Defending WBAI

Berthold Reimers | 5/16/2013, 4:33 p.m.

"As someone who has listened and contributed to this progressive radio station for over 50 years--from the time the station was located in the church at 62nd Street and Second Avenue and was produced by Delores Costello to now--I am now questioning what is going on with the station. There has been no communication with the listener, so I--and others who contribute to the station--cannot ask any questions."

The writer's statement, "There has been no communication with the listener," is incorrect. Pacifica Interim Executive Director and Chair of the Board Summer Reese did interviews on "Wake Up Call" from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Monday, March 4, then conducted a two-hour report to the listener on "Talkback with Hugh Hamilton" on Tuesday, March 5, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Those three hours of programming opened up communication with the listener in order to inform them of the current challenges WBAI faces and the goal the station seeks to achieve. In addition to that, there is a regular "Report to the Listener" from WBAI and Pacifica management that specifically keeps the listener informed of events at the station. WBAI also has "listener commentary" in our monthly e-newsletter sent to 30,000 listeners and members. We received no email inquiry from the writer here.

"The station allegedly moved on Feb. 1 in a merger with WHCR in Harlem."

Angela Harden, general manager and program director for WHCR, wrote the following in response to the above statement by the writer: "WBAI and WHCR have not merged as stated in the AmNews March 7-March 13 article on page 13. WBAI was flooded out of its Wall Street studio during Hurricane Sandy. Consequently, WHCR agreed to rent one of its studios to WBAI. Both stations are broadcasting on their individual signals and do not share programming. It is unfortunate that I was not contacted as a source for this article."

The writer continued, "I was very happy, thinking that the merge of this city's premier progressive radio with yet another progressive radio would bring a higher quality of programming to our listeners and our community.

WBAI's quality of programming has attracted awards and recognition this year, last year and in the past few years. WBAI's producers have received the following awards: 2012 Nation magazine Best Local Radio Show for "Wake Up Call," 2013 My Sister's Keeper Award from the annual Sista to Sista Youth Summit, Daniel Pearl Multi-media Award for Excellence in Journalism, National Federation of Community Broadcasters' Award, Friends of the South Bronx Community Pulitzer Award, ProLibertad Freedom Campaign Award (for reporting on Puerto Rican political prisoners), the Society of Silurians Excellence in Journalism Award for Community Reporting, Comite Noviembre's Best of Our Community Award, Friends of Brooklyn Community Reporting Award, George R. Polk Award, Jesse Meriton White Award for International Reporting, National Association of Black Journalists' Radio Reporting Award, the Ethical Culture "Man of the Year" Peace Award, the "Madre Padre" Award (presented to "a few good men" by MADRE, the international feminist human rights organization), the Humanist Journalism Award and the Asian-Americans for Equality News Reporting Award.