[Transcriber’s note: When Amy Goodman and Robert Knight showed up for their usual jobs as co-host (with fired Bernard White) and news reporter on Wakeup Call on the morning of Tuesday, December 26, they found Jim Freund, normally the host of Hour of the Wolf from 5-7 a.m., at the controls. He had been asked to do the show by Utrice Leid, although nothing had been said to Goodman and Knight. As a result, and as a result of the coup over the weekend, emotions were very high. There was a lot of background noise, arguing and interruptions, and tension. Because a transcript can never completely or even adequately convey this kind of emotional color, various mechanisms have been employed to communicate it: descriptive phrases in brackets, ellipses (to indicate pauses or breaks in speaking), as well as asterisks around words and the use of caps to indicate raised voices or emphasis. These tools have been used selectively, so as not to interfere unduly with the flow of the text.]
AMY GOODMAN (AG): Today is a very different day, and I guess it’s you and me. Robert Knight has just come in; Robert will be bringing us headlines, and—
ROBERT KNIGHT (RK): Well, actually I would, if we weren’t locked down. The newsroom has been made inaccessible.
JIM FREUND (JF): Well, the station supposedly opens today, I think at 9 a.m.
RK: Well, the air is open now.
AG: Well, there’ve been extremely—to say the least—grim developments over the weekend; which, I guess, Jim, is why you’re sitting here and not Bernard White, the long-time host of Wakeup Call, the program that I have co-hosted with him for the last 6 years. As I understand them and have experienced the developments—and Robert, you can join in—on Friday night, around 10:30, late in the evening, Pacifica management came into the station; Bessie Wash, along with locksmiths, installed Utrice Leid, the Talk Back host, late-afternoon host, as the general manager—
JF: Interim general manager.
AG: --interim general manager, replacing Valerie Van Isler. They proceeded to change all the locks in the station. I called in right around midnight and I spoke to Sidney Smith, Operations Director. He asked if I could come in; he turned to Utrice, who was standing next to him and she said no, I couldn’t come in. It was the first time in 16 years that I’ve been here that I was told I couldn’t come in to WBAI. And then, the events continued—
JF (breaking in and talking over Amy’s words): If you were on the air and scheduled to be on the air, however, of course, … have no problem—
AG: --and around 1:50 in the morning Utrice Leid came on the air and announced she was delighted to announce that she’d become the interim station manager of WBAI; that there was no coup; that there were no SWAT teams; that it was not tense; and that programming would continue as usual. Well…[pause] the next day, to say the least, there were hundreds of people outside saying that a Christmas coup had taken place; and if it wasn’t a coup, then what is coming in under cloak of darkness, changing all the locks, escorting WBAI long-timer here out of the station; someone who was here late at night; and then coming on the station at 1:50 in the morning to announce the change.
Hours later at about 7:15 in the morning, Bernard White, at home in Brooklyn, had ringing at his door, opened the door, and there was a messenger standing there with a package for him to open. In it, it said that he was terminated, and if he came on the premises, that it would be considered trespassing, that his possessions would be shipped to him. He couldn’t hold that paper; that was taken away, and they tried to give him some checks which he wouldn’t take; later when he went downstairs they were under the door of his building.
About half an hour later Sharan Harper, uptown in Harlem gets a knock at her door and the same thing happens; they give her a package she opens it, it says that Sharan Harper, the union steward, UE, United Electrical here at WBAI, producer of Wakeup Call, full-time, was fired. And it said that if she came on the premises it would be considered trespassing and her possessions would be shipped to her. She was not allowed to keep that piece of paper; she would not accept the checks and they put them under her door. At that point people started to learn what was going on and by noon there were, one, two, hundreds of people outside WBAI.
There was a selective lockout; some producers were allowed in, most were not. On Saturday it was only producers who were on the air that were allowed in; security downstairs, new security called. I was downstairs, talking to people, I saw Utrice Leid, I asked if I could come in, again she wouldn’t let me in. Then, all…a group of producers who were outside…one of them, Peter Boshan, tried to come in because he had to deliver his program for Christmas, which was yesterday, and they told him he would be arrested if he didn’t leave. We all tried to come in, and security would not let us come in. We said then, this is a lockout if you’re not letting us come in and work. And the police were called in. And they physically pushed us out and threatened us with arrest.
There was a rally, a number of people spoke at the rally as we continued to be locked out…[pause]…Bernard White was there. This morning—or I should say yesterday, when the producer of Democracy Now! Terry Allen tried to come in, she did make it upstairs, someone got security to take her out and then Utrice Leid came by she [Terry] said that, you know, we had plans for today’s show we’re going to be speaking with Turkish prisoners who, who’ve taken over the prison in Turkey risking their lives to speak and she had promised she would call them yesterday and has just come to New York and didn’t have long-distance service or anything and she needed to make some calls, but Utrice said she would not be allowed to. She had to leave the station immediately, that she had not put in with Pacifica for overtime to be here. I wonder how many people here heard… [pause] put in for overtime that were here over the weekend; we did not know this was taking place. This morning when I came in, very distressed people downstairs…we were told there would be no list today but there was.
JF: Up until the building’s officially open.
AG: The building’s officially open now, but they said the list for BAI would continue and they said that there’s outside security upstairs…they have the list and they said they were there getting that updated and…they made very clear to me that there’s been a court order taken out on Bernard White and Valerie Van Isler…not sure if Sharan Harper as well though all of them were forbidden from coming in and if Bernard White shows up he will be summarily arrested. It has never been explained to Bernard or Sharan why it is that they were fired; no explanations have been offered.
Bernard White, who I worked with for six years *directly* on Wakeup Call. Of course, he’s been here for much longer, he’s been here for [pause] TWENTY years. You know there’s a term, Robert, in the corporate world which is like, clean out your desk. We didn’t even get that courtesy; a letter said that his possessions would be shipped to him. What is it that Bernard did, exactly? What is it that Sharan Harper did? Is it she’s a union steward?
RK: …it’s the underpinnings of Wakeup Call.
AG: This is…right? And…now, it’s…
RK: …she’s producer, she makes…guests and things happen.
AG: And so now it’s just me and you, Robert. Um, … sure we’ll…
JF: Well, well, Robert, uh, uh, I’ll just point out that, uh, uh, I’m here as well.
RK: You might wish to…[unintelligible]
JF: I’m sorry? [splutters] oh thank you, Robert, that’s the Firesign Theater.
RK: …the reason I said that…there would be no format changes by the interim station manager and that this would herald a new regime of respect at WBAI and I’m wondering if that dimension of respect will allow the interim manager to remove this banning on the producer and former program director…[unintelligible] possessions locked up and allow that level of dignity to exist.
AG: When David Rothenberg, long-time producer here, Saturday morning went off the air at 10:30, Janice with him crying; she was told to leave the premises by Utrice immediately, after the program…when David Rothenberg came off the air, he went to Bessie Wash who was here over the weekend, the Executive Director of Pacifica, and asked, since he had just learned when he was on the air about Bernard being fired, asked why Bernard was fired. David Rothenberg said Bessie Wash replied to him, that’s Utrice’s call. But you know, I think the bigger issue here, the bigger issue is not what’s going on here at the station…[pauses]
RK: That’s a very important point you’re about to…I’d just like to add one other follow-up on the issue of whether or not there are format changes. The admission machine and the listing and excluding of people and the selective admission only to the nanosecond at program start and program end is for those who are…[inaudible] involved in radio production that’s simply coming in and talking, and leaving. There is preproduction that happens. There’s a tremendous amount of work. You know this, Jim. For every minute of air, there’s an iceberg of preparation underneath, and people do need access, at times.
[unintelligible crosstalk between Robert and Jim]
AG: Just one second, let me finish this story…I talked to AFTRA; I’m in AFTRA, the union, and they said no, this is a straightforward, selective lockout, because, of course, to be a producer is not just to be on the air. For every minute of air time we are preparing for, to say the least, a very long time…being a producer is both on and off the air…
JF: Well, the line that we used in ’77 was if you do not have access to the air, and if you do not have access to the editing tools, then you do not have the access to the tools of your trade and so in ’77, the situation there was clearly a lockout, a lot of people called it a strike, that was clearly a lockout. This is…[pauses]
AG: Well, this is clearly a selective lockout.
RK: My tools are in the newsroom, it’s locked, I can’t get to my tools.
JF: Yeah, well, in my understanding now, ‘cause I had a very different experience, and I came in Saturday night, maybe three hours before, uh, uh, uh, uh, three hours into this whole, uh, affair. And when I came in there were about, I’d say, 20, 25 demonstrators, in the lobby of the building, they were not outside the building; people were rather nice about the whole thing at that point. And, uh, there was indeed a list, and, um, I was on it, and although it was three hours before my program I had no problem getting in, and…no problems staying around. The security was our Operations Director Sidney Smith, who’s been here some 22 years—
AG: But now he’s outside security.
JF: Uh, um, I haven’t seen it.
RK: The report that was [unintelligible], Jim.
JF: Uh, uh, I see, okay, well I…that’s why I’m being very specific about my date and time, I just want…uh, and all I can speak to of course is my experience; you’ve interviewed people and spoken with others…
JF: …and so have a broader perspective. But I did want to add, because I have a different perspective…
JF: …and a different spin, perhaps, on the whole issue—
AG: Well, the bigger issue—
JF: --and of course I’m very confused by, by, [smiling voice] the entire, uh, issue of, uh, uh, of us all being here together [unintelligible]…let’s say for me it’s very unexpected.
AG: [smiling voice] Uh, well, it was surprising for us that you were here, too.
JF: [smiling voice] I have no doubt of that.
AG: But, um, I want to say that what happened this weekend—what many are calling the Christmas coup of December 2000 that took place on Friday night—follows weeks of protest outside of Epstein, Becker, and Green—
RK: Who are…
AG: That’s the law firm, which is a horrible, management side, anti-labor law firm that is one of the biggest in the country, that one of the Pacifica board members is a part of, John Murdock; and protesters have been there on almost a weekly basis talking about the larger issue of what is happening at WBAI. And this has to be put into a context. It’s what Bernard was fighting and raising issues about and discussing on the air. It’s what so many people are deeply concerned about—and I can see listeners are beginning to call in and we do hope to take your calls; our number is 212-209-2900; I’m sure you know that—but, last year, in 1999, the general manager of the first Pacifica station, KPFA, was ousted, was let go. This came after she had protested…[aside, smiling], hmm, Erroll’s here….This came after she protested the change in the national board bylaws, which were extremely controversial, happened very swiftly, and what those changes allowed for was that board members no longer had to come from the communities of the Pacifica stations--they had been selected by the local advisory boards—but the board would become a self-selecting board. She was let go; they were moving into their fiftieth anniversary—the first Pacifica station, KPFA—all set to go with all sorts of groupings of luminaries that were supporting the station and, to say the least, it undercut everything and threw everything into turmoil. [There was a] tremendous outcry; ultimately the station was shut down, staff were arrested, and 15,000 people marched in the streets of Berkeley. There was that kind of community response, and ultimately, the staff and community—
JF: The [inaudible] producer was taken off the air mid-sentence.
AG: Right, of KPFA [inaudible], and they had their station reopened, although the general manager was not returned. It was tremendously, to say the least, destabilizing, but the community fought back at that time. In the midst of that struggle, another board member—another board member named Michael Palmer, from Houston, Texas—at least as he told me, *mistakenly* sent e-mail that he meant to send to Mary Frances Berry, the chair of the board, to the leading media democracy activist in Berkeley, and that e-mail said, let’s continue our discussions on the sale of KPFA and possibly of WBAI. And that’s also what ignited everything in Berkeley area and also caused great tremors here in WBAI. So that’s what went on [inaudible]—
JF: And that’s been an issue that’s been knocking around Pacifica—
JF: --since the ‘70s.
AG: But he put it in writing and he was--
JF: [inaudible, crosstalk between Jim and Amy]: …has happened before in our history.
AG: And now, and now he’s the treasurer of the Pacifica board.
JF: Uh huh.
AG: And so, then, this year came around and to our great surprise here at WBAI about a month ago, the Executive Director of Pacifica came in and told Valerie Van Isler, our General Manager, that she was being removed; she should either take a job that had previously not existed in Washington, or she would be terminated. Now this followed our most successful fall fundraising drive in history; we raised over $900,000 in pledges. We had been in the red about $200,000; we wiped that clean and we had a $70,000 surplus.
We thought this was a time of celebration to move forward, to build, to thrive, not just to make it. And it was then that the word came down that Valerie was going to lose her job, was being fired if she wouldn’t accept this job that she said she would not accept in Washington, a new job that was being created. Last year, one last thing to give context to all this and after Pacifica shut down KPFA—although I don’t like to say Pacifica because *we are* Pacifica—
JF: [breaking in] Yes--
AG: [continuing] --and we must fight--
JF: [breaking in] Thank you for saying that.
AG: [continuing] --to strengthen Pacifica. We are *all* that legacy that was begun 51 years ago by Lew Hill, a man who was the deep heart of the antiwar movement, went to prison because of his antiwar activism, refused to fight in World War II, came out of prison and said, there’s got to be… [speaking with great emotion] a media outlet that is not run by corporations who profit from war and build a drum beat for war. There’s got to be a media outlet that is run by journalists and artists, not as— [inaudible]
JF: [talking over Amy; inaudible]
AG: [continuing] – of University of Pennsylvania says, not by corporations with nothing to tell and everything to sell. And that is the Pacifica that was born 51 years ago and that is the Pacifica that we are all fighting to continue and that Bernard was in the finest tradition of—and I’m not going to refer to him in the past tense. We’re not doing a eulogy like we had to do for Samori when he died two years ago.
Bernard has been a producer here for twenty years, deeply enrooted in the community, has given his passion, his whole entire self over to WBAI—most recently Program Director, but continues to be the Morning Show host—the beloved Morning Show host, of Wakeup Call. And I hope that will continue. I hope that everything that has happened will be rescinded. Because I think it’s a *terrible* mistake, and I think that, hopefully, that will become *very, very* clear.
But it’s up to all of us to find the way; I know there’s gonna be a meeting on Wednesday night, at 101 Sixth Avenue, just above Canal, that’s at 32B32J.
[Transcriber’s note: This meeting took place on Wednesday, December 27. A capacity crowd of over 1,000 people filled the facility, with many hundreds more outside.]
There was a meeting a couple of weeks ago, and hundreds of people attended that meeting. A number of people will be speaking, and of course we’re speaking on the air because that has been the tradition. Utrice was doing it last week and the week before, and we move forward with that, presenting our views of what is happening. But it is the concern that it is a change in the board that is changing the direction of Pacifica that we think is the latest manifestation of which is moving in on WBAI and picking off our station manager Valerie Van Isler and the fear was if they took out her, they would move in and go further. And now Bernard White has been summarily fired; Sharan Harper has been summarily fired; and now we are told there is a court order out against Bernard; if he dares even come near the premises he will be arrested.
RK: Now this. Normally I would be presenting the news at this moment. I have-- My name is Robert Knight. I have not got in the newsroom. I did manage to get through to Utrice Leid and spoke with her briefly on Saturday and was told by her…[pause] She asked for my home address [pause] and I said, "Am I fired, too?" She said, "No, no, no. [pause] But what is your address?" And I said, "Well, am I allowed into the station?" And she said, "Yes, yes." And she said, "At the time that you’re scheduled to be on the air you will be permitted in the station." Apparently they neglected to include my name on the list this morning. We have this new memorandum, I [pause] take the manager--the interim manager--at her word; but…there is this new memorandum in regard to access [inaudible] … speaking out…
RK: "We ask your cooperation—
JF: [breaking in] When you say new, dated when?
RK: It’s undated, and unsigned, but on WBAI—
JF: [breaking in] Oh, that’s the one I saw on the door when I came in this morning.
RK: Yes. [reading] "Dear visitors and workers: Security concerns compel us to regulate access to the station at this time. We are sure you share these concerns and ask your cooperation with the procedures currently and temporarily in place. Please allow for the minor inconvenience of having to be let in and for having to schedule when you come to WBAI. After 6 p.m., admittance will be permitted only if your name appears on a WBAI schedule list. This is our station" --whoever "us" may be-- "and these measures are meant to preserve what *we* have. Our desire is to return to what *we* have been accustomed to all these years: free and easy access to our beloved WBAI. Your cooperation is appreciated." I will [inaudible] only after noting that once again the specificity of prior restraint with admissions and the microscheduling of access precludes the preproduction that is an essential part of the unique and innovative radio that is WBAI—
JF: [breaking in] Okay…
RK: [continuing] …it is a de facto thought action
[Several seconds of crosstalk between Robert, Jim, and Amy]
JF: Hold on…
AG: [speaking over a lot of crosstalk from Jim] …One last thing…which is one more memo… just to read… this is what we’ve all been breathing with today. [crosstalk stops]
AG: Date: December 22, 2000; To Staff, from Utrice Leid, Interim Station Manager, and signed by her, "Regarding Personnel: Please be advised that the following individuals: Valerie Van Isler, Bernard White, and Sharan Harper are no longer staff at WBAI and are no longer authorized to enter the WBAI premises. Any permitting or facilitating their entry into the premises will be subjected to disciplinary action. We all must work together if we intend to provide a productive and conducive work environment essential to the mission of the station."
And folks, we are gonna take calls: 212-209-2900. Jim?
JF: Okay. Well I, I have a few things to say because I am, I would say a dissenter from, um, much of the feeling that’s in here is that…I don’t feel that we are necessarily in as dire a situation as some people may currently feel. It’s…and a lot of that probably has to do with historical view of the various crises we’ve had over the years. I think that one thing that we really need to point out is that there are huge differences between certainly what’s going on here now and what went on some 23 years ago in ’77. And also I…this is…this will turn into a question for you…large differences between the management style of what occurred at KPFA and what is happening here right now where somebody who’s been working here for a number of years and is a known entity has been brought in as…[pause]…the…[pause] interim station manager—
AG: [breaking in] No, no, no—
JF: --and the fact that—
AG: [name, inaudible], long-time operations director; he was made general manager.
JG: Ah. Okay. Thank you.
AG: Same thing.
JF: But here’s the difference. Right now we’re all on the air. That’s a *big* difference.
AG: For a period of time they were also. But Errol, you’ve just come in to the station, and I don’t want to put pressure on you because Errol, as people know, at the Patrick Dorismond funeral that he was covering for WBAI was attacked by police and he has yet to fully return to work; suffered serious heart damage; Erroll Maitland, producer at WBAI, technical director of Democracy Now!, and, uh, Erroll…[pause]…your thoughts this morning.
ERROL MAITLAND (EM): [distant; not miked properly]: Good morning…well…
JF: [adjusting Erroll’s mike] Let’s try again…
JF: There we are.
EM: All right. Well…Good morning, Amy; good morning, Robert; good morning, Jim; good morning, [inaudible].
JF: It is good to see you.
EM: Yeah. You know, there’s a lot of wise people around this table, a lot of wise counsel by others here, and I just want to pay my respects and, uh, with your permission to…
UNIDENTIFIED: You may speak truthfully, as you always do.
EM: Thank you. One moonlight night, a fox was prowling around a farmer’s hen coop, and saw a hen roosted high up beyond his reach. "Good news, good news," he cried. "Why? What is that?" said the hen. "King Lion has declared a universal truce. No beast may hurt a bird henceforth, but shall dwell together in [inaudible] friendship." "Why, this is good news," said the hen. "And there I see someone coming with whom we can share the good tidings." And so saying, she craned her neck forward, and looked far off. "What is it you see?" said the fox. "It is only my master’s dog that is coming towards us. What, gone so soon?" she continued. As the fox began to turn away, he did not stop and congratulate the dog on the reign of universal peace. "I would gladly do so," said the fox. "But I fear he may not have heard of King Lion’s decree."
And I just want to start off my morning with those words because, as I said last Saturday when I showed up downstairs, that I am *not* one who has all the…[pause] elocutions. I came from a part of the country where education was scarce, and I wasn’t one who cared for governmental regimentation, including our public schools. So I spent more time out of the classroom than I did in. So, sorry if my thoughts don’t come across as well as they should. That’s why I am a producer of programs here at WBAI and not one of the on-air personalities. I came here as an unpaid staff; I continue to function as an unpaid staff. And being an unpaid staff for me means…[pause] that I was drafted…brought in…and I agree to lend my skills to serve the community, and that community—
JF: [breaking in] Who drafted you, Erroll?
EM: [chuckles; ignores question] That community is wide-ranging. It is those people who for the last 45 years have strived for truth and democracy, here within Pacifica and at WBAI.
RK: Uh, Erroll, I’d like to just, uh….You brought that fabulous fable….I’d just like to, in the spirit of that, recollect the story of the barnyard rebellion in which, when the animals took over the farm, they decided to do something nice for the uberboss. And so, "Let’s serve the owner some bacon and eggs," said the chicken to the pig.
JF: [breaking in] Okay. MY turn.
RK: [laughing] Oh, Jim, by the way, I guess, this really adds to your fine tradition and may well be your greatest science fiction show yet.
JF: Right. Okay. MY turn now. Okay? Cat and mouse and partnership, the Brothers Grimm. Anybody know it? Of course you do, because you probably heard a variant on it. Okay, cat and mouse, ummm…I don’t remember the names…But they get married. And they have a bucket of lard. And one night the cat disappears and the mouse says, "Gee, where have you gone to?" And the cat says, "Oh, I went to a christening." "And…what was the name of the baby?" And the cat says, "Oh! Just Started." Of course the mouse goes and sees that the bucket of lard, which they were going to keep for their old age, has been…just started being eaten. The next baby, of course, I’ll make it shorter, is called…[laughter in background] Halfway Done. The third baby is called Scratch the Bottom. And the mouse finally says, "I know what’s going on now! You, you’ve been eating our lard; you’ve been doing everything that we want!" So the cat ate the mouse. And the moral of the story is, And that’s the way of the world.
[several seconds of silence]
AG: You’re listening to WBAI, 99.5 FM. I’m Amy Goodman here with Erroll Maitland, Robert Knight. Jim Freund also joins us. We have a board full of calls and we are attempting to conduct Wakeup Call as usual, but Bernard White, the mainstay of the program, was fired on Saturday morning, 7:15; was delivered a letter that said that he was fired, that he was not to come onto the premises or he would be considered a trespasser. Now a court order has been taken out against him and Sharan Harper, the producer of Wakeup Call, also UE steward here at WBAI. Very unclear why either of them was fired. No reasons have been given.
Now, as I was talking about the board, the Pacifica board, which has been the greatest concern to so many of us; why there have been protests outside of Epstein, Becker, and Green--the law firm of John Murdock, one of the board members--I went on to talk about Michael Palmer, another board member who had sent off the e-mail talking about the sale of WBAI and KPFA that further sparked the furor at KPFA last year, that led to the closing of the station and more than 10,000 people marching in the street. Also on the board now that it is self-selecting Bertram Ree, who buys and sells radio stations. This is of grave concern to a lot of people. Where are the people with roots in the community? There is a small dissident group on the board of community activists, but they are outnumbered and not the ones in control. And what people are saying is that at this independent, unique media institution, that we *must* be tied to the community; if not, this is the kind of thing we fear would take place.
JF. Okay. Also, you’re all mentioning what you’re doing here. I think I should really mention what I’m doing here because it’s really rather interesting. Which is that on Saturday evening I spoke to the new interim station manager, Utrice Leid, who asked me if I would be interested in doing the program *this* morning from 7 till 8 a.m. and discussed old WBAI issues and war stories to help give a perspective on what was going on. And my understanding was that she and I would be here together. I spoke to her again last night to confirm this, and she said that she would be here from 6 till 9 and that from 8 till 9 she would be discussing the current situation on the air. So…here I am at, uh…from 6 to 7 she said we would play music, so I played music from 6 to 7, and announced that I would be discussing these war stories. At 7 a.m., as per usual schedule, unless I mis-- I hope I didn’t misunderstand; I expected Utrice to be here, but Amy Goodman came in for Wakeup Call; I certainly had no instructions--
RK: [breaking in, inaudible because of crosstalk]
JF: …that countervene it.
AG: We’re just reporting for work.
JF: And also…and also…I am…I mean there is a…whatever belief we may have about what is going on, and at least one person in this room is…has a dissenting opinion, we are *all* WBAI people; we are *all* Pacifica people; and there is a responsibility for intelligent, open discussion into what’s going on, and so I am not going to be put in this position of saying, [mimicking a loud, angry voice] "I’m here, and you’re not," so that’s my view of what’s going on and just ‘cause everybody else is [inaudible], I thought I’d have to sort of put in my view…[inaudible]
EM: [breaking in] I’ve been listening to him until…I’ve been listening as of…about 5:57 this morning and, uh…
JF: [breaking in] Wasn’t Jean Shepard great?
EM: [continuing] …and I only heard…I only heard the… [inaudible] gave his sign-off …
JF: Yeah, I went straight into music.
EM: But I’ll tell you, during that time, I have *not* heard what your perspective is on *this* issue, and certainly I have not heard what *my* perspectives are on what is going on here at WBAI, and so you know, you can’t characterize, and I…where I…where I am. Maybe you know what Amy’s and Robert’s perspectives are…
JF: No, I am judging nothing other than by what I am hearing on the air this morning. And that is the only responsibility that, you know…
EM: Okay. All right.
JF: We’re not hashing backroom agendas here.
EM: No, we’re absolutely…we are absolutely not.
JF: We each come in with our own feelings…[inaudible]…and we’re discussing these…
EM: And in the…and in the spirit of Pacifica, and particular the spirit of WBAI, which while we’re not the [inaudible], we’re certainly the flagship station when it comes to sticking to the mission that created this institution. Back in a time in American history when free speech was just a figment of …Clarence Thomas’s and Scalia and Rehnquist’s mind…
JF: Although of course, when you read the founding paper, it doesn’t actually refer to free speech. It’s right in front of you, by the way, the founding paper.
EM: I’ve read the filing papers and I know what it says. And perhaps you can read it to me, to the listeners, so they know from whence we come.
JF: I mean, I--
EM: Especially when you’re here in a position to talk about history. See, I don’t want to talk about the glorious history of Pacifica that went back in the ancient time, which I think it may be enlightening to do because--
JF: [breaking in] That is my intention.
EM: Because during those times, as you and I do know, that the ups and downs and the changes in Pacifica, was *always* within the family--within the family of people who are progressive and people who were on the left.
JF: [breaking in] Why does it have to be correct?
EM: And I think leftists in that tradition continued until the reign of Pat Scott and maybe we should tell people who Pat Scott was and when *I* was told *directly*--and I probably still have the tape in the office--that I cannot, and we cannot, crit-i-cize [stresses each syllable] the Republican administration in Congress beCAUSE it would jeo-par-dize [stresses each syllable] our FUNDing. At that time they put a budget freeze on the station; they stopped us from hiring staff; they stopped us from expanding. At that point, the current...[corrects himself] the past leadership of this institution said, "To hell with them, to hell with their freeze, what we’re gonna do is that we are going to *build*. At that time we went on the air and we started building fund. That’s where we raised the money to expand the studio, to build this...studio and get this equipment that we’re sitting in front of and behind.
JF: [tries to break in; inaudible]
EM: That’s when we went on the air and we began to raise funds and we began...we did the first million dollar drive.
JF: [tries to break in; inaudible]
EM: Because, let me just finish this, because we were *refuting* those elements that were in charge of Pacifica. I traveled to Washington, D.C., and other places, and I confronted the powers that be at that time in Pacifica because I felt the need to keep to that mission.
JF: Historical footnote: We have frequently been a financial backbone within Pacifica. When KPFT was bombed in the ‘70s and had to go back on the air, it was a fundraising drive--a marathon, as we used to call them--at WBAI that brought the money in for KPFT. The entire Washington entity before it was WPFW was simply the Washington bureau.
EM: [breaking in] WBAI [inaudible]
JF: One hundred percent WBAI budget item. And, as I recall, the launch of WPFW was basically a WBAI budget line item. That was my historical footnote.
EM: Okay. So...that is what I’m looking at when we talk about history and continuity. There are some people now that as Amy had said who are in charge of this institution that I believe bode no good for who we are and what we are and where we’re going. And I’m not talking about...I am not casting any aspersion or drawing any inferences about the people in-house. Absolutely none. Because I do believe that how we are going to keep the people in-house honest is to continue on the mission. I’ve heard on this [inaudible] that there will be no change in programming.
And I’m not one to come on the air and talk about other people or talk about myself. I’m here to do programming that serves the interests of the community. We have never screened telephone calls at this station as long as I’ve been here; I’ve never asked a caller what their name was on the air, if they choose to share it with me they would. We don’t trace people’s calls; we don’t track their movement. I often joke that a radio station in this town and every one I’ve ever been to, they use double locks, triple security. We were the only station that you could walk in and out of our front door twenty-four seven, because we felt that the people that *they* were locking out, the community that they were guarding themself against were the ones who were a part of our institution.
JF: Okay, let me again point out that it was told to *me*--*told* to me--that as of 9 a.m. this morning, that’s in an hour and twenty minutes, we’re back to normal business. I just, I’m, I--
AG: That’s not the case.
JF: [inaudible] This is what I was told. That I was told that is a fact. What the reality is--
AG: [breaking in] The important point to raise here is the direction Pacifica is going, and how much do the five stations--the staff at the stations--and the listeners, who together make up community media--and the only independent media network in this country--do we determine what direction we go in? What we have seen is that the two stations that have been under the greatest scrutiny, pressure--what many have called attacks--are the two stations that deal with the most political programming--that is KPFA and WBAI. And many people who spoke at the rally on Saturday talked about this [that] now it seems to be our turn. Again, for people who are just waking up, it is 7:42; you’re listening to WBAI, 99.5 FM, the last week of the millennium. And we are in a very grave situation.
Late on Friday night, management of Pacifica in Washington came to New York, installed a new general manager; all the locks were changed with locksmiths around midnight Friday night; the new general manager went on the air at 1:50 in the morning; said this is no coup there are no SWAT teams, it is just me; and said there would not be changes in programming. Within hours Bernard White, who is the 20-year producer at WBAI, host of the program you’re listening to right now, Wakeup Call--
JF: Six-year host.
AG: Right; well, since the beginning, Bernard and I have done this program together and I do hope that we’re going to continue doing it together; I do hope that this can be turned around; I think serious errors have been made. When the Executive Director of Pacifica came to New York, she talked about giving people who worked here a living wage and making sure that the union contract is enforced and yet within hours of the changeover what happened is two full-time people were summarily fired--one of them being a UE steward, and that’s Sharan Harper, United Electrical. No explanations given, and now we understand a court order out against them, that they are not to be *near* the premises, or immediately arrested. That is what I was told by building security downstairs.
JF: By the way, this just in: Utrice will be here at 8:00.
AG: And soon we’re taking calls, at 212-209-2900. We decide, together, all of us, the direction that this precious institution that is much greater than any one of us, will go. We decide if it remains a community radio station or whether it serves other purposes. Now there’s nothing mysterious about serving other interests, what that is; that’s what the rest of the media is: serving the agenda of the corporations that own them. And as the board of Pacifica increasingly stacked with those that represent those interests, we can well understand what direction that will go in. And we can decide whether we want to make our board our own, representing all of us. I think any person who works at a nonprofit or is served by a nonprofit understands that the people on the board hopefully are there to further the mission. And this is about grassroots media; this is about giving voice to those who are not normally heard, but I think very much express the majority point of view in this country; and this is what we want to preserve, that we are fighting to preserve.
Ken: Yes. Amy, I’m trying to remember something. When the station was initially given to the public by Schweitzer--
JF: [breaking in] Not public, ...[inaudible, crosstalk]
Ken: He donated to Pacifica...
AG: The Pacifica Foundation, in Berkeley.
Ken: Was there any stipulation made in his giving it how much control was to be retained by the local community?
JF: No. There was not. Pacifica was a...is a nonprofit educational institution; it was an outright donation; and the Pacifica principles were enough for Louis Schweitzer.
Ken: Fine. Were those principles documented in any form?
JF: They’re right over there, on that sheet of paper. Yeah.
Ken: Was there any stipulation in there that the board could be altered or changed without *his* aspect or contribution being, shall we say--
JF: [breaking in] That is not outlined in the Pacifica principles. The bylaws are a separate issue, and the bylaws of course are something that are, uh....What’s the term you’re using, self-um--
AG: The board right now is self-selected.
JF: Self-elected, and the board *can* change the bylaws. When I was the unpaid staff representative to the local board for two years, there were, at that time, various board changes, uh, changes to the bylaws being made; which made me a little uneasy at the time because I feel that when you’re changing the bylaws you’re changing the actual structure and charter of what we stand for. I *will* say that through all this...all the nonsense that I have endured here over WBAI in the 33 years that I’ve worked here, the actual...[pause] principles of Lou Hill have not been subverted. However, the issues of how the place is to be managed; what is to be-- And actually I take that back, because there was...in 1977 I daresay we came very close to overriding that entire thing; depends on your point of view...
Ken: I was there. I was there at the church when they put the locks and they did the shutdown--
JF: Well, now, if you recall I was in charge of the security during the entire fracas--
Ken: ...sleeping on the floor, the whole bit
JF: No [vehemently], I slept on the balcony! [inaudible]...
Ken: You did, we did...
JF: Oh, I *beg* your par--
[Arguing between Ken and JF; inaudible; lots of crosstalk]
AG: [laughing] Folks, we’re gonna take your calls: 212-209-2900. Again, you are listening to Wakeup Call without Bernard White, not produced by Sharan Harper because they were both fired on Saturday morning. And the kind of tradition we’ve been talking about, this 51-year tradition...when you think about listening to Bernard in the morning, that says it best; and that’s why we are so deeply concerned, because Bernard embodies that tradition. So what does it say when he is summarily fired? You’re on the air.
Caller: Hi, good morning.
Caller: How long will the protests go on? I mean, I’m getting sick of it now. I mean, change happens. You know, get used to it.
AG: Well, it just--
Caller: I’m a little disappointed in Erroll. I think, give Utrice a chance; let’s see what happens.
JF: I would, I would agree with you. And Amy, let me operate the phones, please. Now hold on, Erroll, I don’t have your mike. Okay, there you are.
EM: We have a tradition of leaving the mikes on in the room.
JF: Okay, I engineer a little differently, but I’ll leave them all up now; I hear you.
EM: Now, as I said--
JF: [spluttering] Caller, hold on one second.
EM: As I said, caller, I am NOT--and this is, and this is why folks need to carefully understand that we have been guarding against here at WBAI, that the people who have a control of our license, the people who make--
JF: The people who *made* the license--
EM: I said "control," I am NOT going to [inaudible]
JF: Well, they have the license to broadcast on the frequency, which is owned by the people, and they have the license in a public trust.
EM: You got it. And they got *this* license when you talk about Lou Schweitzer not to have commercials on this radio station and to continue in the tradition of Pacifica to be a free and open outlet where information and ideas can flow to and from the public. Now, I am talking about--
JF: Erroll, we have a caller on the line, so wrap up.
EM: [inaudible; Erroll and Jim are talking at the same time]...I’m talking about the people in Washington, D.C., who have censored programs on the air; who have censored programs in Democracy Now!; who have taken over the station at KPFA and shut them down and rewired the transmitter so they could bring programming from the outside. I am talking about the people who are in control of the station in Houston, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles, and those stations are *no longer* what Pacifica was meant to be. So--
JF: You see, that I would argue, from a purist point of view.
EM: Yes, you can. But when the general manager of the Los Angeles station doesn’t want to hear anything about police brutality, or when in Washington, they say they don’t have a police brutality problem, and when, in the middle of a show, they will switch to music, because they think the content is not what they should be hearing, I got to stand by my position. We have people who endorse maquiladoros on our board; we have real estate moguls on our board; we have people whose job it is to buy and sell and betray the community. Then I think I am accurate in what I am saying. And those are the people that we have to guard against. And if they can put you in in the middle of the night; they can take you out.
RK: The new diversity means...[inaudible, crosstalk]
JF: The counterpoint then...[inaudible, crosstalk]
RK: The new diversity means that corporations are people, too, and have a right to be represented on Pacifica.
AG: You’re on the air.
JF: The counterpoint to what Erroll was saying is also that, uh, well, I, we’ll get to it later; hi, you’re on the air, I’m sorry.
JF: Hi. Thanks for your patience.
Caller: I’m calling from Long Island. My name is Evelina; and I have been trying to get the word out, and especially to Amy, that we have been talking for two weeks about having a meeting on Long Island for people who are concerned about these issues and can’t always come in to the demos and meetings there. And that meeting is going to be on Saturday, January 6, at the Cinema Arts Center. The contact number is 631-423-7611, and an e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And I just want to say, Erroll, you were mistaken about how articulate you’re not sure that you are, because I think you’ve--
JF: [interrupting] I think he’s quite articulate.
Caller: [continuing] spoken eloquently this morning, and many of us who love Utrice, we’ve had her come out to speak, are just really concerned that we know that at other stations that...where we have friends in other parts of the country, the takeover of the board by people whose politics are more right-wing have pushed the radio station to become more right-wing; it’s really not rocket science. And those of us who have contributed for years and years and years just want to remind everybody there that, with all due respect to how great *you* are, it is *our* radio station and we want you to stay true to the mission, and, if you could get word about that meeting back to Bernard; I know I have spoken with him about it--
JF: [interrupting] I’m sure he’s, I’m sure he’s hearing this right now.
AG: Well, thanks very much for your call, and also--
JF: [interrupting] Thanks a lot. Just before the next call, I [inaudible] what I was going to say earlier and I want to address this to the caller as well, which was that actually again, when you look at Lou Hill’s principles and charter, we are not technically a free speech radio station nor are we even necessarily a left-wing one. This is the radio station [inaudible] William F. Buckley began, and this is the, uh, uh, uh, and, well, I bel-- and free speech has been more of an internal, uh, uh, you’re more articulate, Amy, help me; an internal, uh, uh, uh, mandate than one handed down by Pacifica and Lew Hill.
AG: There is a 51-year tradition of fierce independence and Bernard White embodies that. And I do hope that he will be sitting here again very soon. We can all decide that; again, I think that it is a decision in process; he’s been fired; Sharan Harper has been fired; there’s a court order out against them if they come near the premises. I don’t think this is in the tradition of Pacifica. I know this can be turned around, if you the listeners decide that we must embrace this diversity of voices that WBAI has come to represent, that we can make mistakes, but we can move forward and we can correct them.
RK: A rescission of these conditions by the interim manager who says that she welcomes the new regime of respect, that would go a long way towards demonstrating--
JF: And I ask that you listen to all producers and members of Pacifica, which, as Amy pointed out, is all of us at WBAI, because of course at BAI you’ve got two people, three opinions.
AG: And there are all sorts of Web sites to look at; you can look at Pacifica management’s Web site, at pacifica.org; [http://www.pacifica.org] you can look at savepacifica.net [http://www.savepacifica.net], which lets you know the other perspectives at Pacifica---
RK: wbaifree.org; wbai.net [http://www.wbaifree.org; http://www.wbai.net]--
JF: I promised, I promised: grid. com, which is R. Paul Martin’s Web site--
AG: And nightdrums.org, but also--
JF: [comment, inaudible]
AG: On Wednesday there is a meeting at 6:30 at 32B32J in Manhattan, which is at 101 Sixth Avenue at 6:30. Bernard White will be there; there’ll be major discussions. [Transcriber’s note: This meeting took place on Wednesday; a standing-room-only crowd of over 1000 people filled the room, with hundreds more outside.] I hope it is not the case that he would be arrested if he came to the station; that’s what we’ve been told now, by security here at 120 Wall Street and again we have a memo from management that says that anybody who facilitates the entry of Bernard White, Sharan Harper, or Valerie Van Isler to the premises will be subjected to disciplinary action--
RK: Does that include speech, do you think?
AG: --we know we can turn this around. Serious mistakes have been made; the important point is to focus on who controls us, the board of directors of Pacifica, and who we want representing us in the five communities that make up Pacifica--that’s Washington, New York, Houston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, Berkeley area. And then the greater affiliate community that--
JF: How many affiliates are there at this time?
AG: There are a number of affiliates...
EM: I counted I think...fifty- and there...you know, again if you go to the Web...[inaudible, crosstalk for several seconds]
JF: ...Okay, let me point out that we have, like, three minutes and change; do you want to take a call or do you want to take a call?
AG: Let’s take a call.
JF: You’re on the air.
Caller: Good morning, this is [inaudible]. It seems that there were...the root of all this was a change in the Pacifica board several years ago whereby the board became self-selecting. Could you please clarify that for us?
AG: About a year ago--almost two years--
EM: No, it was February 1999; I was there; I was threatened with arrest when they were making some of those secret deals behind [inaudible]... I was there in Berkeley; I flew out from New York to Berkeley to attend that meeting after being on the air in the morning before, and promptly was threatened with arrest because I overheard a secret meeting of them making illegal changes and the decision to fire Nicole Sawaya--
JF: [interrupting] Okay, well, when you say illegal; there’s nothing illegal about such changes--
EM: To have the meeting that they were having, unannounced and unknown, was a secret meeting and under the bylaws they have to give notice that these meetings are taking place.
JF: Actually, under the California sunshine laws--
[About 8 seconds of argument and crosstalk between Erroll and Jim, with Amy saying, "Let’s just explain the substance..."]
RK: Let Amy--
AG: Let’s just explain the substance of the change, because almost two years ago now the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that provides *some* funding, a minority of the funding, but was set up under Lyndon Johnson to ensure educational media as the corporations were taking over the media...the CPB told Pacifica that they were out of compliance by having the practice of in each of the five stations the local advisory boards elected two of their own to be representatives on the national board. CPB said we couldn’t have both these people on the local advisory board and the national board--that that was some kind of conflict. Now that could have been resolved in a myriad of ways. It could have been that the local advisory board elected two people from the community to represent them on the national board. It could have been that they choose two people from the local board and they come off the local board and go to the national board--
JF: Or that they can sit on the local board in a nonvoting manner; there’s a lot of ways.
AG: One of two of a myriad of ways of changes.
JF: Just to get a historical footnote: the local board and its advisory nature was only created partly after, somewhat after the 1977 crisis. Before that, it was similar to the way that it is now, although there are issues of a shadow board now, which did not exist earlier.
AG: WBA-- the board of Pacifica decided to go with the most radical of changes, which was simply to say that there was a vote of the national board that they would no longer be on their local advisory boards--all those representatives--and then from then on it would be the board itself that selected its successors. Board members themselves would select who would be on the board, which totally then disconnected them, no longer made them obligated to the local communities from which the Pacifica stations--
JF: And the mandate has always been that the local board members are supposed to be listeners from within the community; that has always been in the bylaws.
AG: So that is what the ultimate change was. That was the change that Nicole Sawaya, who was the general manager of KPFA, protested, warning people as we were very concerned here and people were all over the country that we were now gonna have a board that was no longer responsible to the local advisory boards, the local communities, the local stations that make up Pacifica. And the concern was, that that is ripe for picking, and for packing, and for stacking. And that is what we are concerned about happening right now. One of the people that was put forward as a next member of the board is a member, is a vice president at Citibank.
JF: I’m a former assistant vice president of Citibank, guys, thank you.
AG: But these are the concerns in charge of private finance for Africa and the Middle East. The concerns are from that to Epstein, Becker, and Green, which has now both taken on the business of representing Pacifica and has a partner in that firm on the board--who, by the way, is rewriting the bylaws now as we speak; I went to the meeting, the national board meeting and he talked about doing that--a law firm that is management side, anti-union [inaudible] on its Web site--
RK: Its Web site states that their specialty is maintaining a union-free workplace, providing advice for worker job actions, and maintaining a management-friendly, worker-contained environment.
JF: Okay. Folks, our time is nine o’clock. I should put on some music; my understanding is that at this time--
RK: [breaking in, and speaking over Jim] Well, at this time, I would normally be in [Jim stops talking]...I would normally be doing the news. I showed up to do my job today, but I [Jim breaks in again; Robert’s next few words are inaudible] because the newsroom has been locked.
F: [breaking in again, voice raised] I think you have been doing the news... [inaudible] ...but it’s time for Utrice to come on and I would like to take a cut of music. It has been...um, in my 33 years at WBAI this has been one of my-- one of the most [voice rising almost to a shriek] fascinating mornings I’ve spent here.[laughter in the background] Be still my heart.
AG: Well, I look forward to just being with everyone as usual tomorrow morning, 7 to 8, as co-host of the morning program, and I look forward to seeing Bernard White here as well. I do think that...it takes very big people to recognize mistakes, and [pause] I am deeply concerned at the way my colleagues as a union worker have been treated. Obviously our two colleagues here on the morning show, Sharan Harper and Bernard White, summarily fired, no explanations Saturday morning and now we’re told they’ll be arrested if they come on the premises. We hope that will turn around and,... we’ll continue to talk about it. Today Democracy Now! nine o’clock, we’ll be talking about John Ashcroft, the person who George W. Bush has nominated to be the attorney general. We’ll also be talking--hopefully make contact, in Turkey--with prisoners there who are in the midst of an uprising. Tomorrow morning at seven o’clock, well, I guess we’ll be [Jim breaks in; Amy’s next words are inaudible].
JF: Tune in and find out!
AG: So, look forward to talking to you today at nine and tomorrow morning at seven.
JF: Thank you, all, and remember, everybody you have heard in this room,
we are *all* Pacifica Radio.