To give a quick update on Pacifica news: the raid on WBAI was permanently reversed by NY State Supreme Court judge Melissa Crane on November 6, 2019 and WBAI returned to the airwaves at midnight, exactly one month after IED Vernile pulled the plug. Vernile’s employment at the Pacifica Foundation has been terminated.
The Rescue-Pacifica candidates vigorously condemn the shutdown of KPFA’s sister station WBAI in New York City. On October 7, there was an attempt by Pacifica’s interim Executive Director (“iED”) to close the station and terminate all WBAI staff. This surprise attack took place in the middle of WBAI’s fall fund drive, as well as the voting period for the Local Station Board elections. It is completely at odds with what democratic, transparent and responsible governance should look like, and contrary to Pacifica’s original grassroots mission. Fortunately, a New York judge issued a stay to prevent iED John Vernile from dismissing the WBAI workers and interfering with the station’s operations, pending a hearing to be held on October 18th.
For long-time KPFA supporters, the attack on WBAI should bring back unhappy memories of the 1999 takeover attempt at KPFA. The cast of characters is different this time, but the objective appears to be the same – to replace local community-based hosts with shows piped-in from elsewhere, and perhaps to eventually sell the station’s valuable broadcast frequency.The attack on WBAI is the latest in a series of recent undemocratic actions to happen recently at the network. A group calling itself “Restructure Pacifica” has been circulating a petition to replace the present Bylaws with a system that would eliminate listener-elected Local Station Boards. There is also an attempt underway to remove KPFA board member Tom Voorhees from the Pacifica National Board, despite Tom’s unmatched knowledge of radio.The Rescue-Pacifica candidates for the KPFA Local Station Board believe that KPFA and its sister stations should uphold the values of democracy, transparency, and community-based decision making. We oppose undemocratic power grabs, including the attempt to close WBAI.
Report from Pacifica National Board Director Tom Voorhees can be read here.