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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 11, 2002
9:35 PM
CONTACT:  Concerned Friends of WBAI
John Riley 917-653-72/ 212-543-5246
jr273@Columbia.edu
New Pacifica National Radio Board Reinstates Fired and Banned Staff at New York’s WBAI
Chooses New National Executive Director
 
NEW YORK - January 13 - On Saturday, meeting in front of a cheering standing-room only crowd of over 500, the Interim Pacifica National Board (I-PNB) voted overwhelmingly to “reinstate” thirty-seven former WBAI staff and management fired, banned, suspended, or driven from their former positions since December 22, 2000. Citing WBAI Interim General Manager Robert Daughtry’s refusal to broadcast “Democracy Now!,” the board removed Daughtry because he “flagrantly defied the I-PNB directive.”

“The resolution to undo the December 2000, “Christmas Coup” is an historic event in independent media history, and is the first step in the reclaiming the network,” said Miguel Maldonado, WBAI Local Advisory Chair. “We look forward to the full democratization of the network”, he added.

In addition to addressing the WBAI crisis, the board appointed former Pacifica Network News Director Dan Coughlin as interim executive director. Coughlin had been removed from his position because he authorized a story about the boycott of Pacifica stations by affiliates to protest against network's managers shut down KPFA of Berkeley in late 1999. That shut down caused the largest protests in Berkeley since the Vietnam War. Coughlin joined the Pacifica Campaign in January 2001.

Pacifica Radio has been embroiled in controversy since those protests in 1999. In December 2000, Pacifica "re-programmed" its New York City station, WBAI, by firing and banning long-time programmers and eviscerating the station's progressive political programming. Last August, Pacifica suspended Amy Goodman and removed Democracy Now! from the Pacifica airwaves.

In dramatic point-counterpoint session the Pacifica Board received detailed reports from the station managers, chairs of the Local Advisory Board, and listeners from all five of the networks stations: WBAI in New York, WPFW in Washington, DC, KPFA in Berkeley, KPFT in Houston and KPFK in Los Angeles.

KPFK General Manager Mark Schubb reported that the Los Angeles station’s transmitter has been operating at a fraction of its normal power because the network’s national office had taken the specifically allocated money for its replacement and used it for their own purposes. Schubb speculated it was to pay the network’s legal fees from the lawsuits by listeners and local advisory board members.

KPFK’s Local Advisory Board chair David Adelson rebutted Schubb’s claims of dramatically increasing listenership. Speakers representing listener organizations from the Los Angeles area called for Schubb’s immediate suspension for refusing to broadcast Democracy Now! at both of it’s regular time-slots after being directed to by the Pacifica management, broadcasting deliberate misinformation to listeners regarding the current board and banning and firing over 100 staff, volunteers and programmers in a retailitory fashion.

The national board scheduled its next meeting for the weekend of March 9-11th in Los Angeles.

Houston’s Local Advisory Board was directed to get in compliance with PNB regulations regarding membership by weeks end.

IPNB member Wendell Johns, an Executive at Fannie Mae from the former ruling majority, interim Executive Director JoAnn Meredith and Houston General Manager Garland Ganter all resigned in the week before the board meeting. Tomorrow Democracy Now! is slated to be broadcast on all 5 stations at it’s regular times.

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