Wednesday roundup: Cutting locks at Pacifica; concerns about repacking interference

• A new round of unrest is brewing at Pacifica. Current reported last week on the radio network's board voting to oust executive director Summer Reese and this week on Reese's defiance of the vote. An LA Weekly feature offers more details, including Reese removing a padlock from the doors of the network's offices with bolt cutters and reading Bible passages to staff. The article recaps the history of the network and includes comments from former employees of Pacifica's KPFK in Los Angeles. It's reminiscent of the Village Voice's September feature on New York's WBAI (the Voice Media Group owns both publications). • PBS, CPB and APTS have joined the National Association of Broadcasters and commercial networks to warn the FCC about potential interference between TVs and wireless devices after spectrum repacking.

Pacifica’s executive director ignores board’s firing

Pacifica Executive Director Summer Reese reported to work today at the radio network's headquarters in Berkeley, Calif., ignoring her dismissal Thursday by Pacifica's board of directors. Board members went into executive session during a meeting last week and voted to dismiss Reese effective Friday. Reese was appointed permanent executive director of the network last November after holding the job on an interim basis. Margy Wilkinson, who was elected chair of Pacifica's board in February, declined to discuss why the board voted to dismiss Reese. "The board took an action that it thought was both necessary and appropriate," she said by phone Monday.

Report: Pacifica board dismisses executive director after five months on the job

The board of directors of the Pacifica Foundation terminated Executive Director Summer Reese Thursday, according to an email sent early Friday by outgoing board treasurer Tracy Rosenberg. (UPDATE: Board Secretary Cerene Roberts has confirmed Reese's dismissal. "We thank Summer Reese for her service to date and will not continue her employment effective March 14, 2014," the board said in a terse statement, offering no explanation.)

Reese's termination comes five months after the Pacifica board gave her the job, which she had held on an interim basis since August 2012. Reese became interim executive director after the board dismissed previous ED Arlene Engelhardt. Dismissing Reese burdens Pacifica "with a new $315,000 obligation to buy out a 3-year employment contract signed just a little while ago," according to Rosenberg, who added:
Given the financial pressures on the organization (exacerbated by 3 of the 5 stations recently missing fund drive goals, all but KPFK and WBAI), it seems likely the board's action will result in the forced sale of one or more real estate assets,

This latest return to the days of constant lawsuits draining the foundation due to reckless behavior by boards will not be welcome news to many.

With board appointment, Pacifica’s executive director drops “interim” from title

The board of the Pacifica Foundation on Monday appointed Summer Reese executive director of the five-station radio network, a position she has held on an interim basis since August 2012. Reese was serving as chair of Pacifica’s board when she stepped into the job on an interim basis following the dismissal of previous Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt. In recent months, Reese oversaw deep staff cuts at WBAI, Pacifica’s New York station, in an effort to resolve longstanding financial shortfalls. She also removed John Hughes as g.m. of the network’s WPFW in Washington, D.C., in September. Reese has worked as a paralegal and accounting professional for more than a decade, according to a candidate statement for a station board election for KPFK, Pacifica’s Los Angeles outlet.

WBAI interim p.d. quits over fundraising programming

Andrew Phillips resigned last month as interim p.d. of Pacifica’s WBAI in New York, a post he accepted less than three months ago in an effort to rebuild the audience of the financially troubled station. Phillips cited a disagreement over fundraising programs airing on the station, including shows featuring products pitched by alternative-medicine promoter Gary Null, as the reason for his decision. “It’s a model destined to failure, and I don’t want to be a part of it,” Phillips said. Pacifica assigned Phillips to WBAI in August after imposing a workforce reduction intended to sharply reduce the station’s operating costs. To attract more listeners, Phillips introduced news and public affairs shows from Pacifica’s KPFA in Berkeley, where he had previously overseen programming, and Los Angeles station KPFK.

Pacifica’s D.C. station in dire financial straits, says interim executive director

Pacifica station WPFW in Washington, D.C., is in “a pretty critical financial situation,” according to Summer Reese, interim executive director of the network. Reese discussed the state of WPFW during a July 25 Pacifica board conference call. Responding to a board member's question about a WPFW on-air fund drive planned for in September, she said: “The concern there is, frankly, that you don’t have enough money to get through until September.”

WPFW has fallen into a “perpetual” state of on-air fund drives, Reese said. “It’s not giving listeners much of a break.”

Reese told the board she was following up with WPFW staff about which of the station's bills must be paid most urgently. Neither the D.C. station nor WBAI in New York have paid for board election costs from last year, she said.

Major layoffs ahead for New York’s WBAI

The Pacifica Foundation will lay off 75 percent of the staff at WBAI, its station in New York, in an effort to put the foundering station on steady financial footing. Pacifica Interim Executive Director Summer Reese is travelling to New York this week to begin negotiations with the Screen Actors Guild–American Federation of Television and Radio Artists chapter representing WBAI employees. The talks will determine which employees in particular will be let go. If carried out as planned, the job cuts will reduce WBAI’s full-time workforce from 28 staff to seven. In recent months the station has struggled with cash flow, falling behind on payments to its employees and for rent on its antenna.