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(en) US, WBAI RALLY MONDAY - ROBERT KNIGHT FIRED 2d RALLY Mon. 5-7 at WBAI

From "ken nash" <knash@igc.org>
Date Sat, 28 Jul 2001 16:02:36 -0400 (EDT)


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      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E
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Rally: Monday, July 30, 5 to 7 pm at WBAI, 120 Wall St., east of 
Water St. (2,3,4 or 5 trains to Wall St.)
Emergency Planning meeting for further actions: Sun., July 29, 1:00 to 2:30 pm

* BRING BACK ROBERT KNIGHT AND ALL THE FIRED AND BANNED
* STOP MANAGEMENT'S INTRUSIONS WHILE PRODUCERS ARE ON AIR
* NO MORE VIDEO SURVEILLANCE AT OUR COMMUNITY STATION
* TAKE BACK WBAI AND PACIFICA!

We encourage you to bring your masks, as we will also be protesting 
the Orwellian installation of 7 videocameras all over the station, 
which several of us staff members -- including the 3 staff members of 
Democracy Now -- have responded to by wearing masks inside the 
station.

**********************************

The rally last night at the station to protest the de facto firing 
(which management is labeling a "two-week suspension", but we've seen 
these games before with Grandpa Al Lewis) of Robert Knight was a 
success: On 4 hours notice, more than 50 people attended. There was 
good spirit, several informative updates from producers and 
listeners, an "open mic" (without a real mic), and constructive 
one-on-one conversations with station staff (both paid and unpaid) 
who walked by. Listeners expressed a strong interest in continued 
pressure on the station directly, so we will be working on more types 
of protests after Monday's.

Later last night (from 11:30 pm to 2:30 am), a group of listeners 
spontaneously held a vigil in front of the station to show support 
for Bob Fass. Bob, who has often allowed listeners to voice their 
views on the crisis, was on the air as usual and mentioned with 
sadness the removal of Robert Knight, and noted that there was a 
demonstration by listeners outside.

One unexpected spin-off of the earlier rally was that Basir Mchawe, 
the producer/host of "Education at the Crossroads" who passed by the 
rally as it ended, briefly mentioned it on the air on his 7pm show, 
whereupon Utrice Leid angrily came into the studio and insisted on 
time to rebut, which he granted (she unspecifically denounced 
"rumors" and "untruths" and the discussion of "personnel matters" 
before weirdly claiming that her tenure at the City Sun had just been 
discussed, when it hadn't been), and a brief on-air tussle with his 
guests ensued before Ms Leid left again. So again we see that 
protests at the station DO affect staff, both allies and opponents, 
and get word out to the listeners that way -- yet another reason why 
these activities are useful to continue.

For those whose computers have sound cards, the tape of Dennis 
Bernstein's informative interview with Robert Knight on KPFA last 
night -- where he gives more detail about the memo to him from Utrice 
-- is now up on www.flashpoints.net.

Also, please read down to the end of this email to see other forms of 
pressure you can join in to protest the latest target of the purge. 
Let us recall that this is the 2d removal Robert has endured under 
the Leid regime - in March, she yanked him as morning news anchor.

**********************************

The Outreach & Action Committees are convening an emergency meeting 
on Sunday, July 29 from 1:00-2:30 pm (location TBA--call the hotline 
at 800-825-0055, click on www.wbaiaction.org, or email Bob Lederer at 
ledererbob@usa.net). Not only will we be planning followup actions to 
protest this latest outrage, but also continued pressure and actions 
to get the National Board hijackers out before Pacifica wipes out any 
semblance of progressive programming at BAI. This meeting is 
especially important because we have cancelled the regular meeting of 
these committees next Tuesday so that people can attend the meeting 
of the WBAI Local Advisory Board in the Bronx.

**********************************

Below is a reprint of yesterday's release from the Pacifica Campaign, 
updated to include Monday's rally.

>Date: Thu, 26 Jul 2001 11:43:27 -0400
>Subject: Action Alert: Robert Knight Fired
>From: Pacifica Campaign <pacificacampaign@yahoo.com>
>To: Juan Gonzalez <pacificacampaign@yahoo.com>
>
>
>PACIFICA CAMPAIGN ACTION ALERT
>
>POLK AWARD WINNER ROBERT KNIGHT FIRED
>EMERGENCY PICKET SLATED FOR THURSDAY, 5:00-7:00 PM AT WBAI
>
>NEW YORK, (July 26) -- Robert Knight, one of Pacifica Radio's most 
>distinguished news reporters and program producers, was fired by 
>WBAI's interim general manager Utrice Leid last night.
>
>Knight went to Pacifica station WBAI in New York City to do his 
>regularly- scheduled Earthwatch show after preparing a tape on the 
>drug war in Tulia, Texas, to find a memo from Leid. The memo reads 
>in part:  
>
>"This is to inform you that effective Thursday, July 26, your 
>program Earthwatch is canceled. You are no longer a host of this 
>program or any other program at this time. You may not co-host, 
>substitute  as host, produce for, or contribute to any other program 
>at this time."
>
>Robert Knight received the George F. Polk Award, one of the most 
>prestigious journalism awards, for radio reporting on the 1989 US 
>intervention of Panama. He has also been honored by numerous other 
>organizations for his work, including the National Association of 
>Black Journalists.
>
>In the 1980s, Robert Knight was WBAI News Director and later 
>co-hosted a nationally syndicated morning program "Contragate" about 
>the Reagan-era scandals in Central America. the program broke 
>several important stories. Most recently, he has been covering the 
>struggle over the future of Pacifica Radio, and has been a critic of 
>the direction of the Pacifica Board and the current WBAI management.
>
>This latest move adds to the purge of more than 20 on-air and 
>off-air WBAI staff, which began with the December firing of 20-year 
>station veteran and Wake-Up Call, morning-show host Bernard White 
>and Wake-Up Call producer and union-shop steward Sharan Harper.
>
>During this "Christmas Coup," Pacifica's national executives changed 
>locks in the middle of the night and restricted access to the 
>station. The ruthless staff purge that followed this Coup included 
>many of WBAI's most politically-active programmers, including Janice 
>K. Bryant, Rosalie Hoffman, Al Lewis, union organizer Ken Nash, 
>Cerene Roberts, thirty-year veteran programmer Mimi Rosenberg, and 
>news reporter Eileen Sutton
>
>Amy Goodman, who has won the top awards in U.S. broadcast journalism 
>for her reporting in East Timor and Nigeria, was fired by Leid as 
>co-host of Wake-Up Call in March. Goodman remains at WBAI -- at 
>least for now -- as anchor of the nationally distributed "Democracy 
>Now!."
>
>Leid has also recently installed private security guards, a 
>state-of-the-art surveillance system, imposed a gag rule, and has 
>prohibited the public from entering the station for the 
>listener-comment period of Local-Advisory-Board meetings. Many 
>staffers say they now work in a climate of terror.
>
>PLEASE TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION
>CALL, FAX, PICKET AND E-MAIL
>
>1) CALL AND/OR FAX THE PACIFICA BOARD MEMBERS LISTED BELOW. Ken Ford 
>is the acting Board chair and Wendell Johns is another of the Board 
>majority members (a vice president of Fannie Mae, the federal home 
>loan financial giatn). Protest the arbitrary firing of one of 
>Pacifica's most distinguished journalists and call for the return of 
>all the fired and the banned at WBAI. Please also demand that these 
>board members resign today. The turmoil has gone on too long. Please 
>be polite and keep the message simple.
>
>Acting Board Chair Ken Ford
>Tel: 202-822-0228
>Tel: 301-350-6388
>Fax: 202-822-0369
>
>Board member Wendell L. Johns
>Tel: 202-752-5355
>Fax: 202-752-4281
>
>2) PICKET WBAI MONDAY, JULY 30, 5:00-7:00 PM
>Location: 120 Wall Street, downtown Manhattan. Take the 2, 3 or the 
>4, 5 trains to Wall Street
>
>3) Call in to any program that accepts calls at 212-209-2900 to 
> protest and announce actions and meetings. Also call the station at 
>212-209-2800 to protest.
>
>4) ATTEND AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF CONCERNED FRIENDS OF WBAI ACTION 
>AND OUTREACH COMMITTEES SUNDAY, JULY 29, from 1:00-2:00 pm. Location 
>TBA. Please call 1-800-825-0055.
>
>5) EMAIL THE BOARD
>
>Cut the below list of email addresses, paste it into the To: line of 
>your email composition form, and then cut and paste the text of the 
>letter or compose your own, and send it.  Also go to: 
>http://www.progressiveportal.org/letters/pacifica/resign/
>
>kford@nahb.com, KenFordPacifica@aol.com, bsmith@nahbofficer.com, 
>jmurdock@ebglaw.com, wendell_L_johns@fanniemae.com, Alfigo@aol.com, 
> Valrie.Chambers@mail.tamucc.edu, pacificacampaign@yahoo.com
>
>Sample Text
>
>Dear Pacifica Board member,
>
>The arbitrary firing of award-winning WBAI news reporter Robert 
>Knight on July 25 shocks the conscience of the entire WBAI community.
>
>Robert Knight received the George F. Polk Award for radio reporting 
>on the 1989 U.S. intervention of Panama. He has also been honored by 
>numerous other organizations for his work, including the National 
>Association of Black Journalists. He is one of the most 
>distinguished journalists in the Pacifica Radio network.
>
>But, sadly, his name is now added to the more than 20 on-air and 
>off-air WBAI staff who have been purged from the station since the 
>December firing of 20-year station veteran and Wake-Up Call 
>morning-show host Bernard White and Wake-Up Call producer and 
>union-shop steward Sharan Harper.
>
>This act of retaliation against Robert by WBAI interim general 
>manager Utrice Leid will not go unchallenged. It underscores the new 
>for new leadership at WBAI and the Pacifica Radio network. And it 
>will only fuel the determination and commitment of the WBAI and 
>larger Pacifica community to reclaim the network for those who 
>respect labor rights, free speech and Pacifica's historic mission 
>for peace and social justice.
>
>
>
>**********************************************
>Tax deductible contributions to support the work of the Pacifica 
>Campaign may be made to our fiscal sponsor, a 501 (c) (3) 
>organization. Make checks payable to: Institute for Media 
>Analysis-Pacifica Campaign. Our mailing address: The Pacifica 
>Campaign, 51 MacDougal St., #80, New York, NY  10012. Thank-you.
>
>Check out our web site at http://www.pacificacampaign.org
>


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