Warmest greetings to all WBAI members! ¡Mis más cordiales saludos a todos! I’m running for the WBAI Local Station Board with the Justice and Unity Campaign, endorsed by ProLibertad (Puerto Rican political prisoner freedom group), the May 1st Coalition for Worker & Immigrant Rights, and Dr. Suzanne Ross. WBAI is one of the most precious resources the Left has to offer and we must make it stronger! We need to reach into NYC’s diverse communities, including by increasing Spanish-language programming for the millions of non-English-speaking Latinos in the tri-state area who lack a progressive radio outlet.
As a young man escaping economic hardship, I immigrated to the US from Peru and worked in NYC as a factory worker and taxi driver before eventually securing my master’s degree and teaching science and English as a Second Language in the public schools for 32 years.
I have much for which to be grateful to WBAI. In many ways, my formation as a progressive person is very much based on listening to political programming on WBAI and answering calls to action by activists.
Like many of you, I have organized around social justice issues ranging from school reform to solidarity work with Puerto Rico and Latin America. As Chapter Leader of the New Action Caucus, a progressive wing of the teachers’ union (which has endorsed Justice & Unity), I fought to advance bilingual education, smaller classroom sizes, and better teacher training. As an organizer with the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, I worked for the independence of Puerto Rico, one of the few remaining U.S. colonies, and currently serve on the Friends of Puerto Rico Committee at the United Nations. I fought to rescue the island of Vieques, inhabited by thousands, from the US Navy’s bombing practice.
Over decades of activism, I have struggled for workers’ rights, ending violence against women and children, more HIV/AIDS services for communities of color, and freeing diverse political prisoners. I also volunteer with Strategies for Social Change, a national capacity-building organization. These experiences have prepared me to offer important skills to the WBAI Board.
I have been a WBAI member for 20+ years and have witnessed mismanagement and unproductive dissension that has weakened this precious resource. WBAI could become an even brighter beacon of progressive political thought and activism. We need to:
- develop a strong, diversified fundraising plan, utilizing some of the thoughtful proposals developed by Justice & Unity and others
- invest in long-term strategic planning in order to have a future
- increase programming that will spark the interest and activism of our youth and the many diverse communities WBAI serves.
I urge you to vote for all the Justice & Unity candidates in the following rank order:
1-Lynne Stewart – WRITE HER IN AS #1
For unknown reasons, Lynne Stewart’s online membership didn’t register. Please write in her name and rank her #1; her statement is at www.justiceunity.org.
1. In what ways is the station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue? There are some very positive changes occurring at WBAI, including the recently added hosts in some morning and afternoon shows who have covered topics such as police violence, workers’ rights, reparations for descendants of enslaved Africans, and Latin American issues. However, much more is needed to engage WBAI’s audience – we need to expand, improve and refresh programming. I would work to increase programming related to grassroots activism, youth-oriented programming, and Spanish-language programming, and to help find ways to restore news programs.
2. In what ways is the station moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for? I would first start by strengthening governance, including restoring the Programming and Membership, Fundraising and Outreach Committees so that we have more people involved in finding solutions and new strategies to the challenges we face. I would also focus on building our youth audience and future leadership by working to develop a project to train a diverse group of young people from the tri-state area to become WBAI reporters, writers, and producers. WBAI has some of the most dedicated and creative people I know, so there are lots of positive changes we can work together to achieve.
3. What key experiences, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission? I have worked many years as an organizer, educator, and progressive union chapter leader and have very good organizing skills. I am now retired and can devote more time to WBAI. We desperately need help with strategic planning and fundraising. I am currently affiliated with a progressive organizational-development/capacity-building firm and can access some free technical assistance and tools to help WBAI.
4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced? WBAI provides free airtime on a vast array of issues to countless progressive movements, human rights groups, academics, authors, artists, scientists, health professionals, and many more. We need to tap into this network of friends and colleagues more effectively and get them engaged in a long-term strategy to build a financial support base for WBAI. Justice & Unity, working with others, has developed a bold, strategic fundraising plan that is multi-year, diversified, and comprehensive (http://wbai.org/dldetail.php?doc=172). It’s important that management decide on an overall plan, and that the board work with them to help implement it. For instance, we need to develop donor-giving circles, reach out to more of the most ethical and progressive foundations for grant support, and develop a strong planned-giving program, among many other strategies to diversify and increase our funding streams. This is very possible; we just need the right leadership and discipline to make it happen!