Pulse: Protests: Yo, Bill, We Got Your Pledge Right Here

WHYY’s president is way overpaid. Here’s what you can do

This month, when Philadelphia’s favorite ­public-broadcasting outlet, WHYY, launches yet another on-air fund drive, the hosts will undoubtedly look into the camera and say earnestly that viewer contributions are crucial to the station; that those $20, $50 and $100 pledges are vital to generating WHYY’s programming; that, indeed, WHYY could not exist without the financial support of viewers like you.

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Here’s what they won’t say: Nearly all the money you send in this month will go to paying their boss’s salary.

Pretty close, anyway. According to the Inquirer, recent WHYY fund-raising drives have grossed anywhere from $600,000 to $800,000—not much more, it turns out, than the $528,800 that station president Bill Marrazzo earned as compensation in fiscal year 2007-’08, and almost exactly what he earned the previous year, when his compensation was an eye-popping $740,000. (Marrazzo got less deferred compensation in ’07-’08, though his base salary actually increased.) In short: Once a year, WHYY has to devote one entire fund-raiser to paying its CEO.

Call it the Bill Beg-a-Thon.

Outrageous? You bet. Particularly considering that WHYY is regarded as a ­second-tier PBS outfit; that Marrazzo earns more per year than the heads of standout PBS stations in Boston and New York; and that earlier this year, WHYY laid off 17 people as a way to trim expenses in the economic downturn.

Well, fellow Antiques Roadshow lovers, we say it’s time for Marrazz-o-nomics to come to an end.

There’s no better way to get the station’s attention than by not giving—and telling them why you’re not giving. For an official non-pledge card pick up the latest issue of Philadelphia Magazine, currently on newsstands. 

 

  • Pat

    Perhaps to Mr. Marrazzo and the WHYY board, his salary is reasonable. HOWEVER, to those of us who are making difficult choices about where to allocate our charitable contributions, Mr Marrazzo comes across as a schnorer who takes WELL beyond what he is entitled to, particularly in these challenging times. I will no longer be making my generous contributions to WHYY.

  • Dan

    The board of WHYY is not likely to make a move at CEO because of a loss of a few percent from fund drives. All this will do is cause a shift of more funds from radio, tv and web programming. Perhaps a better idea would be to find out who all the board members are an organize boycotts of their for profit companies with the message that it is connected to this decision. Just a thought.

  • John

    I like the “Better Idea” above. Do you really expect Marrazzo to give himself a paycut? No, or nothing more than a token gesture. The Board is accountable for allowing this greed to take place. Who are they? What do they have to say about this?

  • WakingUp

    Thank you! I would love this article to be updated to include the multi-week loss of radio signal due to an antenna component failure. From WHYY’s website: “The power reduction will affect reception of WHYY-FM at distances above 25-30 miles from Philadelphia and some indoor locations.”
    Some indoor locations. Ha. I live in Center City and have had no signal for at least two weeks. (And they say the part won’t be delivered until the 21st.)
    I’m now an official fan of WNYC.

  • kim

    giving to whyy was probably once an honorable thing – but no more! there are much more deserving non-profit – and more INNOVATIVE, crazy, awesome, and truly local outfits to support. like mind tv! they even training people in the spirit of community access to make their own local media. it is well deserving of your hard earned dollars. mind only has 15 full-time staff and by some miracle are running three community channels. check them out everyone: http://www.mindtv.org

  • Diane

    I think viewers/members should attend their next board meeting en masse and give them a piece of our mind. Appears the next one is Oct. 20th 8-10 am – http://www.whyy.org/about/bod.html.

  • pee

    WHYY ran a story this morning that seemed to be pointed straight at Mr. Marazzo. Too bad I heard it on another station since I have trouble receiving them lately. I guess they cut back everything except his salary
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113184003

  • Dale

    Marrazzo and WHYY cater to the wealthy only — the opposite of what public media should be about. I recently sent a $35 donation to MindTV, where the money will have some positive impact for their actual operation.

  • M

    I stopped contributing to WHYY over a year ago because of the ridiculous salary of their CEO,and every time they call to beg, I tell them exactly why I no longer donate. The most recent caller (last week)assured me that Mr. Marrazzo did indeed take a $250,000 pay cut because of all of the pressure. Fortunately, I told him I had to see it with my own eyes before I’d become a member again. The news was too good to be true. I can find nothing that mentions a pay reduction. I guess now they’re reduced to lying about it? Sad.