Friday, October 12, 2018


We have had two of our recent posts go viral. Our story about the “shrinking” of Public Radio International (PRI) has gotten a couple of thousand page-views [link]. We seem to have struck a chord with many people who were thinking the same thing about the “merger.” 

Let’s not forget that over the years, PRI (and before that APR) made many positive contributions to public media. PRI’s legacy makes us proud to have been associated with them.

Regarding the Pacifica Foundation’s hiring of Maxie Jackson as their new Executive Director [link], we were surprised that we broke the story. We heard about the hire about a week before publishing the story.

TOPIC ONE: “PRI eventually had no “must have” programs and PRX completely changed the game for our small station”

The quote above came from the manager of smaller station. Most of comments expressed the same thoughts about PRX’s acquisition of PRI – that PRI was vulnerable and PRX took action.

We did receive a comment that added important context about Monitor Radio’s exit from public radio. It came from someone using the screen name “Wilkins” who once worked for the Christian Science Monitor.

 “WILKINS” WROTE:  An interesting article! However, having been a Monitor Radio engineer at the time it ceased to exist, I take exception to your assertion that Monitor Radio decided to go out of business rather than compete with The World.

Perhaps you are familiar with the shrinking of the Christian Science news empire? The failure of its cable TV channel, the closing of Monitor’s short-wave stations, the demise of the print edition of their newspaper and the end of Monitor Radio’s three daily public radio newsmagazines were not caused by any single event.

KEN SAYS: Actually we are both correct.  Closing Monitor Radio did not happen in a vacuum but the timing of the decision was hastened by PRI’s decision to create the program that became The World.

You've got to know when to hold them,
 and know when to fold them
The demise of the Christian Science Monitor’s journalism efforts reflects the changing media landscape and the decline in popularity of the Christian Science church. Like other churches created in the 1800s, Christian Science had some flaws in its dogma such as advising parents to pray rather than get medical help for themselves or their families.

However, the Christian Science Monitor was once one of the world’s [no pun intended] best news organizations. Maybe someday someone will tell the true story of the paper’s deep involvement with the CIA in the 1950s and 60s.


On the right is an edited version of a memo from PRX to PRI affiliates we received from two station programmers. It details the transition of PRI’s programs to PRX.

It led one programmer to ask:

One big question lingers:  will PRI’s departure from the file transfer function of Content Depot meaningfully alter the economics of the PRSS?  Although I’m inferring that PRI plans to retain its full-time PRSS channel, for the time being anyway, I can’t imagine this doesn’t represent the loss of a significant client for PRSS. 


Maxie Jackson
An anonymous reader wrote:

You got a scoop! Pacifica hasn’t even had the courtesy to announce the arrival of the latest Executive Director within Pacifica or release even a basic press release for the public.

Here is an audio clip [link] of the treatment Pacifica’s national board accorded to Maxie Jackson when he was scheduled to be introduced to the organization at their last meeting.
I have no idea what problems you think Livingston solved. He left Pacifica with a $3.2 million loan he signed, which is already in default.

There is virtually a total collapse of Pacifica’s ability to do any financial reporting. The IRS 990 Livingston recently signed was, to put it politely, very problematic.

The problem of governance of Pacifica is not one any Executive Director can fix. Good luck, Maxie!

KEN SAYS: The audio clip of the Board meeting is very disturbing. At the start of the conference call the person in charge asks if Jackson is on the line for the meeting. Jackson says: Yes I am. Then he is ignored for the remainder of the meeting and isn’t allowed to say another word.

This is what Pacifica is really, really like. The Golden Rule doesn’t apply there. The Greater Good is irrelevant. Through their rude behavior, members of the Pacifica board actually hurt the causes they say they believe in. But they say they are destroying Pacifica in order to save it.

We’ve heard reports that people within Pacifica are undoing positive changes that Tom Livingston initiated. Livingston set up consolidation of the organization’s finances and accounting systems at NETA, a trusted vendor. Now some insiders aren’t cooperating with NETA just for spite.

Maxie Jackson is Pacifica’s best and last hope. He should be accorded the respect and ability to do the right thing.

1 comment:

  1. Re Pacifica:

    “But they say they are destroying Pacifica in order to save it.”

    Huh? Whoever said this should hold up the mirror to their own behavior.

    “We’ve heard reports that people within Pacifica are undoing positive changes that Tom Livingston initiated. Livingston set up consolidation of the organization’s finances and accounting systems at NETA, a trusted vendor.”

    Livingston did not “set up consolidation of the organization’s finances and accounting systems…” What he did was destabilize the organization’s finances and accounting systems even further by outsourcing parts of it to NETA who appears ill-equipped to handle the complex finances and accounting of Pacifica. His/and or the board’s decision to go without a CFO is a disaster and further destabilization. Livingston did not have the capability to explain the finances of Pacifica to NETA, nor does anyone else left in Pacifica (now that they’ve purged and marginalized anyone with financial acumen or historical knowledge). NETA is on their own in trying to figure it out. In five months on the job, they have accomplished nothing, except for their poor showing towards helping the tax preparer with the seriously problematic 990 recently filed. Pacifica is in financial freefall with no one guiding and overseeing those operations. Maxie, as ED, should not have to take on this added responsibility of CFO-in-name-only. He is not qualified and it’s too much work for him. Additionally, it shows a complete lack of knowledge by the board of the importance of having basic internal controls. It also violates Pacifica’s own bylaws.

    All of Livingston’s public statements about this arrangement showed a complete lack of understanding from both him and NETA as to what is needed, including his statements about how much this would cost Pacifica which was seriously underestimated. There are still no budgets for any of the units and the NETA representative did not even show up on the last National Finance Committee meeting call. This is a disaster.

    “Now some insiders aren’t cooperating with NETA just for spite.”

    Whoever said the above does not understand Pacifica. It was a given that “insiders” were not going to cooperate with NETA and shows further incompetence and lack of basic knowledge by the board to think this would work. Those “insiders” didn’t cooperate easily with the CFOs when Pacifica had them. But only because the CFOs had some authority over them, and could push them along to do what they had to do, did things get done. As I said above, there is no one in control, only some lower level people at an outsourced company who don’t have the authority to do jack nor the inclination to deal with Pacifica’s particular brand of routine insubordination from employees.

    But remember: every incompetent and insubordinate employee on Pacifica payroll is someone’s friend! And the board only cares about their positions of perceived power in their very small and limited worlds.