WBAI layoffs postponed


Pacifica’s Interim Executive Director Summer Reese announced she had extended the deadline for WBAI-FM NYC’s mass layoffs from 7/15 to 7/31. While she claimed the reason was to allow more time for negotiations with the paid staff union and for them to “adjust to” the news, SAG-AFTRA union members report that the more likely reason is legal flaws in the notice letter sent to the entire staff allegedly providing 30 days notice.

The problem at the non-comm outlet is that CPB has withheld money from the Pacifica Foundation’s five FMs after it missed deadlines for fixing errors in its accounting and operations. The mistakes were found during a 2012 CPB audit that cited Pacifica for misreported revenues and failure to comply with CPB rules on open meetings and financial transparency.

The situation hits Pacifica at a tough time as its stations struggle to raise enough money to pay rent and staff. WBAI fell short of its on-air fundraising goal in May by 45%, or $343,000. The station couldn’t cover its June payroll or rent for its antenna. So WBAI extended its fund drive. The fundraising was enough to keep the station on the air for now, but layoffs are needed to keep it afloat.