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Contact Rachel Barr
Listener Candidate for the WBAI Local Station Board
Hi all, Thank you for taking the time to read this listener candidate statement. My name is Rachel Barr. I have been a subscriber member, producer, paid staff member and volunteer at BAI. While in Cuba one of the many times I was there, I helped transmit a program from Radio Havana Cuba to BAI. I was in Cuba the day that Elian Gonzalez was returned home to Cuba after his mother had put herself and Elian on a raft to go to Florida. Elian survived the trip and lived with his extended family in Florida until he was returned to Cuba. I interviewed his grandparents on the day he returned to Cuba and discussed with the late Robert Knight how important it was that things remained calm and private for Elian's family when Elian returned home. This was for the psychological safety of Elian after he had been through much. As an educator of young children I understood this and explained on Radio Havana Cuba to BAI how important this was to the BAI listeners. I assisted in airing the program from Radio Havana Cuba to BAI with the late Grandpa Al Lewis. If elected to serve on the LSB, I would truly represent the listeners as that is what that elected position consists of. As a former producer, former paid staff member and someone who knows radio and how to do radio, I think its important to reach out to High Schools, Colleges and Universities and provide internships to students and in exchange those students would earn credit for their content and time spent at BAI. This would also afford an excellent opportunity as well to get students on the air talking about their own experiences at the schools they attend and what is moving the pulse of young people. This internship would consist of a training programming for students to learn radio production. New producers would also get this training. I would propose a survey for the listeners and truly attend to the information received. That, it seems to me, to be more than lip service but truly implementing those survey responses would increase listenership, revenue and truly be a response to the listeners needs. We must get back to community radio. Also the listeners need to become producers and bring their mics out to the streets to get live sound demonstrations and events. We must bring back the community bulletin board both on the website and on the air as well and have BAI listeners go to those demonstrations and other actions and get live sound from them That is what BAI used to be, should be and can be again. I have many concrete ideas for raising funds. We need to get rid of the policy during LSB meetings of not being allowed to answer listener questions and responding to comments. That is not democractic and must be abolished. We need to bring back the program council so that there is a process for programming.
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?
  As a long time listener member of WBAI and as a former producer at BAI for 10 years, a former paid staff member and a former volunteer, I have many skills that I would bring to the LSB to advance the stations mission. They are the following: I am an educator and operate a NYC funded Child Care

Center in Brownsville, Brooklyn-one of the neighborhoods hit the hardest by COVID in March 2020. I am a firm believer in community and know and have keen skills in getting community involved in various activities such as fund raising, involving and connecting with youth-this would not only advance the station's mission, but it would help in raising funds for the station as well as bringing community back in to the station.
2. What do you appreciate and value in the station's current operations?
  The things that I appreciate and value in the stations current operations is that John Almela figured out a way for the engineers at BAI to broadcast remotely so that listeners could still hear BAI during COVID when the station had to close down. I also appreciate the value in the stations current operations in terms of the engineers communicating well with each other so that each of them know what is going on and in case they didn't get important information from management, they know how to figure out things and take care of operational things on their own so there is never any dead air. This is very important because the station could incur a fine. Also this is important because since management often does not plan ahead, the engineers know how to deal with a situation which may suddenly come up and know how to deal with it on their own. That is a very important and vital part of station operations.
3. What would you like to see improved or changed in the station's current operations?
  What I would like to see improved and/or changed in the stations current operations is that management plans ahead better. Planning ahead as much as possible is very important in radio, especially in listener-sponsored radio. Often times, listeners feel left out and are dismayed when they tune in to a specific program which they look forward to daily or weekly and often to not hear it. This is frustrating because if the management planned ahead, they would have the producer record a PSA stating that their program was not going to be on for whatever reason. Also there are no PSA's recorded by either a producer or the iPD letting listeners know that a programs time and day have been changed. This too is frustrating to listeners and since this is a listener-sponsored radio station, due to this lack of communication to the listeners, this is considered disrespectful to listeners on the part of the management.
4. Describe what you anticipate would be your top three priorities or areas of focus if you were elected to the local station board.
  I anticipate that my top or number one priority or area of focus if I were elected to the local station board would be to raise funds. I have many sources for same which would not be costly at all to BAI. Second priority (which is really tied in to fund raising) is to bring the community back on to the air and in to the station. For many years, even before COVID, we have not heard from members of the community to experience certain hardships on a daily basis, We have heard producers speak for people but many times, we have not heard from people directly effected various things happening in our cities. There are many stories and happenings that listeners have not heard about because there is very little reaching out to community except from perhaps a handful of producers. My third priority would be to attempt to get some type of union happening for unpaid staff/producers. This issue is very important. As someone who has been part of the fightback group, this matter has become one of great importance since it has an impact on the bylaws and the possible changes to the bylaws which may occur on July 7.
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?
  Yes, sustainability is an important part of any nonprofit organization. BAI is not an "operation" per se. It is a foundation which is in and of itself a different type of entity. I know that one of the major functions of the LSB is to raise funds. This has to do with the current iPD being open and inviting to all ideas. Before COVID, I suggested many fund raising ideas to the iPD and all were rejected. Once COVID happened, I also suggested many fund raising ideas to the iPD. They were either never responded to or rejected. I have many ideas to keep BAI on a good financial footing. Most of them include adding new voices to the airwaves including children and youth, having new folk musicians on to do fund raisers-have all ready gotten a yes from these folks. Unfortunately the iPD never got back to me. Theres a big, wide out there there and management MUST work in tandem with the LSB to back financial support/fund raising.
6. Is there anything else you would like prospective voters to know?
  Some other things I that I would like prospective voters to know is the following: Because I literally grew up listening to BAI, I am completely devoted to working with other members of the LSB, be they elected by staff or listeners, to make changes to make the air waves even better than they are all ready. I have many ideas about raising funds which are of no cost to the station, am an excellent grant writer and am interested in bringing in more listeners via free advertising, having listeners make PSA's for raising funds and doing a survey about what skills the listeners have which they would like to bring to helping BAI get better in terms of programming, fund raising, having the community come in to answer phones and taking pledges (now that COVID seems to be leaving) and having in person fund raisers with dancers, singers, poets, showing films, authors reading and reaching out to schools to have students on the air and have a story time hour in which children read books to children on the air. Children can and should be part of WBAI. I am very open to discussing and learning with other LSB members to make the station as good as it was back in the day.
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