Crises at Pacifica Radio
By Michael Corcoran
January 31, 2015
Pacifica Radio, one of the most iconic and last remaining outlets for progressive voices on the radio, is facing an increasingly uncertain future.The network, which consists of five radio stations and dozens of affiliates across the country, has been full of dysfunction in recent years. The dysfunction has been caused by heated infighting caused by two factions vying for control of the network, the loss of important grant money, dwindling listenership, and near-constant fundraising and accounting hiccups.
In recent weeks, anxiety over the direction of Pacifica has only increased. In December, the California Attorney General demanded an in-depth audit from the organization. Around the same time, the current management, led by Margy Wilkinson, the chairman of the national board and the interim executive director, announced a plan to make layoffs and cuts in the amount of $500,000. The details of the announced cuts have not been made public, but current and former Pacifica staffers have vocally denounced them. Wilkinson said in an interview with Truthout that the cuts are needed due to the "serious financial stress" facing Pacifica.
Meanwhile, the audit asks for a dizzying amount of financial information, which must be supplied by February 17 (following a one-month extension the AG granted in mid-January). Wilkinson said she was "confident they would be able to provide all the requested information."
Some, however, are skeptical the requirements will be met. "Pacifica management is not going to be able to produce all the documents the Attorney General wants, even though those documents would be easy for just about any nonprofit to provide," said former board member Bill Crosier in a statement sent to Truthout.
Crosier, and other members of Pacifica in Exile, cite the current leadership's inability to complete its annual audit as a reason for the doubt, and they go further, saying in a press release that the current "chaos is not accidental, but is a purposeful attempt to drive the organization into bankruptcy court, where one or more of the multimillion-dollar radio licenses could be sold off to benefit the survivors."
What caused the audit? Who is to blame? These questions are answered very differently depending on which faction of the Pacifica community you speak with.
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