Six Months of Victories for CMS!

On Nov. 26, 2012, members and listeners of WPFW Pacifica Radio in Washington, DC first heard programmers announce on air—some tearfully—that they were doing their last shows. These abrupt cancellations were part of a sweeping grid change by station general manager John Hughes that saw the initial elimination of 25 hours of jazz weekly, the elimination of many popular, quality public affairs shows and hosts and the planned import of corporate-funded, nationally syndicated programming. Starting on that same day, the Concerned Members and Supporters of WPFW responded with independent community action.

Since then, we have had many victories:

1. John Hughes has had to reinstate several programs initially removed from the air, even though he has thrust them into awkward, unfamiliar timeslots, including:

“Myndtalk” with Pamela Brewer

“On the Margin” with Josephine Reed

“Voices With Vision” by the DC Radio Collective

”The Collectors” with Brother Ah

“In Our Voices “ with NKenge Toure

2. We have exposed the fact that many of programmers that Hughes planned to import have corporate funding from military contractors and Wal-Mart, in violation of Pacifica’s bylaws against.

3. John Hughes has not been able to bring in many of the planned shows, including “The Take Away” with John Hockenberry, “Tell Me More” with Michelle Martin and “The Tavis Smiley Show”

4. More than 400 members and listeners attended community meetings—Dec. 5, Dec. 11, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19—during which they demanded that programming be restored at the station and that John Hughes be removed.

5. Despite the effort of station management to cancel the meeting, On Dec. 5, a meeting of 30 station members, listeners and board members took place, during which passed a resolution urging the Local Station Board to initiate the process to fire John Hughes

6. More than 100 letters have been sent to Pacifica Foundation Interim Executive Director Summer Reese concerning the crisis.

7. Hundreds of people signed a petition at Change.org condemning the abrupt program grid change and calling for the removal of John Hughes. Because of unsolved technical glitches with this first petition, we have launched a NEW PETITION at Care2.

8. On Dec. 19, The Local Station Board passed a motion urging the station general manager to restore the programming to pre-Dec. 3 status.

9. On Dec. 28, many of the candidates supported by Concerned Members and Supporters of WPFW were swept onto the Local Station Board.

10. On Jan.9, Yves Point du Jour was elected chairman of the Local Station Board, unseating Tony Norman. Two other CMS-supported candidates were also elected as officers: Ola Cole-Laryea as secretary and Marcus Jeter as treasurer.

11. CMS produced a detailed report documenting the failed leadership and management of John Hughes.

12. CMS- and LSB member Jane Gatewood uncovered the fact that Tony Norman is an ANC commissioner in DC, an elected public official, and is therefore ineligible to serve on the Local Station Board or on the Pacifica National Board.  Though the national board decided not to unseat Norman, the outcome of this situation is still not settled and is just one item in the laundry list of complaints against Norman for breach of fiduciary duty.

13. Jan 31: The Local Station Board voted to initiate the process to fire John Hughes and also elected Benito Diaz , Luzette King and Katea Stitt to the Pacifica National Board , defeating an effort by Campbell Johnson to retain his seat on the national board and seat his hand-picked slate.

14. With a multi-faceted and tenacious effort–including demonstrations, leafleting, local station board intervention, meetings with programmers, the production of a white paper and fact sheet–CMS waged a mighty and victorious struggle to derail the plan of Campbell Johnson, Tony Norman and Pete Tucker to relocate WPFW to station facilities owned and operated by the reactionary Clear Channel radio network.

15. With WPFW facing imminent eviction and an eight-year lease with no exit clause with Clear Channel, and the funneling of $1.4 million of jazz and justice dollars into Clear Channel coffers, CMS located alternative relocation options for both short-term and long-term, including the possibility of building ownership.

16. CMS-supported candidates have been elected to fill vital chairmanships of vital LSB committees, including MASC, Finance, Relocation and development.

17. Members of the CMS legal committee have put both Pacifica national and local management on notice, with a letter to their attorneys and an actual lawsuit for breaches of fiduciary duty and gross violations of Pacifica by laws.

4 comments

  1. Selma

    Having read this I thought it was really enlightening. I appreciate you taking the time and effort
    to put this informative article together. I
    once again find myself spending a lot of time both
    reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

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  3. Ron Benjamin

    Vinnie Jack, WPFW’s volunteer coordinator, recently sent an email asking for volunteers to assist during an upcoming telemarketing campaign, from 5 PM to 8:30 PM on July 22 through 26. The campaign is aimed at getting existing and former members to renew their memberships.

    Several of us who have answered phones during pledge drives have declined to participate in the telemarketing campaign, because (with concurrence of WPFW staff) we have always assured pledge drive callers that they can give us their phone number with confidence; they will be called only if there is a problem with their pledge. We therefore cannot support an effort that violates that promise.

    Personally, I appreciate that station management is making an effort to raise funds without resorting to still another on-air pledge drive. I recognize that the telemarketing campaign, which is targeting people who have already shown an inclination to support the station, may be effective. But I wish it could be done without turning me, and my fellow phone bank volunteers, into liars.

    – Ron Benjamin

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