Employees at a historic New York City broadcaster believe more than half a century on the air may soon end in radio silence.
About 80 percent of the staff at the progressive station WBAI, which sends out its programming from atop the Empire State Building, recently received layoff notices that could take effect as soon as July 15, according to a union representing some of the workers.
Hard fiscal times have befallen the listener-supported station, which was an integral voice for the left beginning in the 1950s and pioneered many unique takes on the medium, such as reading entire novels or broadcasting otherwise censored programs on the air.
Negotiations between the union and the station’s parent company, Pacifica Foundation, were set to take place this week, according to Jose Santiago, news director at WBAI and shop steward for the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
“We hope the talks are really about exploring ways to improve the station’s finances and not just Pacifica going through the motions before kicking us to the street,” he said. “Our dedicated workers and the communities we serve deserve better than that.”
Pacifica could not be reached for comment by press time.
A majority of workers at the station have signed a petition calling for an end to pay disruptions and have placed some of the blame for the outlet’s monetary troubles on accounting practices at Pacifica.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.
©2013 Community News Group
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