Letter to WBAI

Marta Russell ap888 at SPAMlafn.org
Wed Jan 17 15:53:29 MST 2001

WBAI supporters,

Even though I live in Los Angeles, I have a I have a particular
fondness for WBAI.    Doug Henwood, for instance, has had me on WBAI
to discuss disability matters on his show.  KPFK in Los
Angeles has ghettoized discussion about disability into one half
hour show "Access Unlimited."  KPFK hosts like Cooper, etc. do
NOT include disability activism as part of their agenda as to
what is important to discuss.  Hence those who do not listen to
the half
hour disability segment once a week do not get introduced to the
politics of disablement. Henwood, by contrast, has offered me a
podium to discuss
disability issues within the larger, nonsegregated, listening
audience of WBAI.  How refreshing!

Meanwhile, this bit below caught a friend's attention and he sent
it to me.  It mentions a businessman, Ken Ford, who is on the
board at Pacifica who fought the ADA and disability access.

I have suggested to others active in the disability community
that we contact Pacifica and let them know that we do not want
this Ken Ford on their board and that we support the former WBAI
staff who were fired and the maintenance of true community radio,
not the national Pacifica Board brand of it.

In solidarity,
Marta Russell
author, Los Angeles, CA
Beyond Ramps: Disability at the End of the Social Contract

> (full article at http://www.savewbai.tao.ca/)
> Ken Ford, PNB Vice-Chairman, Executive Committee term is supposed to expire
> this month and his board term actually was supposed to expire last June, is
> a lobbyist for the National Association of Home Builders, "the third
> largest trade association political action committee in the U.S. [which]
> raises more than $2 million each election cycle", according to Josie Byzek
> in an article entitled "Living in the Past"which appeared in the May/June
> 1998 edition of the Ragged Edge. Based in Washington, D.C., the NAHB boasts
> that it is expanding its headquarters, projecting the doubling of the
> building to nine stories, while covertly, as attorney Rosenberg points out,
> "is spending big bucks to prevent any legislation on the state level that
> might mandate any access features for the disabled."
> Indeed, as Byzek has written, the "NAHB has used its sources to fight the
> Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and its access
> guidelines - and fair housing compliance in general...successfully
> [defeating in 1998] access legislation sought by disability organizations,
> including Independent Living Centers, in Virginia, Georgia and Illinois."
> Ford and his friends at the NAHB have persistently fought against such
> "basic access standards, universal design, or a 'visitable' single family
> home provides for at least one no-step entrance, wider doorways and
> passageways through ground floor rooms so as to accommodate a wheelchair
> user, an accessible bathroom at ground level with bathroom walls that would
> support grab bars. Universal design permits all people, including people
> with disabilities, to enter and function. It permits people to age in
> place, live independently and avoid institutionalization."
> Having a sense of Mr. Ford and his associate's work-related past practice,
> it is both understandable and tremendously important to remember that the
> question of NAHB's disregard for the rights of the disabled having access
> to his or her domain, or the rights of all tenants to decent and affordable
> housing, would indeed be a target of a noncommercial radio station like
> WBAI - and vice versa.
> More directly to our concern about Ford's relation to WBAI is the fact that
> he was reported in the New York Times to having complained that WBAI
> loyalists are "mired in the 1960s", adding whose opinions are currently
> "not only insignificant but irrelevant" in today's media market. Not so
> insignificant but extremely relevant to us is that Ford's opinion seems to
> be based more on wishful thinking than on historical fact.

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