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"WBAI Battle Broadens" by Peter Goodman

5/25/01 New York Newsday, in the Flash! section

The battle over listener-supported WBAI/99.5FM and its parent station Pacifica Foundation rages on, with supporters and dissidents landing blows.

The dissidents fear that the foundation is moving away from its pacifist, frequently left-leaning origins. The foundation board says it is only trying to run stations better and increase audiences by modifying the programming.

During its current fund-raising drive, WBAI has dropped the news program"Democracy Now", its most popular show, and forced producer-reporter Amy Goodman to work out of a small, outmoded studio, she said. Dissidents demonstrated yesterday outside the station's Wall Street studios.

They also distributed evidence, in a purported fund-raising letter frominterim station manager Utrice Leid, that a boycott is working. "Since the beginning of this fiscal year, which began in October 2000, we have a shortfall of $129,210," according to the letter.

"Democracy Now" continues to be heard on three of the five Pacifica stations - in Berkeley, Calif., Washington, D.C., and Houston - and just yesterday the Los Angeles station reverted to the live show after playing reruns.

Meanwhile, foundation treasurer Michael Palmer, who was the focus of much of the dissidents' ire, resigned last week on the eve of hearings about the conflict held by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

The dissidents have also stareted a rival news network, Free Speech Radio News, to compete with Pacifica Network News. It can be heard on more than 20 Pacifica affiliates, as well as on the Internet, at http://www.fsrn.org/.

Pacifica officials did not return calls.