Saturday, June 4, 2016

Pacifica CFO: Dark skies ahead



As WBAI's Spring marathon entered its final lap and the GAME OVER sign loomed on the stormy horizon, the PNB Finance Committee met in a phone conference to hear CFO Agarwal's immediate predictions.

It was, of course pro forma, for not a single member is naïve enough to expect anything but bad news, but they went through the routine and came out of it none the wiser. Chronic, widespread denial has done much to shove the truth into recesses of small minds, but even the most naïve among these Committee members knows that managers and schemers have run out of balls to juggle and the only checks coming in to Pacifica and its stations these days are reality checks. 

You will hear the alarm as CFO Agarwal tries to explain, but what we get from our spot in the shadows is a partial view of the wreck. Details are not even available to donors whose wallets have been Pacifica's lifeline—such minutiae are conveniently the stuff "executive sessions" are made of, but one has a strong feeling that much vital information was pushed aside to accommodate distortion and now lingers or dissipates in confused, front office minds.


We have our good friend, indigopirate, to thank for this and the other attached audio clip. Here is his brief summary of the meeting:

"The immediate question raised is as to the sudden rise R. Paul Martin had noted with respect to the appearance of a sharp, sudden rise in Pacifica’s network-wide deficits.

The CFO notes that WBAI and WPFW in particular are ‘alarming’ and that there is, generally speaking, 'no prospect of their going away.’ He says in the case of the other stations, ‘perhaps’ deficits can ‘go away’, but points out that he is not getting positive signs from KPFA, and that KPFT is 'not out of the woods'.

He states that overall the trends are declining throughout the network and that he sees no prospect of hopeful news on a combined basis.

‘Alarming.'

‘There is hardly any cash.’

‘It’s kind of widespread…’

Q&A follows."

And here, with a more detailed summary by indigopirate, is an audio glimpse of the follow-up meeting.


‘The situation looks very bleak.’ ~ Sam Agarwal, Pacifica Chief Financial Officer

The Chief Financial Officer’s report indicates impending collapse, with a projected inability to meet payroll at one or more stations likely by late June or early July, with no financial reserves or resources available anywhere within the network to cover the shortfall.

He also reports there are no monies available to pay the remaining money due for the FY2014 audit and, therefore, it appears impossible to fund a FY2015 audit.

He reports that WPFW has used funds from a restricted grant account in violation of the terms of the account, and that those funds must be repaid, though it is unclear how this would be possible.

He reports that the newly appointed National Election Supervisor has requested an open authorization of $100,000, which money does not exist. 

He further reports that many are anxious to draw on the revolving credit line although there appears to be no means to repay such draws.

He states that WPFW must be directed to immediately repay the monies taken from the restricted grant account.

He states that Pacifica must be prepared for the furlough or the layoff of people at any unit swiftly upon it becoming clear that that unit will not be able to meet its next payroll.

He states that a task force must be immediately put in place to raise at least $100,000 to pay the auditors.

His summary is fairly straightforward: He states that there are no credible cash flow projections that will keep the network alive, and there are no remaining areas to reduce expenses that might be enough to make any difference – the core problem is simple – Pacifica shows no sign of any ability to generate enough revenue to stay alive.

He then expresses a belief that it might be possible to address the catastrophic shortfall, but provides no detail or description of how this might be attempted.

Brian Edwards-Tiekert then proposes a motion granting the CFO authority, if any unit or units were clearly unable to meet its next payroll, to furlough or lay off the relevant employees, in consultation with human resources and any relevant unions, so as to avoid failing to meet payroll and insurance payments, which would have catastrophic legal implications.

This motion was discussed, then tabled, as was a possible substitute motion.

No comparable motion was presented, leaving the issue unaddressed and unresolved for another day.

A motion was then made to hold the next Pacifica National Board meeting promptly, urgently, within a week, since some stations may fail to make payroll before the next regularly scheduled meeting. The chair rules that such a motion may be considered later in the course of the meeting, which appears never to have happened. As of this writing the next Pacifica National Board meeting is scheduled for 7 July.

There was a free-floating discussion and debate as to why all problems were network problems, and needed to be addressed as such.

There were then a series of motions and much lengthy discussion as to why, when, or how the meeting could, should or would end, which consumed the remainder of the meeting, and after some considerable time, the meeting ended.

~ ‘indigopirate’

You may not wish to hear the above clip in toto, so here is 
CFO's Agarwal's formal statement from the June 2 meeting.

19 comments:

  1. The audits are required to be considered for CPB audits. Why is there no budgeting for it? This is supposed to be an election year. They hired election supervisors and yet election expenses were not budgeted. Now they're planning to spend $10,000 to cover only one party convention arguing that it will help raise money. Not only is it questionable to spend scarce money on one convention, its not clear that it will raise money. It would make more sense and be more interesting if they covered the third party conventions and the GOP convention in addition to the Dems. I've never understood why a group like Pacifica doesn't spend more time covering third parties. Imagine tuning in and hearing Jill Stein, the Socialist candidates and Gary Johnson making their case. Its a no-brainer as far as I'm concerned.
    Agarwal is confirming what a lot of people have been saying for a long time. They need to increase revenue. There is little left to cut. The only way to increase revenue is to change the programming and get more people wanting to listen. The LSBs can barely manage to run a meeting. How are they going to organize off-air fundraisers? All those pools of grant money out there are not coming to Pacifica as it is now. They have to change the programming. Once that sinks in then maybe there will be cause for hope.

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    1. Change the programming....Change the programming...Chaaaange the proooogrammiiiiing....

      Early this afternoon I tuned into WBAI. By that time, everyone knew about Muhammad Ali's death. One might expect BAI to come up with some sort of interesting angle about him. Instead, I heard Tony Bates hawking a cancer cure or some such thing.

      Should we be surprised? After all, Ali accomplished more in two minutes than Bates, Haskins, Reimers and the rest of them have accomplished in their entire lives.

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    2. Yes, I noticed that and thought it wouldn't be long before Reimers and the cronies you mention figure out a way to cash in on Ali's death... that's their m. o.

      On a positive side, Shawn Rhodes was doing the midnight show for the Creative Unity Collective guys. He had it well planned, the focus would be on drummer whose work was better known than their name. He got off to a good start, but suddenly changed the mood and tempo of the music, explaining—with great difficulty— that he had just learned of Ali's death and that he was droppin the intended show to pay tribute to Ali, whom he had known since he, Shawn, was a child. It was obviously genuine and the rest of the program was devoted to his reminiscences. There was no pitching.

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    3. Very nice by Shawn. Personally, I despise Shawn as do many people at the station, but he is a professional.

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    4. Everyone knows Pacifica stations need to change the programming, except for Pacifica. That's why I like to call them Pathetica.

      SDL

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  2. Just to address the budgeting question: There are is no budget for 2016. They passed some partial budgets for a few of the stations, didn't for other stations, and there is no budget for the nonprofit organization, despite a hundred plus hours of "budget meetings". The theoretical budget did include an allotment for the audit and and allotments for the election but they came from revenue anticipated to come in this year that did not. Pacifica has received over 6 and a half million dollars since October, so an argument can be made that crucial expenses are being ignored while less crucial ones are being paid due to a lack of ability to control the revenue they have.

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  3. 1. Is there any info on the final marathon tally? Maybe indigopirate has some info?

    2. It's amazing how the finance committee people can hear the CFO give such dire, urgent warnings and do nothing. Any competent organization would hear CFO reports like this one and the one at the prior meeting and would call an emergency board meeting immediately. And that board meeting wouldn't conclude until a specific action plan had been adopted and assigned for implementation. And after that, the board would meet frequently to check on the progress of the implementation. These people just chat for a while and then go home. Why is everything - the on-air talent, the sound quality, the accounting, the station management, and the PNB - so inferior?

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    1. Marathon tally? We used to announce a running tally on the air, but these crooks only come up with figures if they have no alternative, and even then, Reimers will make them up to suit has other lies.

      Your second point is well taken. There is not a hint of professionalism, nor a desire to introduce it in anything this "majority" does, and that includes the way in which they manipulate the voting process that "elects" them. We are dealing with crooks and con.

      As for getting into gear, just look at the five years Reimers has spent as an overpaid, unqualified doorstop. Summer Reese did the right thing when she fired him, but that would have messed up their plans, so they kept him... and look at all the racists and artificial "activists" who keep WBAI on its steep downward course.

      The "I" in the call letters could have many meanings: Inept, Idiots and irrelevant come to mind immediately.

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    2. Who needs tally numbers when we know they reached their goal over a week ago. How do we know? Because Hay-tie Haskins told us so. Oh, that's even better than "Take my wife, please..."

      SDL

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    3. Running tallies were used through the seventies until at least the occupation of the church. Pehaps beyond. I don’t recall when they disappeared, exactly.

      A staple for me, as for others, was to pitch with reference to any short-term goal, eg, ‘In the next ten minutes…’, sometimes but not always tied to a premium if, for example, a publisher had sent us a box of twenty books, or if there was a matching fund, and to the running tally ‘Okay, the tally is now at…’, and to use the Edlometer to say how many folks were calling in at a given moment.

      This was a *very* long time ago indeed.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    4. It is, of course, the only way to do it—it gets the listener-donor involved as it builds up momentum. The only drawback is, of course, that it is an approach that requires honesty, which may well be why it was abandoned.

      Imagine what a difference it made to know exactly how well the fundraising is going and to be able to hear your own donation bring—it was like participating in a game and listeners knew that WBAI would resume normal programming the minute our goal was reached in pledges.

      I experienced the same spirit when I introduced the marathon concept at KPFA and KPFK. The only fly in the ointment was KPFK manager, Paul Dallas, who got so excited when he saw the listener response that he decide to cut corners. As soon as I found out, I threatened to drop out and return to New York. That worked, at least I think so.

      Yes, a VERY longtime ago!

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    5. I don't recall running tallies as of 1978 and my commencing listening. I do know on occasion someone may have mentioned where the tally stood, but that was a personal comment and not official station mandate.

      What I do remember most about old beg-a-thons was the listener called in matching fund. That was a common thing, indeed. They were usually a sign of support for the show and lasted for just the duration of said show. I think they were good for really making a producer get their ass in gear, since now they could show double the earnings for their show, if the match was made.

      SDL

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    6. I believe running tallies became a station secret when they threw honesty and integrity out the window. Early signs of that could be detected when Millspaugh misappropriated WBAI's building fund to make up for expenditures generated by his lack of management skills and, I suppose, mescaline activity.. The original premium (I.e. for the first two annual marathons) was not a product one could pick up, drink or eat--it was, nevertheless, tangible: a renewal of WBAI's lease on life as a Pacifica station--the ultimate "thank you.

      No individual program's future was at stake, neither was anybody's turf. We didn't call it "family"', but we were inherently closer to having that kind of a bond than hare-brained incompetents like Haskins and Reimers want their listener-victims to believe exists today.

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    7. "Millspaugh misappropriated WBAI's building fund to make up for expenditures generated by his lack of management skills..." Can you explain that in greater depth?

      SDL

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  4. i would use the term "on air talent" very loosely here, and a perfect example of that is on the
    current show being aired right now .
    Since i tuned in at 6am , i have heard nothing but race this , white supremacy that, slavery ,
    black lives matter etc etc...
    This is after they announced the topics which had nothing to do with any of that , but somehow
    morphed into a black lives matter "discussion" . Complete garbage , can't wait for these morons to go away.

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    1. Very loosely, indeed. I heard that show this morning and it was an embarrassing experience. Pamela Brown proved herself to be the typical current WBAI recruit when she not so subtly force fed the discussion BS from that ever-steeping pot of racism. Her awkward attempts to articulate made it all the worse, and I have no idea who Matthew is—he was more grown up than Haskins, but that isn't saying much.

      Yes, "talent" is a misnomer.

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    2. I listened to a few minutes of this in the archives and it was just awful. There is not even a pretense at doing news or even conversation as Matt was constantly being interrupted when he wasn't in complete agreement with her. This is just ranting. Even if you agree with everything they say, it is still terrible because there is no context and the tone alone will drive people away. This is what passes for programming in a prime time slot?

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    3. It's filling a time slot. Hopeless Haskie set the tone for this AM abomination. I wonder if he's on another vacation, as she said or is he chasing his girlfriend from firehouse to firehouse? I have met people who are equally devoid of substance, but most of them are not given a microphone and let loose to abuse it.

      At least those awful readings from the phony slave diary and the screaming union shill are not heard when he's away. The rest of the cast does pop up, however.

      Do they need to flunk a lie detector test to gain access to the closet?

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    4. My own recent listening experience. Law and Disorder informed its listeners a few days ago that World War 2 began on September 1, 1939, when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Of course, that was the day that Poland was invaded, not Czechoslovakia. But it's not like anything gets fact checked. And it's not like anyone was listening and would call in to correct the error.

      It's interesting that a station that is fond of Marxism and socialism would become so completely wrapped up with race and skin color and racial nationalism. Marxism holds that race and nationality are used to divide workers, that a white factory worker in Scotland and a brown factory worker in Mexico have more in common with each other than with the elites of their own countries and races. But at WBAI, they are all about skin color and race 24/7/365 and issues of class are an afterthought.

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