WBAI STRUGGLE – October 2016

From the WBAI Justice & Unity Campaign

1. Local Station Board Updates

2. Station Updates

3. Other “BAIs”

4. Community Events


1. Local Station Board (LSB) Update

  • Elections

Preliminary election results for the half of the board seats up for election show Justice & Unity listener candidates receiving 3 of 9 open listener seats and 1 of 3 open staff seats. As a result of personal term limits, which will lead to the seating of runners-up, we are anticipating that on the overall 24-member board, Justice & Unity will have 10 of the 24 seats, Indy Caucus/ACE will have 13, and there will be one staff member who’s not part of either slate. The new board will be seated in December.

The election will be discussed more fully in an upcoming release, but it must be said that the extent of the fight for the right to vote was striking.

  • Meetings

First meeting of reconstituted WBAI Programming Committee (re-established by Local Station Board after 7-year lapse) – Wed., Oct. 19, 7 pm at WBAI, 388 Atlantic Ave. (bet. Hoyt & Bond Sts.), 3rd floor conference room. The public is invited. Directions: https://kpftx.org/pacalendar/cal_show1.php?eventdate=20161019

Next WBAI Local Station Board Meeting: 7pm, Wed., Nov. 2, 2016. Location TBA. The space will be fully wheelchair-accessible. Public Comment is essential. Please come out and share your ideas and views.

  • What’s at Stake?

The station generates far less money than is needed to operate, and with other Pacifica units in distress, there’s no money and little inclination to share. The Pacifica National Board recently held two meetings at which all WBAI local board members, except the 4 that had previously crashed a national board meeting, were invited to share their views on what was happening with WBAI.

WBAI currently owes $152K to the Pacifica National Office and Pacifica Radio Archives (at $17K/month and $4K/month, respectively), phone bills ($32K), $1 million-plus accrued Empire State Building rent (at $38K/month for over 2 years), and various other external bills exceeding $50K; in addition, the station owes members premiums valued at tens of thousands of dollars.

WBAI has been running deficits averaging about $500K/year for five years. Keeping current with the basics -- salaries, healthcare, modified transmitter rent, and studio-office rent -- has sometimes been a challenge. Intra-organizational borrowing to cover the first two has caused some resentment, which, coupled with a decade-long racially inflammatory campaign by a millionaire formerly on our local and national boards, has created an atmosphere of hostility toward WBAI.

The 2014 refusal of the then-majority Indy-ACE group to accept an opportunity to submit even a combination of sustainability plans to the National Board was both foolish and arrogant. That history and the year-long 2016 boycott have caused many to think not only that people at WBAI cannot get out of their own way, but also that without significant intervention, they will drag the rest of the network down.

As you know, there has been open discussion in some quarters of the possibility of swapping / exchanging our 99.5 frequency for a down-the-dial station with reduced reach or of selling the station -- both of which Justice & Unity have consistently opposed. (No sale is possible without a member vote; again, the atmosphere that has been created is not helpful, since such a vote would be network-wide.) We also reject converting WBAI to a remote broadcast outlet for the other Pacifica stations. Absent a significant influx of cash, the remaining cost-reduction option is what’s commonly (but totally inaccurately) referred to as “leasing” the station for a limited period of time to stop accumulating debt.

A Program Service Operating Agreement (PSOA), known commercially as a Local Management Agreement (LMA), would transfer liability for operating expenses and allow limited control of programming to another organization, subject to terms of a negotiated contract. Justice & Unity does not have a unanimous position on this, but we want you to know that the details of any such arrangement would include the right for WBAI to preempt programming by the other entity (the contractor) for the public good and the right to reserve programming hours, as well as the obligation to monitor programming.

In 2013, after pushback to consideration of only pre-determined participants,

there was a public Request for Proposals (http://pacifica.org/documents/Final_RFP_for_WBAI.pdf), and later, a decision to only consider noncommercial entities. Two of the organizations reported to have responded are:

  • Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the public-access cable-TV station that airs programs of hundreds of largely community-based producers, including Democracy Now! and Economic Update; and
  • Auricle Communications, which runs WFMU, a Jersey City mostly-music radio station whose flagship morning show, “JM in the AM” (http://jmintheam.org) -- which has featured segments supportive of Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands -- is barely mentioned on the station’s website.

The Pacifica National Board will continue considering options for WBAI's future in the coming weeks. If a decision is taken to pursue a PSOA, Justice & Unity supports open discussion and unpaid producers having input with the negotiating team. We will keep you aware and informed.

2. Station Updates

Program Director, Development Director, Operations Director

Other Pacifica Job Openings: http://pacifica.org; see upper left corner.

3. Support Other Community Media

  • Support CPRMetro.org (Community Progressive Radio - Online)

CPR Metro is an internet station created and programmed by former Program Director Bernard White and Wednesday Morning Show news reporter Don DeBar. It puts community issues and voices in the forefront of the struggle for peace with justice.
To help with streaming and storage services: http://www.gofundme.com/fdbkoc

             Listen: http://cprmetro.blogspot.com/

We also ask you to join hands around Don as he copes with the loss of his beloved friend and wife, Barbara. Notes or cards can be sent to him c/o Justice & Unity, P.O. Box 2690, New York, NY 10027.

  • Ralph Poynter’s “What’s Happening” - Tues. 9-10pm on the Human Rights Demand channel of Blog Talk Radio.

      Listen: http://is.gd/wP6Bbz Call-in: 347 857 3293

4. A Few Community Events

a. Thurs., Oct. 20, 2016; 6pm

La Casita Comunal de Sunset Park Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month and Honors Angelo Falcon, Pres., National Institute for Latino Policy. Speakers include WBAI's Howard Jordan. Trinity Lutheran Church, 411 46th Street, Brooklyn, NY. RSVP: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

b. Fri., Oct. 21, 2016; 7-9:30pm

People’s Organization for Progress, Montclair –15th Annual “Table Talk With POP.” With a focus on racial, social, and economic justice and obtaining federal investigations into police killings, P.O.P. needs and deserves our support. St. Peter Claver Roman Catholic Church, 56 Elmwood Ave., Montclair, NJ. Tix $15: Angenetta Robinson (973) 809-4604/Ingrid Hill at 973-951-3369.

c. Sat., Oct. 22, 2016; 1-11pm; Sun. Oct. 23, 2016 1-6pm

Reel Sisters Film Festival: shorts, features and more by and/or about women of color around the world. Long Island University’s Brooklyn Campus, DeKalb Ave. & Flatbush Avenue Ext., Brooklyn NY. For tickets, go to  http://www.reelsisters.org - click on "Tickets & Films".

d. Sat., Oct. 22, 2016; 2pm

“To Vote or Not To Vote,” featuring Hugh Hamilton, Viola Plummer, Bernard White, Dr. Tyrene Wright, and Chris Noble (son of Gil Noble). Deciding on whether to choose when all options are poor. CEMOTAP, 135-05 Rockaway Boulevard, S. Ozone Park, Queens, NY. Info: 347-907-0629. Admission is free.

e. Sat., Oct. 22, 2016; 6pm

Citizens Against Recidivism Tenth Annual Awards Dinner & Program, honoring WBAI’s Andre “Imani” Ward, Laura Whitehorn, and others. Keynote: Rita Dave, Esq. $65, $70@door; Group/table: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 347-626-7233 x 1. Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial & Education Center, 3940 Broadway at W. 165th St. / Dr. Betty Shabazz Way, Washington Heights, NYC.

f. Sat., Oct. 29, 2016; 11am-3pm

Justice4theWrongfullyIncarcerated Film & Panel Discussion.

11am: Free Screening of the film “The Central Park 5,” followed by a 1pm  report-back on the 9-Day March from Harlem to Albany and next legislative steps toward compensation after exoneration. Mt. Morris Ascension Presbyterian Church, 15 Mt. Morris Park W. (& 122nd St.) Harlem, NYC.

g. Wed., Nov. 2, 2016; 6pm

Community Board No. 10 Hearing on the Co-Naming of the southwest corner of W. 125th Street and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. as “Elombe Brath Way.”

Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Bldg. 2nd Fl., 163 W. 125 St. & Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., Harlem, NYC.

WBAI Justice and Unity Campaign 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


(212) 591-2111 

Inclusion on all sides of the microphone…