WBAI, the listener-supported New York City radio station with a 60-year history of radical political dissidence, was seized on Oct. 7 by the interim executive director and a minority of the Pacifica National Board, which owns the five stations in the Pacifica Radio Network.
The ethnic cleansing of Black and Brown broadcasters off the airwaves this year claimed not only the careers of Luke Stewart, formerly of Washington, D.C.’s WPFW, Weyland Southon, formerly of the Bay Area’s KPFA, and myself, formerly of KPFA, but it also claimed one of its most talented producers, Dr. Jared Ball of WPFW.
Tracy Rosenberg is the executive director of Media Alliance, an action and resource organization in Oakland advocating just, accountable and diverse media. She has been a listener representative on the KPFA Local Station Board since 2007 and a member of the Pacifica National Board of Directors since 2010. We asked her to comment on the situation from her perch as an insider. Here’s what we talked about.
Ever since the George Zimmerman verdict was read finding him “not guilty” and justice for a murdered Trayvon Martin was denied, there’s been a nationwide outcry for us as a country to sit down and have a serious conversation about race. President Obama encouraged us to have these conversations on race locally at home, amongst friends, at church and amongst our colleagues at work.
Pacifica invented public radio; since the beginning, Pacifica stations have been sponsored by listeners, with no corporate sponsorship or underwriting and thus no censorship. But the network faces many dire issues that its listeners need to know and that WBAI programmer Don Debar can knowledgeably talk about. Check out what Pacifica has not been telling its listener supporters ...
Rumors are flying around that plans are under way to sell WPFW to corporate media giant Clear Channel. Before we let Pacifica ruin the tiny bit of a voice that Black people have in D.C., we have to ring the alarm so all the lovers of public radio in the nation can rally up and hopefully save the day. This is a revealing Q&A interview that I did with WPFW broadcaster Luke Stewart ...
For the second week in a row, one of the largest audiences for any show on KPFA was disappointed not to hear the People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey and his Block Report on the air Wednesday at 8 a.m. Instead we heard an announcement by interim general manager Andrew Phillips that JR has been suspended. Getting punished for doing “too well” happens to Black folks much too often. Sign the two petitions to end the suspension of JR Valrey from KPFA and attend the Town Hall Meeting, Thursday, April 11, 6 p.m. at Laney College. This story is constantly being updated with new signatures and comments.
Over the past 10 years, any KPFA manager who attempted anything that did not meet the approval of a small core group of staff members – the foxes in the henhouse – met with so much hostility and non-cooperation that the job became nearly impossible to do.
Emancipatory journalism aggressively argues that we need radical community-based journalism that, while professional, organized and researched, is clear about its bias in favor of oppressed communities and their political organizations and struggle.
Pacifica Radio has announced that it will now carry news coverage from Al Jazeera English, which brings it for the first time to radio audiences in North America. Al Jazeera English is the award-winning 24-hour international news and current affairs channel and has become a world leader in the coverage of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas.