Control of process and airwaves:
Opinions and editorial
Lower down on this page is part of a discussion that was posted on the message board at:http://goodlight.net/wbai .
Towards the bottom of this page is a statement from the program's producer Shawn Rhodes.
First though, a bit of opinionated background:
On Friday, March 22 WBAI producer Habte Selassie agreed to have Shawn Rhodes (from the Concerned Friends of WBAI elections committee, and a producer at WBAI since 1994) use that evening's program (Habte is on Fridays 10pm - midnight) to produce a special segment on the Pacifica settlement/bylaws/elections. Invited as guests were: Ray Laforest - WBAI LAB, iPNB, WBAI committee, co-chair of the NY bylaws subcommittee; Andrea Fishman - CF elections committee, LAB bylaws exploratory committee; Carol Spooner (on phone) - iPNB secretary, chair of national bylaws committee, KPFA LAB.
Lee Kronick and Marian Borenstein of the WBAI LAB and co-chairs of the LAB governance exploratory committee, LAB member Rashida Ismaili Abu-Bakr, and Mike Beasley who is also involved in the exploratory committee, were at the station prior to the program to request that they also be allowed to participate as guests. Lee Kronick posted on the Goodlight messageboard:
"Marian Borenstein, Co-Chair of the LAB, Rashida, and I (you might remember that I chair the Exploratory Committee for revision of By- laws and Elections), and also Mike Beasley, were at the station at 9pm. At two minutes to 10, Habte walked by us without even acknowleging our presence. When Ray mentioned that three members of the LAB were seated outside the studio, and the cart, which Shawn made on his own, which announced that the discussion of by-laws and elections would include members of the IPNB and the WBAI LAB, he was informed that he was considered to be the representative of BOTH the IPNB and the LAB. We were ignored!
Prior to the announcement in the Fall of 2001 that the Pacifica lawsuits settlement would mandate of elections within Pacifica, there was no activity supportive of LAB elections initiated by the WBAI LAB. Then the exploratory committee was formed to come up with ideas for elections process and chaired by 2 people formerly recognized as being against elections (at least previously - Lee's statement in July 2001).
Until recently, as meetings have much improved, there had been little indication of a determination by the committee to achieve anything substantial. Week after week saw endless discussions on process of procedure or things similarly abstract with no attempt at focus or returning the agenda to the issues by the moderator. The eventual settlement stated that the KPFA elections procedure model was to be used as a starting point, yet copies of this document were no-where to found at the meetings (until I personally distributed them).
Exploratory co-chairs Kronick and Borenstein have made clear their positions that elections/bylaws initiatives should be controlled and or approved by the LAB. While the LAB should certainly be involved, it is anyone's right - be they listener, staff, board member etc., to initiate and present ideas and to organize forums to discuss, explore and educate. This past January when the CF elections committee organized an excellent lecture by David Greene, the Election Coordinator of both KPFA elections, Kronick and Borenstein protested that such unsanctioned initiative was taken outside of the LAB. The LAB and wbix were invited to participate and the event was a success though there was a bit of drama at the beginning when Lee and Marian simply took over the microphone to act as mc's introducing the program and making comments without any invitation from the event's organizers.
This past Friday, Lee and Marion, along with Rasheeda (who is openly uncomfortable with anyone on or connected with the CF elections committee) turn up at the station hoping to once again assert some influence over people's discussion and education on issues of Pacifica/WBAI governance and elections. As they were not invited by the producer of the segment, they were not brought in to join the program. (Though, they could of called in during the call-in segment)
It was an excellent program, extremely well organized and informative on the issues of upcoming elections, bylaws re-writing and related history. (Back in February, I formally proposed a 1.5 hour weekly program on these topics for WBAI, but the idea was rejected by the program director.) In fact the LAB was represented on the program, and at WBAI the policy has been that a program's producer has autonomy as to selection of guests. Carol Spooner and Andrea Fishman were particularly sharp.
Part of the distress on the part of various people over this past Friday's program was due to the pro-Chistmas coup position that the timeslots's host Habte Selassie has publicly taken. Though it may not of been clear from his on-air explanation Friday night, it seems that what he is saying is that last year, at the time of the takedown, he supported the removal of station manager Van Isler and her power structure - something many others on both sides of the coup issue at the station had also supported. He is, or apparently has been, ignorant of much of what the hijackers of Pacifica actually carried out, so apparently doesn't realize what he is actually supporting when he says he supported the coup. Of course, this doesn't make him right, but perhaps sheds some light on what he is actually saying.
If, in fact, things are progressing with bylaws and elections process in the WBAI area, this is certainly welcome. This would mean that people involved are becoming more enlightened, feeling a little less threatened, and should not necesarily be strictly held to their past positions.
Process with content is what Lee is missing. Process to fillibuster is his game. Or else he just can't chair a meeting properly.
Now Lee is Bashing Shawn because he didn't invite the LAB onto the show. It is the programmers decision of who to have on. C'mon Lee. it wasn't members of the LAB that weren't invited, because Ray Laforest was on. What is he? Chopped liver. Don't recognize your brother as a LAB member? Or not the right one. Perhaps Ray is too unbiased and might not spew rhetoric about the righteous LAB over content. Or maybe it was there wasn't someone to counter the listener voice on the radio. Or maybe it was that you can't control the situation.
relax, there's going to be more of this stuff you can't control. Afterall the bylaws committee is going to include listener input, right?
everyone has an opinon and get used to it.
Dingeman, you are a phony pseudo-democratizer!
Does anyone not believe that the by-laws revision and election process is important?
Shawn, member of the Concerned Friends Election Committee, a listener-activist organization, sets up a dialogue with a "coupster" producer, who has sanctified the Utrician agenda, and doesn't even have the common courtesy to notify the Local Advisory Board of the program. We've been working on "by-laws revisions" and the "elections process" since November. Everyone who has participated in the LAB Exploratory Committee, including a number of members of the CF EC, recognized that there are many susbstantive issues that have to be addressed, some that are quite conroversial. Our meetings have been open to all, and any listener who wanted to comment, did so. (We're having another meeting on Monday evening, 3/25/02 at 6:30pm at the offices of DC 1707, 75 Varick St, 14th Flr (wheelchair accesible.) We'll be discussing "what constitutes voting membership", and related subjects.
No one is trying to "control" anything except you, perhaps, Mr. Dingeman.
Lee spouts off over his viewpoints not being heard on the air because Habte decided not to fall prey to self-appointed control freak censorhship. I thought one of their great slogans was no censorship and an end to the gag rule!!!!!!
The deeper reason of course is that the LAB in cahoots with the PC installed leadership are anxious NOT to have a real democratic election and work overtime to diss it at any opportunity. The usual ferocious on air warriors who talk alot of shit have ben in the main not to johnny on the spot to talk about elections and by-law changes. I have heard some say it is too boring, not relevant anymore. Yeah, they always know which way the power of the weatthervane blews and know how to accomodat6e to it to keep that narcotic mike at the ready in fron of their lips.
That is why the board at the national level should formally porovide space on the schedules of all the stations so that the people who debated yesterday and the people who were pissed that they were not heard can all be heard and people can make up their minds. But, knowing how Bernard and his power faction is they will want to revert back to their normal Goebbels like on air manipulation of ideas, esepcially when it has to do with formal structure of power and how it should be rethought.
In their minds it is always bettyer to have it handled by the VANGUARD of their like minded people and they spoonfed to the listeners as if they were a bunch of morons.
Things can never return to normal as they were before. Why cannot the new ideas of all sides be debated and reasoned with lots of time allocated to it. This does not include a agenda to EXCLUDE,WIPE OUT,ELIMINATE clashing opinion. After all, is that not anithetical to the Pacifica mission?
As far as I know, the process of being a guest on a WBAI radio show involves being invited to appear by the host of that show, (here the host and guest host). Thinking you belong on a show isn't a part of the process, although many people listening feel the same way you do, Lee. In fact it wasn't necessary to have every voice on that show. There was quite enough variety of opinion. In the great summer of radio4houston, pacifica matters were discussed brilliantly even though only two guests at a time had access to the air. And I don't think any of them were ever from the WBAI lab.
STATEMENT FROM SHAWN RHODES
It troubles me to have to bring this matter before the LAB because I don't want to do anything that would make our working together to make bylaws rewriting and holding elections even more difficult, but at the same time LAB members cannot be allowed to think certain types of behavior will be tolerated by producers who are an essential component in this elections process.
Now I know when different groups of people work together sometimes disagreements will occur, but at the very least there should always be a certain standard of behavior that one adheres to. It need not be in writing but a general understanding that certain boundaries are not to be crossed. The behavior that was exhibited on Friday, March 22 before and after the Labbrish show by Lee Kronick, Marian Borenstein and Rashidah Ismaili Abu-Bakr went way beyond the bounds of acceptable behavior; completely beyond the pale. For those who don't already know what happened, these individuals, as the youth of today would say, rolled up on us and tried to bum rush the show.
I produced a special edition of Habte Selassie's show, Labbrish, dealing with the settlement/bylaws and elections. The invited guests for the discussion were Carol Spooner, Ray Laforest and Andrea Fishman (of the Concerned Friends Election Committee). Lee, Marian, and Rashidah showed up uninvited, hurling accusations that there was no LAB representation, that Ray had not discussed this with the LAB, that the cart made it sound as though the show was endorsed by the National Board and the LAB, and insisted that they should be on the show because they had worked very hard on these matters. They were so insistent, they had to be refused twice. Marian was told once "no" by Habte and in the studio, a short time later, Ray asked me on behalf of Lee if he could come on the show and I too said "no".
As a side note, for 2 days after the show, Lee posted to a number of listservs (see attached) claims that Ray is in fact not a LAB member but an IPNB member, that the LAB members who showed up (again uninvited) were ignored and invented a new process for getting shows on the air and insinuated that I didn't follow this fabricated process. Now, in the eight years that I've been a producer at WBAI, I've never, ever, seen or heard of LAB members showing up uninvited, insisting on being on a show and creating an uncomfortable atmosphere both before and after the show. This was a first. And what's even more egregious is that this action was taken by LAB members who are supposedly here to protect and support producers. Is this their idea of support and protection?
And I think it should be clearly understood that the behavior of these LAB members does not *just* encroach upon programming, it also sets up a tense working relationship with other producers because if producers feel that LAB members think it's acceptable to show up uninvited and upset them and their guests, you will lose a number of allies in your effort to bring these issues to the air. Trust me on this one. That's the one last taboo. Showing up uninvited and upsetting producers and guests before and after the show is a major no no.
If I may, I'd like to take a moment to address this assertion that Ray is not a LAB member. Ray identifies himself as a LAB and IPNB member, Carol refers to him as a LAB and IPNB member, at the March IPNB meeting he was identified as a LAB and IPNB member and according to the settlement, the IPNB is to be comprised of LAB members from the 5 signal areas.
The settlement doesn't say those LAB members stop being LAB members once they are on the IPNB. In light of all of this, it's being put forth that Ray is not a LAB member. I find that fascinating.
Getting back to the behavior of these LAB members, I'd like to point out that when we've seen behavior similar to this in other contexts it's been widely condemned. When Bessie Wash showed up for Grandpa's show, that was an outrage and viewed as censorship. When Utrice actually came in on Building Bridges, again that was an outrage. Now after having won back the station, LAB members can invite themselves to a show and that's deemed acceptable? Or is it more acceptable because it's the show of a so called collaborator? If so, that raises the question, when Earl Caldwell, Hugh Hamilton or Gary Null discuss these matters, does that mean that LAB members can just show up? Also, does this mean only the banned and fired can discuss these matters and everyone else has to be gagged and silenced? Is this what we fought for? Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it.
The bottom line is this: the LAB can't control who participates in this process and what message gets out. Furthermore, it doesn't matter what they think of Habte, it doesn't matter what they think they heard in the cart, it doesn't matter that they didn't know about the show before hand. None of that gives LAB members the right to show up invited, insist to be on a show and create an uncomfortable atmosphere both before and after the show. Their behavior was an inappropriate response. They had no business being there in the first place. The LAB has absolutely no programming authority. And please, don't believe for an instant, as some are now trying to assert that they were simply there if they were needed. This was not some genteel, polite, civil offering of ones services. If they were needed, they would have been invited in the first place. And there are witness who are not connected with the show in anyway who can attest to how riled up these folks were. Again, wrong is wrong, no matter who does it. And I would strongly suggest LAB members think carefully about the ramifications of their actions before doing something like this again.
Additional information and documentation available upon request
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