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Contact Michael D. D. White
Listener Candidate for the WBAI Local Station Board
Statement
I want to see WBAI grow and thrive as a listener accountable station, offering wide-ranging counter-narratives to what is destructively presented as “public discourse” in the mainstream corporate media. WBAI should provide the information and insight that the monied interests controlling the media and the internet are burying. I envision WBAI as a discovery porthole through which listeners can discover what they are unlikely to discover elsewhere so they can understand our world, its past, and our possible futures.

The station needs to cover more territory more efficiently and engage more listeners. Its various parts could be more cohesively integrated and cross-supporting. The station could be less easy to pigeonhole as predictable, and less susceptible to caricature. The station could also be brought more up to date in terms of how its content and the ability to find that content is reflected on the internet (at least before the internet is further shut down).

Bringing the station more technologically up to date could also afford opportunities for overflowing content; content could overflow to second-channel (or even third-channel) HD broadcast programming now possible with our still unused HD antenna; it could be coordinated with second- and third-channel streaming on the internet, and podcast and internet availability of content. Provision for such integrated content overflow (like Democracy Now’s “Web Exclusives”) could allow WBAI to better address local news, which doesn’t necessarily unfold willing to tame itself to time and scheduling constraints. It could allow for“farm team” development of new talent, concepts and approaches and avoid permanent banishment or death sentences for important, sometimes beloved shows struggling with low ratings. It could be a haven for expansion of WBAI’s often lucrative music programming.

I am thinking that on-the-street solicitation could be extraordinarily effective. Also, I suggest that there be more event-connected solicitations. Those approaches could result in funds from those who may get added to the listener base. The station should regain its access to and receipt of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting funds

On-the-street solicitation could have the benefit of raising awareness about the station and its programming. It also involves two-way conversations that would provide valuable feedback about the station’s possibilities and potential. Event-connected solicitations should be aimed at various different age groups, and they are often especially valued by younger cohorts. Those who especially appreciate live events are likely also to understand and more intuitively appreciate the value and community building aspects of real time live radio. Let me reiterate: We are living, breathing, real people living in real time and, there is always (as with plays vs. movies) a special magic and bond that comes from sharing and participating communally in live real time events: terrestrial real time radio and live events are two examples.
Answers to Candidate Questionnaire
1. What experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the local station board to advance the station's mission?
  I believe I am level headed in difficult situations and able to understand and exercise good judgement; that I am able to discern and apply principles important to WBAI’s and Pacifica’s mission; that the principles and aspirations I myself am passionate about align consistently with WBAI’s mission. I’ve been heavily engaged in activism, among other things, a leader of Citizens Defending Libraries. Defending free speech and the liberation of uncensored narratives (including truth about U.S. wars) is one of the things I’ve worked hardest at. I am a lawyer with an urban planning degree and along with that background I have a great deal of background, both personal and family, in media and journalism. At National Notice and Noticing New York I write extensively dealing the kinds of issues that WBAI concerns itself with.

I am now completing my third year of service as a WBAI Local Station Board member (elected in 2018) and with each year of service, also working on many LSB and Pacifica committees, I have gained valuable experience, understanding of the workings and challenges of the station and Pacifica while building institutional knowledge.

I have been very good at undertaking and completing LSB member work and excellent about attending meetings.
2. What do you appreciate and value in the station's current operations?
  We have an awful lot of good programming, a very dedicated staff and a huge number of show hosts and producers very dedicated and committed to producing their shows and dedicated to what it means in terms of the public hearing what they can broadcast. I like some of the new programming like Code Pink. Older shows are also frequently top notch: The other day I listened to a recording of Lenny Bruce’s 1966 memorial service produced for WBAI by Bob Fass. While I am certainly able to suggest ways that some shows might sometimes improve, I know of new shows we probably should be adding to our on air schedule, but when asked how to find room for them, I find that a hard decision. The baseline is that we have so much that is really good to work with as we look to build for the future.

I also especially value when WBAI succeeds stands out, with media literacy, and duly exercised scepticism, as being truly and able to sidestep the narrative traps associated with the huge amount of government and corporate propaganda being pumped out that effectively targets so much of our unwitting population. That includes when WBAI avoids the way elite power is deliberately dividing the country, slicing and dicing us into factions preoccupied with irrelevant differences.
3. What would you like to see improved or changed in the station's current operations?
  We need to understand our relationship with the internet better and to be more conscious of it, and thereby be better able communicate more about that to listeners and potential listeners that will grow our audience and build listener loyalty as that listener base learns and better appreciates the distinctions that make WBAI terrestrial radio special. Too much and too often what we offer goes unstated and unrecognized. For all its attractions, the internet is often a dismantling influence: “The internet giveth and the internet taketh away.” When the internet substitutes for terrestrial radio, what goes on is data scraping, Big Tech’s steering and manipulation of the public discourse, the burying of truth in a cacophony of propaganda along with subtle and unsubtle censorship on all sorts of levels, and surveillance. In the end, anything on the internet is vulnerable to being unceremoniously snuffed out at any moment.

WBAI terrestrial radio, while it is doing its job, is a backstop against further and increasing internet censorship and manipulation. But, meanwhile, as we compete with the internet we must grapple (and we should do so creatively and with some consciousness) with our own programs appearing various places on the internet shifting the center of gravity away from WBAI and Pacifica and maybe even soliciting for funds to go in other directions.
4. Describe what you anticipate would be your top three priorities or areas of focus if you were elected to the local station board.
  1.) Building a better, bigger, broader financially-supporting listenership. We should do this by being as interesting to and reaching many people at the same time addressing what may be common interests that unite them, in what are possibly cross-educating beneficial ways. For instance, there are more than a score of top priority issues that supermajorities of the public are in favor of seeing addressed in certain ways (e.g. net neutrality, Medicare For All, taxing the rich, reduced military spending) where commercial broadcasting and its “public” broadcasting cousins have either abandoned the broad general public, or are actively working against the public.
2.) Being able to generate and get more content out, presumably of high quality, not only through additional internet streams, but also by adding the additional higher quality (especially for music) terrestrial broadcasting channels we can add via HD broadcasting. The value of HD will become ever more obvious as constraints on internet content tighten.
3.) Making the station (while running smoothly and being able to do so) into a more intriguing “must listen” “must talk about” destination based on the trenchant way producers tackle issues the 99.5% yearn to have addressed. We can’t afford to be dull or too repetitive.
5. Sustainability is an important part of any nonprofit operation. What are your thoughts on how the board can help to improve the station's financial footing?
  Management has been creative in many ways that have allowed the station to operate on a shoe string budget, but we need more revenue to operate better and achieve more. What we navigate around is that increasing revenues effectively is often an expenditure driven proposition. The skill and focus we need is to discern what to prioritize and in applying our scarce resources to build revenues in a virtuous cycle (which pretty much tracks with the need to build our audience.)

One of the lowest cost things we can do to always make our resources go further is to enhance the reputation of WBAI and Pacifica. Good board management and governance goes a long way in that regard.
6. Is there anything else you would like prospective voters to know?
  I want to see WBAI grow, strengthen and thrive to perform the role that only a truly listener supported and listener accountable public radio station like WBAI can: Offering a variety of rich and wide-ranging counter narratives to the constrained and in many ways often destructive memes of that pass for “public discourse” in the mainstream corporate media. It can provide the information and insight that tend to be most buried and censored today by the monied interests controlling most media access. I envision WBAI as a discovery porthole through which any listener tuning in almost any time can discover what they are unlikely to discover elsewhere that is important to their understanding of the world, its past, and our possible futures. That includes regularly providing pointers toward sources for further information and exploration.

If WBAI and Pacifica go under, cease their terrestrial broadcasting, or if they are taken over to become another “blue” broadcaster proffering narratives comfortable to the corporations, I fear we will see an even greater shutdown and curtailment of internet “free speech.”

I am ENDORSING and urge other WBAI listener members to PLEASE ALSO VOTE FOR:

• Priscilla Cancar
• Katherine O’Sullivan
• Phil DePaolo
• M. Kay Williams
• Scottye Battle
• Jim Dingeman
• Matthew Reiss
• John Hoffman
• Joseph Graziose
• Bruce Greif
• Stephanie Byers
• Benjamin Garron-Caine

Please vote for them, like me high on your ranked choice voting list.
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