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WBAI LAB minutes

Minutes of the WBAI Local Advisory Board Meeting

Tuesday August 6, 2002, at 310 W. 43rd St., Manhattan.

Present: Rashida Ismaili Abubakr, Marian Borenstein, A. Victoria Hunter, Lee Kronick, Ray Laforest, Miguel Maldonado (Chair), Andrew Norris

The meeting was called to order at 6:30 PM by the Chair.

A moment of silence was observed in honor of Hiroshima day. Minutes from the meeting of July 2, 2002, were accepted by 5-0-1 (Aye, Nay, Abstain). An agenda was circulated by the Chair.

General Manager Search Committee Report: Leslie Cagan (Chair of iPNB and member of the GM Search Cmte) said the committee had received approximately 48 resumes, mostly from people in the New York area, from which 9 were selected for phone interviews. One of the 9 dropped out. The committee realizes the process is taking some time, but August 18 is the last day for application. The salary is in the range of $60-65K, but is a matter of the budget. Marcia Newfield, a member of the committee predicted a decision would be made in a matter of weeks. Marian Borenstein (co-chair of the committee) said they were working diligently, meeting weekly.

Program Council and Folio: Rashida Ismaili Abubakr, the LAB member of the Program Council since June, gave an overview of the PC. It meets every two weeks, there is no final schedule of programs as there are ongoing pilot programs, but the target for a program schedule is mid- to late September. There are concerns over union issues which the staff and producers must agree to themselves. A process for developing the Folio will begin when the program schedule is in place. The cost is being examined, it may be letter sized, folded from larger sheets, and will be mailed to all subscribers. It may be possible to generate revenue through advertisements.

A. Norris: To whom should listeners provide input on the programming? Answer: To Rashida and also to other members of the PC, such as Susan Lee and Bob Lederer. Bernard White, the Program Director, is busy and might not be the best to approach. There was a general question: what is the PC? Bob Lederer explained it as an advisory body to the Program Director, which is now starting to evaluate programming. Leslie Cagan suggested that no further programming changes be taken until the new GM is in place. Miguel Maldonado suggested that some of the programming changes have been questionable. Marcia Newfield said it might be better to wait until the GM is in place before deciding on the Folio, to which Rashida agreed. Carolyn Birden said she wanted to be involved in the Folio effort, and suggested outreach in order to reduce the cost. Rashida said there were several proposals and alternatives for production, but no decisions have been made because there is no budget. Susan Lee suggested a quarterly Folio asap. Patty Heffley suggested an email/online version could be put into effect with minimal budget, and that something could be included in the direct mailings that exist already.

LAB Air-time: Miguel Maldonado said he will be talking with Bernard White about the planned monthly LAB half-hour program.

Free Speech Radio News: Deepa Fernandes of FSRN gave a presentation and circulated documents on FSRN. She emphasized that FSRN had until now been essentially supported by KPFA alone, but could no longer survive in this mode. WBAI had been graciously providing studio time. However, for the next year they needed a regular income stream and suggested that each Pacifica station should separately budget for FSRN in the coming fiscal year. The documents gave details of the FSRN current and projected budget, and the amounts suggested for each station.

Discussion ensued, with questions on the financial state of FSRN, the role of CPB, and details of the financial prospectus provided to the LAB. Aaron Glantz of FSRN answered, and provided useful comparisons between the budget of the former PNN, versus the current and expected budgets of FSRN, respectively one quarter and one third of the PNN budget. Marian Borenstein noted that FSRN had approached the LAB before and at that time the LAB requested they return with specific financial data, which they have done. Support for FSRN was voiced by several LAB members, including Kronick, Abubakr and Norris. Leslie Cagan urged that the LAB support FSRN.

The following resolution was moved:
Be it resolved by the WBAI LAB that the WBAI LAB fully supports Free Speech Radio News and believes that WBAI should support FSRN at an appropriate level that will allow FSRN to continue to broadcast with a sustainable budget.

The resolution was adopted by a vote of 5-0-1, and it was agreed that the Secretary would send a copy of the resolution to the WBAI General manager, Valerie Van Isler.

Program Director's Report: Bernard White arrived and gave an impromptu brief summary of his recent written statement on his vision for WBAI programming. He mentioned that the ongoing fund drive was on target.

Questions and discussion followed. A. Norris asked if Gary Null was fundraising, and the PD said no, Null had decided not to. Norris then urged strict disciplinary action, so as not to repeat the one person boycott of fund raising that occurred two years ago. Leslie Cagan said that there was a network policy that all producers must pitch. A meeting was scheduled between herself, Null, Valerie Van Isler, Dan Coughlin (Executive Director) and a person from WPFW. Norris asked the PD whether he was happy with the mix of male versus female voices on the air, and the PD relied he was not. He explained that it is difficult to find female producers. Norris mentioned the particular case of Saturday programming, which he viewed as an "all male day". A. Victoria Hunter asked what level of autonomy is required for the PD job. Bernard answered that the collaboration with the PC is useful, but is still experimental, and works well sometimes, but sometimes not. He views the PC as advisory in nature. Hunter asked whether the PC was a democratic process to which he replied it was advisory. Miguel Maldonado asked how he deals with pre-empting programs, and Bernard replied that sometimes, with 96 programs on the air, things fall through the cracks. Patty Heffley raised the question of the bylaws programming and whether all views would be presented. Bernard said there was 2 hours/week, but that he had to remain sensitive to producers about how to schedule it. Hunter cautioned against too much bylaws programming, and said that the station was primarily for other issues, such as news. Steffie Brook suggested using the bylaws programming for pitching. Steve Seltzer said the governance programming needs better production.

Race & Nationality Discussion: Bob Lederer handed out documents and described their genesis, including how they grew out of a workshop on Race & Nationality held in Berkeley prior to the recent iPNB meeting there. He summarized the intended goals of the policy documents. The iPNB adopted these at the Berkeley meeting, and passed them back to the local boards and stations, in expectation of a progress report at the September iPNB meeting.

Some discussion ensued. Rashida Ismaili Abubakr said there was a tendency of some to problematize African and Asian people and people of color in general. Some have difficulty in hearing, seeing and speaking with Africans. Miguel Maldonado said the policies and goals laid out by Bob Lederer were definitely needed and that it was not simply a black/white issue. A. Victoria Hunter congratulated Bob Lederer and his colleagues, and said that this is most definitely a racist society. She asked what would be the measures of success, to which Bob Ledered replied that it is early, and we need to organize workshops and open up issues in an active manner. This requires changing Pacifica at all levels. Leslie Cagan suggested that the LAB have one or two members contact the station management and staff to put this in motion. Also, there could be an analysis of programming in terms of gender, race, etc. Mike Beasley said this is a very important issue. One member of the audience was of the opinion that a "dictatorship of blacks" exists at the station, to which Bernard White strongly disagreed, calling the remark "insane". He suggested that problems arise because people do not talk to each other. Marcia Newfield and Steffie Brooks voiced support for the race and nationality effort, suggesting that the listeners could be actively involved.

The following resolution on race and nationality was moved and adopted 7-0-0:
The WBAI LAB endorses the recommendation of the Pacifica Now! Anti-Racist Working Group as a guideline for Pacifica-wide policies on race and nationality. We call for the immediate creation of a WBAI on Race and Nationality Working Group with participation (to the extent possible) by management, paid and unpaid staff, LAB members, iPNB members, and listener activists.

It is was further suggested that the first goal of the Working Group would be to prepare a report for the iPNB by the time of its September 20 meeting.

Bylaws Revision: Leslie Cagan said that it was unclear what the next steps would be, if the iPNB would vote on the bylaws and then the LABs, or vice versa. Whatever happened, the LAB is only voting on the elections process and those aspects directly involving the LAB. Carolyn Birden said that the Constituency Model cannot work without the support of at least 3 of the 5 LABs. Susan Lee said it was not clear if either Spooner's or Robinson's draft bylaws would pass 3 of the 5 LABs.

Marian Borenstein said it was important to inform the LAB of the bylaws process, and A. Norris suggested that the LAB have a special meeting for this purpose at which ther would be invited presentations for the edification of the LAB. There was general agreement among the LAB for this, but no precise day or time was decided.

The meeting ended at about 10PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Norris
September 3, 2002

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