Directive to WBAI General Manager regarding Programming & Personnel Policy

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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.

Personnel Matters:
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.

In Peace,
Grace Aaron
Chair of the Pacifica National Board
Interim Executive Director of
The Pacifica Foundation

phone: (310) 286 - 1011

cell: (510) 230 - 8960


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 following:
   (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 code.
46.  Slander is a false and unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means which:
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 loathsome disease;
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”
    (source:  of
    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 national board.”
    * “We've been forced [sic] to move to Wall Street by the national board.”
    * “They fired Lonnie Hicks, who was the chief financial officer of the 'station' [sic], and they did it in a backhanded and underhanded way.”

    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 session.
    3)  Defamation of Steve Brown, WBAI Local Station Board Member:
    (source:  full file
    The attached audio clip is from of Wakeup Call, 8am-9am segment, broadcast
    on 8-22-2005. The excerpt summarized below takes place at approximately
    8:28:35 am to 8:41 am.

    8:28:35. Caller says he gets emails from Steve Brown, and that he seems like
    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 didn't
    approve of what White was saying about Steve Brown and of White's references
    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

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