This is the second part of a two-part interview between the Daily Planet and Bessie Wash, interim executive director of the Pacifica foundation. In February, Wash was named to the post, taking the reins from Lynn Chadwick, the target of much of the wrath of KPFA supporters. Unavailable for interviews since her appointment, Wash is now reaching out to the public.
DP: I understand that there’s been a number of stations that no longer carry the Pacifica Network news due to the removal of (former PNN news director) Dan Coughlin.
(Coughlin was removed after reporting on air of a boycott of the PNN news by a number of affiliate stations. Pacifica has said Coughlin’s removal was unrelated to airing information about the boycott. Subsequent to Coughlin’s removal, a number of PNN freelance reporters have refused to work for PNN.)
BW: Actually, there has been no significant fallout that I know of. If you wanted to ask me, “Have a few community radio stations decided that they don’t want to carry the national programming?” I’d answer, “We have gotten some requests,” but I can say that we have the highest number of affiliates in our history. In addition to that we’ve got more stories from PNN than we can file. So, we have a very strong team. They put on a superb program and they work very hard. And I encourage that. I also look forward to having a new national program director joining us very soon. And again, just building a team and moving forward.
DP: Speaking of a new staff, what’s going to happen with KPFA’s interim general manager? Is there going to be a permanent person named to that post?
BW: Right now I’m looking through resumes. And hopefully – I’ve got a lot of things on my plate – I’ve been trying to pull it through as quickly as I can. I’m certainly hoping that Jim Bennett will be one of those candidates. He has not indicated at this point whether he wants to be (a candidate) or not.
DP: As I’m sure that you know, many people at the station and the listeners are supporting the return of former general manager Nicole Sawaya. Are you considering her for the post?
BW: As you know, that incident (Sawaya’s termination) happened before I became executive director. I’m not involved.
DP. Since you took over, in response to a number of events here, I've tried to call you a number of times and I’m really glad that you’ve chosen to talk now, but I’m wondering if I will be able to reach you in the future.
BW: Of course you will. I have to tell you, it’s really hard trying to get an office set up and I’ve been trying to visit all of my stations and spend some time with the station managers and we’ve kept the position that we’re pulling together and putting together an operational vision for the foundation. It’s been really a struggle, but things are starting to fall into place.
DP: That’s great to hear.
BW: I’m really very excited being the executive director of the foundation. I’m had a lot of support. From all the station managers. It’s really been a great four months and a hectic four months. We’re ready to work through it all.
DP: I’m sure it’s been hard to get everything together. Is there anything else that you’d like people in this area to know about you, about, your plans, anything else?
BW: I want them to know that I have a full commitment to all the five stations and the foundation. And of KPFA, I have a commitment to localism and. I’m very interested in what their thoughts are in terms of the programming and the service that we provide. And I’m open any time I’m coming into town, they can certainly let Jim Bennett know and I will make myself accessible along with Jim. To hear what their comments are. Right now, I want to do great radio. And we’re really charged up about it. And if they can hear anything else, I’d like for them to know that – I just want to do great radio.
Wash can be contacted at the Pacifica Foundation, c/o Haley, Bader & Potts, P.O. Box 3825 Arlington, VA 22203-9998. The foundation number is 703-243-6844.