wbai.net Pacifica/WBAI history   events   links   archive   bylaws etc
PNB   LSB   elections   contact info   opinion   search

More programming interference at WBAI 7-26-01

Below, a report from Bob Lederer...With respect to Bob's disclaimer, I have reviewed the tape and Bob's representations are accurate. For those who wish to hear the broadcast, the events discussed below occur in the last 20 minutes of the show.

The show has been uploaded in its entirety in order to demonstrate that there was indeed no mention of Ms. Leid and her tenure at the City Sun. Rather than trying to stream the file, I suggest that you download and save the file on your computer. You will then be able to "fast forward" to the section in question.

Reminder: a free mp3 player winamp is available at

Click on the download link and select your operating system (either windows or mac) It is easy to install. Just follow the directions.


Last night there was a most extraordinary scene on WBAI's air that speaks volumes about the decomposition of management in the current crisis. I've reconstructed the events from various accounts, as best I can. You can hear the sound of the program on the Web at http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=3401 (which I didn't have available at the time I wrote this, so I take responsibility for any errors in this account).

Just after 7 pm, Basir Mchawe, a widely respected progressive African American educator and broadcaster who has supported the WBAI dissident movement, opened his weekly program "Education at the Crossroads" with a discussion of several education topics together with a panel of 7 guests in the studio. He then made a brief mention that, on his way into the station, he came through a demonstration by those outraged about what he called the "apparent" firing of Robert Knight the previous day, and said that Robert now had no program. He then went to a music break.

Whereupon, according to a witness at the station, Ms Utrice Leid entered the studio and angrily told Basir (off mic) that what he had said was inaccurate, and that she had to make a statement on the air about it. (Presumably the supposed "inaccuracy" was her contention, reportedly stated at a staff meeting earlier, that Robert Knight was not "fired" but merely "suspended for two weeks," a statement which remains to be factually verified with Robert.) In any case, Basir gave her the OK to make the statement and opened her mic (he was engineering), whereupon -- back on the air -- she denounced "untruths" and "rumors" -- without ever specifying what she was talking about -- and the discussion of "personnel matters." Then, out of the blue, she added that it was especially inappropriate to have discussed on-air her previous tenure at the City Sun newspaper. On mic, both Basir and several guests immediately countered that no such discussion had occurred. There was a brief back-and-forth, then Basir said it was time to move on to the topics of his show, and Ms Leid left. As a final note, Basir mentioned that he had with him an excerpt from a memo to Robert, but he wasn't going to read it on the show. When Basir later opened up the phones, at least one caller confirmed that the City Sun had never been mentioned before Ms Leid brought it up.

After the program, in the station lobby, according to a witness, "Interim" Public Affairs Director Diabel Faye began yelling and cursing at him, and demanded a tape of the show. Basir retorted that Mr. Faye could attempt to intimidate others at the station, but he would not intimidate him. A heated argument ensued. Ms Leid chastised Basir for shouting and "thuggism," ignored Diabel's behavior, and summoned Basir into her office, whereupon they had a private meeting. Sally O'Brien also reportedly went into Ms Leid's office to voice her concerns.

Rather than draw any conclusions, I recommend that folks read the following two accounts by listeners, as posted tonight on the Goodlights WBAI Message Board at http://disc.server.com/Indices/137196.html. I can't vouch for the complete accuracy of these, but anyone can compare them to the sound file.

Bob Lederer


Thu Jul 26 19:57:16 2001

i'm in a vortex. some kind of panel discussion about education in the city. the host with obvious anger in his voice has mentioned very pointedly that award winning journalist robert knight was fired and does not even have a show.

now utrice seizes the microphone. "to use these airways to spread rumors.....this is not a program to be used for the discussion of personnel matters." utrice saying people mentioned her tenure at the city sun. panelists are saying nothing was said on that topic but they would love to speak to the question. utrice is saying the host must verify incorrect factual assertions -- implicitly about r.knight--but she did not correct any misstatements.

a caller is verifying that nothing was said about the city sun and is incredulous.

but this program is also marked by antisemitic remarks from one caller and one panelist referring to the united federation of teachers being controlled by the "jews." the host is discrediting these remarks to his credit.

unbelievable. welcome to the house of leid.


Thu Jul 26 23:36:13 2001

There had been a long discussion of education. After a music break, Basir said that he had had to come through a picket line to get into the building- that they were protesting the firing of Knight. He then continued with the education discussion. Shortly thereafter, Utrice came in and Basir said our general manager is here. I can't quote directly but she said you can't say things on the air which are not true.

You have to investigate what you say. Can't recall the rest. Nothing had been mentioned about the City Sun during the education discussion before she entered. One of the loquacious guests was ready to mix it up with Utrice but Basir calmed it down. After she left Basir said he had a part of the memo that Knight had received but left it at that.

------- End of forwarded message -------

top of page | home