Tuesday, November 21, 2017
To be or not to be
Word has it that Pacifica's National Board will hold another emergency session tonight (Tuesday, November 21) and that this one will get down to the nitty gritty of reality. We'll see.
Heated discussions and warmed over opinions are taking place at and between all stations as everybody wait for the "big one", as Red Foxx used to say. If it doesn't come this week, it will pop out of the Pacifica cake very seen. Regardless of the Board's decision, it will heat up the babble and make a severely fractioned community even more so.
WBAI usually bears the brunt of accusations in this blame game, but mismanagement and incompetence is Foundation-wide. In a letter posted today by a KPFA producer, Donald Goldmacher, he extols the virtues of his station—declaring it in perfect health—while more or less describing WBAI as a burden. Well, the truth they all so assiduously try to avoid belies Goldmacher's Reimeresque assertions—for example, KPFA's studio has a $250,000 lien on it. The entire network of five stations is a model of nonfulfillment. A frivolous KPFA "report" recently regurgitated details of the neglect and abuse that has led to a network-wide mass exodus of listeners and general disrespect.
Pacifica's national office is in as great a disarray as are the stations and I am sure WBAI is not the only station whose membership records and pledge commitments are outdated and incomplete.
As most of us know by now, WBAI has two factions, the Indy group and the JUCs. The latter is led by Cerene Roberts, a schemer whose second nature appears to be obstruction. A member of the station's LSB she also serves as a WBAI rep at PNB meetings and clearly gets her jollies from disrupting them to such an extent that nothing positive is accomplished. No, she is not the Patty McCormack variety of a bad seed, there is method in her abysmal behavior: a Machiavellian takeover of WBAI.
This is so ludicrous that one almost blushes at the thought of it, but the JUCs—now in cahoots with a not so stellar West Coast Pacifica mob—are loosely aligned with a former WBAI person who runs a solidly financed Manhattan-based streaming organization and would love to add a powerful radio frequency to its channels. So, when Ms. Cerene feigns a love for WBAI and a desire to keep it with Pacifica, she is actually being her devious self. A West Coast group of Pacifica associates have long been working on a takeover of the Foundation, but that didn't pan out. It did, however, spark ideas in Cerene's circles—a group of self-serving street corner activists who had managed to gain sufficient control of WBAI to change its direction. Community radio was far too broad a tag, they thought, so they redefined the term to comprise only a small segment of the New York area community: themselves.
And who were they? The very same people one used to find preaching pap on the street corners of 125th Street and in the Village. Weak, racially motivated management had opened WBAI's microphones to intelligence defying individuals of actual and imagined black ancestry. When Pacifica's founding principles got in the way—as they increasingly did—they were simply disregarded.
The quality and substance of WBAI's programs had already undergone severe dilution, but now—more and more—the focus was placed on "people of color", specifically the less enlightened. One of Pacifica's goals had been to offer listeners of all stripes an intelligent alternative to pedestrian commercial broadcast fare, but now its stations came close to counteracting rationality and knowledge. The lowered standard, lack of substance and general stagnation eventually took its toll and listenership began to decline.
Bills piled up, but none as high as the antenna hookup at the Empire State Building. That one had accumulated to a couple of million dollars when WBAI/Pacifica was sued for the arrears plus legal fees. It all seemed to play into the hands of the JUCs, who had worked diligently to bring the station down and make it ripe for acquisition.
The LMA (Local Marketing Agreement) option is a deal where ownership is retained but the station is leased to another broadcaster. It was welcomed by many until word got around that LMAs have a history of ending as outright sales. Probably with that in mind, the JUCs have escalated and made more transparent their wish to have WBAI offered as a LMA. However, all their scheming is not likely to get them any closer to seeing a friendly takeover or the continuance of a New York station for passé race-based propaganda.
Here, in a letter posted yesterday, is Interim Executive Director Bill Crosier's explanation clarification:
From Bill Crosier
I am completely opposed to a PSOA (like an LMA except for nonprofits).
For nonprofit stations, the FCC does not allow a PSOA to provide any more money to the owner of the license (Pacifica, in this case) than is necessary to pay current operating expenses of the station (WBAI). A PSOA cannot legally be used to pay debt, and in fact the station would not be able to do additional fund raising while a PSOA is in place to pay off debt. The FCC has levied large fines on stations that have done that. Talk that I've heard from some in NY about "creative ways" of using a PSOA to pay future tower lease obligations to Pacifica in order to pay off debt makes no sense at all. The future tower lease obligation is owed to ESRT, not to Pacifica, so how would a PSOA help with that? It cannot help.
What we need more than anything else is money to pay off debt, including the ESRT judgment, additional legal expenses for the ESRT case, and additional unpaid tower lease payments that have not been made since May. We also have several millions of dollars of other debt, independent of the tower lease. A PSOA would make it impossible to (legally) use WBAI to help pay off any of that.
A PSOA would also be, in effect, like giving the station away at a bargain basement price - not a good move for either WBAI nor for the rest of Pacifica.
So, yes, you all are right to ask who would benefit from a PSOA.