Tensions at WBAI again exploded onto the airwaves on Monday morning as
18 demonstrators entered the station in an attempt to restore the popular
"Democracy NOW!" program to the airwaves. When it was over, a reporter
from WBAI had become involved in a physical altercation with a reporter
from the Independent Media Center.
The demonstrators entered the station at approximately 9:00 am, which
is the time that "Democracy NOW!" is normally heard. However, that program
has not aired in New York for the last three weeks. According to station
management, this is because host Amy Goodman has refused to participate
in the station's fundraising activities. Goodman's supporters say this
is untrue and that she has been actively fundraising for other Pacifica
stations airing the program. They say "Democracy NOW!" is not being aired in New
retribution for Goodman's
continued reference to WBAI at the end of each program as "the studios
of the banned and fired," a protest against the massive firings and bannings
that took place at the radio station since new management took over
Monday's events started when protestors managed to enter the station and
began chanting to have "Democracy NOW!" restored to the airwaves. Morning
show host Marjorie Moore kept the microphone on and made an effort to
remain calm as events unfolded. In an apparent attempt to continue the
theme of the program which was yoga and meditation, Moore said,
"We're talking about peace of mind and
we're talking about harmony and we're trying to deal with our anger
and frustration at a very high level and the way to do that is
But there was no more
communication after another 60 seconds
as the program went to a tape on how to eat properly and be
Police were not needed to dispel the demonstrators, who, after attempting
to unfurl a banner, left the station on their own. What happened after
the initial outburst has turned into a point of contention that threatens
to cause a major rift between two major alternative media entities. A
reporter from the Independent Media Center, a makeshift group of independent
journalists with offices around the world, showed up at the scene after
the demonstration had ended. An
altercation between WBAI reporter Paul DiRienzo and IMC reporter Kevin
Prichard ensued as Prichard was apparently attempting to report on the story. De
remain sketchy at this point and there doesn't appear to be any video or
audio of what took place. However, both reporters later went to the hospital
and are said to be pursuing legal action.
DiRienzo spent considerable time on the air right after the incident condemning
the entire Independent Media Center. He said the IMC was funded by the right
wing to support Amy Goodman and take over the station. "They're no different
than the people who protest abortion clinics," he said. In addition, Amy
Goodman and her supporters were verbally attacked for over half an hour by
those in control of the studio as "working hard to sabotage" both the
fundraiser and the station. No calls from listeners were taken throughout
the morning and no mention was made of the incident on the evening news.
This is the second fundraiser to take place since the change in management
at the station, with many listeners vowing to withhold their support
until the bans are lifted and the Pacifica National Board is democratized.
(Currently, the board is self-elected.) There have been numerous reports
that the boycotts are having a disasterous effect at the station, on
everything from equipment not getting repaired to staff not getting paid.
The fundraiser is scheduled to end Tuesday night.
"Off The Hook"
listeners raised over $6,000 for the station on May 22. The show is
scheduled to return to the airwaves on June 12.
2600 hosts the New York City IMC office and we find the allegation that
it's part of some right wing conspiracy to be nothing short of bizarre.
It's unfortunate that this kind of name-calling is taking place and
we can only hope that cooler heads quickly prevail.
We also hope to uncover the facts as to what happened Monday morning. We remain
proud of our affiliation with IMC - they have done much to cover events
that are ignored by the mainstream press and they are the most positive
force in the media today and probably the best chance that most individuals
have of actually "becoming the media" themselves. It's sadly ironic that
WBAI and Pacifica seem to be working against such an organization, rather
than helping them to blossom.
Press Release issued by the demonstrators
Press Release issued by Kevin Prichard of IMC
Independent Media Center
WBIX - Online radio for "WBAI in Exile"
Demonstrators at WBAI - Initial Confrontation (Download MP3)
Demonstrators at WBAI - Initial Confrontation (Stream MP3)
Demonstrators at WBAI - On Air Reaction 1 (Download MP3)
Demonstrators at WBAI - On Air Reaction 1 (Stream MP3)
Demonstrators at WBAI - On Air Reaction 2 (Download MP3)
Demonstrators at WBAI - On Air Reaction 2 (Stream MP3)