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PACIFICA CAMPAIGN ACTION ALERT


POLK AWARD WINNER ROBERT KNIGHT FIRED
EMERGENCY PICKET SLATED FOR THURSDAY, 5:00-7:00 PM AT WBAI

NEW YORK, (July 26) -- Robert Knight, one of Pacifica Radio's most distinguished news reporters and program producers, was fired by WBAI's interim general manager Utrice Leid last night.

Knight went to Pacifica station WBAI in New York City to do his regularly- scheduled Earthwatch show after preparing a tape on the drug war in Tulia, Texas, to find a memo from Leid. The memo reads in part:

"This is to inform you that effective Thursday, July 26, your program Earthwatch is canceled. You are no longer a host of this program or any other program at this time. You may not co-host, substitute as host, produce for, or contribute to any other program at this time."

Robert Knight received the George F. Polk Award, one of the most prestigious journalism awards, for radio reporting on the 1989 US intervention of Panama. He has also been honored by numerous other organizations for his work, including the National Association of Black Journalists.

In the 1980s, Robert Knight was WBAI News Director and later co-hosted a nationally syndicated morning program "Contragate" about the Reagan-era scandals in Central America. The program broke several important stories. Most recently, he has been covering the struggle over the future of Pacifica Radio, and has been a critic of the direction of the Pacifica Board and the current WBAI management.

This latest move adds to the purge of more than 20 on-air and off-air WBAI staff, which began with the December firing of 20-year station veteran and Wake-Up Call, morning-show host Bernard White and Wake-Up Call producer and union-shop steward Sharan Harper.

During this "Christmas Coup," Pacifica's national executives changed locks in the middle of the night and restricted access to the station. The ruthless staff purge that followed this Coup included many of WBAI's most politically-active programmers, including Janice K. Bryant, Rosalie Hoffman, Al Lewis, union organizer Ken Nash, Cerene Roberts, thirty-year veteran programmer Mimi Rosenberg, and news reporter Eileen Sutton

Amy Goodman, who has won the top awards in U.S. broadcast journalism for her reporting in East Timor and Nigeria, was fired by Leid as co-host of Wake-Up Call in March. Goodman remains at WBAI -- at least for now -- as anchor of the nationally distributed "Democracy Now!."

Leid has also recently installed private security guards, a state-of-the-art surveillance system, imposed a gag rule, and has prohibited the public from entering the station for the listener-comment period of Local-Advisory-Board meetings. Many staffers say they now work in a climate of terror.

PLEASE TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION CALL, FAX, PICKET AND E-MAIL

1) CALL AND/OR FAX THE PACIFICA BOARD MEMBERS LISTED BELOW. Ken Ford is the acting Board chair and Wendell Johns is another of the Board majority members (a vice president of Fannie Mae, the federal home loan financial giatn). Protest the arbitrary firing of one of Pacifica's most distinguished journalists and call for the return of all the fired and the banned at WBAI. Please also demand that these board members resign today. The turmoil has gone on too long. Please be polite and keep the message simple.

Acting Board Chair Ken Ford
Tel: 202-822-0228
Tel: 301-350-6388
Fax: 202-822-0369

Board member Wendell L. Johns
Tel: 202-752-5355
Fax: 202-752-4281

2) PICKET WBAI THURSDAY, JULY 26, 5:00-7:00 PM Location: 120 Wall Street, downtown Manhattan. Take the 2, 3 or the 4, 5 trains to Wall Street

3) Call in to any program that accepts calls at 212-209-2900 to protest and announce actions and meetings. Also call the station at 212-209-2800 to protest.

4) ATTEND AN EMERGENCY MEETING OF CONCERNED FRIENDS OF WBAI ACTION AND OUTREACH COMMITTEES SUNDAY, JULY 29, from 1:00-2:00 pm. Location TBA. Please call 1-800-825-0055.

5) EMAIL

Cut the below list of email addresses, paste it into the To: line of your email composition form, and then cut and paste the text of the letter or compose your own, and send it. Also go to: http://www.progressiveportal.org/letters/pacifica/resign/

kford@nahb.com, KenFordPacifica@aol.com, bsmith@nahbofficer.com, jmurdock@ebglaw.com, wendell_L_johns@fanniemae.com, Alfigo@aol.com, Valrie.Chambers@mail.tamucc.edu, pacificacampaign@yahoo.com

Sample Text

Dear Pacifica Board member,

The arbitrary firing of award-winning WBAI news reporter Robert Knight on July 25 shocks the conscience of the entire WBAI community.

Robert Knight received the George F. Polk Award for radio reporting on the 1989 U.S. intervention of Panama. He has also been honored by numerous other organizations for his work, including the National Association of Black Journalists. He is one of the most distinguished journalists in the Pacifica Radio network.

But, sadly, his name is now added to the more than 20 on-air and off-air WBAI staff who have been purged from the station since the December firing of 20-year station veteran and Wake-Up Call morning-show host Bernard White and Wake-Up Call producer and union-shop steward Sharan Harper.

This act of retaliation against Robert by WBAI interim general manager Utrice Leid will not go unchallenged. It underscores the new for new leadership at WBAI and the Pacifica Radio network. And it will only fuel the determination and commitment of the WBAI and larger Pacifica community to reclaim the network for those who respect labor rights, free speech and Pacifica's historic mission for peace and social justice.