Pacifica Admits Federal Law Was Violated on WBAI

The Pacifica Radio Foundation entered into a Consent Decree with the FCC in response to a Petition to Deny” filed by Pacifica Safety Net in 2022.

Here’s what the PSN petition achieved:

  • Pacifica admitted to all the violations alleged in the petition. This was after repeatedly denying there were any issues at the troubled WBAI-FM in NY.
  • The FCC requires Pacifica to designate a Compliance Officer who will oversee compliance with the consent decree to eliminate the violations.
  • Several of those who were cited in violation of FCC regulations are now GONE!!!
  • In the consent decree the FCC states unequivocally that the PSN petition never intended to revoke or deny WBAI’s license.
  • Adopting the Order and Consent Decree shall have the same force and effect as any other order of the Commission. Pacifica agrees that it is required to comply with each individual condition of this Consent Decree.

The FCC issued a provisional license for 2 years to WBAI rather than the usual 8 years to ensure compliance.

We are hopeful that the oversight provisions outlined in the consent decree will result in saving Pacifica and restoring some sanity and financial stability to WBAI.

We remain cautiously optimistic that we may be able to turn around Pacifica’s fortunes.

It was with your support that we were able to get this far. We we’ll keep you posted on what we find moving forward.

New FCC Investigation of Pacifica Fundraising Practices

On Feb.12, 2024 the Federal Communications Commission directed the Pacifica Foundation to provide a broad range of documents under penalty of perjury from its NY station, WBAI. The FCC directive was in response to a petition from Pacifica Safety Net (PSN) filed with the FCC in 2022.

Before PSN filed this petition, numerous Pacifica members like you contacted the Pacifica Board of Directors demanding that they address allegations of fundraising violations, fiscal irregularities, and outrageous programs at WBAI. Even after a drastic decline in listenership the Pacifica Board did nothing to correct alleged abuses at WBAI.

The FCC letter cited concerns about “price information, calls to action, and inducements to buy products or services provided by program guests.” Simply put, program hosts making money off their pledge drive premiums. It specifically referenced the following programs on WBAI: “Christine Blosdale Specials,” “Gary Null Specials,” and Eric Corley’s “Off the Hook” computer hacking show.

It is noteworthy that in 2013 these same behaviors at the NYC station caught the attention of a large Pacifica funder, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Their ombudsman notified the WBAI manager that there were questions about the station adhering to CPB guidelines for federal funding. The station manager ignored the letter and other follow-ups from CPB. Despite the public postings by the Ombudsman, the Pacifica board never bothered to reply to the CPB.

Guess what happened? Pacifica lost over $18 million of its CPB funding.

Which brings us to the current FCC investigation. It appears nothing has changed. In 2022, Pacifica’s attorney opposed the FCC petition and concluded that “the Commission should summarily dismiss the Petition because it does not provide a single supported allegation of fact.” This despite the real facts in the PSN petition, that provides hundreds of exhibit pages and audio files of WBAI broadcasts exposing these practices.

PSN countered the Pacifica attorney’s opposition with additional information outlining “substantive arguments and exhibits documenting WBAI’s serious and repeated violations of FCC rules.” PSN’s response illuminated a knowing and willful continued course of conduct by Pacifica and WBAI management.

Arguments have been made that these kinds of fundraising programs keep WBAI on the air. In reality, they do not. Consistent financial shortfalls at WBAI have totaled over $8 million in the last decade, with an over $214,000 shortfall projected for WBAI for this fiscal year. What makes these fundraising practices even more injurious to Pacifica is that these WBAI programs destroy credibility, driving away listeners, who complain the programming is “unlistenable.”

Who ends up paying for WBAI shortfalls? You do! You the Pacifica donor through your local station support, are inadvertently supporting these types of broadcasts on WBAI’s noncommercial airwaves.

WBAI’s apologists on the Pacifica National Board (PNB) have vilified and retaliated against the whistleblowers who supported ending these fundraising practices. They have argued that you should not go outside the “Pacifica family” to correct these ongoing practices. This familiar line of reasoning is similar to the street credo of “don’t snitch,” or excuses made by enablers of abusive family members. It’s a behavior any principled person must reject.

It is imperative that Pacifica’s new Board of Directors take corrective action immediately. They will only do so if you, the supporting listener and voting donor, demand it.

IMPORTANT – You can help!

To ensure this positive outcome, please email the FCC through this link and demand an independent investigation of these ongoing practices, so that they are free of any cover-ups and potential board conflicts of interests. Direct Pacifica management to take immediate action to comply with all FCC and IRS regulations. Any individuals financially benefiting from and supporting these practices should no longer be in a position to continue with Pacifica. Any individuals who have benefited monetarily should be held legally responsible and financially accountable for any fines levied by the FCC.

Pacifica Radio In Peril

Due to years of mismanagement and the role of sectarian splinter groups and self-interested actors, the Pacifica Foundation finds itself on the precipice of either bankruptcy or dissolution. This is not an exaggeration nor fantasy. Let’s look at the facts. Two out of the five stations in the network are unable to generate sufficient revenue to pay their staffs and overhead expenses. The only exceptions are KPFA in Berkeley, KPFT in Houston, and WPFW in DC. Pacifica now has two multi-million dollar loans, totaling over $5 million as well, and over 1.5 million dollars in vendor payments that they literally don’t have the money to pay back. How did this come about? Read more about the key facts here.

Increasingly, Pacifica turns to fringe conspiracy theories, hate speech, snake oil and infomercials to raise money. Some of the programming not only betrays the Pacifica mission but makes any person of intelligence, conscience and decency cringe. They have turned away listeners and donors to a once crucial progressive radio network. Read more about this here and please watch the video below: