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RE: [wbailsb] Who has been irrational? ...Re: [wbailsbfinance] National Finance Committee Resolution on WBAI

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  • Reimers, Berthold
    Don, One the brilliant ideas would be to continue with the ads in the Nation Magazine that brought us $35,000.00+. Why exactly was this initiative cut off and
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 13, 2004
      Don,

      One the brilliant ideas would be to continue with the ads in the Nation
      Magazine that brought us $35,000.00+. Why exactly was this initiative cut
      off and why wasn't it expanded? I do not believe you produced a report on
      this?

      Another one of these ideas would have been for you to request that the
      development director gives us a detailed description of the projects and
      time frame that would bring us $ X.00 amount of dollars. That way we could
      easily feel confident that $X.00 amount of money would come in by a certain
      time.

      Another one of these ideas would be that WBAI management and Pacifica
      Management would have by now worked a better listener survey so we can ask
      the listener/member to contribute more to cover the costs of the elections.
      Has Pacifica management considered sending out those surveys that would cost
      us nothing, would raise money and gather much needed information about our
      listeners?

      Another one of these ideas would be to have a WBAI roast of the media where
      WBAI would criticize the mainstream media and give award to WBAI producers
      who have produced "good" shows. That initiative would require the full
      collaboration and involvement of WBAI?!

      Another one of these ideas could be to take Ibrahim Gonzalez on his offer to
      have an old timer party night at the Palladium every month or every two
      months to raise money for the station.

      Another one of the ideas could be to have a dinner to invite progressive
      personalities like Dany Glover, Bill Cosby, Susan Serendon, Gil Noble,
      etc... to support listener sponsor radio.

      There are many ideas that are being killed because Management has always
      seen the WBAI LSB as an enemy instead of an ally. I personally was very
      committed to some of those ideas, but instead I found myself spending all my
      energies proving to the world that the WBAI LSB is not the enemy.

      Another idea would have been to be more forthcoming with the information
      that was requested so Paul Surovell could have presented the budget earlier,
      faced those issues earlier so we could have had much more time to resolve
      and address these issues.

      The fact is that we still do not have an inventory of the station, we do not
      have the organizational chart or operational chart of the station, we do not
      have the contracts of the Development Director and of any consultant at the
      station. To me, a consultant is someone who has specific skills and has
      offered to do a specific job within a time frame within which you have
      concrete results.

      We do not have a clue concerning what kind of contract management intends to
      negotiate with the unions.

      Don, these are al the issues that are really at stake here.

      I command Indra for her hard work and I command Paul Surovell for their hard
      work. I believe that they gave us as much as was possible under the
      circumstances.

      Collaboration is a two way street. Don, I feel your frustration because I
      was the subject of the same frustration when I felt I was betrayed and
      manipulated when Dan and you refused to provide the list of the 39 paid
      staff for the Management Evaluation survey.

      Please note that this is not a statement about the budget which I will
      review to analyze the concerns of those who objected. It is a statement
      about how we got to this situation through non-collaboration.

      I am certain we can put our head together and solve this problem.

      Respectfully Yours,
      Berthold Reimers
      Chair, WBAI LSB
      (646) 447-6343

      -----Original Message-----
      From: DonRojas@... [mailto:DonRojas@...]
      Sent: Sunday, September 12, 2004 7:35 PM
      To: wbailsb@yahoogroups.com; Stephen M Brown
      Cc: wbailsbfinance@yahoogroups.com; wbailsb@yahoogroups.com; Dan Coughlin;
      Lonnie Hicks; pnb@...
      Subject: Re: [wbailsb] Who has been irrational? ...Re: [wbailsbfinance]
      National Finance Committee Resolution on WBAI

      To all the fundraising "experts" and the know-it-all critics, I say please
      present us with your brilliant ideas on how to cut from an already
      bare-bones
      budget without having to lay-off staff and how to raise the hundreds of
      thousands of dollars in off-air fundraising that would be required if we cut
      back on on-air pitching.

      Don Rojas

      Quoting Stephen M Brown <sbrown13@...>:

      > DonRojas@... wrote:
      > > Hi Paul,
      > >
      > > I know how bitterly disappointed you must feel after last night's
      > > vote to reject the budget. It was a slap in the face for you, Indra
      > > (and me) after all the effort that you both put into this process. I
      > > found Steve Brown's proposal to cut the budget by 30% to be
      > > ludicrous, irrational and anti-worker.
      > >
      > > I'm not sure what compromise solution can be worked out but I'm
      > > prepared to explore that with you, Lonnie and Indra.
      > >
      > > Take a break from the WBAI madness over the weekend and let's get
      > > back to this budget challenge on Monday.
      > >
      > > Don
      >
      > --------Steve Brown's reply-----------
      >
      > Don --
      >
      > I take strong exception to your remarks about me. Not because of what you
      > may wrongly believe to be my attitude, but because your remarks do not
      > indicate a proper understanding of what a budget is.
      >
      > When a dollar amount is specified for revenue in a budget, this is not
      about
      > giving money to workers, or taking it away from them. It is only -- ONLY
      --
      > about making a prediction regarding how much money we honestly think will
      be
      > coming in. It is not a favor to anyone -- especially not workers -- when
      > management makes unrealistically optimistic predictions of revenue.
      >
      > In fact, short of tossing a hand grenade into our transmitter, making
      > unrealsitically optimistic revenue predicitions is the most harmful thing
      > anyone could do to our station. And that our own station manager should be
      > guilty of such an act is especially sad.
      >
      > The fact is, Don, that the predictions of revenue in your proposed budget
      > are -- to use your own words -- "ludicrous, irrational and anti-worker."
      >
      > Especially do I find your predictions -- and your budget -- to be
      > anti-worker. That is because an incorrect prediction, especially if it is
      > too high rather than too low, will have serious consequences that can
      force
      > many workers to be laid off.
      >
      > I mean, Don -- what, after all, did you think all those pink slips were
      > about last year? They were solely -- entirely -- a result of station
      > management having made horrendously inaccurate predictions about revenue,
      > and then operating the station as if those predictions were real. When the
      > predictions were exposed as sheer fantasy -- half the station staff
      received
      > pink slips.
      >
      > Shamefully, management decided to "play" that situation as having been
      > caused by a "shortfall." But there was no shortfall, there was only
      > irresponsible budgeting.
      >
      > Is that what you want to happen again, Don, with this budget?
      >
      > I am talking about responsibility, which is why the LSB very properly
      > refused to pass your budget. I feel that you have "grandstanded" with
      regard
      > to this budget, in two inappropriate ways.
      >
      > (1) You concocted a false revenue prediction to earn you Brownie points,
      > because you could claim that it would be used to pay workers -- when it is
      > almost certain that this money will not be there to pay those workers in
      > 2005, at which time there will be many groans of anguish when that
      happens.
      > But, of course, you have already resigned. So you will not be around to
      hear
      > those anguished groans, or to see the shocked and desperate experessions
      on
      > the faces of the workers who must be laid off when your revenue
      predictions
      > evaporate like smoke. Their cries will no doubt fail to reach your ears on
      > whatever beach you may be sunning yourself on between jobs.
      >
      > (2) You sent the email quoted above, in which you denounce those who, like
      > myself, were responsible enough to force management to confront reality,
      > instead of pepetuating the same failed model of financial and programming
      > policies that caused our listenership and our daily fundraising revenues
      to
      > decline so drastically.
      >
      > You wrote as if I were gleeful that the station is declining in listeners
      > and revenues. Yet you know very well that I have worked extemely hard and
      > extemely long hours these last two years to raise money for this station
      in
      > every way I can (or in every way that I have been allowed to do! but let's
      > not even go there). Not to mention donating considerable sums to the
      station
      > outright.
      >
      > It hurts me to say, "Cut the budget." Whereas it seems not to hurt you at
      > all to grandstand and pretend that my call for cutting the budget is
      > irresponsible -- when it is actually you who have been irresponsible in
      > proposing a budget that turns every sensible method of constructing a
      > budget -- on its head.
      >
      > If you are truly interested in understanding why the LSB had to vote
      against
      > your budget, please read the following. If your budget is any indication,
      > most of the following will probably be "news" to you.
      >
      > ********** Why Management's Budget Failed to Pass *********
      >
      > For 25 years WBAI has traditionally held two major fund drives and a mini
      > drive -- usually 18 days per major, and 5-7 days for the mini. For many
      > years (until the last two) we were able to do million-dollar-plus fund
      > drives that averaged about $55,000-$62,000 per day.
      >
      > That is not "secret" knowledge; it is simply arithmetic: $1,100,000/18 =
      > $61,111/day. And if we look at your projected expenses, this sum of
      > $55,000-$62,000 seems to be the actual daily rate of fund drive revenue
      > needed to operate the station. But those are figures from the "distant"
      > past, not the recent past, and certainly not the predictable future.
      >
      > For things have changed at WBAI -- for the worse. In the last two years,
      the
      > desertion of listeners -- and "donor fatigue" -- have forced the station
      to
      > run extra mini "emergency" drives to make up for the failures of our major
      > drives to reach their goals. This year we have had to run two such
      > "emergency" mini-drives, almost within the same month. (And one of them
      went
      > on for two weeks, which is scarcely "mini.")
      >
      > We have been driven to the point where we now do 92 days of fundraising a
      > year, and still cannot make ends meet. (Our other four stations need to
      run
      > only about half that number of fundraising days.) But the more days we
      > fundraise and pre-empt our programs, the lower our daily fundraising
      > revenues have continued to fall -- and the more days we have had to
      > fundraise in order to catch up. It is a vicious cycle, and we will soon
      run
      > out of days in the year.
      >
      > This has, in fact, actually been happening. All of our last six drives
      have
      > failed. Our last full drive was in May, and I happen to have the figures
      in
      > my head. After failing to raise the targeted $1.2 million in the allotted
      18
      > days, the drive was put on "emergency extension" -- for an entire month.
      Yet
      > it still fell short, grossing only $845,000. (Wheresas KPFK can raise $1
      > million in only 12 days?) So instead of $62,000 per day, we were taking in
      > only $28,000 per day -- or less than half of what was predicted.
      >
      > And since our fulfillment is only 67% -- which is another indication of
      > declining support from our listeners (since KPFK and KPFA both get as much
      > as 85%-90% fulfillment) -- that $845,000 is really only $566,000. Or
      barely
      > $19,000 per day Which is only 30% of what was predicted.
      >
      > Since that May drive, we have held two "emergency" mini drives. The first
      > (from memory) averaged no more than $22,000 per day ($15,000 per day after
      > fulfillment), and the second no more than $18,000 per day ($12,000 per day
      > after fulfillment). So now we are down to only 29% of what was predicted
      --
      > or really only 19% of predicted daily revenue if you use the more
      realistic
      > "net" fulfilled figure.
      >
      > I will repeat that startling figure. Our daily fundraising revenues have
      > fallen over 6 fund drives from approximately $62,000 per day to
      > approximately $18,000 per day. A drop of 71%.
      >
      > But you will remember, Don, that my proposed amendment to the budget --
      > which you railed at for being "ludicrous" and "irrational" -- called for a
      > cut of only 30%, not 71%. So I suppose you could justifiably say that I
      was
      > irresponsible in not asking for a larger cut in your budget.
      >
      > We -- the LSB and the listeners -- should have been terribly alarmed by
      this
      > enormous decline in our daily fundraising revenues. But we were not
      > alarmend, because, Don, you covered it up by misdirecting our attention.
      We
      > were told, instead, that things were great. And you have gone on the air
      > every day, five or six times a day during the last several months (and are
      > still doing so) to proudly announce that listenership was growing and the
      > station was stronger than ever (a very misleading statement, to say the
      > least, which I deal with below) -- at the very monent that you were
      > desperately adding more "emergency" fund drives to the schedule, and
      > extending the time pre-empted for major drives, in a vain attempt to
      outrun
      > sagging daily revenues.
      >
      > And it is not as if you had been overtaken by a surprise hurricane. This
      > decline in daily fundraising revenues didn't sneak up on you overnight. It
      > has been ongoing. And very evident. You just chose to ignore it -- and
      deny
      > it. And, being the GM, people believed you. They still believe you,
      > otherwise your "ludicrous and irrational" budget would not have received
      > even those LSB votes it did.
      >
      > And the decline in fundraising mirrors a similar decline in our
      > listenership, despite your either (honestly) mistaken or (deliberately)
      > misleading reports to the contrary. For however much or however little
      > credence you may wish to place in Arbitron, it is a fact that their latest
      > reports [everyone please pay attention] document a startling fall-off in
      > listenership between 2003 and 2004 of as much as 65% -- FOR VIRTUALLY
      EVERY
      > PROGRAM ON WBAI (except Gary Null, which was up by 48%, and Democracy
      Now!,
      > which was up by 18%).
      >
      > I am preparing Excel and PowerPoint graphs and and bar charts that tell
      the
      > sad story of our declining listenership by listing both the Cumes and the
      > AQHs (two ways of reporting the number of people listening) -- not just
      for
      > the station as a whole, which can disguise much -- but in an HOUR-BY-HOUR
      > format so that you can see how each of our programs has either gained
      > listeners or lost them in the 12 months from 2003 to 2004. This is a story
      > that management has evidently found so sad that it kindly tried to spare
      our
      > delicate sensibilities by rewriting it with a happy ending.
      >
      > Is there hope for us?
      >
      > A declining trend like this is certainly reversible -- but it always takes
      > longer to stop a trend than to start one. So even if we make our
      programming
      > "better" (whatever that might mean), the very people whom we would need to
      > tell about the improvements -- for example, our vanished audience -- are
      > presumably no longer listening to us, so they will not get the message.
      And
      > so will continue to stay away, listening instead to Air America. And, even
      > more diligently, to NPR/WNYC.
      >
      > [For your information: WNYC is a feeble -- only 5,000 Watts -- New York
      City
      > station with only one-tenth Wbai's 50,000Watts of power (and signal
      > penetration) in the same Metro Area. But in 1996, WNYC cut itself loose
      from
      > New York City municipal control and became a super-successful nonprofit
      > independent that boosted its paid membership to 95,000 and increased its
      > listenership to 1.1 million (NY Daily News, 9/8/04). Wbai's figures are,
      as
      > you know, barely a fifth of that. Yet the only difference between WNYC's
      > success and Wbai's failure can be summed up in one word: Management --
      that
      > is, the policies, outreach, and programming decisions of our GM and PD,
      > which are responsible for 99% of any difference in listenership and
      support
      > between one station and another.]
      >
      > Given the above information, I do not see how, Don, you could have
      possibly
      > anticipated that the coming fiscal year would generate revenues of
      > $2,775,000. That is actually MORE than the station brought in last year.
      > Given that our daily fundraising revenues have declined by as much as 71%
      > (gross) or 81% (net) in the past year, what can you have been thinking of?
      > What were you smoking? On what could you have possibly based such wildly
      > unrealistic revenue predicitions?
      >
      > And those optimistic revenue predictions seem even more unrealitic if --
      as
      > seems very likely -- you plan to continue with the same failed fundraising
      > and programming policies that precipated this terrible decline in the
      first
      > place.
      >
      > By the way, that failed model includes not only our programming (which may
      > take a long time to correct) but also the inexplicably dumb policy of
      > deliberately (I should say spitefully) banning Gary Null from significant
      > participation in our fund drives (which is at least something that can be
      > corrected immediately, and would make a large impact on revenues).
      >
      > Perhaps the members of the board may be glazing over at the prospect of
      > hearing another discussion of Gary Null's fundraising. But I do hope I
      will
      > not hear any cries of -- "Stop defending Gary Null!" Because this is not
      > about Null, let alone about defending him. For as you know, he attacked
      me
      > repeatedly by name, and often, over the air all during 2001-2002 for my
      part
      > in the listener campaign against Utrice Leid and the national board. No,
      > this is about a failure of management. And the "Null issue" is, for me,
      only
      > a financial issue, which has been cynically warped out of shape by a petty
      > power game of management, and the program director in particular (as his
      > colleague, Dred-Scott Keyes, inadvertently let slip, and which was
      recorded,
      > during a public meeting of the Wbai finance committee).
      >
      > For example, although it can be documented that Null has raised up to 30%
      of
      > the revenue in every Wbai fund drive for the last 25 years (with similar
      > results for WPFW), and could be counted on to raise as much as $200,000 to
      > $300,000 per drive, he was deliberately sidelined for most of the last 6
      > drives -- which failed miserably -- resulting in a possible loss to Wbai
      of
      > as much as $1-$1.8 million in revenue. How many workers, about whom you
      > profess such concern, Don, would that money keep from being laid off? Do
      you
      > want to take responsibily for that $1-$1.8 million revenue loss, or was it
      a
      > decision of Bernard White's? Or perhaps of Kathy Davis's? "Inquring minds
      > want to know" -- for it is not just idle curiosity but the survival of the
      > station that is at stake.
      >
      > During the recently completed "emergency" mini drive, Null was given only
      7
      > minutes on one day, 6 minutes on another, and 3 minutes on a third day for
      a
      > total of about 16 MINUTES for the entire drive. (He traditionally used to
      > pitch 18-22 HOURS per drive.) And to point up the "spite" involved, the
      > first 15 minutes of Null's show was pre-empted, without notice and without
      > announcing to his audience that he would be coming on later. Thus his
      > (presumably motivated) audience was led to believe that Null's show was
      > again being pre-empted for the fund drive, as it had been so far -- and
      > therefore most of them tuned out. Nevertheless, even with a greatly
      reduced
      > audience, Null still raised an average of $500 per minute or $30,000 an
      > hour. (This is low, since Null's historic revenue rates have been as high
      as
      > $45,000 or more per hour.)
      >
      > Yet although the program director gave Null only 16 minutes to pitch
      during
      > this fund drive (a token amount, which allowed Paul Surovell to say, "See,
      > Steve, Gary Null is being allowed to fundraise for us after all") he gave
      > Amy Goodman 36 hours to pitch, or about 1/3 of the total functionally
      > productive time of the drive.
      >
      > This is no criticism of Amy, who pitches her heart out -- it is a
      criticism
      > of the program director. I don't have official figures, but it appears
      that
      > Amy generated an average of $1,500-$2,000 per hour in this drive, compared
      > to the $30,000 an hour ($500 per minute) generated in this same drive by
      > Null. I do not claim that such extrapolations are accurate, but even if we
      > predicate only half of Null's recorded rate, if he had been allowed to
      pitch
      > for the same 36 hours, his total revenue might have conceivably been as
      high
      > as $540,000 -- whereas, without him, the entire drive took in only about
      > $250,000.
      >
      > How long can this kind of financial irresponsibility be allowed to
      continue?
      > These petty power plays and testosterone wars of management endanger the
      > entire foundation (which has to make up Wbai's shortfalls).
      >
      > I do not expect to be thanked for posting the preceding information. The
      > message is unpleasant, so I expect there will be some (or many) who will
      > want to shoot the messenger. But I hope not before we can approve a budget
      > that will help the station instead of cripple it.
      >
      > It is unfortunate that our LSB is so terribly factionalized. Would it be
      too
      > much to ask that, for a while, we put aside whatever personal agendas we
      may
      > nourish and focus on what is good for the station? Roger Manning told me
      > that he was planning to vote Yes on the budget until he was made aware of
      > the preceding information -- so there is hope that, sometimes, knowing the
      > facts can actually make a difference. The station certainly needs a
      budget.
      > I hope we can come up with one that honors the station and its staff by
      > being responsible, instead of putting both at risk by being too cowardly
      to
      > face the reality of how much our station's revenues and listenership have
      > declined -- and how hard we will all have to work to restore them to their
      > prior highs -- and then beyond.
      >
      > Steve Brown
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      > ATTENTION:
      > This listserve is a private email group of the WBAI Local Station Board.
      > Please respect this and do not circulate messages beyond the LSB without
      > express approval.
      > ALSO:
      > Because this is a closed list, no LSB business can be conducted on this
      > discussion group. It is intended only for informal and unofficial
      > discussions.
      >
      > Yahoo! Groups Links
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >
      >




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