Monday, March 19, 2018


On the surface, things appear strangely quiet at the Pacifica Foundation.  Since Tom Livingston was hired as interim Executive Director on January 23, 2018, there has been no announcement about how Pacifica will move forward to solve its existential financial and governance challenges.

Folks working at Pacifica keep waiting for Livingston to step forward with a plan that Pacifica’s national board will approve. This is important because only the national board can approve the sweeping changes that will be necessary to save Pacifica and it’s five owned and operated stations.

Unverified reports say that Livingston has met frequently with the national board but details have not been released.

Meanwhile, life grinds on and Pacifica still looks like it is headed for a cataclysmic fall.

R. Paul Martin
WBAI’s Treasurer, R. Paul Martin, released a report on WBAI and Pacifica’s finances on March 14, 2018, that paints a grim picture. I don’t know how (or if) Martin's analysis is credible because he is not on the national board. However, it appears that Martin's data is the real deal.

Martin: WBAI’s finances continue to deteriorate. Pacifica is facing a huge set of expenses. I am told that the final decision by a referee regarding the ESRT [Empire State Building owner] claims has been postponed until the end of March. If the referee gives the ESRT what they want the bill could be $2,500,000 or more.

The [past due] crucial audits will cost a great deal more money. No one has notified [me] of any plan to pay back the loans that were secured to pay off the ESRT judgment, and I do not think that Pacifica’s current cash flow will be able to pay the loan off.

Pacifica has been living on borrowed time, and plans to live on borrowed money. I am hoping that Pacifica can survive, and that WBAI can survive. I think that some drastic action will need to occur in the future in order for both Pacifica and WBAI to survive.

Another factor is the ongoing campaign by the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) to take over WBAI via a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA). We covered MNN in early February [link].

MNN is headed by Dan Coughlin, the former WBAI manager who approved the onerous transfer of Democracy Now! to Amy Goodman for free. Coughlin’s motives and methods should come under closer scrutiny. 

On Couglin’s website Save WBAI [link], he claims MNN is 99% supported by “contributions” but they actually aren’t “contributions” from listeners and viewers.

MNN is funded almost 100% by fees paid by cable TV subscribers. The FY 2014 IRS 990 filing (avoe) shows that the income came from four big cable companies.

Dan Coughlin

Plus, MNN’s campaign includes a cringe-worthy moment. It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic. 

Coughlin recently recruited a group of people to demonstrate at an internal WBAI meeting to promote the MNN deal. 

The protest was captured on a YouTube video that says a lot about his supporters and the contrived "groundswell" campaign.  Judge for yourself:


  1. "Unverified reports say that Livingston has met frequently with the national board but details have not been released."

    Livingston cannot meet with "the board" unless meetings are publicly noticed. I believe the "unverified reports" are that Livingston has met frequently with *some* national board members. The board decided in February that they should only meet once a month, as opposed to the more frequent meetings they had been having. One would think that in times where the distressed organization on whose board they sit would meet more frequently but not this board. It speaks loudly about their complete dysfunction and incompetence - and a fetish by some of the dominant board members for doing things in secret, away from the public eye and in violation of FCC rules. Other "unverified reports" are that Livingston is collecting a fancy paycheck and just stringing along the dominant board members, helping his friend get his commission on obtaining a ridiculous loan for Pacifica which they cannot qualify for and which they cannot pay back. He's only there for six months - not a realistic time frame for doing anything meaningful, even if he wanted to.

    R. Paul Martin has been both Treasurer of WBAI and the Secretary on Pacifica's National Finance Committee for a very long time. On one hand, he's been Treasurer during WBAI's long decline, on the other hand, he is the only one presently on the NFC who has any idea of what's going on. Of particular note, Pacifica has not had any approved budgets for two years. Here is a link to the full report, including the CFO's report:

    "MNN is headed by Dan Coughlin, the former WBAI manager who approved the onerous transfer of Democracy Now! to Amy Goodman for free"

    Coughlin was the ED of Pacifica, not manager of WBAI and, yes, signed off on DN's giveaway.

    Also, the SaveWBAI website is not Coughlin's, it's the faction from WBAI that wants the MNN giveaway. I don't think he recruited the people who disrupted the meeting - they're his allies for sure but this is what these people do and have done for years to keep WBAI from being good radio and ripe for the hijacking of Pacifica's most valuable asset.

    What's going on now is simply various long-time Pacifica insiders making moves to enrich themselves with Pacifica's assets. There's no more pretense that anyone connected to Pacifica has the capacity or ability to make Pacifica a viable radio and media network.

  2. Quite frankly I'd argue the PNB needs to meet LESS, not more. A lot less. They need to hand over the reins to someone who can actually fix the mess and get the hell out of that person's way.

    I don't blame Livingston for doing little in the public sphere. If anything's going to get accomplished it's going to take ironclad necessity and a lot of ego-soothing and neither of those can happen in the limelight. He's got to get buy-in from the various factions BEFORE going public.