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King Downing


Today, the world faces its most serious economic and political crises. At home, communities of color feel the sting while organizing against the economic violence of predatory lending and gentrification and the physical violence of over-policing by those who view us as problems to be contained.

WBAI is where you can get the truth about these massive problems and the fightbacks. At the same time, WBAI is in its own economic and political crisis. Together, we’ll have to solve these challenges if we expect WBAI to be here to give us the word or give us a voice.

I’m running for the WBAI Local Station Board with the WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign (www.justiceunity.org).

I am an advocate, analyst, and educator. My adult life has been committed to human rights and justice: as a lawyer, Harlem resident, and member of several organizations, including the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee, National Police Accountability Project, NY Copwatch, the People’s Survival Program, and the Campaign to End the New Jim Crow.

I’ve been a listener since the late 1980s. I’ve been on air as a guest, as a co-host of “Emanations” during the Samori Marksman era, and most recently, as a substitute host on “Where We Live.”

WBAI has come a long way but we have much further to go. We’re out of the high-rent district (albeit involuntarily) and into a Brooklyn neighborhood, but we need and I will push for a 3-year overall capital plan and a special campaign to build out the new studio.

You can’t change what you can’t manage. No more interim program directors. There must be a permanent PD. No station anywhere, even mindless music, runs without one, and it’s the board’s responsibility to do the search. Programs must reflect the new youth, people of color, and Spanish-language movements. No more interim Development Director. No major non-profit funds its needs without a permanent one.

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Management must be given regular performance evaluations. SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timed) objectives must be designed and applied to all WBAI functions. Management should create mechanisms to evaluate programs to see that they are setting and meeting appropriate goals. Management, programmers, the board, and its committees should solicit and utilize listener feedback through on-air call-ins, reinstated town hall meetings, and listener surveys.

I am a principled mediator and conciliator. I’m an active listener. I have the ability to step back and really hear what people are saying, even those “across the table.”

I want to be your voice on the WBAI Local Station Board. I urge you to vote for all the Justice & Unity candidates–endorsed by Michael and Evelyn Warren, Father Lawrence Lucas, and CEMOTAP–in this rank 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? The key positive moves are in physical plant and programing.

Physical plant. The move to WHCR studio at city College, which brought financial relief (space Justice and Unity obtained). The recent location of the studio in space shared with the administrative offices, reducing operating costs and improving internal communications

Programming. The coverage by some programs of local, national, and international issues in a way that is both informative and inspiring. While there have been improvements, there must be more grassroots voices, youth programming, activists, Spanish-language programming, and restoration of news

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?

Staffing. Board majority has failed for years to evaluate General Manager–against standard practice; GM left without feedback/guidance. Board majority long postponed search committee for permanent Program Director; station left without critical long-term program planning ability and staff left without needed expertise, guidance, and processes. Lack of permanent development director; station left without long-term map to financial security (see #4)

Fundraising. On-air fundraising failure–no creativity, prolonged drives, too many shows repeated. Deep problems caused by staff cuts, such as failure to deliver premiums. Failure to address specific proposals by Justice & Unity and others for off-air fundraising.

Community. Failure to engage communities–standard practice elsewhere–to increase visibility, listeners, members, donations. Even before recent technical restrictions, inadequate listener call-in time

3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission? • Advocate, analyst, and educator • Principled lawyer, mediator, and conciliator • Lifelong commitment to human rights and justice across the country and as a Harlem resident • Memberships include Ferguson Legal Defense Committee, National Police Accountability Project, NYC Copwatch, Campaign to End the New Jim Crow and People’s Survival Program • Regular listener since the late 1980s, on-air guest many times • Former producer/co-host of Emanations in the late 90s during the Samori Marksman era; recently substitute-hosted on Where We Live.

4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced? Evaluate the General Manager, hire permanent Program Director and Development Director; this will strengthen the team to chart the station’s financial strategic plan. Intensify the studio build-out campaign to at least the intensity level of the save-the-transmitter campaign. Sponsor fundraising concerts and forums on timely and controversial topics to raise funds via grants, sliding-scale admissions and, later, on-air premiums. Increase premium quality to include more presentations by notable progressives and pivotal topics, books, and DVDs. Restore Premiums Department. Train producers in ways of pitching that have been effective to date, including starting shows with dramatic “tease” excerpts and clips. Solicit donations of supplies and in-kind services as was done with food for volunteers. Restore Program Guide and distribute email and social media versions. Create presence at community events; display banners, distribute flyers, promos; engage volunteers to do tabling.

So, what do you think ?