I’ve been a WBAI listener and financial supporter for many years. At Wall Street, I spent hundreds of hours taking pledges, mailing your premiums, and doing the Community Bulletin Board (CBB).
In 2010, with Victor Takeall, Evelyn Andino-Rosa, and Vajra Kilgour, I resigned from the CBB when accomplices of management decided it was more important to block mention of chosen enemies than to keep listeners informed.
I’m active in the NYC Labor Chorus, the Beacon Sloop Club (part of Hudson River Clearwater), and IFCO/Pastors for Peace, which just sent another caravan to Cuba. My wife and I are working against the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, which would bring oil fracked in the Dakotas from Albany to Linden, NJ.
I’m running for the Board with the Justice & Unity Campaign because WBAI must continue as a progressive voice addressing the needs and rights of all people in our area. This is especially important in this period of economic turmoil, war, and increasing right-wing and racist propaganda. But to keep the station alive, serious changes are needed.
The near-constant on-air fundraisers, often with a commercial tone, are not working well and turn listeners away. To better serve our neighbors who hustle from underpaid work to financially “underwater” houses or apartments on the edge of gentrification to care for their children who attend under-performing public schools while charter and private schools benefit from our tax dollars, the station’s reach must be expanded and its income must increase. A full-time permanent Development Director to raise money off-air would help make this possible. The station could also reach out to progressive musicians to hold more fundraising concerts.
WBAI needs to redevelop a news department and have an increased presence at more events. Along with more local news coverage, I favor a project to train young people and other community members as reporters, writers, and producers. Before being fired and banned, the late Kamau Khalfani trained Schomburg Center students in the art of radio production; Deepa Fernandes did the same with Radio Rootz before she was forced out.
In an international city like New York, with immigrants from everywhere, the board needs to find a Program Director who will traverse the diverse communities and progressive movements throughout the signal area, seeking voices needing to be heard.
WBAI is 55 years old and its average member is 62. It’s past time to have a real plan for the future! Who will preserve the airways if we fail to train and incorporate the next generation of activists and broadcasters?
I urge you to vote for all the Justice & Unity candidates–endorsed by the International Action Center and the People’s Organization for Progress–in the following rank order:
- Lynne Stewart – WRITE HER IN AS #1
- King Downing
- John Brinkley
- Ralph Poynter
- Pauline Park
- Dacio Quintana
- Eugene Hamond
Please write in Lynne Stewart’s name; rank her #1. For unknown reasons, her online membership didn’t register. Her statement’s at www.justiceunity.org.
1. In what ways is WBAI moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve? WBAI has often had very sharp and revealing local, regional and national news reporting and needs to re-develop and strengthen this. The announcements in multiple languages are very good – New York is a multinational and multicultural area. It resembles the plan by the now-defunct Membership, Outreach and Fundraising Committee to create multilingual palmcards with listeners’ short descriptions of why they listen. The station should do more outreach at community and activist events to encourage listeners and participants from around the tri-state area, and I will help with that. WBAI needs to be a progressive grassroots voice for the needs, rights, and hopes of all people in and around the area. This is extremely important in the current period of recession, lack of jobs, huge rates of imprisonment, war, and rising right-wing propaganda. The move to WHCR studios at City College was necessary; the reunification in Brooklyn is a good, if temporary, step.
2. In what ways is WBAI moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for? There are too many fund drives with repetitive programming and premiums that cause a loss of listener interest. The station has also added some programs that are too generalized and lacking in on-the-ground reporting. Some of the local focus has been lost. I will work for a station that reflects and is a voice for communities and activists around the area. Specifically, I favor a project to train a diverse group of young people from all over the tri-state region as reporters, writers, and producers. The station needs a permanent Program Director and also needs to rebuild a News Department.
3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission? I’ve been a volunteer with IFCO/Pastors for Peace, Caribbean and Latin American Support Project and the Beacon Sloop Club – an environmental organization founded by Pete Seeger and linked to the Hudson River Clearwater. I’ve often been a volunteer at the station and was on Community Bulletin Board for several years. I am head of the bass section in the New York City Labor Chorus. I have also recently become involved in the struggles in the Hudson Valley against the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines, which would bring crude petroleum in one direction from Albany to Linden, NJ, and refined product in the other direction. These experiences give me a broad overview of movements in the New York City and upstate parts of our signal area, which will prove valuable on the WBAI board as it looks at how our programming reflects the needs of various communities.
4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced? We need a permanent Development Director to work on repairing the economic difficulties, and we need transparency about it so that contributors can understand why they are giving money. There needs to be serious thinking about the increasingly frequent on-air fundraising. Premiums should be cultural, political, and artistic, and not commercial things such as consumables. Fundraising can also be done in other ways, as David Rothenberg has shown with theater tickets for donations. We need to be more creative. For example, we can seek out progressive musicians for benefit concerts and hold awards dinners. The Local Station Board should re-establish a Membership, Outreach and Fundraising Committee, which the current board majority disbanded 6 years ago. We need to work on a 3-to-5-year plan for fundraising around specific key projects – a capital campaign for studio build-out and restoration of needed administrative, programming, and news staff.