— Bill Crosier
Thursday, August 30, 2018
From members of the Rethinking Pacifica collective:
As people across the country are sharing and contributing to the Rethinking Pacifica bylaws survey, a small group of people are have attempted to stop the communication. A motion was approved at the Aug. KPFT LSB meeting to shut down the website. Strong objections were made that the motion is censorship of the membership and an attempt to intimidate a KPFT LSB member who played a key role in initiating this effort. Former Pacifica interim Executive Director (and still a KPFT LSB member and PNB Director) Bill Crosier is actively working to fix the problems with Pacifica's governance and to do a survey to find out what Pacifica members and listeners want (as opposed to just what current board members want).
KPFT has a history of chaotic and dysfunctional meetings. It seems that the KPFT LSB majority don't want open transparent exploration of our current governance problems – perhaps because the responses may indicate the membership is unhappy with our LSBs and may want changes.
Here's the motion that KPFT's LSB approved:
The intimidation part of the motion calls for a committee to investigate Bill Crosier, followed (probably) by a "trial" to decide what sanctions they want to levy on him for organizing to bring people together fix our broken governance. In the face of this intense opposition, Bill has said that he does not, and will not, yield tothe intimidation tactics.
Observers of the situation have noted similarities to McCarthy's "House Unamerican Activities Committee" of the 1950's.
The censorship part of the motion called for Bill Crosier to take down the Rethinking Pacifica web site (rethinkingpacifica.org) and the associated survey (goo.gl/forms/IHnH68MT5I0H8igG3), to which that web site links. Of course, the Rethinking Pacifica group (including Bill) have no intention of taking down the web site nor the survey. There is no legitimate reasons for doing so. We don't need permission from the LSB or PNB to do what we're doing. Anyone can – and many have – done similar things with websites, petitions, etc., with no repercussions, including punishment for any email addresses they might have collected in those endeavors. We MUST reform our failing governance (our boards) if Pacifica is to survive, as so many Pacifica members have been saying. Instead of bowing to the KPFT LSB’s attempted censorship, We encourage everyone reading this to check out the Rethinking Pacifica web site and also fill out the survey.
One of the comments about the survey is that so far Bill has been the only person who's identified himself as being part of the group. Intimidation, harassment, and censorship tactics, as the KPFT LSB is doing, seem to be directed at anyone on our boards willing to push for change, and are one of the reasons why people have been reluctant to step forward publicly. If you are willing to let your name be made public as supporting Rethinking Pacifica's push to reform our governance, then please reply to Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know.
Thanks to those of you who have provided so many positive comments about the need to reform Pacifica's governance so that we can not only survive, but grown and enhance the Pacifica mission, and to provide more news, music, public affairs, and culture that the other stations won't let you hear. To see some of the many comments and suggestions we've received so far, go to
rethinkingpacifica.org/2018/06/19/thanks-for-filling-out-survey or scroll down to the bottom of the Rethinking Pacifica web site and check out the post "Thanks for filling out our survey -and survey updates".
Please share this with other Pacifica supporters. It's posted at:
The Pacifica National Board Programming Committee was scheduled to have a meeting this evening, 29 August.
They literally haven’t bothered to meet in months, and so the meeting was to be a ‘Get to know one another’ session, not planning on attempting any meaningful or substantive discussion.
It never happened, at least a stream of this putative ‘Get to Know One Another’ never appeared. Perhaps, in time, an archived audio will appear. Perhaps it won’t.
Pacifica abandoned and betrayed its original founding principles decades ago, choosing instead to address terribly terribly terribly important social and political issues.
Has it actually done so?
The claim is repeated, ad infinitum, as the airwaves are now largely abandoned by previous listeners and no new listeners are drawn to what Pacifica has to offer.
What has it to offer?
Bitterness, resentment, tedium, the hustle of the few scam artists who bring in what little revenue Pacifica actually generates as its listenership fades to nothingness.
There is no interest in anything other than continuing to continue to continue to fail.
It appears that in the face of immediate financial collapse Pacifica managed to turn to iED Tom Livingston, who would appear to have done quite a good job, to the extent possible, of addressing the immediate crises by virtue of securing a bridge loan and putting competent people in charge of accounting, etc.
Note that Livingston has made clear time and time and time again that these steps, while vitally important, will not address the fundamental shortcomings of a profoundly dysfunctional Pacifica and its failure to produce programming of any interest to anyone beyond the immediate ‘listenership’, which is composed on the evidence primarily of aging hippy activists, conspiracy nuts, a few folks looking for miracle health cures, etc.
These shortcomings have been screamingly obvious for decades, as they’ve gathered force – force, that is, if a drifting away of very nearly all listeners may be termed a force.
As of this moment, so far as the public is aware, the search for a shiny, fresh, new Executive Director is in process and should be nearing the point of final decision and announcement.
Livingston is to leave his temporary position by the end of September, at the latest.
There are no signs – none – of financial or organizational reform, in any way.
There are no signs – none – of any plans to improve programming, or even to define what such improvement might mean, or look like, or sound like.
Their financial house saved for the moment by a bridge loan they have no means to repay, they are content to discuss discussing discussing things.
Until, one supposes, the shitstorm once again descends upon them.
Ah… the progressive left which is Pacifica… a wondrous thing, indeed.
Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Pacifica continues to drift, de facto purposeless as ever.
Interim Executive Director Livingston having secured a bridge loan and a transition to competent financial oversight, the organization simply drifts, as ever, as it has for decades as its listenership has faded, faded further, and then faded some more.
The Strategic Planning Committee has done nothing other than to meet and do nothing.
What’s the rush? What’s the problem?
It can wait.
Herewith, a sampler of relevant audio.
Try not to laugh. Try not to fall asleep. Try not to laugh while falling asleep.
Sunday, August 19, 2018
The following letter is also available for download in PDF format.
Friday, July 20, 2018
The exploding crisis at WBAI-FM 99.5 in New York—The exploding crisis here at WBAI-FM 99.5—A PRODUCER’S VIEW
I don’t want to start this message out saying I’m one of a number of “concerned producers” at WBAI-FM. That’s a cop-out phrase we’ve used too damned often.
What I AM is a reasonably principled person among many who can not and WILL NOT abide what’s going on here at this flagship station of The Pacifica Network. A reasonably principled person who has co-produced and co-hosted a program here at WBAI for the last thirty years alongside Jay Smooth who terminated doing HIS program, “The Underground Railroad” due to the now-media-documented apparent lunacy on the part of WBAI’s leadership over the hiring of Leonard Lopate as an on-air host.
There is no way to say the following delicately.
How...on earth...is it okay for a station (its leadership) that has championed itself as a media bulwark against retrograde forces opposing progressivism to just go out and bring onto its airwaves an individual terminated seven months prior from the number one public radio station in the number one market nationally during peak afternoon time for (as WNYC put it):
“violating WNYC's standards for providing an inclusive, appropriate, and respectful work environment”?
This decision was made by fiat. No discussion amongst the producers or on-air talent here—particularly the women producers and on-air talent—as to whether they were comfortable with a documented bully-er, harasser being paid to broadcast in their midst. Most producers found about the hire via the news about our station hiring a host who (and I repeat this for emphasis) WAS TERMINATED IN SPITE OF HIS FUND-RAISING ABILITY FROM THE NUMBER ONE PUBLIC RADIO STATION IN THE NUMBER ONE MARKET. And after he was pulled aside and given one-to-one counseling on proper workplace behavior towards marginalized people/subordinates. WBAI brass cravenly brought this man on board, mercenarily citing Lopate’s fund-raising potential while pooh-poohing WNYC’s investigation’s findings about the host’s behavior while conducting himself in a radio environment.
How is THAT okay? How is that EVER okay?
If it’s all about the dollars—great! Why not have ‘BAI just go for it! Let’s bring on Harvey Weinstein to do on-air movie reviews? (“Two grabby hands up!”) Or Kevin Spacey can grace our air discussing tips for young actors wanting to get ahead in their careers. (Pun unintended) They’re not doing anything right now. I’m SURE they have wealthy friends ready to fill WBAI’s / Pacifica’s fund-raising coffers too. After all, as stated by WBAI’s general manager, it’s really all about the money:
“Once we have all these people listening to us for him, this is ultimately an easy form of marketing. There should be no question that our numbers go up for all the other shows because of their quality that no one knew about.”
—WBAI General Manager Berthold Reimers on the Lopate hiring
This is a station which has hosts deeply allied (and rightfully so) with the #metoo movement. A station that supposedly champions equality, justice and is not about buttressing the status quo of sexism, yet...here we are, with Leonard Lopate hired on with a six-month contract at a 30K salary. Pacifica is paying a documented sexual harasser and workplace environment nightmare $30,000 to fundraise for it. This “there is no such thing as bad publicity” canard is insane. That’s what’s going on here at your New York flagship station.
If things here at WBAI were NOT so terribly dysfunctional, Lopate’s potential hiring could have been discussed in-group with producers and on-air talent to garner feedback. If things were OPEN and operational like a properly working institution there would be some dialogue, WOULD HAVE BEEN some dialogue. But that has NOT happened. This has been forced upon the station either on some twisted whim by the GM/local powers-that-be or the same with tacit approval by the national board or higher-ups beyond him. In other words...YOU. If that’s the case, then this letter is moot one would suppose, because it would mean that there is organizational support for this decision is to bring Lopate on with no care as to the comfort, safety and well being of WBAI’s woman programmers, administrators and on-air talent.
We’re hoping the latter is NOT so.
Finally, there is the simple fact that most of us here at ‘BAI found out about this “hire” after the fact, and those of us—a considerable number—who are to say the least, TROUBLED by the on-air change have had ZERO outlet to address this to WBAI management. A “management” that has over the last few years nearly (mis)“managed” this institution into broadcasting from an alley via tin cans and string more times than we can remember thanks to well-documented financial malfeasance, infrastructure neglect and a clear inability to handle the most basic of situations for a broadcast entity—i.e. payment of our antenna fees. Not to mention a management group that not at all ironically has ALSO grossly mishandled harassment/improper behavior situations IN OUR OWN STATION over recent years. As news broke about the hire, said station management has taken a decidedly Trumpian tone, defending Lopate vociferously in social media (particularly through abuse of the station’s Twitter feed), noting that they knew more about the situation that got him fired and what we knew and WNYC knew was somehow wrong. THIS “station” tweet (which was eventually deleted) was posted after the article in Columbia Journalism Review was posted:
WBAI 99.5 FM @WBAI • 2H
No proven sexual or physical allegations by WNYC!
The “Trumpian” adjective was NOT hyperbole.
As the furor raged, fellow producer Jay Smooth—whose show spun off from the show I do, The Creative Unity Collective Show and precedes it on-air, challenged ‘BAI’s management publicly and then received the following response:
WBAI 99.5 FM @WBAI
Replying to @jsmooth @RadioPacifica
Dear Jay. It’s so good to see you involved with WBAI. Management so rarely sees or hears from you. Perhaps you could use some of this extra time to get some BAI Buddies for your program.
Is THIS professional? Or is it petty? THIS is what the station’s public, managerial, promotional face has spewing from its virtual mouth. In addition to all the other debacles cited, it is NOW publicly mis-managing its air talent. And yes, THIS tweet was also withdrawn. As were others from a vile internet brigade championing Lopate’s hire and trashing Jay’s simple questioning of motives that were re-tweeted by whoever controls WBAI’s Twitter feed. Is this a rogue broadcast management junta acting out of turn or do these people “in charge” have your backing? And if they do NOT...
What do you intend to do about it?
Do you care?
Does it matter to you that based on this broken, intransigent stance by station management that Jay has now walked away from his program at WBAI yesterday? THE longest-running Hip Hop program in New York City because he cannot abide being part of a radio entity that would sign off on bringing a toxic Leonard Lopate aboard with no apparent care for the folks at the station most likely to be affected by his known tendencies?
Jay was the station’s most prominent on-air personality OFF-air as he was on constant call as an in-studio guest for numerous nationally broadcast cable news programs, and the station management’s choice to force Lopate on us AND THEN go out of its way to denigrate him (Jay) for not being afraid to have an open problem with it (as I TOO have had per the CJR article) has forced his hand on principle.
After 25-plus years on-air here. That is shameful. Pure and simple.
Laying this out for you this way feels almost silly. You’re all smart people. We all know you’ve read the news in recent days about Jay’s departure and why. I’m sure you know about this situation and MORE.
HERE’S WHY WE’RE LAYING THIS OUT!
It’s because nothing has happened and because of that the assumption is that you simply CAN’T possibly be in the loop about these events!
No call for a town hall. No reaction or reprimand for the station leadership’s ABUSE of the social media account to personally attack a producer/host. No comment whatsoever about this awful situation that threatens to rend this sixty-plus year old broadcast institution asunder AFTER its reputation has been trashed.
Not. One. Single. Word. About. (AGAIN) The hiring of an on-air personality a mere seven months removed from a justified firing from the most prominent local public radio entity for mistreating marginalized members of society...because he can make us some money. Never mind the ironic reality he will almost certainly COST the station money from an enraged and activated donor base.
That’s why this was written.
So. As the Notorious B.I.G. once said, “If you DON’T know, now you know.”
And if you knew, why haven’t you done anything as yet? More importantly, whether you didn’t know before or somehow DID, what pray tell do you intend to do about it, and WHEN?
As in NOW?
Not sitting around waiting forever for your answer as I know what I’M going to do,
Creative Unity Collective Show—@WBAI-FM, New York
Monday, August 13, 2018
September 24, 2008
TO: Pacifica National Board, Local Station Boards, All management and staff, Affiliate stations, collaborators, and stakeholders in Pacifica.
FROM: Nicole Sawaya, Executive Director/CEO
There followed this posthumous letter to Pacifica Radio founder, Lewis Hill. It was written almost ten years ago when Nicole Sawaya, a Lebanese-American who served as the Foundation's Executive Director felt a sad need to resign. Clearly, she saw a remarkable concept being destroyed by people who showed little or no appreciation for Mr. Hill's extraordinary attempt to offer listeners an intelligent alternative to commercial broadcasting.
Sadly, Ms. Sawaya's observations could almost have been made today, except for the sad fact that the deterioration of WBAI/Pacifica continued far past any point one could possibly have imagined.
I hope Linda Perry, who has been handed the monumental task of raising WBAI up from the rubble, reads this insightful decade-old observation and learns from it. I have placed a download link below. —Chris Albertson
September 23, 2008
Dear Lew Hill,
Greetings. My name is Nicole Sawaya, and currently, I'm the executive director and chief executive of the radio endeavor you started called Pacifica. It's changed a lot.
You wouldn't believe what your "killer app", as some might portray it in 21st century lexicon, has spawned. Now there are 5 stations licensed to Pacifica in densely populated and roiling urban areas – millions of human beings within ear shot, all with easy access to the cheapest and most accessible broadcast mediums on the planet, radio. Yes, the planet. There is an Archive of programming and folios spanning decades – a repository and collection of voices that truly belongs to the people as part of the history of our country and the world. And, there are over a hundred smaller stations scattered through rural and urban settings -- cities and towns and ridge tops -- affiliated with Pacifica and broadcasting our programming – a network that has been in place for quite awhile.
Beyond that, your notion that the listeners would voluntarily financially support radio, journalism and cultural exchange, created a model for many, many non-commercial educational radio stations to apply. Your vision of public ownership of the airwaves put into practice with the radio license you applied for and grew as the first non-profit community licensee station, gained great traction and has been replicated exponentially.
We don't exchange The Subscriber radios anymore for pledges, and you wouldn't recognize how the fundraising marathons have changed – it's a bit like an on-air shopping experience. But listeners continue to support us voluntarily with their hard earned money, and they're not necessarily just bound to radios to listen to us.
An aside: When I was (briefly) general manager of your first station, KPFA, there was a Subscriber radio in the office, but it was tucked away and dusty. When I discovered it, soon after taking the job, I was so excited to learn of its history. It completely inspired me as Pacifica was heading to its 50th anniversary. So elegant, so innovative for its time, so smart.
Mr. Hill, what you conceived has had one of the highest impacts in media history. Not just the staunch belief in listener support, but your notions that journalistic enterprises should remain unfettered from any sort of business support in order to maintain credibility; that to help in striving for a more peaceful and just world, radio (or what we now refer to as media) programming should give access to myriad viewpoints and in-depth news, coupled with an exposure to the arts and to cultures and happenings from all over the world; that innovation is vital, have all lived on. You were a pioneer.
Fast forward to today.
Our country is at war. Our government is a death machine abroad and a fear machine at home. Our broadcast media is, in general, mind-numbingly useless, filled with shameless propagandists and completely profit driven. The earth's climate is changing radically and the gap between rich and poor is larger than the Grand Canyon, with by far the larger group on the poor end. I could go on, but it would take a while.
Your Pacifica is showing signs of stress as well.
Sadly, it is no longer focused on service to the listeners but absorbed with itself and the inhabitants therein. I call it Planet Pacifica, a term I coined during my hiring process. There is an underlying culture of grievance coupled with entitlement, and its governance structure is dysfunctional. The by-laws of the organization have opened it up to tremendous abuse, creating the opportunity for cronyism, factionalism, and faux democracy, with the result of challenging all yet helping nothing. Pacifica has been made so flat, that it is concave – no leadership is possible without an enormous struggle through the inertia that committees and collectives and STV's (no, not sexually transmitted viruses, but single transferable votes) can engender.
Pacifica calls itself a movement, yet currently it is behaves like a jobs program, a cult, or a social service agency. And oftentimes, the loudest and most obstreperous have the privilege of the microphone. There are endless meetings of committees and "task forces"– mostly on the phone – where people just like to hear themselves talk. Sometimes they get lucrative contracts from their grandstanding. It's been grueling for someone in my position, someone like me who is not a process person, much less a political gamer. I keep asking: what's the endgame? Paralysis has set in, coupled with organizational drift.
The programming isn't attracting many listeners anymore, either. It skews towards the narrow in its editorial stance, leans towards the niche, and change to the programming can't occur without a fight. The listening audience is small, in other words, the stations have yet to grow into their large signals.
Business practices are oftentimes shoddy and opaque and mirror the culture of our times – lots of self-interest with a focus on individual needs as opposed to performance, affordability, or the common good. And we've hit some tough economic times without having the general will to do the hard work necessary in order to ensure sustainability– contracting rather than continually expanding the size of our financial obligations. Basically, resources and airtime have been allocated for internal political purposes at the expense of service to audience, innovation, or the care and feeding of our broadcast physical infrastructure. Some of this has to do with the fact that very few people either on air or off air actually have radio experience, other than being part of Pacifica.
That was not the case with you, nor is it with me.
Conversely, there are many dedicated and smart people working within Pacifica. They may not work at full speed – it is rather "comfortable" especially for those who work unsupervised – but they make a consistent effort to give voice to the voiceless and hold government and power accountable. And those who work without self-interest or giving constant grief to management (a four-letter word in Pacifica) are to be applauded.
The overall media landscape has changed fundamentally. I find it exciting and wanted very much to bring Pacifica into the 21st century. The demographic of our country has changed as well, not to mention all the new generations now active and alert to the world around them. It is, to quote Victor Hugo, the best of times and the worst of times. Apparently, it's always been like that.
Pacifica could take advantage of technology, both at the front end (content and programming) and the back end (infrastructure and business applications), but that would require the general will of the internal stakeholders, and that general will is not cohesive enough or even amenable to altering the status quo.
I have given notice and will be leaving Pacifica shortly. Despite my best intentions and determined and focused efforts, I was continually thwarted to do the job I was hired to do. I did my best to apply my knowledge, expertise, and creativity to Pacifica, and we made some forward progress.
I gave to those responsible for the governance and oversight, plans, clarity, and transparency. They cannot deny knowledge of the state of the network. Whether they act on it, or just call in consultants to tell them what time it is, is another issue. I tried to dispel magical thinking in all arenas and was relentless in my attempts to get some best practices and collaborations in place.
I had some success.
It's not necessary for me to alliterate those successes. Despite being handed an enfeebled situation and having no resources to work with, I gave it my best shot and worked hard. And despite having to fight for every inch of standing, not to mention authority, I have enjoyed working with those who actually work and accomplish bona fide deliverables of consequence and service.
We stand now on the shoulders of hundreds, if not thousands of those who have contributed internally. And Pacifica is much loved and valued by its listener supporters. Pacifica will carry on, and it has been a challenging opportunity to, albeit briefly, help out.
I hope that all stakeholders remember that Pacifica is a public trust, a veritable weapon of mass information, and keep a big vision in play rather than petty politics.
Thanks for being a bold and brave broadcaster.
With much respect,
Nicole Sawaya's posthumous letter to Lew Hill — in full.