Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WBAI Treasurer's Report 9-9-2015

AN APOLOGY: Saturday, Time Warner Cable offered to update my equipment and, remarkably, charge me less than I was paying. Their technician spent 3 hours here and all worked as it should, but Sunday morning, my Internet (and with it, my phone connection) was gone. The problem was solved this afternoon and I mention this only in case anyone wondered why comments weren't getting through. Regrettably, the first post is best read to the slow, somber sounds of a dirge.

As New York City's stillborn black radio station stumbles beyond hearing range and memory, the dreaded truth leaks like a Snowden data treasure. Lies and deceits have fueled this respirator for time beyond reason, keeping it on the air while giving it the fatal thrust. Now, the mask has been lowered even further, the makeup cracked, the rouge dissolved to form unsightly clutters. 

That WBAI has been driven into a bog of ignorance, bigotry, and boomerang racism comes as no surprise, all things considered—even Pacifica has been rendered insignificant as its amateur actors stumble around with their sticky egos in a dim glaucoma scenario. 

If you have donated money, volunteered work, purchased an over-priced "thank you gift", or become a so-called "bai buddy" in recent years, the following report—published by the WBAI LSB Treasurer earlier today—may give you that sinking feeling that robbery victims experience, but you ought to read it before plucking another penny from your change purse.

WBAI Treasurer’s Report September 9, 2015

The National Finance Committee (NFC) met on August 25, 2015, and September 8, 2015. The local Finance Committee met on August 13, 2015, and September 3, 2015.

At the August 13, 2015, local Finance Committee meeting the General Manager said that he disagreed with the Income Statement from the National Office, he called it inaccurate.

The General Manager said that WBAI needed a backup plan regarding the Empire State Building (ESB) rent, he said that there is nothing in writing regarding the current deferred payments. He said that the Executive Director and the pro bono lawyer were consulting about the ESB issues. The General Manager said that WBAI needed to get politicians to side with us about the ESB and help us reach a final agreement.

The General Manager reported that WBAI was 100% caught up in Central Services payments to the Pacifica Radio Archives (PRA) but that the station is behind on Central Services payments overall by about $110,000. He also said that the $35,000 WBAI owes to WHCR will probably be written off by CUNY eventually.

The General Manager handed out a balance sheet at this meeting, but he said that he does not stand by it. In fact the balance sheet had duplicate figures for FY12 and FY15 YTD which is very unlikely to be right.

The General Manager said that he is still using QuickbooksTM, but that he is doing it on his own time. He said he would have good numbers for the committee at its September 3, 2015, meeting.

The General Manager said that Verizon still owes us $61,000 but that we’d have to sue them to get it. He said he’d send one of the local Finance Committee members the E-mails regarding the Verizon issue to see if he could help, however by the September 3, local Finance Committee meeting this had not been done.

The General Manager estimated that WBAI’s total indebtedness was $677,304 of which
$571,622 is the deferred ESB rent. This leaves all other outstanding bills totaling $105,682 as of August 13, 2015.

The YTD Profit & Loss Statement, on a cash basis, given to the committee by the General Manager on August 13, 2015, shows WBAI in the black by $9,832. This is interesting.

At the August 25, 2015, NFC meeting the National Office Income Statement for the ten months ending July 31, 2015, was reviewed and it was noted that it looks like the lumping of other revenue into WBAI’s Listener Support is still happening. Listener Support is what the Central Services fees are based on, so this could cost WBAI extra Central Services fees in the future. In addition, this mis-reporting of revenue clouds the real situation regarding Listener Support and the other revenue sources. The Major Donor line is only $1,520, this is at variance with what WBAI Management has reported. Personnel expenses are worse than budgeted by about $41,000 in the National Office Income Statement. The National Office income statement says that Total Operating Expenses are better than budget by about $107,000 which is good news if it’s true. Office Supplies are worse by budgeted by about $28,000 which needs an explanation.

Total Revenue is off by $634,918 according to the National Office Income Statement. This is one of the figures that the General Manager disagrees with.

The Tower Rental (ESB) numbers on the National Office Income Statement do not jibe with any other numbers that the I have seen on this issue. The National Office has been informed of this and I am hoping that this will be reconciled soon.

Another question about the National Office Income Statement regards the Community Events line which is $600; given the number of such events WBAI has been holding this seems very low.

There was a discussion at this NFC meeting about the WBAI General Manager using QuickBooks™ instead of the Great Plains™ software that the rest of Pacifica uses. The National Office Financial Planning and Analysis Manager offered to teach the WBAI General Manager to use the Great Plains software.

The NFC passed the following motion, “The NFC recommends to the PNB that it have the Executive Director direct Management at all units to use the same accounting platform.” (Passed 8 for, 0 against, 1 abstention)

It was reported at this meeting that the National Office on paper has an income of about $557,000 YTD but about $276,000 of Central Services payments have not been collected; the real income through July is about $281,000 of which about $142,000 was paid to the auditors leaving about $139,000 cash as of July 31. The National Office had negotiated with lawyers and other vendors that had previously sued Pacifica for monthly negotiated payments, these average about $30,000 per month leaving about $100,000 for salaries, etc. Stations are having difficulties paying Central Services payments. After one month of not being able to collect Central Services payments from the stations the National Office is afraid that they will have difficulties paying bills.

At the September 3, 2015, local Finance Committee meeting the General Manager told the committee that the Business manager, who is in Texas and serves a total of three stations, will be tasked with preparing the WBAI FY16 draft budget. He also told the committee that WBAI had made five months of Central Services payments. He said that health benefits, payroll and rent have all been paid. He said that WBAI may get a $6,000 discretionary grant from the City Council.

The General Manager handed out two Profit & Loss Statements, one based on cash and one based on accrual, and a Balance Sheet. He said that the cash based Profit & Loss Statement was the one that he had 100% confidence in.

The General Manager said that he refuses to learn the Great Plains software.

The General Manager told the committee that it's the National Office that's lumping revenue under Listener Support. The National Office has previously said that it’s just using the figures that local Management sends it.

The Profit & Loss Statement the General Manager gave out says that WBAI’s Net Operating Income was $14,472 as of the date of the meeting. But the overall debt wipes that out many times over.

The General Manager told the committee that WBAI had $2,000 cash in bank on that date. He also said that WBAI owed about $160,000 minus ESB and outstanding Central Services fees.

Regarding premiums, the General Manager said that the station doesn’t have the premiums to send to people who’ve paid for them. There were quite a number of premiums stacked up in the Conference Room where this local Finance Committee meeting was held, and one local Finance Committee member said that Management has been holding up the shipping of those premiums for more than a month in order to save $160 on the shipping costs. Meanwhile complaints from listeners who have paid for the premiums but not gotten them continue to come in.

The September 8, 2015, NFC meeting lasted only three minutes because the meeting was to have been centered around budget discussions but no Pacifica station, nor the National Office nor PRA had brought a FY16 draft budget for the NFC to look at.

At this meeting it was learned that KPFT has installed their new transmitter and is now transmitting at 100,000 Watts and by doing so is no longer in danger of losing its license or having its power permanently lowered by the FCC. We also learned that a reported $134,000 bequest to KPFK was really for about $21,000. We were told that the payments for the mailing out of the ballots for the current Pacifica elections, which was to be done on August 29, but which couldn’t be done because Pacifica couldn’t pay in advance for the mailing, will probably have to wait until the stations are about a week into their Fall on-air fund raisers in order to raise the money to pay for it.

We were also told that WBAI will need assistance is making its next payroll.

Between the National Office’s Income Statement to July 31, and the General Manager’s Income Statement to August 31, the Total Expenses are different by $231,408. This needs to be reconciled.

The next local Finance Committee meeting will be on August 24, 2015, and the NFC is set to meet on all of the remaining Tuesday nights of September.

The General Manager’s refusal to learn and use the Great Plains software create a potential collision with the Executive Director’s stated desire that all stations use it. I do not know if the PNB has passed the motion from the NFC regarding this.

WBAI Management and the National Office do not agree on the state of WBAI’s finances. We are getting conflicting financial statements from the National Office and WBAI Management. The financial statements must be reconciled or we can have no precise idea of just what’s happening with regard to WBAI’s finances, although obviously they are in bad shape. Clearly WBAI is doing better with expenses, but the revenue shortfalls are severe. Without help from elsewhere in Pacifica WBAI would not be making payroll. And that help would not be possible had not KPFA gotten about $950,000 in bequests earlier this year from listeners who had passed away. The only reason WBAI and the rest of Pacifica are not in even more serious financial trouble is because of the luck of those bequests. How much longer can our luck last?

R. Paul Martin WBAI LSB Treasurer 


  1. A sordid, a squalid, an execrable lot, as has been very clear for a very long time, yet becoming ever clearer.

    This outfit is bankrupt.

    Let me repeat that – this outfit is bankrupt.


    How long until formalities roll into place is the only remaining question.

    What a sad list. The highlights (lowlights?) alone:

    A general manager who can’t handle Great Plains, or Quickbooks, or provide a simple clear journal in spreadsheet form so that someone competent might enter the data.

    Nor can the general manager or anyone else put in place any programming anyone might want to listen to – this is generally considered a bit of a problem for a radio station in a major market.

    ‘Negotiations’ with ESRT conducted by the aforesaid general manager who is incapable of comprehending let alone generating a simple spreadsheet and s ‘pro bono’ attorney? These ‘negotiations’ clearly consist of nothing more complicated than the amount owed climbing ever higher, leaving ESRT with the ability to throw Pacifica into collapse and the need for bankruptcy protection any time it so chooses.

    For ‘negotiatins’ substitute the more accurate ‘begging’.

    Revenues and programming continue to crater ever further – proving that at WBAI/Pacifica the impossible is in fact possible.

    These people are quite simply mother-fucking chicken-shit yahoo-scum obscene – and that’s a charitable characterization.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

    1. You really are being kind, Indigo.

      Remember how Mitchel always said that Reimers was negotiating and that he had managed to lower the bill considerably? No mention of there being 2 amounts, one due every month, the other increasing the debt beyond reality every month. That is pure and simple deception and, thus, a rip-off where the listener-supporters are the direct victims. Ultimately, of course, the victim is NYC's intellectual community and—I strongly feel—the black and Hispanic people who seek to improve their lot through knowledge. What they got was ignorance, at it drove them away.

      Correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't we seen scam artists of this sort given jail sentences and fines? For all their talk of "reparations," I think the worst offenders ought to be made to lighten their wallets and give the ill-gotten gains back, or at least to a worthy charity. I know, it's a legal tangle I'm hinting at, but some of these bastards really should not get off scot-free. They are, as you suggest, despicable lowlife.

    2. I’m relying on the infinitely fallible witness of memory here, so please make allowance… I believe that Reimers has himself stated both directly and indirectly through various boards and committees that there was a ‘reduction’ in the rent owed the Empire State Building – certainly he’s labored mightily to avoid any public disclosure of the mounting debt. The Pacifica National Board as well as I believe its National Finance Committee have in turn repeatedly taken the situation away from public view by stating that ‘negotiations’ were under way, and that they were therefore ‘executive’ matters not to be publicly disclosed. Whether this rises to the formal definition of conspiracy or fraud would be a question a competent attorney might be able to address, but as a legal question it’s beyond my competence.

      I think we can safely say, however, that it’s deeply, profoundly, seriously, indeed arguably unforgiveably immoral as a violation of public trust.

      Of course, that’s par for the course for WBAI/Pacifica at this point, their normal mode of operation for many, many years at many, many levels.

      I’m not confident that any of these bush-league shenanigans will result in serious legal consequences for the perpetrators. The observation has been made that they are simply too inconsequential and have too low a public profile to make that sort of outcome likely.

      Minor scum get away with it as a rule, and the cliché that the only justice is in the halls of justice exists for a reason.

      If it were to go ugly for them it would probably happen in the course of a voluntary bankruptcy or in the course of arranging for the sale of WBAI’s frequency or something of that sort. So far as we can guess the hope of at least one faction is to take the monies from the sale of WBAI’s license, which as a commercial license in the center of the FM band in New York is presumably still worth a penny or two, and use it to prop up the dreams of glory of the faction at The People’s Republic of KPFA, possibly KPFK, and probably set KPFT free to find its own way. WPFW would appear to be toast in this scenario. The Archives might remain with KPFA/KPFK or might be handed over, donated, or sold to a nonprofit or educational institution.

      It might go smoothly and sail through, or it might go sour for them at a number of points. A court-appointed trustee/special master might not like what s/he sees and start poking under a rock or two – it wouldn’t take much trouble, really. That, in turn, might lead the FCC to consider whether WBAI’s license ought to be sold and the proceeds go to Pacfica or if it might be appropriate to involve an outside, credible nonprofit. WFMU might have a word or two to say in public fora or in proceedings. Who knows?

      My guess is that they’ll get away with it. They have to date. Certainly they expect to get away with it.

      They’re the scum of the earth, but sad to say the scum of the earth doesn’t usually see themselves that way – or they simply don’t give a damn. In my experience one can’t effectively rebuke or shame scum. They either don’t get it, or they don’t give a fuck. This bunch appears to qualify on both counts.

      The chant is ‘No Justice, No Peace!’ right?

      Well, there certainly hasn’t been Peace, and I wouldn’t count on any Justice – not from this incestuous little band of maggots.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

  2. "The National Office Financial Planning and Analysis Manager" Who the hell is that?

  3. The premiums problem is just hysterical at this point. WBAI really can’t figure out that one of the reasons people pledge less and less is because they are being ripped-off on the premiums they paid for plus the extra postage charges! 388 Atlantic Avenue must be the number of Brooklyn’s largest short bus. I believe this is what’s called mail and wire fraud by the Feds.

    I thought we heard a few months ago that the CUNY debt was already written off, due to the woman they dealt with there?

    “Office Supplies are worse by budgeted by about $28,000.” How many office supplies can a nothing station like WBAI use? Did staples just rise in price 100 fold? Or do people just steal all the office supplies they can carry?

    Regarding QuickBooks vs Great Plains. Here’s what should be done, which won’t happen. PNB passes a measure requiring all stations to switch to Great Plains within 30 days. If not done, the people responsible get suspended without pay until the situation is corrected, or fired after, say, 90 days. Gutless cowards, the lot of them.

    “He said that WBAI may get a $6,000 discretionary grant from the City Council.” For what? And how will they mess this up?

    “The General Manager said that he refuses to learn the Great Plains software.” Who died and made him ED of Pacifica?

    “…KPFT has installed their new transmitter and is now transmitting at 100,000 Watts...” I thought 50,000 watts was the FM limit?

    “The only reason WBAI and the rest of Pacifica are not in even more serious financial trouble is because of the luck of those bequests. How much longer can our luck last?” As long as old fools die.

    And on another note. There’s a shortwave radio themed chat room I go into. Well, one fellow I get on well with is in Northern Ireland and a Protestant by birth, but hates both sides in the conflict and just wants peace. Well, the other day we’re chatting and I mention Radio Free Eireann, which, turns out, he knew, as it is listened to in Northern Ireland by Catholic radicals. WBAI seems to have one international show, after all. So much for Bob Fass with his national, international, universal and extra-dimensional listenership he boasts about. By the way, did you notice Bob only started the listenership boasting after my fracas with the Fassists? I guess I hit on something there.


  4. FCC has two zones - Zones 1 and 1A are a chunk of the northeast and part of California and a few other places and stations are limited to 50KW max. Zone 2 covers the rest of the US and allows up to 100KW. These figures are based on a maximum antenna height which if exceeded, you reduce power proportionally.
    For example a station may be allowed 50KW with a tower height of 200 feet on flatland. If they move to a nearby mountain range and the elevation is 4700 feet (they actually use height above average terrain, but I'm simplifying here) they will be limited to about 2500 watts. On FM height is your friend, as it's line of sight. On the ground with a 200 tower your signal is gone in 20-30 miles, but up on a mountain it can extend hundreds of miles.

    And the FCC didn't put the power limits in until 1962, so many stations before that have "grandfathered signals that exceed the limits. KPFK is one and so is KPFA.

    1. Thank you for the clarification.

      When we sought to increase our power, we had to coordinate the change with a Pennsylvania station that broadcast on the same frequency (I.e. 99.5), the nature of FM signals being that they cancel each other out where they meet. Am I recalling this correctly?

  5. KPFA and WBAI are both in the commercial band, so the rules are based on mileage separations. (or as the FCC now requires: kilometerage) Two Class B stations on the same channel must be separated by X number of miles. Stations on adjacent channels have another mileage separation and stations two channels away have another mileage separation. Anything less than those separations requires a wavier and proof that it won't adversely affect listeners in the overlap area.
    For example if the overlap is sparsely populated or out at sea, it probably isn't a problem. Otherwise you need a letter from the other affected stations.
    If WBAI were to move to another site that decreases signal power and/or height, it probably will lower those separation mileages. And other stations will try and move their signals closer to New York City. ANd once that happens WBAI would never get the coverage back that would be lost.

  6. I hardly ever tune into WBAI anymore, even for background noise. It's just too painful to hear the remaining worthwhile producer/hosts exhorting listeners to become "BAI Buddies".