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Who gets to be member (those who vote)

Pacifica Membership Proposal
Nan Rubin [ WBAI area ]- 4/02

That there be only a single class of Member: Listeners
1. People listen to the radio as individuals, it is generally not a group activity. This means that it is individuals who have a relationship/loyalty to any particular station. Not organizations, not constituencies, but individuals.

Therefore, Membership in Pacifica should be vested in those individuals who actually listen to WBAI. Only listeners should be eligible to become Members.

2. The signal of the station reaches roughly 80 miles radius from the Empire State Building, and these listeners live in every region - not just all boroughs of New York City, but many New York suburbs, Long Island, much of New Jersey, Connecticut, and even parts of Pennsylvania. The size of the audience of WBAI, at least before the Christmas Coup, ranged between 140,000 - 200,000 over the course of a week. This included a high percentage (by public radio standards) of African-Americans, Latinos, and other non-white listeners. The audience also included all economic classes and ethnic communities

[ The last time there was an actual listener survey, more than 1 1 00 subscribers returned the survey questionnaire that was mailed out. This was somewhat less than IO% of the subscribers at the time, but was clearly a strong demonstration of the commitment and connection listeners have to the station. Nearly 60% of the respondents said that they had been listening to the station 3 years or less, which is an indication of how high the listener turnover is, and how important on-air announcements and mail ballots should be. ]

If the listeners are vested as Members, the potential member base will be broadly representative of the entire geographic, economic and ethnic spread of the people who care about the station.

3. There should be no economic barriers to becoming a Member. All Subscribers, and anyone one else who does donate to the station (major donors, theatre tickets, attending events, etc.) should automatically become registered as Members by virtue of their donation and support.

But a contribution should not be required. Pacifica should devise a method by which non- contributors can register as Members for the purpose of voting in elections.

  • Registration criteria can be devised based on demonstrating that an individual is actually a Listener.
  • Listeners taking the steps to register as members can be asked for a minimal contribution, i.e. $5 -- but it will not be required.
  • With or without a contribution, part of the registration criteria should include providing a certain level of information about the individual. The station will keep this information confidential except for its own purposes.
  • There will be no special Member status for volunteers. Volunteers will be asked to register as Members using the same criteria as any other listener.
  • Membership will be for one year. Each member will be asked to reregister on an annual basis to ensure that she or he is still a Listener in good standing.
  • A regular, ongoing process will be established for inviting new Listeners to register as Members, with particular focus on those sectors of the Listenership that are under- represented within the overall audience.
4. None of this will preclude the Membership Outreach Committee from inviting individual members of organizations and groups from listening to WBAI and becoming Members.
5. WBAI should be encouraged to develop other mechanisms, committees and structures to develop outreach to constituent organizations and activist groups for the purpose of participating in program development, demographic representation, political and community issues, and similar concerns important to the station, on-air and off.

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