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Race and Population Distribution in the WBAI Signal Area

by Andrew Norris [WBAI local advisory board member]

June 2002 (revise #2, December 2002)

Summary: Based on an FCC map the WBAI Signal Area is identified as comprising 18 counties in three identifiable sub-areas: New York City (NYC), New Jersey (NJ), and suburban New York State (NYS). The 2000 US Census data on population and race for the 18 counties is tabulated. The signal area population is 17.4 million (M), with 8.0M, 5.4M and 4.0M in NYC, NJ and NYS, respectively. The signal area population is approximately 60:20:20:10 white:black:Hispanic/Latino:Asian (the total exceeds 100 because the categories are not exclusive; specifically, Hispanic/Latino is not a race). The breakdown for the sub-areas are 45:27:27:10 for NYC, 58:14:17:7 for NJ and 80:10:12:4 for the NY suburbs. Most of the population in the WBAI signal area live outside NYC. However, most of the black/African-American and Hispanic/Latino population in the signal area are to be found within NYC.


Race and diversity are an integral part of the WBAI and Pacifica Bylaws revision discussion. At the same time, the geographical distribution of listeners is an important consideration. This short study attempts to quantify these factors, using data from the US Census for 2000. The numbers given do not represent the actual listenership, only the potential listenership. The statistics compiled here could be useful in discussions involving more detailed diversity criteria, for instance.

1. Map of the WBAI Signal Area

Methodology and Data

The analysis is based upon two independent data sets:

  1. Map of the WBAI Signal Area (from the FCC), below.
  2. Table of racial breakdown in the signal area (details in Appendix).
The map is not an exact representation of the signal area, as many WBAI listeners can testify. For instance, certain parts of New Jersey not shown, such as the Jersey shore, receive the signal well because of flat terrain. Actual signal penetration depends on the topography. However, for simplicity, let us take the map as a representation of the listening area of WBAI. We can then recognize that the area is approximated by the following counties:
  • NJ: Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Passaic, Somerset, Union
  • New York City: Kings, Queens, New York, Bronx, Richmond
  • NY Suburbs: Nassau, Rockland, Westchester, Suffolk
  • CT: Fairfield
Five of the NJ counties listed are entirely within the signal area, the remaining four are predominantly so, and I have ignored the small bit of Sussex county as insignificant. The NYC counties are all entirely within the signal area. Of the NY Suburban counties, Nassau and Rockland are entirely within the signal area, while most of Westchester is, plus a small fraction of Suffolk. In Connecticut, only a small bit of Fairfield is within the signal area. In order to make things simpler, I have discarded Fairfield but included all of Suffolk county. The net result is assumed to be about the same. (I realize that one can argue that the parts of Suffolk and Fairfield counties in the signal area are the most densely populated, etc., etc.). In summary: I am modeling the WBAI signal area by 18 counties: 9 in NJ, the 5 in NYC and 4 NY state suburban counties.


A couple of points are noted. These are subjective, and certainly not exhaustive. WBAI has always been a New York City institution, but the listenership is not restricted to the city. In fact, the results below indicate that less than half of the total potential listenership are NYC residents: 8.0M out of 17.4M.

As expected, NYC exhibits the greatest racial diversity. Of the three sub-areas it is the only one in which whites are a "minority". The table does not show it, but it can be easily calculated from the data shown, that 64% of blacks and African Americans in the signal area live in NYC. Similarly, 61% of the Hispanic/Latino population resides in NYC. Thus, while most of the population in the WBAI signal area live outside NYC, most of the so-called "minority" population is within the City.

The counties with the greatest and least percentage of black or African American population are both in NJ. Essex county, the home of the city of Newark, has 41.2%, and Morris county has 2.8%. NJ also has the county with the least Hispanic/Latino percentage, Monmouth at 6.2%, and the county with the second largest percentage, Hudson at 39.8%. Only the Bronx has a greater percentage: 48.4%. Based on these numbers and the table, the New Jersey signal area could be characterized as more segregated* than NYC and NYS (apartheid might be a better description) but not significantly less racially diverse (in fact, more so in comparison with the NY burbs).

The numbers for "some other race" are significant: 9.2% for the signal area, which exceeds the Asian percentage, 7.7%. I am not sure what to make of this.


The table below is based on the map and data from the US Census for 2000. For each of the 18 counties in NJ, NYC and NY Suburbs, I have taken the data on racial distribution. The census identifies 7 race categories: (1) white, (2) black or African American, (3) American Indian and native Alaskan, (4) Asian, (5) native Hawaiian and other Pacific islander, (6) some other race, (7) two or more races. Note that the census does not classify Hispanic or Latino as a "race".

It should be noted that the percentage figures in the Table do not agree with those in the charts on pages 1, 3 and 4. The reason is, again, due to the fact that Hispanic/Latino is not a "race", and that the percentage figures in the Table (as in the US census data) add to 100 without the Hispanic/Latino figure. When the latter is included in a pie-chart for comparison with the other figures, the net effect is that all percentage figures are reduced (by an amount that is easily determined). Thus, the pie charts are not to be construed as a breakdown of the total population, which is represented by the pie minus the Hispanic/Latino slice. Note: the "slices" for native American and Hawaiian populations are not shown in the pie charts for purposes of clarity only. The bottom line: the data is in the Table, everything else is imagery (one of the reasons charts were avoided in the first version of this document).

*The numbers for "some other race" are significant: 9.2% for the signal area, which exceeds the Asian percentage, 7.7%. I am not sure what to make of this data that found "persistently high levels" of residential racial segregation. NJPPRI Executive Director Roland V. Anglin said: "Using a widely recognized measure of residential segregation, we found persistently high levels of racial segregation.". "We are not talking about mild levels. We found what can only be termed 'hypersegregation.' In fact, a recent national study found that the Newark metropolitan area is one of the five most segregated metropolitan areas in the country."

Anglin explained that the standard measure of residential segregation, called a dissimilarity index, measures whether one group is distributed in similar proportion to other groups in a given metropolis. The index ranges from 0 to 100, with a value of 60 considered very high. "In this case, it means that 60 percent or more of one racial grouping - assuming two racial groupings in the index - would need to move to a different census tract to equalize distribution of the two measured groups." He added that values of 40 to 50 are considered moderately segregated, while values of 30 and below indicated low instances of segregation. New Jersey's counties were used as the basis for measurement.

Anglin said the institute's analysis of 2000 census data revealed hypersegregation of blacks relative to whites in most counties. Essex County, which has the highest levels of African-Americans, is also the most segregated. "Eighty percent of the population would have to move for the county to become more integrated," he observed. Anglin called "stunning" the finding that from 1990 to 2000, the levels of hypersegregation throughout the state remained fairly constant. "Some counties with cities containing large numbers of blacks, such as Camden, Hudson, Mercer, Middlesex and even Essex became less segregated, but our mapping of racial changes in all counties does not show significant outward movement." Those that leave often move to contiguous communities, he said, noting that residential clustering by race in New Jersey and elsewhere is conditioned not only by choice but by racial steering as well. "Local custom and real estate agents steer African-Americans to places already populated by African-Americans," Anglin said, a practice that is far from "cost-free and benign" to those seeking better circumstances through home ownership or residential upgrading. Details at www.njppri.org

    One race    
        America   Hawaii      
        Indian   and   Two  
      Black or and   Other Some or Hispanic
  Total   African Alaska   Pacific other more or Latino
Geographic area Population White American Native Asian Islander race races (of any race)


New Jersey                  
Bergen 884,118 78.4 5.3 0.2 10.7 0.0 3.2 2.3 10.3
Essex 793,633 44.5 41.2 0.2 3.7 0.1 6.9 3.4 15.4
Hudson 608,975 55.6 13.5 0.4 9.4 0.1 15.5 5.6 39.8
Middlesex 750,162 68.4 9.1 0.2 13.9 0.0 5.7 2.6 13.6
Monmouth 615,301 84.4 8.1 0.1 4.0 0.0 1.7 1.7 6.2
Morris 470,212 87.2 2.8 0.1 6.3 0.0 2.0 1.6 7.8
Passaic 489,049 62.3 13.2 0.4 3.7 0.0 16.2 4.0 30.0
Somerset 297,490 79.3 7.5 0.1 8.4 0.0 2.7 1.8 8.7
Union 522,541 65.5 20.8 0.2 3.8 0.0 6.4 3.2 19.7
Total NJ 5,431,481 68.3 14.4 0.2 7.4 0.0 6.7 3.0 16.7
New York City                  
Kings 2,465,326 41.2 36.4 0.4 7.5 0.1 10.1 4.3 19.8
Queens 2,229,379 44.1 20.0 0.5 17.6 0.1 11.7 6.1 25.0
New York 1,537,195 54.4 17.4 0.5 9.4 0.1 14.1 4.1 27.2
Bronx 1,332,650 29.9 35.6 0.9 3.0 0.1 24.7 5.8 48.4
Richmond 443,728 77.6 9.7 0.2 5.7 0.0 4.1 2.7 12.1
Total NY City 8,008,278 44.7 26.6 0.5 9.8 0.1 13.4 4.9 27.0
New York Burbs                  
Nassau 1,334,544 79.3 10.1 0.2 4.7 0.0 3.6 2.1 10.0
Westchester 923,459 71.3 14.2 0.3 4.5 0.0 6.6 3.0 15.6
Rockland 286,753 76.9 11.0 0.2 5.5 0.1 3.8 2.5 10.2
Suffolk County 1,419,369 84.6 6.9 0.3 2.4 0.0 3.7 2.1 10.5
Total NY Burbs 3,964,125 79.2 10.0 0.2 3.9 0.0 4.3 2.3 11.5
Total WBAI 17,403,884 59.9 19.0 0.4 7.7 0.1 9.2 3.7 20.3

Table of racial distribution in the WBAI Signal Area. Based on the 2000 Census Data from http://www.census.gov/ and other US and State sites (no non-governmental sites or data are used). The figures for each of the 7 race categories (defined by the US Census, below) represent the percentage of the total population. These percentages sum to 100%. The percentage for Hispanic and Latino is a separate category unrelated to the racial breakdown.

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