The following statement is from the Pacifica Foundation's Executive Director Greg Guma. It was issued on August 10, 2006 and is presented here in its entirety.
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE, PRINT OUT AND POST THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE*****
Statement on WBAI management change
Many things have been said and written during the past month about the decision by the PNB and myself to initiate a change in the management of WBAI. I have waited until now to release a public statement in order to reach an agreement with the current Interim General Manager, Indra Hardat, and to allow her to reach a decision about her future with Pacifica. Now that she has made her choice and met with the staff, however, it is time to set the record straight.
WBAI has been divided by factional politics for far too long. I have been aware of the toll this has taken from my first days on the job. Some of you may recall my visit to the station in February, and the series of private meetings conducted with many members of the staff. Since that time, I have watched and listened, and have come to the conclusion that changes at the station are imperative.
In June, I began discussions with Indra about her plans. I also discussed the situation with the PNB's Personnel Committee and with the Pacifica Board. While I cannot discuss what was said in executive sessions, I can say that they led to my decision to initiate a search for a new Interim General Manager. I discussed this decision with Indra on July 10, and was under the impression at that time that she was ready to return to her previous position after carrying the burden of her temporary role for 15 months. As some of you may recall, she was appointed in May 2005 for a period of six to nine months, with the expectation that a general manager would be hired by the end of the year. As we all know, that did not happen.
The rumors that have circulated since July 10 have little to do with the real situation. The facts are that the local search for a new Interim General Manager is underway, and the local search committee has been instructed by the PNB to produce up to three qualified candidates by September 1 (four weeks from the posting of the job on August 4). Shortly after that date, I will interview the candidates selected by the search committee during a visit to New York and the station and, assuming one of those candidate can help move the station forward, make a hiring decision by the middle of that month. During my visit, I will meet with staff. Indra and I have agreed that she will assist with the transition, and that she will return to her previous job by the end of the current fiscal year, September 30.
During recent days, I did consider other options. Had Indra decided that she did not want to return to her old job, I was prepared to move more quickly. Fortunately, that was not necessary, and I appreciate her cooperation.
Please understand that 1) my action has broad support from the PNB, elected representatives who represent listeners and staff from across the country; 2) I am committed to improving both management and programming at the station; 3) the decision was not made under pressure from or at the instigation of any political interest group; and 4) I value the contribute Indra has made to the station and will, hopefully, continue to make once she returns to the job that uses her primary expertise.
Some have suggested that I immediately visit New York to explain what has happened so far - and why. But such a visit would be less revealing than one might expect, since confidentiality rules preclude any discussion of the personnel considerations that have been the basis of my action. However, I can promise you that this decision has been made in order to bring strong and independent leadership to the station, while at the same time - thanks to Indra - also providing continuity. In addition, it will allow the search for a General Manager to continue for as long as it takes to find someone who reflects the diverse interests of the station.
Much of the disagreement to date has stemmed from the fact that this decision was initiated by the Executive Director rather than the LSB. However, Pacifica's bylaws clearly state that either can take the first step. Had I waited until the LSB was prepared to act, it would in all likelihood have been many months more before any change occurred. In the absence of decisive local action and oversight, it is the responsibility of national management and the PNB to take the necessary steps. I must note that the LSB, a subcommittee of the national board, has not been able to complete its responsibility to evaluate local management or programming for over two years.
In my view, the situation at the station - whether we call it a “crisis,” a problem, or just more of the same - must be addressed decisively and quickly, to protect both the stability of WBAI and the network of which it is a part. Indra has made contributions, but can serve the station and Pacifica best at this point as business manager, a role she had originally planned to resume long before now.
I hope this helps to clear the air, and puts to rest the rumors that have been circulating. In the end, please keep in mind that WBAI is not an autonomous entity, but rather part of a larger whole - the Pacifica Foundation. If I had neglected the responsibility to act, I could rightly be accused of ignoring a problem with the potential to threaten the entire organization. Some may suggest that the PNB and I have instead acted with too much authority. If so, the responsibility (and criticism) are accepted because I firmly believe we cannot avoid consequences simply by avoiding difficult choices.
-- Greg Guma, Executive Director
R. Paul Martin's comment on Executive Director Greg Guma's statement above.
On August 9, 2006, WBAI iGM Indra Hardat called a sudden meeting of the Staff. She explained that she and the Executive Director had reached an agreement and that she'd be resigning as iGM as soon as a new iGM had been chosen and that she'd be helping with that person's transition. The faction brought a really dumb motion out of that meeting, the motion was sent to the entire PNB. Executive Director Greg Guma's statement came the day after that meeting.
The Executive Director's statement is really quite simple, once you've boiled it down a bit. I'll break his statement down, reassemble it by theme and comment. His statement below has a white background.
Many things have been said and written during the past month about the decision by the PNB and myself to initiate a change in the management of WBAI.
I have watched and listened, and have come to the conclusion that changes at the station are imperative.
Please understand that 1) my action has broad support from the PNB, elected representatives who represent listeners and staff from across the country; 2) I am committed to improving both management and programming at the station....
This is pretty straight forward. The PNB and the Executive Director want someone new as iGM of WBAI. Well, that's all that it legally takes, so despite the fact that Inra hardat has been the best General Manager that WBAI has had a a hell of a long time we just have to accept the reality that she is going to be replaced.
WBAI has been divided by factional politics for far too long. I have been aware of the toll this has taken from my first days on the job.
... please keep in mind that WBAI is not an autonomous entity, but rather part of a larger whole - the Pacifica Foundation
In my view, the situation at the station - whether we call it a “crisis,” a problem, or just more of the same - must be addressed decisively and quickly, to protect both the stability of WBAI and the network of which it is a part.
There's no denying this these days. That WBAI is a part of the Pacifica network is more true with the new bylaws than it ever was before. And the Executive Director seems to be saying that he's ready to be an Executive Director as opposed to what his predecessor was. Well, this could get interesting.
WBAI is a part of the Pacifica Foundation, and not a small group's fiefdom.
I must note that the LSB, a subcommittee of the national board, has not been able to complete its responsibility to evaluate local management or programming for over two years.
Well, this is all true. The faction currently in charge is very unlikely to want to really evaluate their faction boss. After all, how do you objectively evaluate patronage allocation if you're one of the beneficiaries? What, you want other criteria by which to evaluate Management? I don't see the faction doing that. I suspect that this little shot will not only get the faction currently in charge all huffy but will also cause some of them to fear that their little Tammany Hall operation is liable to start facing the consequences of some of its actions over the years. For a bunch that's not very in touch with reality that's going to be a bit rough.
I hope that in the end WBAI can indeed survive, and not as a patronage mill for faction members.
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