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Posted 26 Feb 2001 11:12:16 UTC

The continuing crisis involving WBAI, the Pacifica Foundation, and listeners took an interesting twist last Tuesday during a two-hour fundraising edition of "Off The Hook" when host Emmanuel Goldstein announced midway through that every dollar pledged to the radio station would be matched by 2600 and that amount would also be donated to the listener lawsuit seeking to unseat the Pacifica National Board.

Pacifica was founded back in 1949 by Lew Hill, a prominent pacifist who wanted above all else to have a forum for free expression of ideas over the radio. But lately, the Pacifica National Board has begun to tighten control around the five radio stations licensed to the foundation, including rewriting by-laws to make it easier to sell these stations, no longer having any accountability to listeners or the local advisory boards of the stations, and becoming entirely self-electing. (A national board meeting - open to the public - is scheduled for this weekend in Houston.)

Listener support for WBAI has been markedly decreased after recent events which have included firings, the banning of popular producers, police and security guards in and around the station, and a gag rule forbidding discussion of the crisis over the airwaves. "Off The Hook" has vowed to continue reporting the news as it happens. The January 23rd edition featured a live broadcast from a demonstration that was taking place inside the facility as police moved in. The day after this momentous broadcast, the gag rule was imposed.

The current fundraiser has left many wondering what the future of the station will be. In an attempt to reach those listeners who were losing faith as well as to help the efforts of those attempting to make a change, the offer for the matching fund was made. At that point the phones started ringing and remained fully lit until the end of the program. A total of $9,060.00 was raised, which made "Off The Hook" one of the most successful programs of the fund drive. More importantly, a strong message was sent that the listeners are indeed out there and that they will support the station if they feel their contributions will matter.

All of us at 2600 thank those of you who contributed at this critical time. While WBAI and Pacifica are experiencing some severe problems, the only way the crisis will be resolved is if people take an interest and get involved. If we lose this station, we will have lost a truly independent and precious voice.


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