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John Brinkley

I seek re-election to the Local Station Board because I want to continue working to get WBAI through these hard times. I’ve been a listener and supporter since the 1970s. I was elected to the LSB in 2010. Although part of the Justice & Unity minority on the board, I was elected chair in 2014 and re-elected unanimously in 2015, perhaps in recognition of my ability to reduce contentiousness at our meetings.

I’ve worked to brainstorm ideas for fundraising and, along with Justice & Unity members and other listeners and staff, developed a detailed sustainability plan for WBAI, then helped compile all the plans by board members from different “sides” into the document available here: wbai.org/dldetail.php?doc=170 .

I advocate implementing the most immediately feasible fundraising methods. When the Board was informed by Justice & Unity’s Nia Bediako of the possible eviction of our Empire State Building transmitter, I secured a union phone bank with Mimi Rosenberg’s help, and coordinated volunteers who called lapsed and current members to raise money for a special transmitter fund set up through a board motion proposed by Justice & Unity.

In August 2012, the LSB majority voted down Bernard White’s motion asking management not to renew the $37,000/month lease on the Wall Street studio-office, and to relocate to a less expensive temporary location. Six months later, conditions forced this very move when the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and rent demands from the then-landlord made remaining at Wall Street impossible. Nia Bediako also revealed this housing crisis to the local and national boards, and Justice & Unity made the connection with City College for WBAI to broadcast out of its studios at a far lower rent. The only alternative was partial-day live broadcasts that excluded the bulk of producers.

After much delay, a search for a permanent Program Director has begun. The ideal candidate will be someone who appreciates the many rich cultures in this region, and understands WBAI’s responsibility to air progressive voices reflecting that diversity.

I am a New Jersey-based Pan-Africanist and trained problem-solver. As an LSB member, I’ve drawn upon skills and knowledge acquired from a varied professional and community background, including:

  • active membership in the People’s Organization for Progress (POP).
  • working with community organizations to develop re-entry programs for the formerly incarcerated
  • as a member of the Tri-State Save “Like It Is” Coalition, challenging the renewal of the four TV networks’ FCC licenses
  • functioning on various professional levels in college, corporate, local government, and nonprofit environments.

I ask that you please vote for the complete Justice and Unity slate — endorsed by Amina Baraka, Nana Camille Yarbrough, CEMOTAP, and Bayan (progressive Filipinos) — in the following order:

  1. Lynne Stewart – WRITE HER IN AS #1
  2. King Downing
  3. John Brinkley
  4. Ralph Poynter
  5. Pauline Park
  6. Dacio Quintana
  7. Eugene Hamond

For unknown reasons, Lynne Stewart’s online membership didn’t register. Please write in her name and rank her #1; her statement’s at www.justiceunity.org.


1. In what ways is the station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve? We were lucky to be able to move to the studio at City College when we did: it made it possible to preserve the WBAI’s ability to have full producer participation 24/7. Justice & Unity was crucial in making that move possible. The recent move to re-consolidate in one location is positive: it reduces operating costs and improves internal communications — and it’s a prelude to having facilities that the station owns. There have been some programming improvements in the past year, put in place by the last interim Program Director, but more grassroots voices, youth-oriented programming, Spanish-language programming, and a regular news broadcast are very much needed.

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? The failure to establish a phone bank for Dave Rothenberg’s theater-ticket service represents both a significant financial loss for the station and a cultural loss for listeners. Allowing elections to be largely determined by mass mailings favors a wealthy elite that does not necessarily have the station’s best interests or its mission at heart. The lack of a permanent Program Director (because the current LSB majority has kept putting off forming a search committee until very recently), has hampered program development. On-air fundraising failures include lack of creativity, drives that are too prolonged, too many rebroadcasts, and offerings of consumable products. Premiums are not being delivered because of reduced staff and absence of dedicated funds to purchase them. Management has not implemented specific proposals for off-air fundraising, there is no permanent Development Director, and there is very little station presence at community events. I would work to reverse all these trends.

3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission? I have a lengthy history of grassroots organizing for change, strong organizational skills, and a very large reserve of patience. I’ve served for the last year and a half as the LSB Chair, with strong universal support, and have reduced the contentiousness of meetings significantly. I’ve functioned on various levels in college, corporate, local government, and nonprofit environments, and am a trained problem solver; I was instrumental in raising funds when our transmitter was in danger, and helped brainstorm ideas for fundraising along with Justice & Unity members and other listeners and staff, developing a detailed sustainability plan for WBAI, then helped compile all the plans by board members from different “sides” into a single document (see below). I’ve also lived, worked, and travelled internationally, which gives me a broad worldview.

4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced? First, there must be a substantial increase in off-air fundraising, which can be achieved by stressing the implementation of the sustainability plan submitted by Justice & Unity last year (and available here: www.wbai.org/dldetail.php?doc=172 ). We must also consider reconfiguring the fund drives to avoid significant preemptions and listener burnout. We need to do a better job of marketing the station to audiences that would be “natural” WBAI listeners but don’t even know we exist, and we should re-establish a callout center or centers, like the one we used to raise funds for the transmitters, to contact station supporters.


So, what do you think ?