A letter to SAG-AFTRA broadcasters

I ask for you to read this all the way through. I apologize for the length.

A letter to SAG-AFTRA broadcasters:

If you’ve already sent your ballot in, thank you!

If not, I want to let you know some things about your union that you may not be aware of.

First, there are two different major ‘slates,’ or – for lack of a better word – ‘parties’ in the union.

There’s Unite for Strength. That’s the slate I’m part of. And then there’s Membership First.

The main difference between the two groups is that UFS fought for and supported the merger of SAG and AFTRA. MF opposed it. MF still opposes it and has spent the last few years suing the union to find ways to split it again and take radio and TV broadcasters and anyone who’s not a movie actor out of it.

There are a lot of lies being told by MF and some of their candidates. The truth is that the merger saved BOTH unions. Under MF leadership, SAG was losing money, prestige, and power through financial mismanagement. And we broadcasters are certainly aware of the problems that AFTRA had. The merger saved both of us.

But that’s the past. Here’s the present:

Union efforts on behalf of radio and television broadcasters have increased dramatically since the merger of SAG and AFTRA. And those efforts are meeting with greater success. More broadcast shops and networks are being added to the union than ever before, shops that never considered joining with AFTRA.

Why?

Because our merged unions are more powerful together than they were separate.

That’s why it is so maddening to hear opinions expressed in open board meetings that all of SAG-AFTRA’s “problems” stem from the merger with what one Membership First board member called “sick AFTRA.” MF members, because they still oppose the merger, are obstructing any move forward at every turn.

MF is NOT friendly to broadcasters. Their members seem to believe that broadcasters are not equal to screen actors.

Broadcasters comprise a fraction of SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 members but bring in dues revenue that is much higher than our actual numbers. That’s because by and large most of us make a regular paycheck and collect a regular salary, whereas working actors go from job to job, project to project, and are paid only as those projects are currently produced, and any residuals that come in after.

Broadcasters contribute much more to the pension and health plans that our “small” numbers would suggest. We are VITAL to the union.

That’s why your vote is extremely important this election. And only Unite For Strength and its supporters are actively fighting for the rights of broadcasters as EQUAL members of our union.

NOW, I’M NOT ASKING YOU TO VOTE FOR ME. Why? Well, MF failed once again to find a broadcaster to side with them and run on their slate. So I will be reinstalled in my seat on August 28, along with my UFS broadcast colleagues Hal Eisner, Joy Benedict, and Mike Sakeillerides.

BUT I DO NEED YOUR VOTE. I need you to vote for every UFS candidate because I need backup in the boardroom to hold the line against a faction that is not friendly to broadcaster and seems to not want us in the room.

PLEASE VOTE FOR GABRIELLE CARTERIS for president, CAMRYN MANHEIM for secretary-treasurer, MICHELLE HURD for Los Angeles president, ELLEN CRAWFORD and CLYDE KUSATSU for L.A. vice presidents…

and ALL Unite for Strength local candidates and convention delegates. (Please see attached images for how to fill out your ballots.)

If broadcasters want to keep the protection they’re getting from SAG-AFTRA and have local boards and a national board that accepts them as equal partners, it is absolutely paramount that they support candidates running with UFS and their colleagues across the country.

Please give me and other broadcast board members the backup we need to fight back against the anti-broadcaster and anti-unified union forces in the board rooms and on the committees.

Please check out uniteforstrength.com for more information, and please see the attached images of a ballot completed that supports broadcasters and a strong, united union.

THANK YOU!

Sincerely,

Rob Archer, Los Angeles Board Member representing broadcasters, union member for 20 years, and a broadcaster for 39 years.

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Who speaks for broadcasters?

sag_aftra_broadcasters_logoI got my first radio job when I was still in high school. I’ve been broadcasting for 39 years, from Belle Glade FL to Stuart to Orlando to Miami to Los Angeles. I’ve been a DJ, a news anchor, a music director, a program director, a format creator, hosted shows syndicated worldwide, and appeared on television.

I know broadcasting. I know broadcasters. I’m one of them and have been for most of my life. And I’ve been proud to represent broadcasters on the Los Angeles Board of SAG-AFTRA for the past 4 years.

I work with the great Hal Eisner who, if you cut him, would bleed TV and radio. He represents broadcasters on the SAG-AFTRA National Board.

Broadcasters should be represented nationally and locally by REAL broadcasters. We understand our lives, our needs, our challenges, and what we want our union to do for us. Things someone who’s not a broadcaster would not understand.

We’ve been on the front lines of mergers, consolidation, of media swallowed up by investment firms. We’ve fought to represent our communities, we’ve fought hard in the face of homogenization. We’ve watched broadcast journalists stand up against hate and threats of violence to be voices of truth.

The fight is not over yet. In many ways, it’s just beginning. I’ll have a lot more to say soon.

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Politicians talk openly of executing LGBTQ Americans

Cattle car at Birkenau, part of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Photo by Rob Archer.

Cattle car at Birkenau, part of the Auschwitz concentration camp. In these, Nazis shipped Jews and “undesirables” to their deaths. Photo by Rob Archer.

Several politicians recently have been caught raising the idea that LGBTQ Americans should be killed or executed. That these statements are being made in the open is a disturbing trend. How far will it go? Will they start talking about “camps” for “undesirables”?

In Florida, Mark Hill is heard on tape laughing about a suggestion that, because the Bible allegedly calls for the death of gay men, legislation should be introduced that would execute gay people for their “crime.”

In Alabama, Mayor Mark Chambers of Carbon Hill in a Facebook rant complained that the only way to “solve” the “problem” of gay people is to kill them. When called out on it, he doubled down. No remorse, no apology.

Already in America, we have a version of concentration camps where migrants are being kept in overcrowded, unhealthy conditions, and people – including children – are dying as a result. With minimal outcry, I might add.

We seem to be primed, as the German people were, to accept the idea of wholesale killing of groups of people as a solution.

As the national psyche hardens, it will take so much more to un-harden than just talk or reason. And that scares the living hell out of me. Germany had to be utterly destroyed to loosen the grip of people who firmly believed it was right to kill Jews, gays, Soviet POWs, Roma, and the handicapped.

Is it already too late?

Wanna get away? GO UP OR DOWN!

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Once again, a sci-fi space show treats three-dimensional space as a flat earth ocean. This week’s Star Trek: Discovery shows the Discovery and Enterprise “surrounded” by enemy ships.

This seems to be de rigueur for TV and movie spaceships, with a few notable exceptions including The Expanse – which shows ships behaving as if they’re actually in space, not banking like aircraft. (Sadly, though, Expanse producers still give us sounds in space. I guess TV needs to add aural excitement somehow.)

In space, ships don’t fly around like they’re in the air. And every time two ships come face to face, they wouldn’t always be oriented exactly the same, as if they’re on a flat surface. And, spaceships wouldn’t necessarily be laid out like ocean-going vessels, with decks plotted horizontally. (The Expanse gets this one right, too.)

And here we see in the otherwise excellent Star Trek: Discovery, ships threatening the Discovery and the Enterprise… as if they’re on a flat ocean somewhere. “Escape is impossible! Unless we, you know, go up or down.” (And “up” and “down” are meaningless in space.)

So many questions

So many questions.

For two years, the president and his supporters said Mueller was a “bad cop,” and his team was filled with evil people who couldn’t be trusted. Does that mean Mueller’s alleged findings are suspect? What are the people who attacked Mueller saying today? Are they taking it all back?

Trump yet again said the Mueller investigation was “illegal.” If so, does that mean we should throw out the findings and do the probe over again?

If they did nothing wrong, why did so many of campaign and administration officials… and Mr. Trump and his family… lie and mislead about their connections, dealings, and meetings with Russians? Why the attempts to cover up if there was nothing to cover up?

Why did Mr. Mueller not subpoena in-person testimony from the president, Donald Trump Jr., or Jared Kushner, or question them under oath?

And the head-scratcher of all head-scratchers: Why did Mr. Mueller defer the obstruction of justice determination to Mr. Barr, Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General installed to make sure “no president can ever be indicted”? Was Mueller pressured?

With columns of jagged clouds, a nation changed.

On this day, January 28, 1986:

I saw the strange, jagged clouds in the northern sky as I left my apartment in Port St Lucie, FL to go to work on that cold morning. I had no idea what they were.

I tuned my radio to WRMF. At the time, I thought it was the best programmed, best imaged adult contemporary music station, and paid close attention to what they did and how they did it. I was the music director at WSTU Stuart and wanted to crib what I could.

Strangely, there was no music. There was only a live feed from a news network. They were talking about some terrible accident. They said they just couldn’t see how there could be any survivors.

I thought maybe an airliner had crashed.

It was a few minutes later one of the anchors mentioned something about the Kennedy Space Center. I looked again at the jagged clouds to the north. Then I understood.

I had been watching the countdown to the launch on CNN before I left for work but had to turn off the TV to finish getting ready. I couldn’t conceive that it was going to be anything other than a typical, routine launch, like the many I had seen before.

There was no music on WSTU that afternoon. We too carried a live network news feed. We carried it all the way through President Reagan’s address on the Challenger tragedy. Nothing felt much the same after that day.

No republic is eternal. It lives only as long as its citizens want it.

Most people, if they compare the fall of Rome with the impending fall of the United States, are thinking of the fall of the Empire that led to the so-called Dark Ages. But the comparison isn’t really valid.

What’s happening right now, not just in America but in several other democratic republics around the world, is more like the fall of the Roman Republic before the advent of Caesar Augustus.

The similarities between then and now are eerily disturbing and frightening. We’re at the cusp of what could be a disastrous change for America and democracy on our planet.

That’s why I highly recommend the book, Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny by Edward J. Watts, professor of history at UC San Diego.

An excerpt:

1606933485This book explains why Rome, still one of the longest-lived republics in world history, traded the liberty of political autonomy for the security of autocracy. It is written at a moment when modern readers need to be particularly aware of both the nature of republics and the consequences of their failure. We live in a time of political crisis, when the structures of republics as diverse as the United States, Venezuela, France, and Turkey are threatened. Many of these republics are the constitutional descendants of Rome and, as such, they have inherited both the tremendous structural strengths that allowed the Roman Republic to thrive for so long and some of the same structural weaknesses that led eventually to its demise. This is particularly true of the United States, a nation whose basic constitutional structure was deliberately patterned on the idealized view of the Roman Republic presented by the second-century BC author Polybius. This conscious borrowing from Rome’s model makes it vital for all of us to understand how Rome’s republic worked, what it achieved, and why, after nearly five centuries, its citizens ultimately turned away from it and toward the autocracy of Augustus.

No republic is eternal. It lives only as long as its citizens want it.