Mumia on WBAI coup

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Thu Feb 8 14:28:50 MST 2001

(from savewbai mailing list)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal, M.A. #492
Column Written 1/29/2001
All Rights Reserved

Information is the raw material for new ideas; if you get misinformation,
you get some pretty fu---d-up ideas. -- Eldridge Cleaver, former Minister
of Information, Black Panther Party

With late-night lock changes, and a phalanx of security guards prowling the
halls, the coup of WBAI-FM, the flagship station of the Pacifica Network,
has begun.

Popular veterans of the listener-supported station, like program manager
Bernard White and WBAI union shop steward Sharon Harper, (both producers of
the morning "Wake Up Call" show) received letters of termination at their
homes several hours before their shifts were to begin.  WBAI general
manager, Valerie Van Isler, who, like White, was a 20-year vet of the
station, was similarly fired by Pacifica, ostensibly for failing to accept
a position at network headquarters in Washington, D.C.

While these firings were attempts to remove, and thereby install,
management personnel, it was also an opening salvo in a pitched battle
designed to silence radical dissent, and open the airwaves to the
corporatization of WBAI.

If you want WBAI to become a nice, sweet, safe alternative, like NPR, then
do nothing.  It will happen.  If, however, you want to continue to hear
about the struggles of the peoples of the world for liberty, for life, for
dignity, as in East Timor; or of the noble life and death struggle of the
zapatistas in the mountains of Mexico; or of cases like the slaughter of
African immigrant Amadou Diallo; or of the continuing human rights
violations occurring every day in the nation's burgeoning prison-industrial
complex, then you must fight for it, as you would fight for your very life,
or anything dear to you.

The great Frederick Douglass perhaps put it best when he said, "Without
struggle there is no progress."  If the various communities of New York and
northern New Jersey don't struggle for their vision of WBAI-FM, it will be
gone.  It's as simple as that.

What's happening at 'BAI was attempted a year ago at KPFA-FM in San
Francisco.  The people of the Bay Area rallied in unprecedented
strength--over 10,000 folks at one protest -- and backed the Pacifica board
down. Listeners to 'BAI must do no less!

In theory at least, the airwaves belong to the people. For the last 40
years, the staff and local management of WBAI have tried to make that
theory in America a reality.

If you are thrilled by the no-holds-barred radio reporting of "Democracy
Now's" Amy Goodman, who is constantly threatened and harassed by the
Pacifica board for her radical reporting, then fight for her.

For in fighting for her, you fight for the finest traditions of WBAI, and
against the corporationists who want to turn a national resource into just
another commodity.

To keep it raw; to keep it real, you've got to fight for it.

Louis Proyect
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