WHYY The High Salaries?

By Steven Wells
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 10 | Posted Mar. 1, 2009

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If you took home William Marrazzo's paycheck, you'd be smiling too. (WHYY)

I'm semi-housebound at the moment, off my tits on painkillers and listening to lovely, cuddly, valium-for-the-liberal-soul NPR station WHYY.

Only it's pledge week. Which means that every single program is interrupted by the mellifluously voiced employees of WHYY waffling on at great length about how wonderful WHYY is and why we listeners should therefore contribute financially to its upkeep.

Leaving aside the fact that NPR should be entirely subsidized by a swingeing "vice tax" imposed on right-wing talk radio--imagine the sweet justice of anti-journalism being used to pay for the real thing--I find WHYY's demands on my wallet utterly resistible. And I say that as someone who thinks that public radio is one of the truly great things about the modern day America.

My reason for not giving WHYY a single cent is the same reason I am left unmoved by Irish shitrocker Bono's teeth-gratingly pompous attempts to pluck my liberal heartstrings. Dude, you're a multi-mega-millionaire and a Christian. Why don't you give every single penny to the poor, the way Jesus commands you, and then we'll talk about me chipping in, OK?

Hypocritical wanker.

I'm talking specifically about the freaking enormous salary WHYY pays its CEO. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, "William J. Marrazzo's potential pay, benefits and expenses totaled $740,090 in the year ending June 30, 2007, according to its most recent tax filing. The package consists of $415,993 in salary, $317,240 in benefits and $6,857 in expenses."

Three quarters of a million dollars?

Holy fuck.

That's like winning the lottery every year. What does he spend it all on? Faberg´┐Ż eggs? Caviar sammies? Pajamas made of still-living--but sedated--mink? Seriously, it must be like Brewster's Millions meets Groundhog Day around his house. "Oh no, I've only got a year to spend THREE QUARTERS OF A MILLION FUCKING DOLLARS!"

And that's why I won't be giving any money to NPR.

Please understand that this is not a personal attack on Mr. Marrazzo, who looks from his photo to be a thoroughly nice chap and who no doubt works jolly hard at his job. And of course I'd say yes to $750,000 salary if someone were stupid enough to offer it for any job that wasn't actually shoveling radioactive shit. You'd be mad not to.

Now the people who decided to give Mr. Marrazzo such a stupidly large amount of your money have what they think are damn good reasons for doing so, chiefly that Mr. Marrazzo "has strong ties in the business, civic and cultural worlds."

Members of the ridiculously massive salary club always say this. What it means is that the person getting paid the ridiculously large salary knows lots of other people who are also paid ridiculously large salaries.

In every instance these ridiculously large salaries are set by people who also take home ridiculously large salaries. (And therefore have a vested interest in not saying:  "Hang on! Three quarters of a million dollars? Are we insane?") And who then turn round and tell critics that the ridiculously large salaries "are what the market demands."

This is utter nonsense.

The free market didn't decide the job of top paper shuffler was worth a gazillion dollars. The top paper shufflers did. And why not?  I know for damn sure that if journalists were allowed to decide their own wages, we too would be paying ourselves a gazillion dollars. Who wouldn't?

But I like to think we'd at least feel just a little bit guilty about it. Especially if the organization we worked for was begging for donations from a population with an estimated average income of $39,000 (including a lot of people who earn a lot less).

But that's the thing about the ridiculously large salary club. They are utterly unembarrassed. They really think they're worth every penny, even if they prove to be utterly shit at their jobs--hell, even if they all but destroy the world's economy through their sheer stupidity and blundering incompetence. We saw a great example of this recently when the stupendously well-paid CEOs of banks and other financial institutions who had fucked up so badly they needed a bajillion taxpayer dollar bail-out, decided to spend all of that money on giving each other massive bonus packages and $1,200 wastepaper baskets and $35,000 toilets to go in their refurbished gold helicopters.

Why? Because they're worth it, apparently.

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Comments 1 - 10 of 10
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1. T. Printer said... on Feb 8, 2009 at 08:39PM

“Nice language. It was us Dems in the 1990's that started all this Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac crap. Remember, "Everyone has a right to own a home"? I stand proud as the ONLY Moderate Democrat I knew that said that that was a bad idea.”

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2. Hilary Smith said... on Feb 8, 2009 at 10:39PM

“T. Printer: Actually, the Community Reinvestment Act was great policy. When the banksters started lowering lending standards because they needed more people to lend to so they could turn around and sell more loans to third parties who would then turn those loans into mortgage backed securities, that's when our trouble started. The reward of making the loan became divorced from the risk. That's why all of this is happening. Of course it's intellectually simple to process when you can just as easily blame this mess on poor black people. The good news is that Americans are starting to see that Rush Limbaugh Inc. is and will continue to be a destructive force for working-class people.”

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3. MRJ said... on Feb 9, 2009 at 07:13AM

“Your article is hilarious! I will share it with others, as it's a good read. I'm hoping that we'll soon get beyond people being paid gobs of money for being "at the top", and then also being rewarded for doing a terrible job. I don't recall getting a raise on the off year when I didn't perform up to snuff. We're all in this together, whether or not we wish to believe this. Blaming isn't going to get us anywhere, and I'm happy to see the President working at just getting the job done. We must all get to work and move forward. Present and future history will show what's what and who's who. We know that there are many who'd like to sabotage the current administration and say 'change didn't happen...change didn't work', so that the country can return to the old way of doing things. If we focus on the change already being here and also being one of the pieces in this puzzle of change, we can be on the path to greater Good. Thanks for your interesting, humorous article.”

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4. John Sharp said... on Feb 10, 2009 at 10:01AM

“The head of a national news network is pain under a million a year? I imagine if WHYY cared about having a quality CEO, they sort of need to pay something. It is a high ranking position, and WHYY is not a charity. I think there is a false connection in the logic here. You know, HBO heads make 10's of millions of dollars and have the nerve to charge you for the programming. Rather than subscribe, WHYY pimps itself f out for a few days and asks for funds (from the willing). Ok, your not willing, but I think its probably disingenuous to act as though its some act of morality to not contribute. This seems like a clear case of tragedy. the very thing that makes NPR and WHYY great is the same thing that will, no doubt, bring it down in the end. It markets to liberals. Liberals will always find a way to protest anything, even other liberals. Idiot.”

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5. the Steven Wells said... on Feb 10, 2009 at 10:25AM


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6. Kate said... on Feb 12, 2009 at 08:18PM

“I agree with John. Steven, maybe it's just your painkillers fueling this rant, but you're a bit off base. First of all, according to MSNBC, the CEO of Merrill Lynch was compensated $46.4 million in 2007 ($700,000 salary, $18.5 mil bonus, plus stock and benefits). Meanwhile, Bono's net worth appears to be about $200 million. You're really going to put Mazzarro in the same category? Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not a member of the "large salary club." I too was enraged by the ridiculous salaries and bonuses that financial/banking executives took home after their struggling companies were bailed out by taxpayers money. (I wish my own small business had such a luxury!) But that's a completely different article. If you want to make the point that Mazzarro makes too much money, then fine, but do some research and compare him to people in similar roles (non-profit leaders), not random high rollers with salaries hundreds of times more than what he makes.”

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7. DJ said... on Feb 13, 2009 at 01:37PM

“wow look at this dude's salary”

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8. former91fmfan said... on Feb 15, 2009 at 06:29PM

“Get some things straight here: Mr. Marazzo is NOT the leader of the free world and he is not the head of any national news organization. He is the overpaid head of a mediocre TV and radio station that also happens to be in the fourth largest TV market. He runs a company with under 200 employees and has a budget in the range of $25 mil. For comparison, the former head of NPR (a national news agency) Kevin Klose made $465,994 in 2007. The CEO of WGBH, Boston brought home $286k in 2006 and that was with controlling a budget of $195 mil. WNET, NY head honcho William F. Baker only took $312k in 2006 with revenues of $157 Mil. These are the facts. Go to charitynavigator.org and see for yourself. I don't see where Mr. Marrazzo justifies the obscene salary.”

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9. Neil said... on Jul 10, 2013 at 06:31AM

“I agree with you regarding the salaries. The political potshots are liberal bias garbage similar to the leanings of PBS and the reason I don't contribute.”

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10. dockerdee64 said... on Jan 22, 2015 at 10:26AM

“Read this article in philly.com (partial quote below). It’s almost 6 years old but gives a revealing glimpse or where your money goes. Holy Cow! They spent 7 million on fund-raising! I Know, I Know - it costs money to make (gift) money but it sure doesn’t make it feel good to give $100. knowing $23. of it is used to get that $100.

Compensation in '08 dips for WHYY chief But William J. Marrazzo's salary increased 6 percent. By Carolyn Davis INQUIRER STAFF WRITER POSTED: May 30, 2009

“Overall, Sweeney said, the station was in a good position strategically and financially. In the year ending last June, the station had $30.6 million in revenue, up from $29.9 million, and $29 million in expenses, up from $28 million the year before.
The station ended the year with its fourth consecutive surplus, $1.6 million, down from $1.8 million the preceding year.
The amount spent on programming rose from”


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