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Transcript of KPFA 8-15-01:
Amy Goodman talking about the Democracy Now! situation


Dennis Bernstein (DB): Amy Goodman, its just before 9 o'clock. People at this time hear a new edition of Democracy Now! You were not able to produce that new edition. Why is that? Why will they not hear a new program today.

Amy Goodman (AG) They've {unintelligible) go on the air as they figure out a way,. until they can figure out a way to guarantee us a safe working environment, and that's the situation right now. We are, to say the least, extremely harassed and being physically intimidated at WBAI. It is a very serious problem. Unfortunately, at this point I feel that we clearly are being punished for it, when we are the ones being attacked.

I was handed a letter of insubordination yesterday from Steve Yasko, siting me for insubordination because we didn't come to the studio yesterday. We broadcast from a safe, alternative facility, a video broadcast facility in downtown Manhattan. As people could hear, that was a full-scale studio. We're finally able not to be put in a substandard studio and be in a safe place. We are asking to be in a safe place. Instead, I'm cited for insubordination.

DB: Now, on KPFA people heard that program. Was that program broadcasts around the network to the other stations and to the affiliates?

AG: They blocked the broadcast. They refused to carry it. They refused to allow us to do a broadcast today. They are playing reruns.

DB: When they cite you for insubordination how do they characterize that...they say you're being insubordinate.

AG: They say we refuse to report to work. We did report to work as you could hear. The work wasn't the unsafe place that is 120 Wall Street. The company, as the union puts it, AFTRA, the company , Pacifica, is responsible to maintain a safe workplace and they have not been able to guarantee that. We have repeated, REPEATEDLY, written memos to management about extremely unsafe conditions, of being physically intimidated and harassed and they do not respond.

The latest incident was Friday, when Utrice Leid, the interim station manager physically accosted me. And Monday, when we were in our office preparing for Democracy Now! and the...and two of the newly installed WBAI staff, one person and the operations director, used the super-key to enter our office and continue to harass us.

DB: Now you say "super-key"...

AG: (Noise in the background of Amy's location) I have to go Dennis, I'm sorry

DB: Finally, is there a precedent for broadcasting outside of the station?

AG: There are many precedents. Gary Null does it every day. He broadcasts from his facility. Bob Hennely has an ISDN at his home - the PNN correspondent. At our station, another show that goes across the week does it from another facility. We need to be able to be guaranteed a safe working environment. And also one that is not substandard, as we've been thrown into, repeatedly, into an editing booth. These are the things that we have to be guaranteed. They have not been able to guarantee them at this point. Foe us to be cited, for me to be cited - apparently letters are going to the staff - for insubordination is a complete outrage. It's their failing. It's not ours.

DB: Finally is there any hope that the listeners of KPFA and around the country will be able to hear Democracy Now! in the near future? What does that look like?

AG: Democracy Now! is listener supported radio. It is a tradition that we all have to protect that started more than 50 years ago. And that's the way we continue is with all of your support. That's what makes the difference. Management has put us in an extremely difficult situation, one that is completely untenable. To have management physically intimidating us, accosting us, is unacceptable. I'm not going to put the staff in that position or myself.

DB: Does that include national management? Or is this just happening locally at WBAI?

AG: I don't know what's happening nationally. I know what's happening to us in our workplace, both in terms of our physical safety and in terms of the technical quality, the technical conditions under which we do the broadcast. When we were thrown into studio 3, the editing booth last week for absolutely no reason national management was there. The national programming director Steve Yasko as well as the general manager of the station, as we were put in minutes before the broadcast on the air, without a clock, with substandard studios, the interim station manager was shouting, was saying, and laughing, "Watch them run, watch them run."

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