From Workers Worldhttp://www.workers.org/2009/us/wbai_0702/
Some 100 people, many of them movement activists, gathered for a rally called by the Coalition to Take Back WBAI outside the station’s Wall Street offices on June 17 to protest the ongoing purge of some of the station’s most progressive voices. “Wake Up Call” newscaster Don Debar and labor specialist Mimi Rosenberg, who had just been excised by the new management, joined the protest. Both were associated with the morning show that has already been cut by one hour, and now airs only from 6 to 8 a.m., Monday to Friday.
For decades, New Yorkers have relied on WBAI 99.5 FM, part of the Pacifica Radio Network, for radio broadcasting that provides real news and perspectives not filtered by corporate media. Now, the station has been seized by the Pacifica Corp., along with the WBAI Local Station Board majority, who are attempting to impose their own brand of programming by removing some of the staff and programming most closely connected with New York’s oppressed and marginalized communities.
Not only have WBAI’s progressive Black general manager Tony Riddle and program director Bernard White been fired, but other progressive staff have been let go in New York as well as in California. Pacifica Corp.’s interim executive director Grace Aaron has imposed a gag rule threatening to fire any programmer who discusses these matters on the air.
Coalition spokespeople said the rally is a starting point and that they will continue activities aimed at reversing what they call a “coup.” Their goals include reinstatement of the removed WBAI programmers, lifting the gag rule and returning genuine autonomy to the station. There is also a recall campaign to remove from office two of the Local Station Board members whom the Coalition considers most harmful to local autonomy, board chair Mitchel Cohen and board member and multimillionaire marketing executive Steve Brown. For more information visit justiceunity.org.
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