WBAI General Manager Search Committee meeting
[some related discussion lower on this page]
Weds., April 10, 6:30pm:
From: Leslie Cagan email@example.com
WBAI GENERAL MANAGER SEARCH COMMITTEE BEING ORGANIZED
On Tuesday, March 26th, several members of the WBAI Local Advisory Board and the three New Yorkers on the interim Pacifica National Board met to discuss the pulling together of the search committee needed for the general manager position which will soon be opening up at WBAI. Based on the guidelines adopted by the interim Pacifica National Board at their recent meeting in Los Angeles, the following was agreed to:
a) COMMITTEE COMPOSITION
Local Advisory Board - 4 people
The representatives from the non-LAB listener groups should be people who are not involved in another group. For instance, the Concerned Friends representative should not be someone who is part of the non-paid staff, or someone active in CPR, or in CDP. Also, we urge each group to make every effort to include persons of color, women and consider other diversity factors in the selection of its representative(s) to the committee.
We believe this will give us a good balance of listener groups (6 people), staff members (5 all together), the LAB (4 people), as well as representation from the National Board members in this area.
This is a large committee but we cannot let the size slow down the work. We hope everyone will be able to attend all of the meetings, but if not the process will have to keep moving forward.
b) MEETING DATE
c) WORK OF THE COMMITTEE
In addition to making sure that the notice of the job has gone out widely, the committee will: (1) review resumes, (2) select candidates for interviews, (3) make plans for more public discussion with the candidates and input from the various constituent parts of WBAI, and (4) narrow the field down to two or three finalists. These people will then be interviewed by Pacifica's executive director who will make the final decision.
From: Leslie Cagan
*** Please feel free to share this with others. ***
(Sorry for the length of this memo, but I hope you will take a moment to read it all. Thanks.)
There have been a number of email messages in the past week or so addressing various concerns about the committee being set up to handle the process for the search and hiring of the new general manager at WBAI. It is great to see the high level of interest in this important process, and I can only assume that there is a commitment to put in the significant time and energy that will be required.
Several people have raised concerns they have about the composition of the group. Let me remind everyone that this is a new moment in the life of Pacifica - and WBAI. That means, in part, that the ways things were handled in the past are being modified or, in some instances, completely re-invented. Since there has not been a blueprint in place for handling all of the new realities, we need to balance our need to keep moving things ahead with a degree of patience and goodwill be haven't always had.
The proposal for the composition of the WBAI GM search committee was put together by several members of the LAB and the three national board members in NYC. We looked at the guidelines passed by the Interim National Board at the Los Angeles meeting, and based on that we came to the proposal to have the following represented on the committee:
iPNB - 1 person
This is a large group - perhaps too large to be as efficient as we might like. I believe it would be a mistake to think about expanding this group, even though some constituent groups might feel somewhat under-represented. (For instance, I know that people outside of the five boroughs of NYC often feel their concerns and needs are not taken seriously.)
There have been questions raised about why some of these groups are on the list at all. Most specifically, there has been a suggestion made that the Pacifica Campaign, CPR and CdP are not real listeners' organizations. Personally, I find this an alarming assertion. It is one thing to say you don't agree with the approach of a group, or that you disagree with their tactics, but it is quite another to imply that the group has not been an active part of our struggle. Of course, if might be the case that not everyone is aware of the work of groups they have not been a part of. For instance, a lot of white activists might not know the work that CPR has done for the past year, mostly in the African American community. And for those of you unfamiliar with it, the Latino Interests Group has been working in that community for months - it is not a new group constructed for the purpose of representation on this search committee.
Another major issue raised has been the role of the staff in the process. I've seen email making a case for no staff representation (people are not usually involved in the hiring of their own boss), and I've seen the case made that there is not enough staff involvement in the process...that it is all too weighted toward the listeners. This is one example of what it means to be in a new moment in the life of this organization. For the first time, we are developing mechanisms that allow participation by the various constituent forces: station staff (paid and non-paid), members of the LAB and representatives of the activist listener groups. I'm not suggesting that the balance is perfect or that there is no room for improvement. Rather, I am reminding us all of the need to work for that balance. That is the commitment of the National Board and that's what we should strive for here.
There have also been concerns about the timing of the whole process. Specifically, staff would like to have more time to elect their representatives to the search committee. Given the size of the staff (upwards of 150 non-paid producers as well as the paid staff members) and the fact that as a group they do not meet very often, I agree that they need a little more time to determine who will fill their seats on the search committee. Several unpaid staff members distributed a memo on Friday (4/5) with specific ideas on how to slow the whole process down. They suggested that the meeting set for this Wednesday, April 10th be postponed, or that it be opened to any unpaid staff member who is interested.
I believe the meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, April 10th should proceed - that it should not be postponed to a later date. This meeting should have in attendance people from the various groups, thus making it a broader body than those of us who first met and developed the proposal. I believe the meeting should happen and that two items should be on the agenda: (1) composition of the committee, and (2) time line for the work of the committee.
I also strongly urge that the non-paid staff do the best they can to select two interim representatives to attend this meeting - and that it not be open to all non-paid staff who might be interested. Given the legitimate concerns raised by several listeners groups, they might then also suggest the meeting be open to any listener who is interested. The point of the Wed. night meeting is to keep the process moving, even if adjustments need to be made. I think that would be best served by staying with the original proposal for representation. If that group comes together and decides to change the numbers, or the balance, that's fine. The Wednesday meeting needs to establish a time line for the committee's work. I would certainly hope that the concerns of the non-paid staff for more time to make their permanent selection to the committee would be factored in.
We need to be clear that the time line for the work of this committee must include the following: agreement on the job description, enough time to get word out broadly, establishing criteria for evaluating applicants and determining who will be interviewed, establishing the interview process (questions, length, how the interviews are handled, etc.), narrowing down candidates for another set of interviews, etc. There is a lot of work to do and it needs to be done thoroughly and well....this is not something that should be rushed through. At the same time, we must deal with reality. Valerie has announced her intention to leave the position May 1st. Perhaps that can be pushed back to June 1st, but that still is not a great deal of time.
Some staff have also commented on the fact that the search committee proposal differs from the old UE contract, which is supposed to be the guideline used until there is a new contract. Yes, the proposal for the composition of this search committee is different from the old formula. But as I said at the beginning of this memo, we are in a new period and are called upon to function in new ways. One of those new ways is the fuller inclusion of the listeners' community.
Finally, I have seen several suggestions about how open the process is, especially the interview process. The guidelines approved by the Interim National Board calls for respecting the right of privacy of any and all applicants. The language passed by the iPNB said, "That means that the search/hiring committees will NOT make public either a list of who has applied nor anyone's resumes or application letters."
We went on to suggest that the search committees explore different ways to have greater listener and staff involvement. The search committee is not required to do any specific thing, but it must respect privacy rights. I hope that the WBAI committee will discuss creative ways to do all of this. Several people have suggested having interviews that anyone on the staff can observe, or any listeners can observe. Personally, I do not think this is a good idea and I would much rather see us develop a series of meetings or discussions that candidates might have with staff and/or the LAB and/or listener groups.
I am out of town and unable to attend the meeting on Wednesday night. I certainly hope it proceeds as scheduled, and that those who attend focus on the two most pressing issues: composition of this search committee and the time line for the work of the committee. I hope the meeting goes well.
From: R. Paul Martin
Well, this doesn't look proper to me.
Bob Lederer wrote:
Now didn't the iPNB say that they were going by the existing UE
Contract? That Contract has a Letter of Understanding about the GM
Search Committee: http://www.glib.com/contract.html#letter What's
outlined below bears just about no resemblance to that.
Previously it has been 3.
Previously this had been 3.
Now how are we choosing the two or three Paid Staff and the two or three Unpaid Staff people for this? In years past we ran an election. Nominations took three weeks and the elections went on for two or three weeks. The Paid and Unpaid Staff got to choose their representatives. If we don't ALL get to choose them then they're not representatives.
So this E-mail, which I'm hearing from others at the station they've not
even heard about, comes out on Good Friday and the first meeting of the
committee to choose the next WBAI GM is on April 10? So there's no way
to even hold any election for the Paid and Unpaid Staff reps to this
thing. That's only 7 business days between first notice to some people
and the beginning of this thing.
Why? The iPNB will get to do the actual hiring. Why do they get to
recommend to themselves?
Owned and operated by the Management and some Staff of WBAI.
Does this even still exist? This is something started by Juan Gonzalez
and it employed various WBAI ex-Management for the time of its
existence. Why does this little grouping get to have a seat on this
Not owned by Management, but, still, why?
What group is this? Why is this one group singled out for a seat on
Mostly under the influence of WBAI Management.
No, only 4, as opposed to the previous six. The PD is not Staff, the PD
is Management. Doesn't the iPNB know this?
As opposed to the three they used to have on this committee.
Which never interfered with this committee this way in the past.
Again, having a committee that hasn't been formed yet decide on its
first meeting date isn't seemly. Or have the members of this committee
been selected by Management already?
Too bad such notice has not been given to the WBAI Staff.
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