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WBAI in Crisis

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An article in, a website about public media news on July 1 quoted Pacifica Interim Executive Director Summer Reese as saying that the station's difficulties in meeting payroll go back years. Pacifica's national office has been subsidizing WBAI to cover its shortfalls.


  "We have stripped every resource available (at the national office) rather than deal with the situation," Reese was quoted as saying.


   The cuts to WBAI's staff would save $900,000, the article indicated.


  Reese also said the station's programming would have to be evaluated. "We wouldn't be in this state if the programming were reaching a wider audience," she said.


  That comment is in line with many critics who claim that programming at WBAI is not diverse or dynamic enough to attract a larger audience.   Presently WBAI has 15,000 paid subscribers, a number that many feel should be much higher given the power of the station's signal and the population of the New York City area.


  Berthold Reimers, general manager of WBAI indicated in a July newsletter to listeners that the station's financial woes mean a downsizing of operations.


  "WBAI as it exists right now will not be preserved because it cannot survive under the current financial model. However, WBAI will continue to exist as a local NY metropolitan area radio station," he said.


  WBAI - 99.5 FM has been one of the most important progressive media outlets in the country for over 50 years. The Pacifica Radio Network's flagship show, "Democracy Now," began at WBAI. Other shows on the station, many of which are picked up by other stations are "Law and Disorder," "The Gary Null Show," "Where We Live," "Economic Update," and the "Radio Unnameable," with Bob Fass.

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Reginald Johnson is a free-lance writer based in Bridgeport, Ct. His work has appeared in The New York Times, BBC-Online, the Connecticut Post, his web magazine, The Pequonnock, and Reading Between the Lines, a web magazine affiliated with the (more...)
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WBAI in Crisis

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