WBAI General Manager Anthony Riddle's Timeline

From: A Riddle
Date: April 5, 2009 10:11:49 PM EDT

Locking Down The Transmitter
This is what happened on April 1, 2009.

Jake Glanz, WBAI's broadcast antenna engineer, was contacted by William Wells, a consultant WBAI has used before, on behalf of John Almeleh, Pacifica Technical Director. They asked Glanz asked to meet at noon on the next day. He was asked to assist in changing the locks on WBAI's transmitter room at the Empire State Building. [For the record, the Empire State Building broadcast facility is a stringently high security facility. In post-911 New York, access is so severely limited, very little security is needed on the transmitter level to assure security in the room itself.]

Wells then asked Glanz to make connectors for a piece of equipment he wanted to install in the transmitter room. The piece of equipment to be installed was a switcher remaining from a Korean-community rental of WBAI's sideband. Installed in-line, the equipment would allow remote switching of the incoming ISDN line. The on-air signal could be interrupted remotely by phone line and could be switched to any broadcast a signal from anywhere in the world.

Taken together with the changing of locks on the room, no one would be able to control the signal on WBAI's air except the person or persons with the code.

Glanz asked who would be given keys to the room. He was told that he and Almeleh would have keys. He asked about Gracen Challenger, WBAI's chief engineer. He was told that Challenger would NOT be given a key. In case of equipment failure or other emergency, Challenger would not have access to the transmitter.

Glanz has worked with Challenger for decades and was disturbed by this arrangement. He was not sure of its legality or origin. Glanz called Challeneger at around 6 PM. Chalenger was alarmed that this was taking place without his knowledge. He called me at about 9 PM April 1 to find out what was going on.

I knew nothing.

I called John Almeleh around midnight, having ascertained as well as possible that this was not a false rumor. I asked him on what authority he would take such action. Almeleh stated that it was on direct order from the Board Chair and IED, Grace Aaron. I re-verified this statement with Almeleh on the following day.

In Summary

The Bigger Picture

This attempted action did not take place in a vacuum. I did not know at the time that the iED/Chair, the iCFO and three others were planning an extended trip to WBAI, to commence on Tuesday, April 7 and lasting ten or more days on site. I found this out by “side channel” on Friday, April 3 and confirmed with the iED late in the afternoon Friday.

The three additional members of the entourage are current and former staff members of KPFK. They were assembled over a period of time by the iED after negotiation with at KPFK. There is nothing wrong with the recruitment of talent for lending assistance to a sister station. What is important here is the timeline.

The time needed for the recruitment and making of arrangements places trip planning before the lock-down attempt on the transmitter. In turn, it places the attempt to lock-down the transmitter inside of this longer order of events:

In Summary

I believe we can achieve a spirit of cooperation, but only if we discuss these events in openness and if assurances are given publicly that the visit will not be in the spirit of the previous actions. It is a matter of trust.

Back to the New Pacifica Page.

To my home page.