When Interim Station Manager Utrice Leid invaded then took over the mike on "Building Bridges" on Monday March 5th , she took it away from me, Congressman Major Owens and Larry Adams, Pres. of Local 300, National Postal Mailhandlers Union (who never did get to speak).
Congressman Owens had just talked about the value of free speech radio and the need to insure it by democratic management of WBAI by listeners and Staff. Ms. Leid's hijacking of the show that Monday proved his point more than any amount of words.
Ms. Leid said to me in the studio that day that "Building Bridges is
cancelled". This is only the most recent in a long series of similar abuses
at WBAI which include the firing of Bernard White and Sharan Harper, the
banning of 5 other Staff members, and the firing and banning from
the station and from WBAI's air of my partner Mimi Rosenberg. The question
who will be next?
At one point in the studio on March 5th Ms. Leid said to me something to the effect "Do you think you own this air time?".That's the big question. Who owns WBAI or really who should control it? In fact, Representative Owens had just answered that question - the listeners and workers at WBAI. Not the Pacifica Foundation who only leech off the work of the Staff and the money of the listeners. Not me and certainly not Utrice Leid. These are not utopian ideas. Our sister station KPFA in San Francisco after a monumental struggle has successfully experimented with Staff election of an Interim Station Manager and enpowering the community of listeners with elections to their Local Advisory Board. We need nothing less.
Many people have asked me whether I've been fired &/or banned and urged me to call Ms. Leid to see if the cancellation was permanent.
Later that week I called her and asked if Building Bridges was permanently cancelled or if she only cancelled the 3/5 show. She asked me to restate my quest ion which I did. She then said she did not know. I asked if "Building Bridges" was on the following week (3/12) and she said no. We left it at that.
On Wednesday, 3/14 I again called Ms. Leid. I asked if "Building Bridges" was on for Monday, 3/19. She said that she wasn't sure. I said that if I were do a show the following Monday, I would need to prepare in advance. She said that I won't be on. I said how can she not know whether "Build ing Bridges" is scheduled but say that I would not be on? (Especially since my Co-Host Mimi Rosenberg was fired and banned.) She said that I had said I was fired. (I have never said or written this. I have said that Ms. Leid cancelled "Building Bridges" - which is what she told me. After my initial conversation with Ms. Leid I began stating that "Building Bridges is cancelled indefinitely.") I n any event, I then asked her whether she was stating that I was fired. She said she did not know.
Not wanting to engage in any more such inane games with Ms. Leid about my status at WBAI and the status of what many consider to be New York City's premier labor radio program, I asked UE Loca l 404 Chief Steward R. Paul Martin to call Ms.Leid. She told him that I was not to come back to th e Station, that I was not to be physically there, and that I was removed from the air. She also sa id that I assaulted her in Master Control on March 5th by elbowing her at one point. This is untrue .
Utrice Leid is Interim General Manager of a radio station which only three months ago we proudly described as free speech radio. In addition to demolishing "Building Bridges" and "Wake Up Call " she has begun tightening the screws on all producers. Mario Murillo resigned rather than submit to an unreasonable demand that he not invite Any Goodman or other dissident producers on his Friday morning show. Robert Knight was told that none of the banned producers could be on WBAI air. But for Ms. Leid and her allies there is no gag rule. What will be next? Who will be next? Who else will be listeners not be able to hear on what was free speech radio?
It's time for Utrice Leid to resign. Indeed it's been time for a while. Her conduct is unbecoming and anathema to the democratic traditions and values of WBAI Radio. How many more firings, ban nings, and gaggings will it take. When will she next invade a program on the air because she has an other opinion of the truth? Bernard White said it first - Utrice must leave. Her successor must not be selected by the Pacifica but by a democratic process.
The best way to protest is to call on air when producers open up the telephone lines. You can also email the Pacifica Board:
Please fax letters of protest to:
Utrice Leid - WBAI Interim General Manager - 212-747-1698
For more information email - email@example.com