Here is what I think the next step will be.
It is probably the only sensible thing left for Pacifica to do, and in fact I am convinced that the PNB delegates from the other four stations will insist on it, in order to save the entire foundation from collapse.
I believe that Pacifica, one way or another, will have
to come up with the $200,000 required to save WBAIís Empire State Building antenna. Why? Because if WBAI went dark for lack of an antenna, the FCC would lift its license, and since that license may still be worth $5-$10 million or more in a potential swap or sale, Pacifica will not want to foreclose that option.
Once the antenna is saved (at least for the moment), I think Pacifica will close WBAIís offices and fire all its paid staff to eliminate approximately $2 million in operating expenses and payroll costs (except for the one token person I believe the FCC requires to be in physical control of the station, and who would be paid only a minimal token salary).
Finally, in order to preserve WBAIís license, Pacifica would begin broadcasting a direct feed to the Empire State Building antenna from KPFA or KPFK in California. This feed Ė if Pacifica were smart Ė would be a continuance of the entire current WBAI program grid, with producers working from NY, either by telephone or pre-recorded CD, which is how many programs are now produced anyway.
The stationís producers could use by-the-hour rental studios. Or they could work out of their own homes (which is not as bad as it might seem, since in my opinion there has always been too much hand-wringing in Pacifica over the need for ďprofessional studio sound quality,Ē which is something that I think has always been much more important to producers than it has ever been to listeners.)
There would be a huge benefit in choosing to continue broadcasting WBAIís current programming schedule from California Ė rather than simply substituting the KPFA or KPFK schedules, or just playing music. The benefit is that, since WBAIís listeners will still be hearing the programs they all know and love (we hope), the station could continue to raise money, as it has always done, through periodic fund drives.
But -- since there would no longer be any operating expenses for the station (other than the monthly antenna rent), virtually all of the fund drive revenues could go towards paying off WBAIís and Pacificaís past debts, at the rate of about $1.5 million per year (less antenna rent), which is what I would guess the station could still raise through its fund drives.
This arrangement would go on until the network stabilized its finances. Which, unfortunately, might be ad calends Graecum
, unless steps are taken not only to improve management but also to institute more sensible policies.
But sadly, there seem to be no powers or parties in prospect able to lead, or force, a meaningful change of direction at Pacifica Ė certainly not at its national or local boards, which for the past several years have shown themselves to be both uninformed and impotent.
So even if the station and the foundation are able to survive, for the present, by implementing the above scenario, I do not see any long-term scenarios that include happy endings. I hope that the management of WBAI and Pacifica -- who are also reading this letter -- prove me wrong.
Stephen M Brown
Member of the WBAI Local Station Board
and therefore also to blame