To: Anthony Riddle, General Manager of WBAI
All WBAI Staff
Pacifica National Board
Interim Chief Financial Officer
Interim General Counsel
WBAI Local Station Board
April 20, 2009
It has come to my attention that statements have been made on the air at WBAI both recently and in the past that may put the Pacifica Foundation at risk. These statements fall into the following three categories: personnel matters, slander and libel, and the harassment of employees.
Open discussion by any Pacifica staff member of personnel matters of any employee of Pacifica including the circumstances surrounding his or her hiring or firing, qualifications, etc., violates the Pacifica Bylaws, Administrative and Personnel Policies, 2006, commonly understood workplace confidentiality and privacy standards, and everyone's Fourth Amendment right to privacy.
Slander and Libel:
Complaints have been made in the past and recently about libelous statements made on the air at WBAI.that put the Pacifica Foundation at risk.
I have received complaints of harassment by staff causing upset and the creation of an unsafe work environment pursuant to recent statements made on the air at WBAI.
Some examples of the above are given below in audio clips. Please note that these clips do not necessarily encompass every instance of the above violations of law and policy.
This email directive shall serve as the final written warning to all staff and programmers of WBAI and caution all other Pacifica staff to cease and desist from making or allowing any and all on-air statements that put the Pacifica Foundation at risk.
If any further statements or comments are made on the air General Manager Tony Riddle is to immediately suspend the offending programmer or programmers and not allow them back on the air until the conclusion of a full investigation at the national level.
Failure of Mr. Riddle to comply with this directive shall result in immediate progressive disciplinary measures.
As the above reflects long standing Pacifica policy, this directive applies equally to all Pacifica management and personnel, employed or volunteer at any of our stations or other departments.
Chair of the Pacifica National Board
Interim Executive Director of
The Pacifica Foundation
phone: (310) 286 - 1011
cell: (510) 230 - 8960
Fourth Amendment to the U.S.
- Pacifica Bylaws, Article Six, Section 7
OPEN MEETINGS states:
- “All meetings of the Board of Directors and its committees shall be
open to the Members and to the public, with the exception of those
meetings dedicated to or predominantly regarding personnel, proprietary
- Administrative and Personnel Policies, 2006
- Page 4
- Privacy of Personnel Records: Pacifica is subject to California
laws that place great emphasis on the privacy rights of individuals in
connection with their employment and personnel records. Article I,
Section 1 of California’s State Constitution guarantees the right to
privacy which is legally enforceable through civil litigation.
Pacifica’s policy is to maintain the privacy of all personnel records and
actions, which may not be disclosed without the explicit permission of
the employee involved. All Pacifica volunteers and employees must
adhere to this policy in order to protect the constitutional rights of
staff members and to protect Pacifica from litigation.
- Page 6
- Anti-Harassment Policy and Complaint Procedure
- (Insert as an Appendix to Employee Handbook)
- POLICY STATEMENT
- Pacifica strives to create and maintain
a work environment in which people are treated with dignity, decency and
respect. The environment of the station should be characterized by
mutual trust and the absence of intimidation, oppression and
- 2. Harassment:
- Harassment, including sexual harassment, is prohibited by federal and
state laws. This Policy prohibits harassment of any kind, and
Pacifica will take appropriate action swiftly to address any violations
of this policy. The definition of harassment is: verbal or physical
conduct designed to threaten, intimidate or coerce. Also, verbal
taunting (including racial and ethnic slurs) which, in the employee’s
opinion, impairs his or her ability to perform his or her job.
- Workplace Privacy and Confidentiality
- There is no single federal law
regulating privacy issues for private employers on a broad basis;
however, there are various federal laws that regulate specific aspects of
an employee’s privacy that arise during the course of employment.
There are also state and common law (court-created law) considerations
that impact workplace privacy.
- As a general rule of thumb, for an employer to try and avoid invasion
of privacy complaints by employees they should ensure that:
- Any information gathered during the employment relationship serves a
businesses’ “need to know”,
- The information is gathered by the least intrusive method,
- The information is maintained in a confidential manner designed to
prevent unauthorized access, and
- That information is not used “unfairly” by the employer or a third
Definition of Slander and Libel from NOLO.com:
- Guarantees the right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable
searches and seizures. In other words, it prohibits searches and seizures
of a person or his or her belongings, without first showing probable
cause (strong suspicion that a crime was committed) and obtaining an
explicit warrant granting permission to conduct a search or seizure. Also
referred to as Amendment IV. The first 10 Amendments to the Constitution
are collectively referred to as the Bill of Rights.
- A type of defamation. Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken)
statement about a person that harms the person's reputation or standing
in the community. Because slander is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured
person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false
statement. If the statement is made via broadcast media -- for example,
over the radio or on TV -- it is considered libel, rather than slander,
because the statement has the potential to reach a very wide audience.
- An untruthful statement about a person, published in writing or
through broadcast media, that injures the person's reputation or standing
in the community. Because libel is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured
person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false
statement. Libel is a form of defamation , as is slander (an untruthful
statement that is spoken, but not published in writing or broadcast
through the media).
- 44. Defamation is effected by either of the
- (a) Libel.
- (b) Slander.
- 45. Libel is a false and unprivileged publication by writing,
printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye,
which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or
which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to
injure him in his occupation.
- 45a. A libel which is defamatory of the plaintiff without the
necessity of explanatory matter, such as an inducement, innuendo or other
extrinsic fact, is said to be a libel on its face. Defamatory
language not libelous on its face is not actionable unless the plaintiff
alleges and proves that he has suffered special damage as a proximate
result thereof. Special damage is defined in Section 48a of this
- 46. Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally
uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other
- Charges any person with crime, or with having been
indicted,convicted, or punished for crime;
- Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious,contagious, or
- Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession,
trade or business, either by imputing to him general disqualification in
those respects which the office or other occupation peculiarly requires,
or by imputing something with
- reference to his office, profession, trade, or business that has a
natural tendency to lessen its profits;
- Imputes to him impotence or a want of chastity; or
- Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.
- Some Examples of Past and Recent Audio Clips that are Defamatory,
Discuss Personnel Matters or have been the Subject of Complaints of
Harassment and Intimidation
- 1) Below is a link to an audio
clip of the final 19 minutes of WBAI's “Wake Up Call”
- In this excerpt (2 April 2009, 8:40-9:00am EDT), Errol
Maitland, Bernard White and Ester Armah make the following claims (among
many others) during the course of the 3-hour morning show:
- * Kathy Davis and Anthony Riddle are “missing.”
- * Carolyn Birden is “hiding under a rock.”
- * “[WBAI LSB Chair] Mitchel [Cohen], every organization that you
have been involved in end [sic] in chaos.”
- * Cohen is “doing [the CIA's] job” and “ought to be
collecting Judas [sic] money.”
- * “They are trying to make us pariahs in the eyes of the
- * “We've been forced [sic] to move to Wall Street by the
- * “They fired Lonnie Hicks, who was the chief financial
officer of the 'station' [sic], and they did it in a backhanded and
- 2) A clip from “Haiti:The Struggle
Continues” April 9, 2009:
- Local Station Board member Bob Lederer and ex LSB member
Cerene Roberts discuss various issues including the “secretive”
visit by the IED and ICFO and staff from KPFK, attacks on the ICFO and
the IED and the firing of the former CFO and the hiring of the interim
CFO also an attack on PNB members including “Public Affairs Director
Kathy Davis” who did not want the internal receivership matter
discussed in open session (9:46).
- This extended 10 minute piece on WBAI from “out
FM” WBAI's show for GLBT issues and the segment is hosted by John
Rhiley. It mentions the firing of the former CFO, that four
directors at KPFT discussed selling or swapping WBAI's frequency as well
as playing audio from the PNB meeting where Nia wanted to put the
“receivership” discussion onto the agenda during a public
- 3) Defamation of Steve Brown, WBAI
Local Station Board Member:
http://kpftx.org/tmp/Steve_Brown_identification.mp3 full file
- The attached audio clip is from of Wakeup Call, 8am-9am
- on 8-22-2005. The excerpt summarized below takes place at
- 8:28:35 am to 8:41 am.
- 8:28:35. Caller says he gets emails from Steve Brown, and that he
- a racist. [some discussion].
- 8:31:00. Bernard White says that he has read Steve Brown's emails and
they are the most
- racist he ever read, and that they are fabrications.
- 8:32. When next caller asks for proof that Steve Brown's emails were
racist, White cuts
- her off, says he doesn't need proof of Brown's racism.
- 8:41. White cuts off caller named Monroe because Monroe told White he
- approve of what White was saying about Steve Brown and of White's
- to Brown's supposed poison pen emails.
- clip starting at 28 minutes in
- WakeUp Call 12-22-2008call Where a caller asks
Bernard if he is the Program Director and then mentions Steve Brown as a
distractor of Bernard White and Bernard says
- “piece of fecal matter that you just...”
end of references