Fifty years ago, Pacifica Radio correspondent Saul Bernstein recorded a 62-minute speech delivered in London by Martin Luther King Jr., in which the civil rights leader spoke about apartheid and the then-recent sentencing of Nelson Mandela. The recording, believed to be the only full record of King’s speech, was thought to be lost to time. But a half-century later, Pacifica Archives Director Brian DeShazor uncovered Bernstein’s recording in a dusty box while working on a Saturday, researching another project, “American Women Making History & Culture, 1963-1982,” a two-year effort funded by the National Archives to preserve hundreds of recordings. Now listeners to Democracy Now!, which airs on Pacifica’s five stations around the country, will hear the speech on the show’s Martin Luther King Day edition, and donors to the financially struggling network can receive a copy as a premium. DeShazor said he found the tape due to a lucky break.
Nine members of the Pacifica Foundation’s board of directors opposing last month’s firing of executive director Summer Reese filed a lawsuit Thursday asking the court to void the action and reinstate her. Calling themselves the Pacifica Board Members for Good Governance, the group filed a civil lawsuit in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda. According to the lawsuit, Reese’s March 14 firing violated Pacifica’s bylaws and was “improper, unlawful and fiscally reckless.”
Named in the lawsuit are the board members who voted for Reese’s removal, including Chairwoman Margy Wilkinson and Vice Chairman Tony Norman. The lawsuit does not seek monetary damages, only the overturning of the board’s decision and the immediate reinstatement of Reese. The Pacifica board voted in executive session to dismiss Reese, who was appointed permanent executive director of the network last November after holding the job on an interim basis.
All five radio broadcasters in the nationwide Pacifica network will suspend their regular programming on Nov. 15 from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. EST to hold a day-long fundraiser for New York City’s WBAI-FM, which sustained massive damage to its studio and operations during Superstorm Sandy.
The national board of the Pacifica Foundation voted Sunday (July 22) to begin a search for two new top executives. The board will not renew contracts for Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and Chief Financial Officer LaVarn Williams, which both expire Nov. 30. The two were invited to apply for new terms in their positions. The action was reported in an email to the SaveKPFA listserv and confirmed by Margy Wilkinson, chair of the local station board at KPFA, Pacifica’s Berkeley station, who attended the meeting.
Responding to a June 15 auditors’ report expressing “substantial doubt” that the Pacifica Foundation has the financial wherewithal “to continue as a going concern,” Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt recently notified the five Pacifica radio stations to prepare for deep cuts in their budgets and staffing. The audit, which examined the foundation’s finances for fiscal year 2011, was the second consecutive report questioning Pacifica’s financial viability. Although Engelhardt disputed the auditors’ warnings — “We can always take to the air and raise money,” she said — she directed the stations to make cuts of at least $1 million from their collective budgets. The reductions were to be made immediately, but at Current’s deadline, decisions being made at local stations could not be confirmed. While Pacifica has made substantial progress in reducing its operating deficit from $2.7 million in fiscal 2009 to $564,000 in 2011, “we still have not made inroads on the debt,” Engelhardt said in a telephone interview.
After an all-out legal and public-relations war for control of the five-station Pacifica Radio chain and its national network, the winning activists established one of the most complex and democratic governance systems in broadcasting. AMENDED AND RESTATED BYLAWS OF PACIFICA FOUNDATION
A California Non-Profit Public Benefit Corporation
ARTICLE ONE IDENTITY AND PURPOSE
SECTION 1. NAME SECTION 1. NAME
The name of this corporation is the PACIFICA FOUNDATION, and it shall be referred to in these Bylaws as the “Foundation”. SECTION 2.
These are the bylaws of the governing body of Pacifica Radio, originally adopted Sept. 30, 1961, with revisions through Feb. 28, 1999. See also Pacifica’s bylaws in 1955, early in the nonprofit’s history. ARTICLE ONE
NAME: The name of this corporation shall be PACIFICA FOUNDATION, and it shall be referred to in these by-laws as “The Foundation”.
Michael Taylor, a reporter for Pacifica station KPFK in Los Angeles, has been murdered. Friends believe the execution-style shooting may have been related to Taylor’s involvement in developing a micro-power radio station.