To solve WBAI’s financial crisis, the Pacifica National Board is reportedly considering leasing WBAI to another organization, and making the decision in a secret meeting. With our petition, we are insisting that they should not take such drastic action - which would mean losing WBAI's input into program decision-making, and depending on the lessee chosen, could be devastating to serving Pacifica's mission - rather than first fully trying effective fundraising methods. And the National Board absolutely must not make any such decision in a secretive manner without input from listeners and staff. This is also the position taken by the WBAI Local Station Board's Finance Committee on September 25.
In recent days, there have been several reports that the Pacifica National Board, in response to WBAI’s severe financial crisis, is considering proposals to lease out the station for multiple years to another nonprofit. The most detailed report was posted on September 24 (see http://radiosurvivor.com/2013/09/24/free-speech-radio-news-to-close-friday-victim-of-pacificas-financial-crisis/#more-22707 ). It read:
According to a source on the WBAI paid staff, Pacifica's Interim Executive Director, Summer Reese, has recommended to the Pacifica National Board leasing out the station for several years to the nonprofit that runs WFMU (a mainly music station in NJ) and WMFU. Another leasing offer being considered is from Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the public-access cable TV station. Both would involve handing over control of programming to these outside organizations in return for some level of ongoing payments to cover WBAI's operating costs.
The Pacifica National Board will probably make a decision on this matter soon in a secret meeting (conference call). What is at stake is the very identity and integrity of a station that has been a vital voice of dissent for more than half a century.
On Wednesday, September 25, the WBAI Local Station Board’s Finance Committee passed the following motion unanimously.
The WBAI local Finance Committee strongly urges the WBAI Local Station Board to urge the Pacifica National Board to postpone any decisions on the Local Management Agreement option and any other changes in WBAI's operational status until all other fund raising options for WBAI have been exhausted. In particular we urge the Interim Executive Director to organize a network wide emergency fund drive with the support of the PNB specifically aimed at paying off WBAI's immediate external debts, and to conduct an immediate fund raising mailing and emailing to the entire WBAI database.
In addition the finance committee recommends that the LSB demand that no decision on leasing WBAI or any other such status changes be made by the PNB before a public presentation and discussion by the WBAI LSB, on-air discussions in several time slots, and an LSB Town Hall meeting.
We urge the Pacifica National Board to take the actions called for by the WBAI Finance Committee. It would be totally unacceptable to surrender control of WBAI in haste and secrecy, and with a lack of democratic input by those who have sustained and those who have worked for the station for decades.