Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A game of discordant chairs

Yesterday, September 22, 2015, the PNB called a meeting of its Finance Committee for the purpose of discussing the very serious current financial crisis, particularly at KPFK. That station is in immediate danger of collapsing, but the gloomy outlook threatens the entire organization. 

Because reliable figures for WBAI have not been forthcoming, and its debt is astronomical by Pacifica standards, a report from the elusive WBAI GM, Berthold Reimers, was to form an important part of this discussion. He gave them a time when he would be available, and the Committee went out of its way to accommodate him. Did he call in? Of course not.

This is a man who has spent the past five years juggling imaginary figures, misappropriating funds, lying to the PNB, station staff, debtors and listeners while cowardly all but staying out of sight. This is a man hired by board members who, themselves, were dabblers, a man whose Linkedin resumé reads like a poorly written fantasy. He and his cronies are arguable the very worst of a succession of inept, corrupt management teams that have infested WBAI and its sister station for at least the past two decades. Yet, this is also the man at whose touch pink slips turn to dust.

At this point, whatever remained of hope for Pacifica's restoration has vanished. There was an unexpected glimmer a few months ago when John Proffitt was hired as Pacifica's Executive Director. Here, at last, was someone who lived in the real world and had prior experience as a broadcasting manager; he also knew Pacifica from the inside. However not well enough, as it turned out—He may reasonably have assumed that those who appointed him also supported him, and thus not anticipated the amazing stupidity of a group that continued vandalizing that which it sought to "inherit." 

The now unalterable bottom line is that it's GAME OVER. General ignorance and racist shortsightedness has stalled WBAI's development, stripped Lew Hill's remarkable foundation of its intellectual properties and pushes a once esteemed Pacifica and a NYC broadcasting landmark into oblivion.

Here, as if you needed further evidence of the decay, is yesterday's discussion of the KPFK status in its entirety. It begins with the recently resigned Mr. Proffitt's well-grounded analysis.     

While the PNB Finance Committee discussion, as a whole is less than riveting, Mr. Proffitt's analysis deserves to be repeated, so here it is againextracted and with an added coda (we couldn't help ourselves). How sad it is that John Proffitt was not invited aboard sooner and that his path was blocked by the ruling debris. His frustration is clear and understandable.


  1. Perhaps Berthold Reimers is actually the most appropriate general manager for WBAI at this point in its history.

    If you’re financially out of control then an absence of oversight and control is your friend – until it isn’t.

    The audit committee met at the same time, and while one or two members were intelligent, knowledgeable, and focused, most were not. No surprise there, it’s the Pacifica National Standard Of Haplessness & Malfeasance. ‘Why would someone suggest the national office have centralization of finances? Oh, the auditors did? When? Oh, a year or two ago? Really? Was there some problem? Wait! If we did that would that mean the national office could write checks? No, that would undermine station autonomy, we’re community radio…. We’ll have to have someone study this….’

    That sort of thing.

    I’ve said it before, and it’s far from an original observation: If you get behind the curve, you die.

    Sic transit something or other….

    ~ ‘indigopirate'

    1. "If you’re financially out of control then an absence of oversight and control is your friend – until it isn’t."

      And if that absence of oversight and control is your own doing, do we have a worthwhile form of egotism? :)

  2. John Proffitt sighs an awful lot during his analysis. Can't say he doesn't have reason to.


    1. Yes, Justine, he has seen the future... and it isn't there.

  3. While listening to this last night, I had the words "they really blew it with Proffitt" go through my head. Pacifica will never find another person this level headed, straight forward and pragmatic with real world radio management experience again. Pacifica simply threw away their only hope, if there was any remaining. However, the Pacifica insiders, who are looking to bankrupt Pacifica, must be smiling at everything, salivating over a station license (or licenses) they think will simply be handed over to them. Using the by-laws to help in your own destruction makes things so much easier.

    However, let's keep something in mind. Proffitt had neither the time nor ability to do anything more than observe and speak. He sounded good and competent, but we never had the chance to see him actually do anything concrete. Would he have truly been a good leader? We'll never know. Which leads to...

    Why is there an Executive Director at Pacifica? I fail to see what an ED actually does, besides being allowed to talk.I guess it's really another empty title, like exist on the financial boards, etc.

    The circus music was a great add on the remix version, but I can suggest one even better. The great Three Dog Night's The Show Must Go On for a remixed remix. "But I must let the show go on, must let the show go on, must let the show go on..." Yup...

    1. The pragmatic Proffitt must have seen something that gave him hope, otherwise—with his experience and knowledge of Pacifica—why would he have accepted such an impossible mission? That's what continues to puzzle me.

      As for why there is an ED at Pacifica, I guess those rules call for it. The real question is, why do certain Board members have the power to overrule the ED (Summer's firing of Reimers was clearly a right move, but her decision was arbitrarily reversed). Of course, the REAL question is, simply, WHY???

      Thanks for the Three Dog Night link. I like that a lot and it's certainly appropriate, but I think the lyrics (which I like) would have gotten in the way.

    2. Oops, forgot to mention it was me with that "they really blew it with Proffitt" post.

      I'm not going to speculate on why Proffitt accepted or resigned the ED position. Only he knows for sure, after all. Maybe one day he will make public comments, and I will be all ears. What I can tell you is that he sounded totally dejected during that audio clip. If nothing else, I think Proffitt will walk away from Pacifica with a lesson in radio democracy, and why it doesn't work.

      I have no idea "Why???" Pacifica does many things that either make no sense or may even violate their own rules/by-laws. I guess it comes down to my Reimers joke about since when does Reimers get to (insert whatever here)/since no one will stop him. In other words, since no one will stop them, in general. Hell, look at the election fiasco that may end up in court. Hey, I have a good idea! Have interns hand deliver the forms to the supporters who live in the broadcast areas of the five stations and mail the rest out. Since most supporters will be found living within the five transmission ranges, that should save most of the mailing costs. Forget it, as it is too logical a solution.

      You're right about the song. But maybe taking "But I must let the show go on, must let the show go on, must let the show go on..." and adding it at the end for emphasis... Don't mind me. I am getting my radio show in the works and making a few pre-recorded IDs is on my mind.