A Message from Paul

After an 11-year run Let'em Talk with Paul DeRienzo and Joan Moossy was removed from the air permanently by WBAI interim General Manager Valerie Van Isler. The action came as a surprise since interim Program Director Bernard White and interim Pacifica National Board chair Leslie Cagan had both directly promised me that the show would continue.

The demise of Let'em Talk is however only small part of the problems currently facing the Pacifica Foundation and WBAI. Currently as many as 19 employees of the foundation have been fired. Former Pacifica Network News editor Patricia Guadalupe was right when she told the Washington Post that the Pacifica National Board's actions were akin to a "21st century McCarthyism." It is sad that the new leadership of Pacifica has resorted to exactly the same tactics that their propaganda had accused the old Board of practicing. The new Board under Leslie Cagan and Dan Coughlin have banned, fired and silenced not only their public critics, but also any employee of Pacifica who has shown any independent thinking.

But most disturbing has been the concerted attacks on our union, AFTRA, the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. On Wednesday, February, 18 without warning or notice myself, Sunrise host Marjorie Moore and Program Director Djabel Faye were summarily fired in violation of WBAI's collective bargaining agreement signed with our former union, the United Electrical workers and still in force. I am the AFTRA shop steward, Marjorie Moore was a member of the AFTRA negotiating committee and Djabel Faye was an activist involved in bringing AFTRA to WBAI. We had already met in negotiations with Ms. Van Isler and interim Pacifica National Director Dan Coughlin.

In the course of those negotiations Coughlin had repeatedly promised that despite the networks dire financial situation, and the termination of the nine Pacifica Network News employees, there would be no summary firings at any of the stations. That promise went up in smoke. Since any trust AFTRA members and representatives may have had in the current Board is now history we must reluctantly take our grievances with Pacifica to a higher power, the NLRB, National Labor Relations Board. On Monday AFTRA filed a complaint with the NLRB charging that Pacifica has engaged in unfair labor practices. The charge states that myself, Marjorie Moore and Djabel Faye were discharged in retaliation for our union activity. It is truly a sad day when a radio network founded as a voice for the voiceless should be charged with simple union busting, but justice can only be won by political struggle and that's the path we've chosen.

Joanie and I thank all our listeners who've stood courageously by us during the difficult struggles of the past year. September 11th at WBAI will always be a touchstone for my life as it was both the most horrifying and exhilarating experience I've ever shared. The connection that the WBAI News Department, WBAI's operations and business staff and volunteers forged at WBAI with you the listeners that day and in the weeks following will never be forgotten. Thanks to you all and never lose hope, we can and we will prevail together.

Paul DeRienzo