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Community for Progressive Radio 4-5-01

Daily Challenge, April 5, 2001
CPR women speak on protest at Utrice Leid's house

More than a dozen black women recently rallied in front of the home of WBAI interim General Manager Utrice Leid. We gathered there because we are angry about the Black community's continuing loss of voice and access to New York City radio airwaves.

Leid is assisting in this loss. Leid was installed in this interim position under contentious circumstances on December 22, 2000. Since then she has been the architect of some deeply troubling actions and policies.

We have waited for weeks, then months, for Leid to clarify and rectify her actions. Instead, she has instituted further actions that serve only to divide and diminish the voice of the diasporic African community in this city. We women, representing the Black community, protested the following actions taken by Utrice Leid:

We deplore the use of racism as a justification for Leid's disapproval. Racism is real and should not be used as a tool to disguise personal aggrandizement.

We resent Leid's cutting Congressman Major Owens off the air, thereby censoring him in mid-speech.

We are insulted by the tacit approval Led has shown to the misogynistic tendencies exhibited by Clayton Riley. He has verbally harassed colleagues, mainly women, both on and off the air, yet he continues to broadcast at WBAI.

We deplore the pitting of Caribbeans against African Americans. This kind of subtle backwardness cannot be tolerated.

We are insulted by Leid's repeated suggestion that a single white "Svengali" individual is leading several intelligent Black adults.

We are deeply concerned about the diminished voice of Black people on WBAI's airwaves since Leid's takeover. Our story is now being told by those outside our community. This is the way of mainstream media. We have always looked to WBAI for a progressive alternative.

We do not understand how a Black woman of purported consciousness can accept a position in radio that relies on the unexplained firing of veteran Black broadcasters.

We are against the banning of broadcasters from the station.

We are angered by Leid's on-air suggestions of impropriety by those fired and banned while offering no clarity as to her role in the situation.

We are outraged that the entire staff of Wakeup Call, a program that offered voice and access to the Black community, has been decimated.

We cannot understand or tolerate Leid's thanking the NYPD on the air for the arrest and overnight detainment of several listeners and producers. The arrests came as a result of an attempt to hold a traditional local advisory board meeting at the station.

We deplore Leid's use of censorship, which has kept the truth of much of the above situation off the air.

We have lost several progressive Black voices from the New York City airwaves, including Bob Law and Imhotep Gary Byrd. WBAI is all we have left, and we will fight to retain it. We demand that Utrice Leid resign now or face our continued protests until such time that she does.

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