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Did you get a big pay raise last year?
They did! 
WAMC's surplus pledge $$$
lavished on exec salaries 
Is this what they mean by not-for-profit?
For a complete listing of WAMC Inc.'s board of trustees,
along with contact information,  Click Here!
To view WAMC, Inc.'s IRS returns
for Fiscal 2001, Click Here!
 for Fiscal 2000,  Click Here!
Also, see related letter: 'P.S. Isn't it wonderful .... '
by G. M. Heller
Washington, D.C.
Updated: Wednesday, March 06, 2002
Whether WAMC 90.3-FM's listeners know it or not, their pledge dollars last year were used to fund some of the biggest salary increases in WAMC, Inc.'s 21-year history. 

Station boss Alan S. Chartock took a personal increase of more than $7,000 on an already generous salary, while another executive pocketed an extra $60,000. (You read right!) 

Alan S. Chartock with Albany Mayor Gerald D. JenningsWAMC, Inc. chairman Alan S. Chartock enjoys a good laugh while accepting city's $100,000 donation from Albany Mayor Gerald D. Jennings at groundbreaking ceremonies for WAMC Performing Arts Center. 

These pay outs occurred despite piously 'sincere' declarations on-air that pledge monies have been desperately needed to fund not only basic station operations but also to construct and to equip the now open WAMC Performing Arts Center

WAMC, Inc. operates the Albany, NY based National Public Radio affiliate, along with a slew of smaller upstate New York and western Massachusetts FM radio outlets that rebroadcast WAMC-FM's signal under the moniker WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network.

The WAMC Pirates have obtained copies of WAMC, Inc.'s federal tax returns, requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.  These documents show that senior management has liberally spread lavish pay hikes amongst management personnel at the station.

Tax-exempt organizations must file annually with IRS 

So-called not-for-profit, tax-exempt organizations like WAMC, Inc. are required annually to report to IRS a detailed picture of organization finances.  WAMC, Inc., which claims 501c3 'exempt' status as a so-called non-profit, charitable, educational institution, files a Form 990, 'Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax' at the close of every fiscal year.

WAMC, Inc.'s latest return, for fiscal 2001, covers the tax year beginning July 1st, 2000 and ending June 30th, 2001.  This year's return, as in all years past, is signed by station chairman/ executive director Alan S. Chartock.  It is dated November 13th, 2001.

The report filed with IRS offers a distinctly different picture of the station's finances than that expressed on-air almost daily by Mr. Chartock, by his assistant executive directors David Galletly and Selma Kaplan, and by other WAMC-FM on-air personalities. 

Keeping "the flame" very much alive

These station executives, in a position to know of the vibrantly healthy financial condition of the station, have consistently claimed on-air that the station desperately lacks sufficient capital necessary to meet operating requirements, and that it is in an almost perpetual state of near dire poverty. 

These same folks have repeatedly intoned that ever more pledge dollars are needed from listeners as well as ever-increasing support from underwriters so that the station, "this dream of public radio," as boss Chartock tearfully likes to intone on-air, can "keep the flame alive" and beat back "the enemies of public radio" -- another mantra favored by the boss.

"Only three months operating expenses in the bank."

Another common refrain during these thrice-annual radio pledge drives has Messrs. Chartock, Galletly and Ms. Kaplan implying with utmost sincerity that the station is but three months away from bankruptcy. 

Mr. Chartock, who in effect is WAMC's, Inc.'s chairman-for-life, even spells it out in this semester's pre-pledge drive pep talk on the station's Web site. With what can only be assumed is a straight face, he actually tells his Internet audience: "It is true that, as always, there will be just a few months operating expenses in the bank." 

To read Mr. Chartock's own words, Click Here!
$600,000 drive starts this weekend - highest goal ever - banking on P. T. Barnum

The newest pledge beg-athon begins this weekend and seeks to raise yet $600,000 more from listeners. For WAMC, Inc. this represents the highest amount ever sought from the public in one fund drive.  If history and P.T. Barnum are any guide to suckerdom, chances are the public will fall for the con and cough up the dough. 

Awash in cash

The reports filed with IRS exhibit a far different portrait of the station than one of destitution.  The organization is literally awash in cash, $5.32 million of it this past year alone.  Instead of facing budget shortfalls, the station, for at least the past 12 years, has literally been a cash machine.

The fact is that money is pouring into station coffers faster than ever before - a torrent more aptly describes the flow.  It comes in at a rate of nearly $14,600 per day! -- that's every day, 365 days a year.  Some of that even comes in the door in cash!

Reported revenues as of the end of June 2001 are up nearly 20% over the year before.  That translates to $854,000 more taken in compared to just one year earlier. 

Total station revenues surpassed $5.32 million last year, and there is no reason to believe that the present fiscal year's figures will be any less, especially with fundraising goals now pegged at $600,000 per fund drive.

A not-for-profit charitable institution, or for-profit media company?

Unfortunately, it is also apparent from the same IRS filings that station executives have not only failed to be forthcoming with the listening public, but that they have been on a spending spree, raiding the cookie jar and lavishly padding their own wallets.   Big raises are being taken by dipping into the surplus dollars left over after the station's operating expenses are paid for out of listener contributions, government grants, and corporate underwriting. 

Some would say that WAMC, Inc. not only mimics the way a private for-profit corporation operates, but that it actually crosses the line that separates not-for-profit from for-profit.  A for-profit corporation raises capital, creates or distributes a product, generates revenues, pays its operating expenses and then takes what is left after taxes - the profits - and splits these amongst its owners in the form of dividends. 

The key difference between a for-profit entity and the way WAMC, Inc. seems to be run is that the station enjoys the not insignificant benefit of tax-exempt status from the federal government and also the state and local governments where it operates.  For example, the land and the buildings it owns are all tax-exempt.  In addition, the station's corporators paid literally nothing for the original federal broadcast license to operate over the public's airwaves. 

Also, because the station is registered with IRS as a not-for-profit, charitable, educational institution (and is supposed to be run that way), that is the only reason that listeners and corporate underwriters are able to take federal and state income tax deductions on contributions and for program underwriting. 

WAMC, Inc. is not supposed to be a for-profit enterprise dividing its earnings amongst its owner/operators. Yet, it would appear that this is exactly what senior management has been getting away with for years, especially this past year as once again it divvied up its surplus capital to give senior management some of its biggest raises ever.

The station's IRS return shows that executive salaries were hiked with increases ranging from 7.25%  all the way up to 46.4%.  Less than 3% of that (the present rate of U.S. inflation) can be explained away as cost-of-living adjustments. 

Chartock fails to respond - Nobody wants to comment

Attempts to reach executive director Chartock for comment have been fruitless.  He has failed to return calls made to his offices at the radio station and at SUNY, to WNYT-TV Channel 13, Albany, NY, where he appears on-air to give what is labeled political commentary on the local evening news, and to his home in Great Barrington, MA.

David Galletly, Mr. Chartock's second-in-command at the station, was contacted at his office.  When asked how the station could justify giving such steep pay raises to management, he responded: "I really have no comment to you."

Alan D. Miller of Delmar, NY, one of WAMC, Inc.'s original corporators and a long-time board of trustees vice-chairman and member of the station's executive committee, was contacted in an afternoon telephone call.  When asked to justify the steep raises given to management personnel, he responded: "I'm.....I'm not prepared to answer these questions at this point without any information in front of me....so thank you very much."  Mr. Miller then abruptly hung up in the middle of his caller's next question.

Salaries to rank-and-file employees remain about the same

WAMC, Inc.'s cash machine seems quite selective in whom it rewards.  It appears to benefit only those at the top of the station's 'food chain'.  Salaries to rank-and-file employees appear relatively static.

WAMC, Inc.'s corporate board in the post-Enron Age

Direct responsibility for WAMC, Inc.'s fiscal management resides day-to-day with the station's executive director, Mr. Chartock, but the board of trustees ultimately has legal and fiscal responsibility for what goes on under its watch.  In addition, that board's executive committee is supposed to be the final arbiter of proposed salary increases for senior management.

In the wake of the stunning collapse at Enron Corporation, it is also apparent though, that corporate boards and their executive committees all too often fail to keep watchful eyes on senior management.  This is especially so when boards, like Enron's or WAMC, Inc.'s, are led by what seem to be dominating, egocentric chairmen.  There also appear to be instances, and WAMC, Inc. may be one such, wherein board members would likely prefer not to know what is going on within the company.

In the case of WAMC, Inc.'s board, the probability of ostrich-like behavior is compounded by the fact that all of the trustees appear to have been hand-picked by board chairman Chartock. 

Thomas S. W. Lewis of Saratoga Springs, NY, another board vice-chair and executive committee member was contacted.  As soon as he heard that the caller was writing a story about the station's IRS Form 990 and was seeking answers to a few questions, he interrupted saying, "Excuse me, I am not interested in talking with you."  Mr. Lewis then recommended instead that the reporter should write any questions to WAMC, Inc. at its Central Avenue address in Albany.  He then terminated the call. 

A third executive committee member contacted by phone was Joseph Browdy of Hillsdale, NY.  He too is a board vice-chair at the station.  As soon as the reporter identified himself and the reason for his call, Mr. Browdy quickly ended the conversation, saying, "Not at all interested. Bye!" 

The 'real' shareowners are not allowed to vote for the station's trustees

Not only has boss Chartock hand-picked the trustees who serve on the station's board (a loyal group that re-elects him annually to the post of chairman), but another aspect to this plainly incestuous set up is that within the corporate by-laws of WAMC, Inc., there exists no democratic process by which listener-members are allowed to choose those who sit on that board of trustees.

The station's paid membership, numbering thirty thousand according to WAMC, Inc.'s  own Web site, are omitted from being able to vote for a slate of director/trustees.  Incredibly, they have no specified legal rights in this regard within the station's corporate by-laws.

Absolute control

This was apparently no accident.  It is solely because of the way in which Mr. Chartock, one of the four original corporators, set up the primary incorporation documents in 1981, seemingly to guarantee his permanent control of the station. (If you were to pull aside anyone who has ever  worked at WAMC, Inc., they would tell you that that control is absolute.) 

Amazingly, that slick incorporation set-up was approved by the New York State Board of Regents, which at the time in 1981 had jurisdiction over the approval process involving the provisional charter of the then-proposed non-stock, educational corporation. (In retrospect, maybe the Regents' stamp-of-approval is not so amazing in light of all that is now known and understood about Mr. Chartock's political connections inside the State Capitol even back then.  Just how many other New York State employees has anyone ever heard of that were approached to take over a valuable radio broadcast license for free? Also see:'UAlbany fails to enforce SUNY policy against Chartock for full-time 'moonlighting.' )

David Galletly was asked why the station's paid listener-membership are not allowed to elect WAMC, Inc.'s board of trustees.  He was again less than forthcoming.  "I have no comment on that," he said. 

The fact is that the station's loyal listeners who pledge money - in theory the real 'shareowners' of the station - are not granted any rights whatsoever to determine who shall be a director/trustee.  Such shareowner rights are a sacrament in the for-profit corporate world.

Refuses to publish station's Form 990 online

WAMC 90.3-FM has long refused to post its IRS returns online on the station's Internet Web site (www.wamc.org), the fear likely being that pledge-giving members might get curious as to how their money is actually being spent. 

David Galletly's response to a question about why the station does not post its IRS Form 990 online was the refrain, "I have no comment for you." 

Follow the money Where's Alan?
Published below is a list containing the names of WAMC, Inc. management personnel who received hefty salary increases this past fiscal year.  For them, it has been a very good year indeed at WAMC 90.3-FM.

The real question for listeners remains: Is this truly public, not-for-profit radio - or is it in fact something else?



(Editor's Note: For the benefit of readers, the WAMC Pirates are publishing  WAMC, Inc.'s IRS returns for Fiscal 2001 and Fiscal 2000.

Addendum: WAMC, Inc.'s executive committee of the board of trustees is comprised of the following individuals:  In addition to Mr. Chartock, whose title is chairman, there is Robert Norris, vice-chair, of Great Barrington, MA; Alan D. Miller, vice-chair, of Delmar, NY; Thomas S. W. Lewis, vice-chair, of Saratoga Springs, NY; Joseph Browdy, vice-chair, of Hillsdale, NY; James P. Menzies,  corporate treasurer, of Coxsackie, NY; Judith Grunberg, assistant corporate treasurer, of Valatie, NY; and Jeanne B. Hunter, corporate secretary, of Bearsville, NY.
 

For a complete listing of WAMC Inc.'s board of trustees,
along with contact information,  Click Here!
To view WAMC, Inc.'s IRS returns
for Fiscal 2001,  Click Here!
for Fiscal 2000,  Click Here!
Also, see related letter: 'P.S. Isn't it wonderful .... '


WAMC, Inc. personnel receiving steep salary increases for Fiscal 2001.

[Editor's Note: The term 'total compensation package' as used below reflects 'compensation'  plus 'contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation'.]

Alan S. ChartockAlan S. Chartock, WAMC, Inc.'s chairman-for-life and executive director.  His raise of $7,220 equals a pay increase of  7.25 %.  His total compensation package is $106,819.  (His WAMC, Inc. salary is not Mr. Chartock's main source of income. His other full-time job at SUNY Albany gives Mr. Chartock another generous salary and benefits package tied to his position there as a full professor with tenure and seniority. His combined salaries allow this particular New York State employee a take home pay greater than Gov. George E. Pataki.)
[See: 'UAlbany fails to enforce SUNY policy against Chartock for full-time 'moonlighting']

Debera Saglimbeni, senior development associate.  Her raise of $60,104 (you read that correctly) equals a pay increase of 46.4%.  Her total compensation package is $189,713 (you read that correctly, too).  ["For some unknown reason," says one WAMC, Inc. insider, Ms. Saglimbeni "has a monopoly or sweetheart deal or something going on so that any big-buck underwriting that comes into WAMC is automatically handed over to her''  The insider goes on to say "and I don't understand why. Something's going on there." 

David GalletlyDavid Galletly, assistant executive director.  His raise of $11,793 equals a pay increase of  12%.  His total compensation package is  $109,823.
 
 
 
 

Selma KaplanSelma Kaplan, assistant executive director.  Her raise of $6,524 equals a pay increase of  9.1%.  Her total compensation package is $78,320.
 
 
 
 

Josie SlavinskiJosie Slavinski, development coordinator.  Her raise of $7,243 equals a pay increase of  9.9%.  Her total compensation package is $80,432.
 
 
 
 

Dona FrankDona Frank, director of underwriting.  Her raise of $10,385 equals a pay increase of  16%.  Her total compensation package is $75,286.
 
 



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