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Seven Stories Press 5-11-01

May 11, 2001

Open Letter to the Board of Pacifica Radio

Seven Stories Press is deeply concerned about the current situation at Pacifica radio in general and WBAI in particular. As an independent publisher of political and literary books, we have strongly supported the Pacifica Radio network and its mission to provide a progressive, dissident, nonprofit alternative to the corporate dominated airwaves. As an independent publisher that exists and survives entirely from support of readers who buy our books, we champion and defend the need for public interest media like Pacifica which can serve and advance community interests over commercial ones. That position, which is a privilege, enables public interest media to investigate and explore programming ideas, styles, and content that are necessary for democratic community, but which corporate, commercially driven media do not provide.

We have looked to Pacifica and WBAI for leadership in demonstrating how nonprofit media engage listeners as active citizens, not passive consumers, as movements involved in social change, not markets being mined by big business. As a nonprofit entity, that leadership needs to be reflected both in programming and through organization.

We were distressed by the lock-outs of the staff of KPFA in 1999, by the recent firings at our local affiliate, WBAI, and the lack of information given to listeners about the situation. The seeming lack of democratic process driving recent changes at the station, and the increasing level of censorship affects our sense of connection with the network.

Until now, we have booked our authors on Pacifica programs, and offered our books at great discount to Pacifica for use as premiums during fund drives. Given the current situation, we have to recognize that our support cannot continue as in the past. The three principles below comprise the extent of our current involvement.

1. We will Support our Authors Because our authors--many of whom are directly or indirectly affiliated with Pacifica--have independent positions about the network, we will honor each author's wishes in respect to how their books are treated.

2. We Support Progressive Movement-Oriented Radio Because we support Pacifica radio providing progressive views and perspectives, we will continue to offer our authors for interviews on Pacifica programs. To withhold our authors would amount to a form of self-censorship that would only serve to decrease the amount of radical perspectives on the airwaves.

3. We Support Democracy Now! We support the exemplary investigative journalism and "resistance radio" of Democracy Now! and are extremely distressed by efforts to restrain, impede, and harass Amy Goodman and the DN! staff. We urge WBAI management and Pacifica to support the invaluable free speech radio provided by Democracy Now!

Until WBAI and Pacifica show signs of returning to their original mission to provide progressive, nonprofit, movement-oriented, community-driven radio, we are otherwise withdrawing our direct fiscal support for the network.

Through its programming and organization, we urge the Pacifica Board and WBAI Management to take the steps necessary to be an example of an accountable, diverse, nonprofit, public interest radio that makes media for and by the greater community.


Dan Simon
Greg Ruggiero
Juana Ponce de Léon

Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street
New York City 10013


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