Freedom of Speech/Freedom of the Press

KPFA Reporter Expelled From WBAI

by Aaron Glantz, KPFA Sacramento Reporter
April 24, 2001

I have to say I was surprised when I was expelled from WBAI. As a reporter from WBAI's sister station, KPFA in Northern California, I had expected it wouldn't be a problem for me to produce my news stories about a United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development out of WBAI. Before I came into the station, I checked with Andrea Sears, News Editor at WBAI. Andrea suggested I come in on Tuesday to produce my work. On Monday, Andrea checked with Jose Santiago, WBAI's news director who said it would be
fine for me to come in and work. I said I would be happy give WBAI my stories on energy and environment, a proposal that was greeted warmly. On Tuesday afternoon, I came in to work on my reports.

I was greeted friendily by Andrea Sears who gave me a tour of news-room and the radio station. Shortly thereafter, Jose Santiago returned from lunch and we exchanged pleasantries. Then Jose left the newsroom and went into General Manager Utrice Leid's office. Within a few moments, Jose, Andrea, Utrice, and I were in a meeting in Utrice's office. It was in that meeting that Jose asked me to leave.

Jose did most of the talking during the meeting. Utrice periodically jumped in with a few words of concurrence. I was excoriated for not following proper protocol -- for not having my News Directors check directly with Jose before my arrival. Working with Andrea, the News Editor, was not acceptable.

Even more troubling, Jose said, was my part in a freelance reporters strike on-going against Pacifica Radio's national newscast over issues of censorship and arbitrary firings -- a strike supported by every reporter at WBAI except Jose (strikers include Andrea Sears, Robert Knight, Mario Murillo, Eileen Sutton, Miranda Kennedy, Leslie George, among others).

My part of the strike is producing Free Speech Radio News, a weekly radio newscast now aired on a majority of Pacifica's 60 affiliates. Jose said Free Speech Radio News was sucking needed resources out of WBAI's news department "costing the station hundreds of dollars" (this is completely false). He also accused me of "stealing" WBAI reporters and working "behind his back" with Andrea and others to produce the news. I did not respond directly to Jose's false accusations -- simply told both Jose and Utrice that I was not in New York to produce FSRN but was instead there to report for KPFA on the United Nations.

Jose tried in a variety of ways to get me to say I would call off the strike or stop producing the Free Speech Radio News. When I would not say that I would, he asked me to leave. GM Utrice Leid supported him.

I gathered my belongings and I left.

I understand that following my ejection from WBAI, Andrea was excoriated by Jose and Utrice for over a half hour.

More information about our strike against PNN can be found at:


TRUE DEMOCRACY     Winter 2002     Copyright © 2002 by News Sourse, Inc.