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MAILBAG: ‘They Are Not Prisoners’ At WHYY

Dear Phawker,

What a lame group of so-called ‘dedicated’ WHYY employees. These people claim they believe in the cause. “However, we’ve willingly decided to work for less, knowing we are contributing to a god [good] cause, a cause we strongly believe in.” Yet they contradict themselves throughout this letter. First they say that their CEO and COO have “contributed to an atmosphere of low morale, virtually no teamwork or cooperation between departments, and an overwhelming feeing of distrust between senior management mailbag_21.gifand the rest of the company” What do they think they are doing sending things like this to the media? Someone who truly cares and believes in the greater good of public broadcasting would address these issues with their manager(s) and board before disclosing such garbage to media outlets.

Second they say that “Many of us have been told by family, friends, and people we’ve met on the street, that they stopped giving to WHYY once they learned of your compensation.” Perhaps they should tell people why they believe in the organization and choose to continue working at it!

Third, they are not prisoners. They are working in the top ten of media markets for radio and television. If they think the commerical world is better they should go to it. The grass is always greener until you get to the other side. If they want to work for a non-profit there are plenty out there. This group of ‘dedicated’ individuals should start looking for work elsewhere and stop hurting the organization they work for. If they truly cared they wouldn’t do this.

Bill Marrazzo Lala

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6 Responses to “MAILBAG: ‘They Are Not Prisoners’ At WHYY”

  1. Dan Buskirk Says:

    I like the “La-La” letter, it sounds like a corrupt cop who is angry that some Serpicos have dared to break the Blue Wall of Silence. “Don’t worry” he sneers, “we have a way of finding snitches”. I guess when it comes to “causes” they support the mission of public radio more than their leader’s self-serving vision. Sort of like loving your country and disliking your current administration.

  2. Prisoner Says:

    Buskirk gets it!
    and when they say “Someone who truly cares and believes in the greater good of public broadcasting would address these issues with their manager(s) and board before disclosing such garbage to media outlets.”
    The problem is that they were advised by WHYY’s legal counsel not to contact the board.

  3. Upstairs HYYer Says:

    I also know first hand that WHYY management and our in-house leagl counsel has told staff that they are not permitted to contact board members. As stated in the letter to Bill, if staff choose to address the issues w/ management and the board, they would face unfair retribution. I’ve seen this happen to HYY employees who raise appropriate yet tough questions. Previously when this has occurred, the company has made the offending person’s life miserable until they leave. The following is something I wrote on a different blog today and thought it could add some context to the blogging on this site too.

    I work on the administrative side at WHYY. The X-HYYer and other supporters of Bill clearly don’t understand the level of mistrust and low morale at the station. While I’m not sure a public letter was the way to address the issues mentioned, it really hit the nail on the head with the sentiments of many of our staff. I have worked here for more than 20 years, and I have never experienced a more resentful staff of it’s upper management. The backers of Bill fail to address the issues mentioned in the letter. They talk passed everything discussed and are probably senior management doing damage control. At this point, with nothing else working, I understand the frustrations of the group who wrote the letter and their reason for releasing it to the public.

    From my point of view, the content of the letter is very accurate. It doesn’t state that Bill should be paid unreasonably, just more in line w/ other PBS/NPR affiliates. The ability of our company to serve it’s primary goal has been seriously impacted by Bill’s compensation. Administrative, creative, and technical staff do not expect to make the same as a CEO or other senior management, but as a non-profit company with a mission to serve the public, it is very excessive. I totally agree that the board of directors has been irresponsible in it’s decision making. Our employees realize that WHYY is a business, but we also have a responsibility that most others don’t have to adhere to.

    Regarding the union, I know first hand that they are aware they earn more than non-union staff…we’ve told them that. It is the non-union staff that are the real underpaid employees…actually extremely underpaid.

    While the letter was very hard hitting, it really detailed many of the issues that we talk about with each other on a regular basis.

  4. Dan Buskirk Says:

    Of course I get it, I love public radio! I hope Philly procures some public radio in the future. At my count WHYY has 23 hours of locally produced radio every week (I’m not counting locally produced Fresh Air since it is designed for national carriage). That’s twenty-three hours out of 168, roughly one out of every seven hours! Do you feel informed? Philly’s last transit strike was given more in depth coverage on the Pacifica network than it was locally. Weak public media makes for a weak democracy, I think these disgruntled employees are fighting for larger issues than just bad management.

  5. why staff Says:

    I didn’t hear anything about not contacting the WHYY Board directly. There’s been so much sent out about this that it probably hasn’t made the rounds yet. I guess it would look dictatorial if it were written down somewhere for record than when just uttered in a meeting. It sounds more like a suggestion then and can be easily denied.

    But this board is made up of the CEO’s contemporaries and cohort. They have more important things to deal with, they are unpaid volunteers, who’ve raised or given money to the station (I’m sure they want to get something out of it too. I hope they have honorable intentions). They are out of touch and don’t realize that they’ve delegated too much responsibility to this CEO. They should be asking if this is a personal vendetta, or if there is any truth to the letter. I think there are truths in that letter.

    What this executive team fails to realize is that the salary isn’t the real issue, it’s something that gets attention, it’s the macGUFFIN. The real issue is the plain lack of understanding on the part of these people in the ivory tower, the yes men that they surround themselves with. The lack of tolerance to differing points of view and experience. They want to mold the staff in their own image, no diversity from their comfort zone.

    The unwillingness to admit mistakes and blame others is rampant among certain executive staff, leads to low morale when certain executives clearly demonstrate an incompentent grasp on technology and the way to make it work. That and work processes they don’t understand, and that leadership means sacrifice and example, do it my way or take the highway will breed conflict.

    Certain executives are exercising power for the sake of exercising power, like a toy or game. Some of them, without even realizing it are rubbing our noses in it, others are doing it on purpose. Isn’t that a sign of being out of touch and arrogant elitism. WHYY isn’t a democracy, even though it’s services are needed in a democracy. We need enlightened, risk tolerant leaders, not people playing out their own fantasies and games on us and the public.

    Yes, we are not prisoners. But we feel constrained by the corporate environment. I don’t agree with the use of an anonymous letter, if asked however, I probably would have signed it with my fellow employees because I believe a good number of you would have, even if I didn’t agree with everything in it. I trust you more than the CEO and his executive team.

    So, now a story about Eisenhower, after the order for D-Day was finally given. When the order went out, Eisenhower sat alone in a room because his work was done. He had no tasks during the operations of D-Day. Once we are told what the strategy is, let us do the work when the order is given. Stay out of the way and remind us that you are there, one in a while and would like a report now and then. Until the next strategic objective.

    Sincerely,

    CEO Barbie, a plastic doll (lead paint not included)

  6. Phawker » Blog Archive » MAILBAG: ‘WHYY Isn’t A Democracy’ Says:

    […] I didn’t hear anything about not contacting the WHYY Board directly. There’s been so much sent out about this that it probably hasn’t made the rounds yet. I guess it would look dictatorial if it were written down somewhere for record than when just uttered in a meeting. It sounds more like a suggestion then and can be easily denied. […]

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