typos and doubly entered expenses in these drafts -- but we do need to find out why this is.

Let's remember that the WBAI LSB never passed the budget as there were unresolved issues with it, if I recall correctly. This budget -- with its apparently incorrect assumptions -- was passed and imposed on WBAI by the national board in 2012, not the local station board.

Meanwhile, Administration Expenses are $72K over budget, with very large discrepancies with regard to consultants, telephone radio lines (will we be suing Verizon for non-service to get back some of those funds following Hurricane Sandy?), legal fees, office expenses, (somehow, the actuals spent for utilities are not listed), rent (way LESS than budgeted, as this included the move-out from Wall Street, but even that savings was barely sufficient to offset the consultant fees alone. We need a breakdown of consultant fees, which come to $91,000 over budget. Do those include the overlapping Program Directors' salaries? What else? Are some paid staff listed as "consultants", which would remove them from one category of expenses but add them to another?)

Meanwhile, the Tower Rental cost us almost $200,000 more than budgeted -- how is that possible, as we know in advance how much that would be, right, and that exact figure would be entered into the budget? 

And there's something categorized as "Programming Services" -- the actual came to almost $40K, with 0 listed as budgeted, according to this sheet.

And, we also owe $300K for the year for Central Services which puts WBAI in the red for the year as per the budget -- a nice round $1 million. Yikes!

As I said, I have a number of questions about 1) these figures, 2) figures that are missing, 3) some of the categories, and 4) the way the final debit is compiled. (Should some items be subtracted from the debt rather than added to it?) All need to be fully reviewed, if we want to get an accurate picture of WBAI's financial situation, especially since we'll soon be contrasting the 2014 P&L statement (hopefully it will come soon!) to the one here that ended a year ago on Sept. 2013.   ---Mitchel Cohen

Here's an excerpt from WBAI Treasurer R. Paul Martin, who writes:
It's labeled: P&L from Pacifica CFO to 9/30/13. ...

At least the "Local Board Expenses" are down to $600 from $25,000 on this one. I do not know what the LSB is alleged to have spent $600 on.
I believe the $600 was for renting space for the LSB to meet.  - MC
There are quite a few questions about this document. It was only sent to the NFC in the middle of the last NFC meeting, so we couldn't really go over it too much during that meeting. I post it as the CFO's latest accounting, that we can see, about WBAI's performance for FY13.


  1. I want to see an court ordered, independent, professional firm come in and do an audit.

    How can a budget for a pack of retards playing radio be so damn complicated. Sorry to burst any bubbles, but WBAI is amateur hour even compared to small college stations. I bet WFMU doesn't have a mess like these clowns, let alone WFDU.


    1. The longer they get away with their free form bookkeeping, the freer it becomes, it seems. I wonder if having lost the overwhelming majority of their listeners isn't turning out to be an advantage, at least in this case. It reduces the odds favoring legal complaint.

    2. Yes. The dummies they have for listeners wouldn't have the brains to contact the Brooklyn or Manhattan district attorneys, let alone send a letter contesting their license renewal to the FCC. In the "old days" I would have added contacting The Village Voice. However, that's a joke now.

      Ironic Reimers is an accountant, isn't it?


    3. Reimers being an accountant is indeed ironic, if it is true.

      In the old days, when WBAI's existence as a Pacifica station mattered, it posed a threat. That was long ago—it has been defanged by unprincipled users; few will even notice when that plug is pulled.

  2. Heard some unknown host talking about how BAI's signal may degrade with the transmitter move. Or that it might improve. There's no way to tell. But, please don't worry about it.

    How long can Amateur Hour possibly go on, before it's lights out/radio silence for good?

    1. Well, Logan, we know that the station has long since ceased to be a significant voice. There are a couple of exceptions on its air today, but, most of the people dishing out these awful programs have no pride in their work and demonstrate---sometimes by just being there—an utter disrespect for the listeners, real and imagined.

      The program content and general attitude has already degraded to such an extent that any degradation of the transmitted signal would not be of any consequence.

    2. Agreed. And the sad part comes when listening to the exceptions.

      Was listening to Off The Hook last night. Even when firing on three cylinders, OTH is so much more intelligent (and funnier) than anything offered by Gary and the Null Set, they're not even in the same radio universe.

      Peter Bochan's work (available elsewhere), and pretty much anything touched by Max Schmid, remain highlights that will be missed when the station goes dark, or when the remaining actual talent is forced out, whichever comes first.

    3. I totally agree with your selections, and I would add a handful, including James Irsay and Chris Whent.

    4. Tellingly, of course, all these are voices from the ancient past.

      ~ 'indigo'