In a story in Tuesday's San Francisco Examiner, Pacifica Vice Chairman Ken Ford confirmed the worst fears of WBAI listeners by publicly calling for the sale of the station's license.
"KPFA in Berkeley and WBAI in New York are in the broadcast band reserved for
commercial stations," said Ford. "I've been told non-commercial licenses sell for $30 to $40
million and commercial licenses sell for $150 to $250 million each. Think of what we could do
with the difference! Let's parley these commercial licenses into more stations around the
country. To me that's just common sense."
WBAI is located at 99.5 FM and KPFA is at 94.1 FM. Both stations are able to reach a huge expanse encompassing millions of potential listeners. No local non-commercial frequency (between 88.1 and 91.9 FM) comes close to the coverage area currently belonging to the two stations.
Pacifica's five stations have been plagued by controversy and financial problems blamed by many on an unresponsive national board which is self-selecting. A number of longtime Pacifica programmers have been fired and banned from the airwaves for resisting the changes being imposed by management. Fundraising efforts have fallen far short of previous years, many of the stations' most popular shows are no longer on the air, equipment is falling into disrepair, and paid employees regularly complain about not being paid on time or at all. KPFA reportedly came within days of having its power shut off this week when Pacifica failed to pay an overdue bill. Meanwhile, expensive security systems are being installed in studios and a significant amount of the network's budget is being spent on lawyers to defend against four lawsuits brought by listeners and producers. A trial date for the lawsuits has been set for January 2002.
In addition to his comments on the sale of the frequencies, Ford made a disturbing comparison concerning those who have opposed Pacifica's actions: "I see parallels between this group and al Qaeda, the terrorists
who bombed New York. They have an innate anger towards society as a whole."
WBAI hosts "Off The Hook," the long-running weekly hacker show hosted by members of 2600.
The San Francisco Examiner Article
The Pacifica Foundation
Friends of Free Speech Radio
WBAI Listener Network
The Pacifica Campaign