- withdraw the Motion for Summary Judgment,
- be reasonable and negotiate with WBAI/Pacifica in good faith, and
- release WBAI from the remainder of its onerous lease with no penalty.
Sunday, June 25, 2017
Ready for the Pacifica Perp Walk?
While the dysfunctional self-destructing Pacifica Board wasted hours shouting bitter nothings at each other, the stark reality came ever closer. Now—thanks in good measure to Berthold Reimers' incredibly inept pretense of "leadership" and a succession of his superiors' utter failure to do anything about it (i.e. kick his ass outta there, to be blunt) the day of reckoning is but a few days away. I have not spoken to Bill Crosier about this in any detail, but I strongly suspect that some of the information comes from Berthold Reimers and is an attempt to put the blame on others, including the storm, Sandy, a ludicrous excuse that Reimers regularly uses to get himself off the hook.
Asking WBAI producers to "educate the listeners as to what the situation is" saddle demonstrates how little Mr. Crosier has been told about Reimers and his cronies. Unless these "producers" are given something to read, they will only make things worse as they will surely compound the lies that are already out there. These are the same people who gladly pitch phony cures and other frauds when participating in Reimers' endless marathon fundraisers. The sad truth is that WBAI would not be in this critical situation were it not for amateur management, self-serving on-air opportunists, and a National Board riddled with ignorance and corruption. Asking the perpetrators to put bandaids on the wounds they themselves have inflicted will not work, they need to be shown the door and what is left of the listenership needs to be made aware of their permanent departures. Even that, is probably too late—they essentially killed the station a few years back and it isn't likely to start breathing again.
The following from Pacifica's iED, Bill Crosier, says it all, but any stories from the "producers" should be taken as the last gasp. I still applaud Bill Crosier for trying, but, quite frankly, WBAI is a candidate for mercy killing—there is nothing left to save, there are no "celebrities" who give a damn anymore, and there is no audience. Read Bill Crosier's plea, wish him the best, and let us know what you think
URGENT • URGENT • URGENT
Dear Producers at WBAI and the rest of Pacifica,
We are in as grave a situation as Pacifica has ever been.
As you may know, the Empire State Building (ESB), which houses the WBAI transmitter, has refused to negotiate with Pacifica in a lawsuit over our antenna lease. It has filed a Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ) in NY State Supreme Court against WBAI/Pacifica not-for-profit and non-commercial radio. They claim WBAI owes them $2.1 million (increasing each month) on our lease for the last 3 years. The onerous lease goes until 2020.
The case goes to the Judge on June 30.
WBAI's operations -- and Pacifica's -- would be put in serious jeopardy if the Judge grants the MSJ.
There's of course a much longer story here involving the ESB taking advantage of the World Trade Center's antenna being destroyed in 9/11, which eliminated its competition, and forcing WBAI to have no choice but to sign an unconscionable lease with large increases each year and is now more than 4 times the present market rate!
It is imperative that ESB officials quickly become very aware that the public, including politicians, celebrities, press, and listeners, care about WBAI. We must make the ESB calculate that the loss to their good will from many sectors is not worth it.
We have to take action very quickly - this week!
What Producers Can Do Immediately:
Producers are the first line of contact with the public. Please spend a portion of each of your shows in the next week helping to educate your listeners as to what the situation is. And then most importantly urge them to:
1. Contact their elected officials, including those in New York's City Council and state legislature, and express their concerns.
2. Call the ESB switchboard to talk with Anthony Malkin, the CEO and President of the Empire State Building. Leave a message for him if you can't speak with him, so think in advance about a short message you can leave.
Callers should request three essential actions by the Empire State Building:
1) withdraw the Motion for Summary Judgment,
2) be reasonable and negotiate with WBAI/Pacifica in good faith, and
3) release WBAI from the remainder of its onerous lease with no penalty.
The phone number for the Empire State Bldg switchboard is 212-687- 8700. Request Anthony Malkin, the CEO and Chair of the Board of Empire State Realty Trust, which owns ESB and several other buildings in New York.
There will also be upcoming Press Conferences and other activities where turn out from producers and listeners will be essential. Please be on the watch for such announcements soon.
Talking Points for Producers to Inform Listeners:
* In 2001, when 9/11 happened, WBAI covered it live, and stayed at the mic round-the-clock reporting from downtown Manhattan. After the destruction of the Twin Towers, broadcasting stations in the NYC area had few options for rental of transmitter space. The Empire State Building took advantage of their virtual monopoly on good antenna space after 9/11, and so forced a now deceased former Pacifica Executive Director to sign an unconscionable contract whose rent now has risen to over $50,000 a month.
*This highly questionable 15 year contract also involves extraordinary annual increases of 7% of the license fee for using the antenna. in addition to an annual cost of living increase based on the inflation rate. This is why the monthly payments, which were (barely) affordable when the new lease was signed in 2005, are now so outrageous. The Empire State Building has refused to release Pacifica from the contract which has three more years of escalating payments to go.
*Since the Conde Nast building was built at 4 Times Square, and the new Freedom Tower were built, other good antenna space is available, and the amount being charged WBAI is now much higher than other options that are now available for about $12K per month.
* ESB's response, when we told them we could not afford the exorbitant increases per the lease but could pay them the market rate, was not to be reasonable or fair, but to tell us that we should sell the WBAI license or trade it for one with a much smaller coverage area! In other words, they suggested that we cannibalize our signal in the largest media market in the country, so they could earn excessive profits.
* The ESB receives public assistance in one form or another (abatements, etc.) but the ESB has no not-for-profit rate, and worse it is charging WBAI at 4 times the market rate!
* The Empire State building is owned and managed by the Empire State Realty Trust. Anthony Malkin is the Chairman, CEO and President. It is an international entity including investors from Qatar, Japan, Norway and Austrailia. At one point Donald Trump was involved in legal actions and ownership of the building.
* WBAI's best chance of achieving financial stability is to move to a comparable location elsewhere with comparable coverage area that is available now (but not in 2005), at 25% of what's in the current ESB lease. That it is why it is so important that listeners make their views known to the Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the building.
*The mission of Pacifica has always been to serve the public. WBAI has been a pioneer in coverage of the global ecological issues, climate change, social justice, anti-war protests and the economic crises. The station has provided in depth coverage of the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements and of the Dakota pipeline protests, as well as ground-breaking coverage of the Arts, Women's Liberation, and Gay Liberation. Every public radio station in America has based itself on the example that Pacifica pioneered. Pacifica invented listener-sponsored radio. Pacifica is not just a reporter of news, but a news maker. A strong, united Pacifica is needed now more than ever. We cannot let the forces of elitism win!!
Again, please ask listeners to contact their elected officials and also to call the Empire State Bldg. and ask that ESB:
The Switchboard for Empire State Bldg is 212-687-8700; request Anthony Malkin, ESRT CEO and Board Chair.
And remind listeners that this is just the first action in our fight to save the station!
Together, we will fight to continue standing up for the rights of the people who are often forgotten, and to keep WBAI's free speech voices strong and continuing to broadcast news, public affairs, analysis, and culture that you don't hear on other stations.
Thanks for all you do for WBAI and Pacifica.