Monday, June 15, 2009
Date: 6/7/2009 3:20:03 PM Subject: Letter to WBAI management, staff, listeners and supporters
To: WBAI management, staff, listeners and supporters
From: Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez, co-hosts of Democracy Now!
We have recently learned that starting this week, the new management at Pacifica station WBAI is shifting the broadcast time of Democracy Now! from its customary 9 a.m. slot to 8 a.m. We hear this change is part of a reorganization of programming that could end up eliminating the popular and long-running Wake Up Call program on WBAI.
This decision disturbs us deeply and we urge that it be reconsidered.
We fully recognize that any station broadcasting DN! has the right to choose the appropriate time slot for the show. In normal circumstances, we would even welcome the chance to have DN! air in that key hour. But we believe this sudden change will only exacerbate long-simmering internal divisions among Pacifica listeners and staff.
We are also dismayed by the recent firing of WBAI program director Bernard White. Every station management has the right and responsibility to hire and fire staff they feel most appropriate. But the removal of Bernard, as far as we can tell, lacked the basic due process any employee is entitled to under the law. Given Bernard's decades of devotion and dedication to BAI, the way he was treated lacked basic human consideration.
These latest actions, however, are only symptoms of a bigger problem.
Nearly a decade ago, an unprecedented listener movement won a great victory. It ousted a Pacifica board and management that had lost its way and forced a return to Pacifica's democratic founding principles. We were both proud to be part of that movement. Like many, we believed it a victory of historic proportions for media reform in America. But we have grown increasingly distressed since then as we have watched the Pacifica reform movement, once so powerful and united, fall into deeply divided and warring camps.
A governance structure that was meant to assure greater democracy turned out to breed greater factionalism. Many station managers and executives found it impossible to manage while they answered to daily monitoring requests from newly empowered community boards. Too many activists who had once blasted the old Pacifica national board for gagging dissident producers, for unjust firings, and for poor financial management, then turned around and adopted practices that were eerily similar once they gained positions of power. Legal costs skyrocketed as every action or firing by one group led to new law suits by those on the other side. And most unfortunately, charges of racism, elitism, narrow nationalism and opportunism have become as much a part of the war of words at Pacifica these days as American missiles in Pakistan or Afghanistan.
In short, an extraordinary amount of time and energy has been spent in what resembles more like the perpetual feuds of a dysfunctional family. We urge our brothers and sisters to reject these deeply destructive tendencies. Pacifica, along with the progressive media of which it is such a vital part, cannot grow unless all of us learn to seek more common ground.
Democracy Now! was born and nurtured inside Pacifica. We still consider ourselves part of that family even though ours has been an independent show for years. Because of those deep ties, we urge that the scheduling of Democracy Now! not be used as a weapon by the current management of WBAI against its opponents.
Amy and Juan
*The views expressed here are the individual opinions of Juan and Amy and do not necessarily reflect the views of the board and staff of Democracy Now!