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Program Director Selection Committee Overruled by GM

Posted at: http://www.ringnebula.com/folio/Issue-8/K-WBAI_PD_Hire_0720.htm

Utrice Leid who was passed over for the position of WBAI Program Director despite recieving the most votes turned out to be one of the key takeover persons in the "Christmas Coup" later the same year.


WBAI General Manager Van Isler Overrules Selection Committee in WBAI PD Hire

By CdPNY [Coalition for a democtratic Pacifica NY - owners of wbai.net]
(793 words)

Months ago a democratic election was held at WBAI Radio to select three staff members and three WBAI Local Advisory Board members to serve on the nine member Applicant Review Committee (ARC). The ARC's responsibility was to select a Program Director to replace the late Samori Marksman. WBAI's Public Affairs, Arts, and News Directors completed the ARC membership. The ARC conducted a nation-wide search for candidates for the important position of PD at WBAI, and came up with a first and second choice: Utrice Leid, host of WBAI's daily program "Talkback", and Laura Flanders, former interim news Director at Pacifica. Another candidate, Bernard White, host of "Wake Up Call", was described by ARC members as Lacking sufficient depth and breadth for the all-important position.

General Manager Valerie van Isler reacted promptly to the ARC's decision. Claiming the Committee was merely advisory; Ms. van Isler declared the Committee's selection process invalid and appointed Bernard White the new Program Director. Ms. Van Isler has proven over the past several years to be an uncompromising defender of the policies of the Pacifica National Board. Her efforts in support of the National board include her Ruthless efforts to decertify the local union at WBAI, United Electrical Workers Local 404 and equivocating support for the armed invasion of WBAI's sister station, KPFA in Berkeley. Clearly Ms. van Isler does not believe in the democratic process.

During this year of crisis at Pacifica, Bernard's public comments on the National Board's actions have been curiously absent. This silence had the effect, if not the intent, to make it clear to Pacifica management that Mr. White would not rock the boat. Indeed, Mr. White has actively cooperated with the Pacifica National Board by his conspicuous silence on anything critical of his employers. This is in sharp contrast to others at WBAI, such as Utrice Leid of "Talkback", or Paul DeRienzo and Joan Moossy of "Let 'em Talk", as well as the producers of "The Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade". These producers have used their airtime to educate the tens of thousands of listeners as to the magnitude of this ongoing crisis. During a rarely held on-air "Report to the Listener" broadcast in late June, a CdP-NY member who had attended the last two Pacifica National Board meetings called in. The listener-sponsor provided clear, concise details of those two meetings, including governance issues, Mary Frances Berry's consistent early departure from meetings, and Berry's resignation as Pacifica Foundation Chair.

Without a moment's hesitation as the caller finished up, Bernard White gave the following response: "You know, there are many, many interpretations of events. I'm sure that many of you who listen know that you can go to a meeting and walk away and there will be several people that will give you different interpretations of the meeting, and I want to thank you for your interpretation". Disingenuous answers that attempt to discredit concerned listener-sponsors, rather than inform listeners of substantive issues, speak to Mr. White's underlying motivation.

As just one example, the nominal new host of Mr. White's show "Wake Up Call" is Clayton Riley. Mr. Riley is, at best, a controversial figure in the New York broadcast community. He was an ardent supporter of Mary Frances Berry throughout last year's armed occupation of KPFA. According to WBAI sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Mr. Riley was asked to leave under duress from WLIB and WBAI during earlier tenures at both stations.

Watch this space for ongoing investigations of these claims. Who made the decision to appoint Mr. Riley to a12 hour, 4-day time slot while long-time WBAI producer Robert Knight was passed by? This choice was even more surprising in light of Mr. Knight's co-production, with Dennis Bernstein, on the highly acclaimed series, Contragate. Another caller on the aforementioned Report to the Listener questioned why the listeners had no say in Mr. White's replacement, and received a brush-off similar to the one described above. To what degree is the selection of Bernard White a conscious policy move by Pacifica? A compliant Program Director at WBAI, one who will not defend the interests of the listeners and producers, and who will support Pacifica's efforts to corporatize the network and change its mission, would be an enormous asset. To what degree are van Isler's actions intended to smooth the way for the sale of the most valuable radio asset in the Pacifica network? As they say, actions speak louder than whatever words people utter. Van Isler stated during her Report to the Listener in late June that her unilateral action to override the ARC was "a managerial decision" -- demonstrating quite clearly that van Isler believes democratic structures have no place at WBAI.

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