Subject: The Archives Report They Didn't Want Anyone to See
Thu, 25 Feb 1999 18:01:00 -0800
"Lyn Gerry" <email@example.com
This is the letter that got Pacifica Archivist fired. He originally began writing the report prior to his firing. Apparently, a number of people were aware that Al intended to send this report to the Board Chair, and fired him before the meeting. Mark Schubb was one of the people who was aware of the report, as well as a number of people in the Bay Area.
Al Stein said he was terminated without notice. He arrived at work after several days out sick. He found his office had been ransacked and his property seized, including computer disks. One might imagine that this material was what they were looking for.
People may remember the Matt Binder case, the KPFA producer who received a 1.2 million dollar grant from the Department of Energy to do a series of programs on the Human Genome Project. Pacifica took a cut of that money, it is believed to be about 20%.
Binder says in his lawsuit that he discovered that his co-producer, KPFA staff producer (no longer on staff) Bari Scott (not a relative of but reported to be a friend of Pat Scott) was keeping a double set of books. He reported what he considered misappropriations of funds to Pat Scott as the Foundation ED. Binder found himself fired and accused of “incompetence.”
Also involved in that project was Producer Adi Gevins, whose husband, lawyer Michael Cousins defended Pacifica in the Binder case. Word is that Gevins and Bari Scott are such close friend that they underwent a special “blood-sister” ritual. Gevins appears again, this time as a “consultant” for the Pacifica Archives. As Ms. Gevins is 400 miles away from the Archives, I would very much like to know what exactly her duties are, how much time she spends doing them, and how much Pacifica pays for these services. Wouldn't you?
Binder recently settled out of court. His main aim was to clear his name from the slander of incompetence. Pacifica tried to make him sign a nondisclosure agreement, but he did not. Pacifica's lawyer also threatened him with a SLAPP suit if he were to disparage Pacifica's reputation. This language should be familiar, as this was similar to the gag clause put in the contracts of affiliate/subscriber stations for Pacifica National Programming - an attempt to silence the stations KOOP-FM, KBOO-FM and WORT-FM (whose boards are all elected BTW) from airing an informational announcement regarding union-busting at Pacifica.
Even if the vote on the by-laws is tabled this weekend, it is my opinion that we must move forward immediately with a lawsuit which would open Pacifica's books.
There was a time when Pacifica did not need the threat of lawsuits against an unemployed worker to protect its reputation. The present administration seems to be riddled with plain old fashioned corruption
February 22, 1999
Dr. Mary Frances Berry
Governing Board Chair
Pacifica Foundation National Board
624 Ninth St. NW #700
Washington, DC 20425
Reg.: February 1999 National Board Meeting
Dear Dr. Berry:
As the Archivist responsible for the Pacifica Radio Archives I thought you should know that I did not prepare the two page PRA February 1999 Board Report. I am writing you to set the record straight before the National Board meets. Although I was to have prepared the Archives Board Report, I was instructed not to do so by Gail Christian. Ms. Christian is the author of the report, which will be presented. As I am struck by the inaccuracies that the report contains. I am submitting my own version to you.
By way of introduction I am a Certified Archivist and Librarian who came to the Pacifica Radio Archives from the California State Library. I was hired as the Pacifica Radio Archivist on November 1, 1998. Lynn Chadwick suddenly terminated me on February 18, 1999 in order to prevent me from reporting at the 1999 Pacifica Foundation Governing Board Meeting.
As a former Library of Congress Junior Fellow I was responsible for curating the “Amassing American Stuff,” WPA art exhibit and conference with John Cole at the LC Center For the Book in 1994. In 1995 I was a USIA/ACOR Fellow who traveled to Amman, Jordan to undertake a six-month survey of the Jordanian Labor Force, post Desert-Storm. In 1997-98 I received an Arthur Weinberg Fellow at the Newberry Library in Chicago. I have presented academic papers at numerous conferences and am also an accomplished photojournalist, with more than a decade of media experience. My work has appeared in The University of California Press, TriQuarterly, The San Francisco Examiner, the Library of Congress Information Bulletin, and LC Gazette.
I have been a researcher and still photographer for a handful of historical documentaries and features, including the acclaimed drama, NORTHERN LIGHTS. In 1992 I was awarded a New York Times Company Foundation Grant. In 1993, I was an Albert P. Weisman Scholar in Broadcast Communications at Columbia College, Chicago, where I graduated with honors and began working with Studs Terkel in his radio archives. I am an active member of the Society of California Archivists, the Society of California Archivists, the Southwest Oral History Association, the American Library Association, and the Oral History Association.
During the four months I have been at the Archives, I have witnessed a variety of practices, which I believe jeopardize the preservation of the important historical material over which I putatively have had responsibility. In fact, I feel that my efforts to employ my professional expertise has been undermined at every turn by Ms. Christian and another consultant from the Bay Area, Adi Gevins, and that the lines of responsibility for decisions at the Archives shift at a bewildering rate.
As an historian, Dr. Berry, you can appreciate the need to preserve Pacifica's history. Not only is the collection intrinsically valuable for the historical material it contains, but it will be used more often in the next century in a multi-media context, especially with the Proliferation of much fine public history programs throughout the United States and abroad.
Here are some of the pressing problems and concerns for the collection that I have as an Archivist:
• BACKLOG INFORMATION
Here is factual Backlog information regarding the PRA: Approximately 6,000 tapes sent from WBAI have been inventoried but not prioritized for cataloging. These will need to be audited by the volunteers already recruited by the Archivist.
Democracy Now! September, 1997-February, 1999 not cataloged Approximately 245 tapes
Living Room July, 1997-August, 1998 not cataloged Approximately 250 tapes
Sunday Salon January-February, 1999 not cataloged Approximately 8 tapes
Explorations with Michio Kaku June, 1997 to January, 1999 not cataloged. These will have to be audited by volunteers. Approximately 77 tapes
Restoration Project Backlog (cataloged, in need of restoration work) Approximately 2,000 tapes
Office area contains 1,000 tapes not cataloged, not climate controlled either
Off-site storage presents access and preservation problems in that there has been a long history of Pacifica tapes being moved around from site to site
• STATION RELATIONS
On February 1, 1999 I was told by Gail Christian not to go through the KPFK tape archives with Pam Burton. This was contrary to my Archival training, and to the Pacifica Radio Archives policy to develop good station relations.
• RECORDS MANAGEMENT PLAN/ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN
The Archives should play a key role in the development and implementation of a Pacifica records management plan (which could be modeled under the Strategic Plan). However, the Archives do not serve as a key repository for the Pacifica Foundation nor does it serve the full needs of the producer/archivist who is concerned about the preservation of his or her show. Historically, Pauline Kael, Eric Bauersfeld, Max Schwartz, Ed Robbins, and many others have kept their original tapes because the Archives did not and still does not have the reputation as THE ARCHIVE OF PACIFICA. It has also lost tapes during periodic moves and earthquakes, and its air conditioner goes out every six months or so until it gets another jolt of freon. The temperature in the Archives, often set by Gail Christian, is excessively warm and unstable for tapes. Many a producer and Archivist has questioned the unstable environment, and attempts at temperature control have not met with Ms.Christian's cooperation. When the former Archivist, Julie Graham made such an attempt to stabilize the environment at PRA she had a staff mutiny on her hands, led by Gail Christian.
The Archives' collections have been deaccessioned over the years due to limited resources at Pacifica. Periodically the Board has taken a hard look at the need to keep the entire collection. Consequently, one can find NFCRB tapes and manuscripts from Pacifica at the National Public Broadcasting Archives in Maryland; manuscripts at the Social Action Archives in Madison, Wisconsin, and tape libraries at each Sister Station. For example, KPFK has about 3,000 tapes stored, which are technically out of the Archives storage facility - stored in a non-air-conditioned traffic control room at KPFK. An immediate priority suggested by the Archivist (but not “approved” by Gail Christian or Adi Gevins) would have been to survey, duplicate, and share tape resources, while at the same time trying to maintain a stable environment for all Pacifica tapes. Additionally the Pacifica photographic collection needs to be cataloged and inventoried for the PRA and efforts need to be made to preserve that collection and make it more accessible too.
RESTORATION PROJECT (NHPRC) 1987-1990
Approximately 2,000 tapes in the Archive are in the active process of disintegration due to their advanced age. They were originally recorded on acetate stock which was made to last only a few years, and many tapes have severe lubrication and splice problems. Pacifica Archives did not allocate enough time to the restoration process. Over 6,000 reels of endangered tapes were targeted for preservation in 1987. The project resulted in the remastering of 3500 hours of tapes and came to an end in January 1990. Since then the remainder of the tapes have not been restored. In order not to loose them entirely, there is an urgent need to have them re-recorded. Apparently the National Historical Publications and Resources Commission (NHPRC) was not notified of this. A distinction must be made that the project was not completed due to limited resources, not intentional negligence.
Included in this early collection are the literature, music history, popular culture, and social movements of the 20th Century. For example: Sigmund Freud speaking in English during his last lecture tour of the United States, a ten- part lecture series produced in 1963 on the history of the Mexican-Americans in California, one of four existing interviews with John Coltrane, an interview in South Africa with Steve Biko, a unique collection of Northern California Indian Tales, actuality of the Vietnam War from both South and North Vietnam, a rare interview with Elijah Muhammed, documentaries on Martin Luther King, Jr., on the Winter Soldiers Investigation, and interviews with Jessica Midford, Aldous Huxley, and Iranian students in the occupied American embassy in Teheran.
• DISC RECORDINGS
In my weekly archival reports I observed that PRA holds some 250 sound recording discs of early Pacifica broadcasts, potentially containing up to 125 hours of material. I encouraged Lynn Chadwick, Adi Gevins, and Gail Christian to look at these materials, since they are the earliest items documenting Pacifica recording history and could be used to showcase the 50th Anniversary. No attempt was made by any of them to even consider my recommendation. These valuable items should NOT be at PRA but instead should be transferred to the National Public Broadcasting Archives in Maryland where they can be properly preserved and made available to researchers.
• MISREPRESENTATION/JOB RESTRUCTURING AT PRA
Gail Christian restructured the Pacifica Radio Archivist's job on 1/22/99 without consulting with the Archivist or the Pacifica Board. Pacifica management (Lynn Chadwick) and consultants (Gail Christian, Adi Gevins) collectively supervised the Archivist during a “Special Review (Probation) Period” which effectively reduced the Archivist's review period from six months to four months. The Archivist was terminated prior to March 1st, when the special review period final report was to have been submitted to Lynn Chadwick by Gail Christian and Adi Gevins. Once again, Pacifica Radio Archives is without a professional archivist, thanks to Gail Christian. The same sort of restructuring pattern occurred with Pam Burton (former Director Pacifica Radio Archive, 1993-1997) and Julie Graham (former Archivist, 1997-1998) who also left because of Gail Christian.
• RECOMMENDATION FOR THE PACIFICA NATIONAL GOVERNING BOARD MEETING, FEBRUARY 27-28, 1999.
Archivist Alan H. Stein intends to speak on Sunday, February 28th at the 1999 Pacifica National Board Meeting. As former Archivist for Pacifica, he will recommend an audit of a Federal Grant from the NHPRC for the Pacifica Archive Tape Restoration Project; an audit and investigation of Adi Gevins (Pacifica Consultant) and her husband, Michael Cousins (Pacifica Attorney) for a possible conflict of interests; and the removal of Gail Christian, who fabricated large portions of the Pacifica Radio Archives February 1999 Board Report. She is a former National Program Director, Pacifica Program Service Archive Director, and a paid Pacifica consultant, since October 1998.
Additionally, I propose instead of a Board Archives Committee, the formation of a Pacifica Radio Archives Advisory Board to advise the Archivist and Executive Director in developing the direction of the PRA, including policy development, program preservation, fiscal accountability, and long range planning
It is clear to me and others that my termination came on the eve of my plans to expose Ms. Christian and the problems faced by the PRA under her so called direction. My comments and recommendations do not seem to have met with the approval of Ms. Christian and Ms. Gevins, who informed me that my “special introductory period” had been shortened from 6 months to 4 months, and that they did not intend to continue my services. This once again leaves Pacifica without an archivist. Generally, I have encountered what appears to be lack of respect both myself personally as well as the position of Archivist. Both my predecessors feel the same way. My symposium and conference budget was cut in order to make funds available for “consultants salaries.” Ms. Christian has shown the same disdain for the Pacifica tapes. According to eyewitness reports, she wanted to dispose of most of the WBAI tape library - thousands of tapes. They were removed from the Archives and stored off-site in order for her not to dispose of them. When I began my job, she asked me to stop archiving Larry Bensky's “Living Room,” and I politely refused to do so.
In order for the Archives to best serve Pacifica and the public it is imperative that you and the Board assure these tapes are preserved for the 21st Century. We have a mutual respect for the collection and in historic preservation. While I don't expect you to respond directly to this letter, you should know that I can be called upon at any time to be of any kind of assistance to you in regards to the Pacifica Radio Archives.
Stein Certified Archivist/Librarian