Sawaya quits Pacifica (sigh)

by Matthew Lasar, Lasar Letter on the FCC (posted Dec 12)

LLFCC is dismayed and embarrassed to report that Nicole Sawaya has resigned, following a very brief tenure as Executive Director of the Pacifica radio network.

What happened? Without going into all the details, Sawaya found the level of internecine dysfunction at Pacifica overwhelming, and fled her job.

LLFCC will not conceal its chagrin at this development. The author of this blog had high hopes for Sawaya, but they were obviously too high. Her quick departure reminds us that there are no saviors, no simple solutions to complex problems. And Pacifica radio is always a complex problem.

LLFCC also regrets not acknowledging something important when Sawaya accepted the position: despite the unfortunate denouement, the Pacifica National Board (PNB) deserves great credit for having unanimously approved her hiring. Sawaya made it clear during her interviews that she wanted to do radio, not spend her days putting out office politics fires. That the board responded favorably to this stance gives LLFCC hope, even now.

Pacifica remains in a perilous situation, however. It is pursuing an ambitious experiment in media democracy in a hostile external environment, with inadequate resources, and without the help of significant forces that rhetorically supported the Pacifica Revolution of 2001 but are now nowhere to be found.

And the organization is besieged by zealots whose vision of Pacifica boils down to a public access network that doles out air time to whoever screams the loudest at a four hour meeting.

But there are new voices entering into this debate at the various Pacifica stations; tough, smart people, not afraid of the mob. And somewhere out there is a creative, young someone, a leader who sees this merry mess as a opportunity. Without holding out for yet another savior, LLFCC hopes that person arrives soon.

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