Lee Kronick on LAB Elections
(Note: On July 24th, Lee Kronick initiated a number of discussion threads on the WBAI Issues message board. Below are his main postings, together with some from replies.)
I have been a member of the LAB for a one and a half years. If you haven't met me, I'm white, a former small business owner in a blue-collar section of Queens, I've lived in Far Rockaway, Queens most of my life, and I've been a steady WBAI listener since 1995.
I'm friendly with Bernard, went to the last PNB meeting in Washington with Mimi and Rosalie Harper. I know, and have had discussions with most of the on-air personnel and producers including the "banned and the fired." I consider Valerie a good friend and, once upon a time, I considered Utrice a good friend (and I think the feeling was mutual).
I have been exchanging e-mails with Paul S. and Anita D.
So you all will have an idea of the feelings and views of quite a few LAB members, who generally agree with me, I give you the last message I sent to Anita.
Anita, What I have been saying is that it is not necessary to have democratic approval of the content of the programming on WBAI.
We must start with a commitment to the agenda of Lew Hill, ie: that the station must represent the voice of the voiceless. The "voiceless" may not even be listeners, but it is their "cause" that the station must defend.
With the LAB having no more influence or authority than the present by-laws permit, this whole "obsessive drive" for democratization of the LAB is a terrible waste of activist energy.
But the crux of the difficulty in this drive to have these so-called democratic elections of the LAB is that the political acumen of potential members of the LAB is ignored.
Even if the station were at the disposal of the LAB, and a request for applicants to the LAB were solicited over the "airwaves," a preliminary application and an interview would still be important.
Anita, you know that, even when Valerie was GM, and when there was a "Folio" with an advertisement for the LAB, the LAB was never exactly inundated with applicants.
Isn't it interesting that only since the "Coup" has interest in th LAB suddenly appeared. Only since the "Coup" has this idea of "democratization" become soooo important.
Where were all these WBAI "pseudo-Activists" when Valerie was the GM and Bernard was doing his Wake-Up Call and Mimi was Building Bridges and Grandpa was trying to tear down the prison walls?
Perhaps, as I keep saying, these frustrated activist don't have any other ideas for their agenda regarding how to recapture the station.
Some of our best people have come from recommendations by LAB members, Joe Kaye, or from staff personnel.
But the idea of LAB outreach "search committees" going into communities around the listener area and seeking out "good" people for the LAB is, in the opinion of most Lab members I've talked to, still the most practicable method of selection.
Incidentally, the racial make-up of the current LAB is: 6 Black, 8 White, 2 Hispanic, and 2 Disabled. The gender make-up is: 8 women and 8 men. The geographic make-up is: Manhattan 6, New Jersey 3, Rockland & upstate 3, Queens 2, and Brooklyn 2
Read between those lines, Anita. Don't be taken in by the "mantra" that "we must have democratic elections to democratize WBAI and Pacifica. We've got a damned good LAB with our present method of selection...and if we had more authority, it could even be more productive.
What we must have, again, is the radio station I loved, and committed myself to preserving...WBAI...The Voice of Truth!
p e a c e...Lee
The one area where I have been pressing the LAB, virtually since I joined, was expanding our "out-reach" search committee process. I will go into the details of my ideas on subsequent posts.
The main thing I want to get across to all of you in this group is that the major issue is that the origial "Lewis Hill" agenda of WBAI will only be re-established when the management, the production staff, and the on-air personalities are again "in synch" with that agenda.
I say, noone I know in favor of elections wants an elected LAB to micromanage programming but only to have ULTIMATE authority. If there had been an empowered LAB, Utrice would not have been able to decimate progressive programming on WBAI over the past 7 months.
(I'll respond in CAPS, Steffie) I'M SORRY I DUMPED THIS PARTICULAR POST ON YOU WITH NO PREFACE. THIS WAS THE END OF A THREE PART CONVERSATION BETWEEN ANITA AND I.
~ ~ ~
NOW, AS TO YOUR COMMENTS: THE LABS MISSION IS TO MONITOR THE PROGRAMMING AND ADVISE (THAT IS...SUGGEST)IMPROVEMENTS OR CRITICISM TO THE PRODUCERS. UNFORTUNATELY, VALERIE WAS SOMEWHAT REMISS IN COORDINATING AN ACTIVE DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE LAB AND THE PRODUCERS.
You say: We must start with a commitment to the agenda of Lew Hill, ie: that the station must represent the voice of the voiceless. The "voiceless" may not even be listeners, but it is their "cause" that the station must defend.
I say, listeners are voiceless at the moment. We have no access to the air, no process to register our likes, dislikes, needs, ideas about the "cause" that we also support.
YOU HAVE A PHONE. YOU CAN STATE YOUR CASE...BUT, YOU'VE GOT TO BE PREPARED TO BE HUNG UP ON. ~ THE LAB HAS IT'S OWN PO BOX. IF WE HAD ACCESS TO THE AIR, WE'D BE REQUESTING LISTENER COMMENTS. I THINK, WHEN THE STATION BECOMES "RATIONAL" AGAIN...WHICH I HAVE FAITH THAT IT WILL...AN ACTIVE WEBSITE WILL BE A TERRIFIC AID TO THE PROCESS OF LISENER CRITICISM.
BUT, STEFFIE, I MUST REITERATE MY MAJOR POINT...THE AGENDA OF THE STATION EMENATES FROM THE MANGEMENT AND THE PRODUCERS. THEY MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE TO THE PRINCIPLES OF LEWIS HILL AND THE ORIGINAL PACIFICA MISSION. AMY, MIMI, BERNARD, ELOMBE, WEINBERG, KNIGHT, FASS...THESE ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN, AND WHEN UTRICE AND HER GANG ARE EVENTUALLY DISLODGED, WILL AGAIN SET THE PATTERN FOR THE REAL PACIFICA/WBAI AGENDA!
You say: With the LAB having no more influence or authority than the present by-laws permit, this whole "obsessive drive" for democratization of the LAB is a terrible waste of activist energy.
I say, the "ownership" of the Pacifica Foundation is up for grabs at the moment. The Spooner lawsuit seeks to empower listeners. This crisis will not be resolved without the listeners stepping into a governance position re Pacifica Foundation. How else, besides democratic elections to local station boards, would you suggest that listeners gain influence in the future Pacifica.
ALL I KEEP HEARING IS "THE LISTENERS." YOU SAID "THIS CRISIS WILL NOT BE RESOLVED WITHOUT THE LISTENERS STEPPING IN..." WHO ARE THE LISTENERS? IS THE HISPANIC FAMILY WHO LIVE IN A TWO ROOM BASEMENT APARTMENT IN WILLIAMSBURG TO BE CONSIDERED LISTENERS...THEY LISTEN TO GONSALVO ON "LA NUEVA ALTERNATIVA" EVERY TUESDAY MORNING. IS ANYONE GOING TO ASK THEM ABOUT GOVERNANCE? I BELIEVE THAT WBAI HAS ALWAYS OPERATED AS A BENEVOLENT DICTAORSHIP, EFFECTIVELY AND WITH SENSITIVITY TO ITS LISTENERS.
You say: But the crux of the difficulty in this drive to have these so-called democratic elections of the LAB is that the political acumen of potential members of the LAB is ignored.
I say, do you mean that other listeners don't have political acumen? That only the current LAB has good judgment about whom to place on the LAB? Self-selecting structures may have very good intentions but, in my experience, always fall victim to an insider, self-protective mentality.
YUP...I'M SAYING THAT, THOUGH WE'VE MADE MISTAKE, THE CURRENT LAB CAN DO A BETTER JOB OF FINDING NEW MEMBERS THAN ANY ELECTION PROCESS I'VE SEEN SO FAR. DOES THAT SOUND SMUG AND UN-DEMOCRATIC? WELL...THAT IS THE POINT. THIS LAB, BY AND LARGE, KNOWS THIS STATION BETTER THAN ANYONE OUTSIDE THE STATION. WE ARE COMMITTED TO PRINCIPLES OF LEWIS HILL, AND, WHETHER YOU REALIZE IT OR NOT, THE STATION HAS SURVIVED FOR 40 YEARS BY (UNDEMOCRATICALLY) SELF-PERPETUATING THE MESSAGE OF LEWIS HILL AND LOUIS SCHWEITZER. JUST REMEMBER...ARMIES DON'T VOTE ON WHICH WAY TO ATTACK...THE GENERAL TELLS THEM! (AND HE BETTER BE GOOD, OR HE'LL GET HIS ASS SHOT OFF)
You say, Even if the station were at the disposal of the LAB, and a request for applicants to the LAB were solicited over the "airwaves," a preliminary application and an interview would still be important.
I say, let all LAB nominees be interviewed on the air and fill out applications on the internet for all to see.
INTERESTING IDEA...CERTAINLY WORTH DISCUSSION ~
You say: Anita, you know that, even when Valerie was GM, and when there was a "Folio" with an advertisement for the LAB, the LAB was never exactly inundated with applicants.
I say, the listeners have been awakened from a deep sleep re WBAI and Pacifica and now WANT to protect this station, this network, and the mission.
AGAIN, STEFFIE, WHICH LISTENERS ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? ~ You say,Isn't it interesting that only since the "Coup" has interest in th LAB suddenly appeared. Only since the "Coup" has this idea of "democratization" become soooo important.
I say, are you implying some evil intent here? If so, please spell it out. The interest in elections on my part grows out of my recent education about the history of Pacifica, about the PNB hijacking of Pacifica, and about the various strategies to safeguard the Pacifica mission today.
YOU HAVE, ON THE EC, A NUMBER OF, USUALLY WELL MEANING, BUT IN CERTAIN CASES, "POWER HUNGRY" INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE FOUND AN ISSUE (IE LAB ELECTIONS) AND, SINCE THEY HAVE NO OTHER PLACE TO EXCERSISE THEIR POLITICAL MUSCLE, ATTACK THE PRESENT "LAB NEW MEMBER SELECTION PROCESS" IN THE NAME OF "DEMOCRACY", "APPLE PIE", AND "MOTHERHOOD." ~ ~ ~ STEFFIE, I LOVE WBAI AS MUCH AS ANY OTHER LISTENER IN THE NY METRO AREA. AND PROBABLY MORE!!!! I WOULD NEVER ALLOW ANYONE ON THE LAB WHO DID'T FEEL SIMILARLY. NONE OF US WOULD! I KNOW THE PNB GOT HI-JACKED...AT THAT LEVEL IT WAS OUT OF REACH...AND OUT OF CONTROL. BUT THE LAB IS HERE...AND IT WANTS TO REACH OUT TO THE COMMUNITIES.
p e a c e
the same stuff Wed Jul 25 00:16:28 2001
To J. Anon.
Thanks...it's nice to know that someone understands.
~ ~ ~
When I went to the meeting of the EC, a couple of weeks ago, at the Church of St A. & St B., I counted 75 White people, and 5 Black people,(three of whom were members of the LAB.) WBAI has a huge Black listenership. I think they are going to be a bit reluctant to get involved with the almost "lily-white" CFs.
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