The Fight to Save WBAI - 1977 back  next

WBAI's current management charges that racism and staff entrenchment in old ideas are the basis of opposition to the proposed program changes and to the Program Director. Pablo Yoruba Guzman. These charges are being used as a smokescreen to divert attention from the real issue of free speech. quality programming and staff and listener participation in programming policy.

This is not to deny the existence of institutional racism at WBAI. The staff and listenership are overwhelmingly white. During the past four years, Third World people working at the station have primarily been limited to those associated with TCB productions. The two-faced nature of the management's charges of racism is attested to by the fact that one of the three paid staff members who was fired by the current manager is Deloris Costello. who for years has been protesting to the Board about the limited nature of Black and Latin participation in the station.

The WBAI staff should include more Blacks and Latins - not only producing programs for TCB but all kinds of programs. WBAI must become the people's station for all the people and this means programming which serves the needs of Third World communities. But programming must be done with the depth, care and fearlessness that has characterized WBAI in the past. This does not mean lots of music with bits on public affairs sandwiched in between, as is the plan of Mr. Guzman. A people's music gives us energy and hope. But this must be complimented by the political vision and understanding of the root causes of the conditions which oppress us-shut-down hospitals, decaying and abandoned houses, unemployment. rising costs and shrinking income.

We are determined that WBAI grow and change. We believe that the issues raised by the fight about Mr. Guzman's proposed programming changes will ultimately be to the benefit of the station because it is pushing the staff and the listeners to find real solutions to these problems-solutions which can offer all of us concrete help in the struggle to change the conditions of our lives.

Friends Escrow Account
If your WBAI subscription is up for renewal you can withhold your support until you are satisfied that the listener's voice is being heard. Please send us your check, payable to Friends of WBAI-Escrow Account. The decision on whether to turn over to WBAI the funds we have collected will be made by the majority vote of all contributors to the account. If you wish to obtain the precise terms of the account. please send us a self-addressed. stamped envelope.

"...The presence of WBAI at 99.5 on the FM dial has a special meaning and value. For almost a generation it has been a reminder that commercial sponsorship Is not the only way to run a radio station -if people want an alternative enough to pay for it.
From the New York Times, editorial 2/28/77, A Station in Search of a Character.

WBAI Funding
"The prospect of receiving additional funds [from grants] was very tempting but we felt that inevitably those monies would undermine out listener support base which is truly the liberating mechanism of Pacifica radio. We also perceived the danger of single non-commercial noncommercial audio network which would be federally funded and subject to federal pressure. "
-Edwin Goodman, member of Pacifica National Board from Deadline for the Media by James Aronson, Bobbs-Merhll 1972

There is a direct correlation between the scope and quality of programming and a station's accountability to it's sponsors, be they it's listening community, government sources (CPB, NPR, NET) or private sources such as Mobil and IBM (heavy donors in the arts). For the fiscal year 1977, WBAI has been allotted $142,000 in government grants which amounts to about 25% of its income; an increase of almost 175% over 1976. Since WBAI and Pacifica started accepting grants in 1972 they account for a steadily rising portion of the income budget. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting which provides the major portion of the grant funds, is not a government agency in the technical sense. However, it is funded by ('onaress. and it's directors are appointed by the President. The CPB has been accused of using its financial leverage to encourage censorship. For instance, in 1971. during the Nixon administration, the Public Broadcasting Service refused to carry on its 7V network an expose by Paul Jacobs on illegal FBI activities, an extraordinary and important piece of work. We must resist and reverse this move in the direction of greater government support. Only as this trend is reversed will listener imput be given credence and the danger of implicit censorship be averted.

The following is a compilation of available statistics on grants received over the past 3 years by WBAI and Pacifica:

WBAI PACIFICA(as a whole)
% to total % to total
Year Amount Amount income Amount income
1977 $142.158 25% $290,355 not available
1976 50,459 9% not available not available
1975 29,350 5% $159,761 11
Between 1975 and 1977 grants received by the Pacifica Foundation as a whole have been increased by 85%.

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