In this week’s issue… Local, national boards scuffle over WBAI’s future – Cumulus cuts in central PA – Auction opens new FM channels
By SCOTT FYBUSH
MONDAY UPDATE: Here we go again. Just as we were finishing up our analysis of the WBAI mess Sunday night, it got messier, potentially much messier. There’s now a split within the Pacifica national board, which manifested itself Sunday night with a board meeting convened by phone in which members voted to reverse what they called “the heist that occurred October 7.”
As soon as tomorrow, that could mean the return of all the local staffers and programming who were removed from WBAI’s airwaves – except that it’s not at all clear that the vote was legitimate. That’s because Pacifica’s interim executive director says the votes included several from members of WBAI’s local station board who had already been removed and thus weren’t eligible to vote.
There’s a news conference set for Tuesday and a rally on Wednesday, and it looks like all the chaos that has characterized the last few decades of WBAI is swirling once again. Stay tuned…
Last week, of course, the sudden decision by the station’s licensee, the national Pacifica Foundation, to pull the plug on its local programming and staff was enough on its own to prompt a rare same-day NERW Extra.
It would have been surprising if the local station board at WBAI hadn’t reacted by going to court – and of course it did, seeking and winning a temporary restraining order on Tuesday that it hoped would force Pacifica to reverse course and restore WBAI’s local shows and staff.
But that restraining order in a state court ran into a problem: WBAI’s license is a federal one, and federal law is very clear that the responsibility for programming and operating a radio station rests on that station’s licensee – which has never been the local station board in New York, but rather national Pacifica in California.
And so it was unsurprising (at least to us) that Pacifica quickly managed to get most of the restraining order reversed, allowing it to continue to feed a national programming lineup to WBAI from Pacifica headquarters in Berkeley while it addresses the issues that do actually apply at the state level.
How does that break down? Keep reading…
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