Report by Indra Hardat, WBAI iGM,
to PNB, 1-28-06
Here is a transcript of WBAI interim GM Indra Hardat's 1/28/06 report to the Pacifica National Board. Also included is Q & A with board members. Audio can be heard at: http://kpftx.org/archives/pnb/pnb060127/saturday/pnb060128st.mp3
Indra Hardat (0:58): While we are waiting I would like to thank our interim exectuive Director Mr. Ambrose Lane for being so helpful and so supportive of me. Thank you very much, and welcome Mr. Greg Guma - I think you said to call you Greg, but all right. And thank the board for allowing the budget to put back the $25,000 for development and premiums. It's worked out. Our fulfillment rate went up, becuase our premiums department is much more effective now than it was three months ago.
And also to thank WPFW and the people of Washington for their warm hospitality. One gentleman heard me talk about vegan food last night, because I didn't have anything to eat, and he bought me a homemade salad made up of about 20 different things, and my body's very happy right now.
Okay, WBAI. I don't know why we are so small and everybody else is so big (referring to a power point presentation), and I lost my eyes, so Lonnie, I misplaced my eyes somewhere - and that's because I was undernourished all this time. Thanks to that gentleman who brought me that thing. [Looks for glasses?]
All right. So, the starting of this fiscal year, we started with a deficit of $125,000. Our fall goal was $950,000; we came in short about $110,000. So we're short. Why are we short? There are many reasons. One of them is that we do not have a development person. Number two is that our fund drives are not really planned the way they should. Partly because we don't have enough days in the year to plan the drives, and what happens is that because we have lengthy drives, we don't have enough time to plan the next drive.
The other thing is that our resources have been directed in every which way. People have built their empires on our resources; they took our airwaves, and they don't really give back what they're taking. Especially it's been happening in the news room, where we have a problem of training staff, but because we don't have the resources we can't keep them. They would go onto other radio stations where they would be gainfully employed. And some of the folks we trained are now Free Speech Radio employees.
And there are many other reasons - lack of compliance with the producers in getting their premiums registered on time, and all different reasons. All things we need to work on.
The good news is that for the first quarter of this fiscal year, we are doing pretty well, according to our figures, and I look at the figures. Despite all the shortfall, we are on target as far as the budget is concerned.
We had a mini-drive in December - it was really not a mini-drive; it was a trial experiment with three days membership. We did not suspend any programming, we had all the regular slots there. No pitching really, just soft pitch, and we were able to raise $50,000.
And apart from that, we had some extensive fundraising efforts. Bernard had a Joy Leary event which he coordinated. Kathy and Janet and I did a cultural fusion, where we had a concert with all the cultures involved. We had a book fair. The MOF [membership outreach and fundraising committee of the LSB] had a fundraising event that raised some money.
So it was a collective effort by management, staff, and volunteers. And we're surviving; we're paying our bills, we're paying central services and all of that.
As far as the challenges and plans - the women in programming have doubled. We have an indigineous program, but we need more voices in that area. Spanish language has been added, but also we need work over there too. Youth programming - the one that we have is Rise-up Radio, and thanks to Ursula Ruedenberg who intitally introduced those young folks to WBAI. (6:47)
We have the hiring freeze, we froze expenses, we had payroll and layoffs and all of that. So, right now we are in good shape, as far as that goes.
What I would like to say, though, is that we often like to hide behind the frame of racism. And - because we have other issues - because we always tend to hide our anger, sometimes our hatred, sometimes our prejudices, under the race card. And, people can work together. we can find what we have in common, and we can work from that. And, becuase we are all different. Look at us. We are the United Nations here. We have so much to offer, and we're not capitalizing on the humanity side of all this. We are capitalizing on the little anger, the little hatred, the little petty things.
Some really petty things - I've been to some board meetings where I just walked out, because I feel that all the negative energy and all the bad will created -it's not worthwhile to be in that kind of surrounding. And perhaps that's one of the reasons our foundation is so weak. We need to build on the foundation because if you build on sand, guess what? It's going to collapse. If you have proper concrete over, and then start building, and the foundation is us - we don't have to go seek outside help, we don't have go to consultants, we don't have to go to shrinks - we can do it among ourselves.
And - what else - I think that's it. (8:33)
Dave Adelson: Thanks very much Indra. So we have ten minutes for questions, and then we have the board chair. Steve -
Steve Pierce: Can you update us on the general manager search?
Indra Hardat: The committee has been set up. The first meeting was, as I recall, last Thursday, and I don't know if they met. I understand there is no quorum. Oh, and another thing I forgot completely, is that our drive, our winter drive has been postponed to februyary 8th, and we had a Martin Luther King day one-day drive, which usually kicks off into the winter drive, but because of the lack of planning, and we didn't have anything in place, we postponed it. But, guess what, we can afford to postpone it. Last year at this time we didn't have enough money to pay the payroll for this pay period. But this time we do have it, so we can afford to postpone it a little bit, get better planning and get better results.
Dave Adelson: Lydia? Oh boy , now the hands come up, we'll go around this way ...
Lydia Brazon: Do you have any idea if, when you have increased listenership, which it sounds like you have? Is that correct?
Indra Hardat: No, our base has declined some. And the membership drive we had in December, it was an experiment, we were able to get 390 new members. I am not sure, but with the fall drive we were able to get some more new members. Our base has declined some, so what I look - I don't really pay much attention to the arbitron. But we need to pay attention to the arbitron - that's how we get the CPB money that's needed at this time, especially at WBAI, Because if we don't have that money, we have to lock doors.
Lydia Brazon: But my question was, have you conducted any kind of a survey, asking membership that has fallen away as to why. And asking some of the new members what has attracted them to the station.
Indra Hardat: Well, I work very closely with the premiums department, and most of their questions are - they do not get their premiums on time, because when we do the fund drive. we promise listeners that we'll deliver in four to six weeks, but sometimes it can go to six months. And the new listeners, we are not able to keep them, and they just call for a refund. so, you know, that's one of the reasons.
Lisa Davis: I just wanted to say, Indra, that I appreciate your comments, and that you come into a job that's not easy, but one of the things that you said, which I must say I take exception to, because I think it shows insensitivity, and that's the issue of the race card and hiding behind it. I just want to remind everybody a little about the city of New York, because I've always said, and WBAI and Pacifica is a reflection of the community outside. That's a city in which African-American males, the city of New York which is supposed to be so diverse and so large, but yet at least 50% unemployment rate among African-Americans. I want to remind everyone that's also the city - Amadou Diallo - 41 bullets. And he got off. And I could go on and on in terms of saying things that are absolutely true. And it's not about people hiding behind anything. It's about people who are no longer going to tolerate it, because for so long, the expectation has been for people to sit back and say nothing. I will open up my mouth, I will say stuff all the time and I will call it as it is. As long as I continue to be confronted with it. So I just wanted to clarify that, and I know I speak for my community when I say that, because I'm out there in the community, and I'm hearing the things, and I'm seeing the people come in whose families have been victimized by police brutality and there are horrible and insensitive things happening in the community, and most of the people that come, although we organizations that are open to everybody, are people I see comning and crying about what's going on, and not getting justice, I've been through the court system myself, are African-American. And I know that Latino and Native Americans and other people of color are suffering as well, but I'm a firm believer in speaking what I know most, and that's who I am. Thank you.
Indra Hardat: Just to - WBAI has always been on top of issues, like Amadou Diallo. We always address the issue, and I think WBAI has been addressing the issues more than any of the stations, so I don't see that we are lacking in that area. In my mind, I've heard the word diversity used many many times, today, yesterday. Diversity to me means sharing of ideas and perceptions. And to involve - not diversity in terms of one group - to me diversity's in terms of a lot of different groups. Especially young folks coming into WBAI, because from those - who we can train, cultivate, mold, and to assist them. the veterans of the radio station are the ones who need to mold them, and let them grow. Thee young voices are the future voices of WBAI.
Dave Adelson: We'll just go around. Bob, Ray, Alan, and then I saw Theresa. Rob, did you have your hand up? NO, OK, Bob?
Bob Lederer: Okay, I don't have a question. I just wanted to share with other board members two exciting initiatives that are happening at WBAI through the programming department. The program just a couple of weeks ago went weekly, which I think is of national import, and the other stations may want to check it out on audioport. It's called "law and disorder," and it's about all the rising attacks on civil liberties in the name of homeland security, and it's hosted by attorneys from the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights and others. And it's really top-notch. It's a one-hour weekly show that comes out on Monday morning. And the other thing is that there are going to be a series of community forums, under the theme of homeland insecurity, looking at every different aspects of the period we're in, looking at the different kinds of repression going on, featuring various WBAI hosts, and then to be recorded for future use on the air. So it's got both listener interaction and on-air possibilities, so some positive things going on.
Indra Hardat: And just to add on to that series of WBAI stories - thanks to Deena Kolbert, she facilitated the series, with CUNY, which is a really good thing, in two parts. It's an outreach tool - I think it will reach 225 people in the greater new York area, with the printed brochure, continuing education brochures, and also there's a charge, where CUNY has agreed to give WBAI 50% of the proceeds, at the door. So it's outreach and - and another thing, there was a Chinese gala event, they printed 50,000 brochures in the Chinese community for the Chinese New Year, and WBAI is advertising a quarter page ad that they did for us, and we in exchange did the PSAs. So we are outreaching in every area.
Ray Laforest: I just wanted to say, you made a statement, two statements that defined diversity in a way that excluded a whole dimension. This society - this country was created by a narrow group of men, that excluded women, that excluded white men without property, that excluded native Americans, African-Americans. So for me diversity (unintelligible) include all those groups. It wouldn't just be to exchange ideas about this life. But I want to touch on something Lisa just touched on. But I don't - I want to ask you, you said "some people are using the race card," I wanted to ask you what you meant by that.
Indra Hardat: Well, by attacking each other all the time, I find that a lot of, even the progam council, it cannot operate, because people are always constantly fighting. And it's little things that people are fighting about. It's things that are not worth fighting about. Screaming, yelling, not behaving in a civil way. And I think the people who are leading this body should be civil, at least learn to be civil with each other, and not conduct themselves in a way where the level of anger that is shown. I've witnessed it many times and had to walk out.
Alan Minsky: Two questions - the first one is, in calendar year 2005, how many days of fundraising did WBAI do?
Indra Hardat: 2005, we did 90 days.
Alan Minsky: I don't say this in any way to make the impression that KPFK is doing something right and WBAI is doing something wrong, but, on this matter, we did 40 days of fundraising, we did 39 the year before, and it was only 40 because our power went out on one day on the last day of the funddrive in 2005. And I just mention this because I'm on staff, I'm one of the two senior producers, and we really have our sort of technique and our process down. And I think there is a strong feeling, because we're all in one network together, among the staff, that we're not going to go and tell people how to do things, but we are available for our model to be looked at. Have you looked at what we do during our fund drives? Have you been in dialog? We're definitely there to help out ...
Indra Hardat: I certainly have. I've been talking to the GMs, I've been sending emails to find out what premiums they are using, how they are pitching. And now we are coming up with some new ways of setting carts. It comes to promoting and cross-promoting. Some producers feel that it's my show. Or I can only promote my show, I cannot promote the other show that's coming on after me, and it's been happening at WBAI that people do not cross-promote and promote. So of course, if you are on, I am listening to you, and you don't say anything about what's coming next to keep the listener tuned in, they are gone. And that's one of the problems at the station.
Alan Minsky: Can I just say in the most congenial and respectful manner that there are quite a few of us at KPFK and we're there as a resource to touch base with any time.
Theresa Allen: I recently visited a low-power station in Urbana, Illinois. Indymedia had an opprotunity to buy a post office. It was a building with a post office in it. And they rent out the top floor, they have a low-power station in it, still has the post office in it, and they negotiated that agreeement. You spend about $25,000 a month for your suite of offices, about $25,000 for your transmitter. Do you have any committee, or what are you doing to explore, possibilities of moving?
Dave Adelson: Indra, if you don't mind, the finance committee and others have dealt with this again and again, and you are free to give the answer, but we really are at time.
Teresa Allen: Pardon me, if you don't have a dream, how are you going to have a dream come true. I want to know the answer.
Indra Hardat: Okay, we are planning to launch a capital campaign quite soon, but we don't have it all together yet. And our rent did go up like 30% for the antenna, where we house our antenna.
Dave Adelson: But there was a committee, Loniie did work with them. They did feasibility studies, they looked at the cost of getting out of their lease - there's been quite a bit on that front. And just so everybody is aware, WBAI has about the same budget as KPFK, but they have to spend about a million dollars more combining their rent and their transmitter.
Indra Hardat: That's correct.
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