the historical documents

WBAI has experienced a coup and a bloodbath over the Christmas holidays. Executive Director Bessie Wash paid a visit to WBAI, and at this moment Pacifica National controls the station in the form of Talkback! producer Utrice Leid, who on her last show on Thursday reiterated that "there was no crisis" at WBAI, and that it was a "manufactured crisis".

How did this occur? Well Utrice, who has been deploring "the lack of transparency" at WBAI, had all the while been holding secret negotiations with Pacifica National! And last Friday in a "midnight maneuver" the locks were changed at the station and to all the offices, guards were brought in to ensure no entry, and Program Director Bernard White, who has been with WBAI for 20 years, was fired, along with Wakeup Call Producer Sharan Harper.

Then sometime after midnight, Utrice Leid announced over the air on the Creative Unity show, her ascension to the position of Interim General Manager, prematurely taking the place of GM Valerie Van Isler, who had been notified that she was to be terminated as of the end of the year. She then proceeded to enforce the gag rule by instructing the producers of Creative Unity to not discuss these internal matters any further on the air. And before the blood was dry the following cart began to be played throughout the day, and the following memos to WBAI Staff were released and read over the air.

Both Bernard White and Sharan Harper were notified of their termination in memos delivered by messenger early Saturday morning, and told that their offices had been locked and their possessions would be sent to them, and not to enter the station under threat of being arrested.

The station is currently in lockdown and heavily guarded, with only producers and guests about to do their shows being allowed entry. Producers attempting to prepare their shows for the upcoming week were barred from entering the WBAI studios at the door. On Christmas Day a Democracy Now! producer was refused admittance to the station to prepare for tomorrow's show.

All of this, despite the fact that over the course of the last few weeks in 3 separate meetings, staff have been almost 100% in favor of resistance, and in last Tuesday's meeting the vote was overwhelmingly unanimous (save for two) to oppose Pacifica's termination of Van Isler.

A demonstration of hundreds of listeners and producers was held at noon on Saturday outside the station, while inside, a planned teach-in on the crisis proceeded on the airwaves. One of the points made at the demonstration was that the firings of Valerie, Bernard and Sharan are totally illegal because they are protected by WBAI's union.

Since we're experiencing a takeover by Pacifica National, in order to save our station, it's very important to stay focused on who we're fighting and not get bogged down in personality issues, but we must remember that Utrice Leid is now working for Pacifica National, that she is the one who let them in the door, and that as Interim General Manager, she will be at some point replaced with a person of their choice, when she is no longer of use to them. Utrice herself was quoted on air as saying "I work at the pleasure of Pacifica as well."

What you can do :