Building Bridges Pulled off the Air
email Congressman Major Owens
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 4:16 PM
Ken Nash and his guests on Building Bridges were pulled of the air abruptly today by interim station manager Utrice Leid, who said she believed that lies had been told by Ken and his guest, Rep. Major Owens.
Ken opened the program by reading a statement condemning the firing and banning of Mimi Rosenberg, his co-host, on Feb. 5. He said that Mimi flatly denied the charges of violence made against her by Utrice Leid, and that he believed that it was Utrice that ought to apologize for her conduct since Dec 22, when Leid and Pacifica Executive Director Bessie Wash changed the locks at WBAI and a series of firings and bannings begun. At least 10 people have been banned from the station since that time.
Ken also said he refused to acknowledge the validity of Mimi's banning, and that he felt obligated to report on what he described as an injustice.
This lasted 2-3 minutes.
Following Ken's statement, Ken spoke with his phone guest Rep Major Owens about WBAI, the labor rally Feb. 20, the banning of Mimi and the general gagging of media in America, and the idea of a people's media which has been exemplified by WBAI.
Owens asked, who owns the airwaves, and who owns a non-profit institution? He says WBAI must be given a structure that fits it's mission. As Rep. Owens is saying, "We must keep alive what WBAI stands for, freedom of speech..." Utrice Leid is heard entering the control room.
She said, "Major Owens, Major Owens".
Owens says"Hello" a few times, sounding confused as she is off mike and there is a babble of voices in the background.
All sound stops at about six minutes into the program, and there is dead air for a few seconds. When sound returns, Leid is addressing Major Owens, "Hello, I'm here, " she says while Ken Nash attempts to ID the show from off mike (or a turned off mike)
Then, dead air again, and music begins playing for about 6 min.
The engineer comes on about 12 min and introduces Utrice Leid, after expressing support for her action.
Leid says that she "Just had to do something that she wished she did not have to do" but had to "send a signal that enough is enough."
She said that the program began "with what in effect is a false statement and we have had enough of such false statements" She went on to defend the management position, and her views.
For the rest of the hours she takes calls from listeners.
During the duration of her time on air, she insists that neither Rep. Owens, Mumia Abu Jamal, Noam Chomsky, nor others that have made statements condemning the acts of WBAI/Pacifica have been misinformed or duped. She mentions frequently that the truth has not been told by critics of events at WBAI. Accuses critics of right-wing tactics, bad journalism.
Audio of the program is available on line:
We hope to have a transcript available soon.
What Happened on "Building Bridges" Monday 3/5/01 On and Off the Air
BY Ken Nash
On the Monday, 3/5/01 program I read statement over the air in my opening remarks concerning the firing and banning of my Co- producer Mimi Rosenberg (see below). I then asked my guest Congressman Major Owens who was on the telephone to comment on the situation at WBAI which he did in a general way talking about the value of free speech radio WBAI and the need for democratic reform of the governance structure of WBAI. As he was talking Interim Manager
Utrice Leid came into the Studio, and sat down in front of the mike across from me.
When Major Owens paused she started to talk. ( I had intended at this time to bring Larry Adams, President of Local, 300 of the National Postal Mailhandlers Union into the conversation).
I told Utrice that this was "Building Bridges" and that I was the Host of the show. I then realized that my mike was turned off and Utrice was still talking saying
"Major Owens" and "I'm here" . I was saying that this is Building Bridges , I'm the Host of the show and that at WBAI the Host of the show determines who is to be on the air and not the Station Manager. I said that I had not invited Utrice Leid and that she should leave. At this point I had moved to her mike which I assumed was live but the aircheck reveals that through most of it Michael Haskins had taken us off the air and was playing music. Utrice did say on mike that she was "here because I believe some lies have been said here" while I persisted that this was my show and she should leave. During much of this the mikes were turn off. I repeated that traditionally at WBAI the Host determines who is on the show and that she has plenty of air time to state her point of view. She said that I could stay and we could dialog and I responded that she was not welcome on my show and she should go. I said that if she wanted to dialog she should make some of her airtime available. At which point she said that "Building Bridges was cancelled".
I gathered up my possessions including the aircheck and left the studio. Utrice
Leid stayed on to make a statement and take listener calls.
The Statement I read on "Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report" - Monday, 3/5/01
Good afternoon and welcome to Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report, I'm Ken Nash.
We've been off the air during this Marathon and therefore out of touch.
As many of you know and as others don't My co-host Mimi Rosenberg was fired and banned from the Station by the Interim Station Manager Utrice Leid on February 5th. Ms Leid demanded an apology from Mimi for berating her a few hours after Mimi learned about the firing of Bernard White and Sharan Harper. Ms Leid also alleges that Mimi threatened her. This Mimi denies. This was during the lockout of staff during what is commonly now referred to as the xmas coup on dec. 23rd of last year.
Mimi , of course, refused to apologize Why should she?
Indeed, if there is any one who should apologize it is Interim Station Manager Utrice Leid For the firings for the bannings for the armed camp atmosphere that pervades wbai and for collusion with the enemies of WBAI and Pacifica, and I mean those people who are currently in control of the Pacifica Network
I am compelled to talk about this situation not just because my Cohost was wrongfully fired and banned from the station, not just because Mimi is a magnificent journalist and social activist, not just because she has contributed to this station and has helped build this stations for the the past 30 years on this and other programs, as a members of the Local Advisory Board and in so many different ways, but because this is a Labor and Community Report. How can I report on the injustices throughout the city, the country and the world and be expected to remain silent when my own co-host, Mimi Rosenberg has been fired for no good reason except she opposed the will of Interim station manager Utrice Leid.
Well, Ms. Leid may say that Mimi is no longer the Co-producer of Building Bridges:Your Community and Labor Report but that is not my view. I do not recognize the legitimacy of any of the firings and bannings and will fight on the air and off the air to restore a situation of normalcy to WBAI which has not been here since Dec 22, 2000
There is course a gag order in effect at the station. Producers are constantly censoring themselves from going too far in order to stay on the air. This is not the reason I came to WBAI. I came to talk about and bring to you news from the class war which the working class wages every day. But when we are told not to talk about the very struggle at WBAI which we would report on if they were elsewhere. When we are gagged and some of us are fired and banned. IF WE ARE ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE WE MUST BE ABOUT SOCIAL JUSTICE AT WBAI - PACIFICA RADIO.
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