Jan. 18, 2001
Contact: Leslie Cagan
phone and fax: 212-927-8342


We are deeply troubled by the recent developments at WBAI radio in New York City, one of the five stations of the Pacifica Foundation. It is not too late to remedy the situation, and we are working toward that end.

1) Our repeated internal requests over the last weeks for the convening of an emergency national board meeting to address the growing crisis at WBAI went unanswered until yesterday, January 17th, when we were informed of a conference call scheduled for January 24th. The agenda for this call has not been announced and we urge that the discussion focus on the present situation at WBAI.

2) The National Board must take steps to ensure the immediate reinstatement of the three people fired at WBAI: Station Manager Valerie Van Isler, Program Director Bernard White, and Producer Sharan Louise Harper. According to the information we have, the Pacifica Foundation's internal procedures were not followed, there was not compliance with union contracts, and none were informed of the cause of their firings. All three of these people should be reinstated as full time employees without further delay. Existing internal processes which address job performance, or any other concerns, must be followed.

3) The continuing "banning" of long time volunteers and free-lance reporters, the decision to not allow the Local Advisory Board to meet at the station, and the use of security personnel are all having a chilling effect at the station. Action must be taken now to lift the bans, to ensure that the LAB can meet at the station and to remove security people from the station. (It should be noted that some of the people working as security at WBAI are off-duty NYC police officers, who are required to carry their weapons at all times.)

4) As members of the National Board, we believe it is critically important to review the internal processes within the Pacifica Foundation. We must build democratic decision making structures throughout Pacifica and re-commit ourselves to work for the principles of free-speech, community-based, corporate-free radio, as first articulated by Pacifica Foundation's founder, Lewis Hill.

Pete Bramson
Leslie Cagan
Rabbi Aaron Kriegel
Beth Lyons
Tomas Moran
Rob Robinson