My name is Jim Dingeman. I have served on the WBAI Community Advisory Board fro over six years and am currently its chair. In the early nineties I served as the elected public affairs member of the WBAI Program Council for two years. I also served one year on the Local Advisory Board as an elected staff representative.
For the past three years Pacifica and WBAI have not received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. This failure has been deliberate, and I want to see to my utmost that we again receive hundred thousands of dollars per year from the CPB. This money is due us. It lessens the strain on our listeners during tough times. After three years of incompetence by senior Pacifica management and leadership, enough is enough.
My media background is extensive. Since the seventies I have worked in print, radio and television broadcast outlets. For several years I was on-air host of an alternative media TV show, the INN World Report. I have covered international politics, domestic issues and cultural affairs. My experience ranges from covering the liberation wars in Southern Africa to current mass culture and cinema.
I want to help move WBAI and Pacifica in to the 21st century as a broadcasting outlet while maintaining the Pacifica mission statement in its totality as our ethos. I want to create a fusion of analog and digital broadcasting that allows WBAI to grow and flourish. This means integrating creativity the vats potential of available outlets: Blogging, podcasting, internet radio, web sites, YouTube and live streaming. All these fantastic tools need to be coupled with a serious look at the pressing issues of how to expand our audience and REVOLUTIONIZE our programming. WBAI must regain its reputation fro cutting edge broadcasting and I sincerely believe this is the path forward.
Finally, I firmly believe we need to mobilize the creative energies of our generous and remarkable listeners. We must find a way to engage as many listeners as possible to tackle our most pressing problem: our shrinking audience. Currently, the average number of people listening to WBAI every hour is between 600 and 900 people, with an average age around 65. These number obviously can vary at different times of the day. Nonetheless the upshot of such low numbers is that WBAI is currently capturing only 1/100th to 1/250th of 1% of the 16 million plus radio listeners in the greater New York metropolitan area. These hard facts are a major reason why the station is always broke.
We need to mobilize the energies of EVERYBODY to improve this situation. I believe we can do this, but a REVOLUTIONARY change is needed on the part of the LSB and management to reach a solution. The staff and especially all our thousands of listeners need to be engaged IMMEDIATELY to work together to expand our audience, a worthy goal that certainly dwarfs the factional pettiness that so often has characterized the LSB in the past decade. We will work together to move WBAI into the 21st Century. And that means successfully getting stuff done in a rewarding and energizing way.
- In what ways are the station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve? WBAI’s strongest power lies in the immense good will our listeners, ex listeners and the general public has in the potential of WBAI. They are aware of its fiery history of being a cutting edge broadcast station. We have to reenergize that good will in order to turn the station around. THE LSB must change from being a movement joke to a cutting edge facilitator of creativity.
- In what ways are the station moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for?As chair of the WBAI Community Advisory Board and in the early nineties a member of the WBAI Program Council and Local Advisory Board I am acutely aware of the relationship of programming and audience which leads to listener donations.
The listeners are a fiercely loyal and independent group of people. I have had the pleasure to meet and discuss with them their opinions and concerns on numerous occasions in the past two decades or more.
Currently, WBAI has only 1/100th to 1/250th of the 1% of the sixteen million people who listen to analog radio in the greater NYC area every hour. This basic fact has to be IMMEDIATELY grappled with because from it stems the current fiscal weakness of the station. There is no excuse anymore fo ra head in the sand approach to this. Nor is it the time to hear self-serving narcissistic justifications of why this is not so. Unless this is frontally dealt with head on and policies developed in the short term to turn this around the current situation will get worse. I intend to lead effort to alter this.
This problem makes the three year fiasco of not getting any money from the Corporation of Public Broadcasting for Pacifica and WBAI a pressing problem to be solved. At this point the DELIBERATE intention to not get any money which would help lessen the burden on our listeners must be addressed and changed for the better. I will help lead that effort.
- What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?I have served on the WBAI Community Advisory Board for six years. In the past I was the public affairs representative on the WBAI Program Council for two years. I also was the elected representative on the Local Advisory Board in that period. I worked with others in the early nineties with many others here in NYC and around the country to oppose the ham fisted direction that old PNB was taking Pacifica.
I have worked with labor union organizing, antiwar and the anti-apartheid movement. I also have extensive practical experience in lobbying on Capitol Hill through my work on opposing U.S. support of Rhodesia and South Africa after Soweto. This has been coupled with six years of lobbying at the local, state and national level on missing children and persons issue.
My background in media is extensive.
I have worked in print, television and radio since the early seventies. This includes covering Africa, National Security, the Middle East, history and cultural affairs. During the eighties I covered the Iran_Iraq war and during the Gulf War worked with various broadcast networks, including NBC, CBS and PBS.
For several years I was an on air host for a daily news and public affairs show, the INN World Report. This show was broadcast every day on Free Speech TV around the United States and the world.
I have direct experience in political lobbying. I worked in labor organizing, the antiwar and antiapartheid movement. I made an effort to have WBAI support directly and practically the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I worked as a political lobbyist on Capitol Hill in the late seventies after Soweto engaged in opposing American support of Rhodesia and South Africa. For six years in the nineties I worked at the local, state and national levels on missing children and persons issues. This included organizing conferences in Albany and Washington plus direct lobbying. At the grassroots level I led a campaign to change and later the way NYPD handled this issue, then one of he worst records in the United States.
During my tenure as chair of the WBAI Community Advisory Board I have led and worked with many other great people to
1-Hold regular meetings of the WBAI CAB to meet our open meetings requirement to obtain vitally needed federal money for Pacifica and WBAI. This money has been DELIBERATELY lost for three years running by elements in senior Pacifica management and leadership. This must change and is one of the reasons I am running for the LSB. WBAI has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result and this must change. Pacifica has lost at least two million dollars because of this DELIBERATE neglect. Stupidity cannot be a reasonable explanation at this point when this has persistently happened three years in a row.
2-I have alerted WBAI listeners of potential plans to sell WBAI. This threat still exists and must be addressed.
3-I have helped organize and support drama groups to work with WBAI. This effort must continue and through my efforts WBAI currently works with the largest Shakespeare reading group on the United States. Before Hurricane Sandy we had ten drama groups working with WBAI. This helped lead to the donation of TWICE of critically needed computers from Columbia University to WBAI.
4-I organized and helped to create the WBAI University of the Air. This is designed to provide more opportunities fro the listener members to engage in LIVE forums that explore the issues of our times. Before the renovation at 388 Atlantic Avenue we had a large forum on Ferguson that drew 120 people.I want to continue and broaden this effort.
5-I have extensive contacts with the major educational institutions in NYC. This has included developing working relations with programs at Columbia, NYU and CUNY. This needs to be developed and broadened.
6-I helped to lead and arrange the delivery of two shipments of free computers from Columbia University in the past several years.
7-I have worked closely with the General Manager in developing all these initiatives
8-I have helped to organize the delivery of hundreds of boxes of premiums from storage in the past few years. This sorting process involved over thirty listeners. This was done with the help of our generous landlord at 388 Melissa Emden whose help made this possible.
9-I helped to lead the organization of direct telephone calls to hundreds of listeners to deal with the vexing problem of undelivered premiums. Calling hundreds of listener’s owed premiums has been a gratifying experience. Overwhelmingly, they have immense reservoirs of good will.They just need have the problems explained to them. At its root it is a cash flow problem similar to the Myth of Sisyphus. The only way to handle this is to mobilize EVERYBODY to work on it. No venality or pettiness by some can stand in the way of solving this.
- What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?We first have to recognize and admit that many of the issues currently being raised regarding fiscal instability have ben around for decades. They have simply gotten worse.
In order to change this we need to move WBAI and all the Pacifica stations in the 21st century technologically. This means we need to create a fusion of analog and digital broadcasting in as wide an imaginative swath as possible. Norway is currently phasing out FM Radio. All automobile manufacturers are replacing their analog radios with broadband. Morning and afternoon drive as we currently envision it are undergoing major change. We need to adapt ourselves to these technical changes.
We need to do this with much energy. This means working with all sorts of partners, mainstream and alternative. Our very ideas of what community radio is are obsolete and we must adapt to new times. We need to encourage experimentation and encourage new broadcasters using blogs, social media, Facebook, twitter, you tube channels, podcasting and internet radio. This kind of fusionist multimedia experimentation is going on nationally and internationally and we need to work with all these exciting new trends. I propose e organize annual conference in NYC to explore these alternatives.
We need to renovate our website as rapidly as possible and make it an avenue of change. Currently too much ego is invested by some in keeping it static. This has to be swept away.
We need to create alternative broadcast channels like the BBC does. We need WBAI 1, 2 3, and 4 channels where we are exploring with new talent what works and does not work. We need to fully energize the overwhelming creative energy we have by being in NYC, the cultural capital of the United States. Currently we are isolated from the extraordinary cultural and artistic energy in NYC and we have to swim in its possessive sea once agin in order to grown and thrive.
Our current partnership with the Commons offers us a jump off point to interact with our listeners and the public in ways we have not been able to since WBAI lost the Church and the Free Music Store in the late seventies. With a lot of imagination we can put ourselves back on the the map as a place where people WNAT to be, not avoid.
It is essential to implement a constant barrage of positive progressive and EXCITING public events that are implemented in a loud and noisy manner that can reconnect us with the huge potential audience that we have. This means using the website more creatively. We should partner with Ustream activists and have ALL major political events that meet are mission statement broadcast LIVE as they happen. We have lost the ability to broadcast live events fro lack of resources and we need to rejuvenate this tradition at WBAI. Next time an OWS type event happens in NYC we should move our resources out to be part of it and not stay in our broadcast studios. We should broadcast from the events themselves… LIVE.
Finally we must confront, address and solve in an open and creative way the problem of why the programming collectively is attracting a small number of people. Having any given hour only 1/100th or 1/250th of 1% of sixteen million people is unsustainable. My goal is to raise our listenership many times; a 500% increase would be great. We need to do this because our financial survival and existence is dependent upon it here in NYC and throughout the world. No pettiness, narcissism or venalty which some exude should stand in the way of this immense and positive endeavor.
All of us participating in this process can change WBAI on a dime and we can collectively create a new form that is cutting edge for not only the people of NYC but the entire world. The LSB is a great vehicle to help do this but only one vehicle. It requires the unleashing of thousands to help us do this.
Getting stuff is my motto and these are my personal goals to see WBAI solve its financial challenges.