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WBAI LAB minutes

Minutes of the WBAI Local Advisory Board Meeting

Monday April 8, 2002, at 75 Varick St., 14"' Floor.

Present: Panama Alba, Marian Borenstein, Jonathan Cohen, Anne Emerman, Lee Kronick, Ray Laforest, Anthony Mackall, Errol Maitland, Miguel Maldonado (Chair), Andrew Norris, Mimi Rosenberg

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by the Chair.

No minutes from previous meetings were offered. MM asked for someone to take minutes, AN volunteered. There was no written agenda.

Introductory Remarks: MM noted that there would be a LAB sponsored fundraising event at the Theater for the New City, April 27. This will be similar to the event held there about a year ago, and will be a celebration of the birth of WBIX. It will be broadcast on WBIX.

EM announced that a Staff meeting had been called by GM Valerie van Isler for Saturday April 13th at the station. On the agenda, among other things: announcement that Bernard White will be leaving Wakeup Call to devote himself full time to Program Director, also the announcement of the hiring of Matthew Finch as Interim Public Affairs Director, and Mark Laiosa as Interim Arts Director, and discussion of the Program Council.

PA talked about the lack of concern among the WBAI community for the arrestees from the January 2001 LAB lock-out at the station. He circulated a letter from the Latino community that had been sent to a number of people. Latino activists had held meetings since January about the relationship of the Latino community to WBAI, which they felt was not good. Prior to January their emphasis was getting the station back, but before the coup they had not felt that they had good relations to WBAI. Their letter lists their concerns and issues, for example: lack of participation in the GM Search Committee, and that they want to be equitably represented, e.g., there is not one Latino on the National Board.

ByLaws Update: LK said that the Exploratory Committee (EC) on Bylaws and Democratization had been merged into the larger WBAI Bylaws Revision Sub-Committee. The EC turned over to Ray Laforest the results of 2 brainstorming sessions concerning the functioning and structure of the LAB. The EC is now currently on standby, and it is recommended that the LAB use exploratory committees as information gathering devices in the future.

RL: On-air coverage of the bylaws process is now occurring every Friday evening 10 PM-midnight. Habte Selassie's program will be pre-empted this Friday from 10-12PM for the next Bylaws Revision discussion. Ray will get more information about other air times that may be available, and will also ask Ryme Katkhouda if the meetings can be broadcast on WBIX. The idea of employing the services of a mediator for the Bylaws Sub-Committee meetings was discussed, but it was said that it could cost as much as $5K - $10K. There is a new Bylaws discussion list. To subscribe, send an email to: wbaibylaws-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

General Manager Search Committee update: MM presented the proposed membership of the Search Committee:
5 from the station: 1 PD, 2 Paid Staff and 2 Unpaid Staff
1 from the IPNB (Janice K. Bryant)
4 from the LAB (tba)
6 from Listener groups such as CPR, CdPNY, Pacifica Campaign, Concerned Friends.

Some concern was voiced about the composition of the Search Committee. Susan Lee felt that staff should have more of a determining voice. Silvia Arana voiced concern that the committee may become unwieldy, noting that the committee is already 16. Errol mentioned that when you increase listener participation you necessarily dilute staff membership on the committee. AN said that the iPNB resolution from the March meeting in Los Angeles was for a Search Cmte of only 6, and we've allowed the number to explode to 16. According to the iPNB resolution the 2 reps from the LAB were not to be Staff. MR said that this exclusionary practice was unprecedented. She made the point that the 4 LAB reps on the Search Committee also represented the listeners. Steve Brown said that the structure of the committee was set up to provide checks and balances. Approximately 1/3 Staff, and 1/3 listeners, with the LAB and iPNB making up roughly the rest of it. Miguel said that there should be some kind of balance, that they were trying to include every group that had been involved in the struggle to get back WBAI, and that this was a way to promote unity among the various groups. He said that he himself had often felt excluded since we got the station back, and that there are some who are opposed to the LAB having any power. Fred Nguyen said that the various Concerned Friends groups feel under-represented. Outlying area groups should be better represented on the Search Committee, as they represent 50% of listeners.

Discussion focused on the scheduled meeting of the Search Committee on April 10. Janet Coleman said that they had only received notice about their 2 seats on April 3rd, and complained that staff were required to have 2 people in place by Wednesday April 10 to determine their future GM. MR said that Valerie Van Isler was supposed to call a staff meeting but had not. Miguel stated that the reason for scheduling the meeting so soon was the need to have a new GM in place by June 1st. He said that staff reps at the April 10th meeting would be temporary, and permanent members could be chosen later.

Mimi made a motion: To postpone the Search Committee meeting for 2 weeks in order to give the Unpaid Staff as well as other groups an opportunity to meet. She said that there would be an Unpaid Staff meeting of about 100 people on Tuesday with the objective of putting a union together. Paid Staff is unionized, but Unpaid Staff is not. Staff want to move quickly, but the process will be healthier if they have a chance to get together first, and there is no cataclysmic result if a GM is not hired by June. The process was being rushed, saying there had been no affirmative action posting, no job description.

The motion was passed, with 6 in favor, 2 against, and 3 abstentions. As a result, the Search Committee meeting was rescheduled from April 10 to April 24.

AN raised the issue of selecting the 4 LAB members to the committee and urged it be done now. MM said it was not on the agenda, and after some discussion MR made a motion: That the LAB hold a special meeting prior to April 24 in order to select its members to the Search Committee. The motion passed with 5 in favor, 2 opposed, and 2 abstaining. EM attempted to make a third motion that special consideration be given to the Fired and Banned as participants in the Search, but was ruled out of order by the Chair.

Program Council: Mark Laiosa introduced himself as Acting Arts Director, and described the Program Council (PC) as an attempt to distribute the decision making on programming. Janet Coleman, as member of the PC, said the structure of the PC was still open and under discussion. At its most recent meeting the PC had discussed having 2 seats on the PC from the LAB as listener representation. AN offered the PC the full support and cooperation of the LAB.

There was open discussion. Ray said the PC needed greater listener representation and made a motion: That the LAB recommends to the PC that it include at least one member from listener groups. The motion passed 8-0-1.

Labbrish Issue: Mark Lioasa chastised the LAB members for what happened on Habte Selassie's program on March 22. Some LAB members had come to the station and wanted to get onto the program (which was a special on bylaws). There had been a miscommunication and Lioasa stressed the need for respectful dialog. LK said he was there but never spoke with Selassie, he spoke only with Ray, and that nobody attempted to go into the studio. MB said that the LAB was not informed of the special program, and that she spoke with Selassie on March 22 asked if it was possible if one of the other LAB members could be on the show. Ray said it is a producer's right to have whoever he or she wants on a show. Shawn Rhodes made a statement, said Marian had asked Selassie about someone from the LAB appearing, and that Ray asked on behalf of Lee but the answer was no because the guests had been scheduled in advance: Carol Spooner as Secretary of the iPNB and Chair of the Bylaws Committee, Ray as co-chair of the WBAI area Bylaws Committee and as LAB member, and Andrea Fishman, a listener involved in these issues for some time. There were witnesses who could testify that an uncomfortable situation was created before and during the show. In all his years at WBAI this was the first instance he had seen of LAB members showing up uninvited and insisting they be part of a program.

Comments followed about removing people from the station. Mike Beasley: Selassie should be off the air. Ryme Katkhouda: we need to clean house, to make sure the people who are the problem are removed. Errol: the struggle is not over, there are a bunch of vipers, scabs and low-lifes at WBAI.

Lack of Process in Promotions: MM said there had been a lack of process in selecting the Acting Public Affairs Director, Matthew Finch. RL said he was unaware of the appointment even though he is on the WBAI Committee, which is supposed to be informed in advance of hiring, firing and union issues. MM suggested the LAB write a letter to management about the issue.

Respectfully submitted,

Andrew Norris
July 2, 2002

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