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Health Action purged and censored
at "community radio" 8-7-01

From: Bob Lederer ledererbob@usa.net
Subject: Kathy Davis & I removed from Health Action; I'm banned

Friends - Well, I can no longer write about Pacifica's purge of dissidents only in the third person. Today, Kathy Davis, one of two co-producers/co-hosts of "Health Action", and I got word of the following through a memo from Utrice Leid left in our mailbox at the station: I have been removed from hosting "Health Action," barred from participating in any other program, and banned from the station (setting foot there "will be considered trespassing"). Kathy has been removed from Health Action and conditionally offered the possibility of continuing her Monday night spirituality program "Heart of Mind" if she makes several self-censorship pledges, including not to discuss anything "extraneous" to the "mission" of her program, particularly allowing any statements with "the intent to inspire listeners to go against the will of current management" (I kid you not--Utrice's exact words). I post Utrice's memos to me and Kathy below (Kathy has given me permission to post hers.)

My crimes? Multiple, but all are a variation on the theme of "using the program as a soapbox for other than public interest reasons." While the "Interim Station Manager's" attacks on my programs are legion, she offers absolutely no reason whatever for banning me from the premises. And Ms Leid doesn't deign to list any accusations whatsoever against Kathy, just tersely telling her she's no longer to host Health Action.

Meanwhile, the third member of the "Health Action" collective, Nicholas Cimorelli, who has, to my knowledge, never publicly said a word about the crisis at BAI, will become the sole host of the program (previously, the three of us rotated, so that each of us was on the air every three weeks).

In the near future, I will post a more detailed response to Pacifica's latest squashing of dissent. Meanwhile, let me say that I have the highest respect and love for Kathy, who has been steadfast in the struggle to reclaim the station and network. She has supported this movement in myriad ways, both public and private, and has stood up principledly in staff meetings to both Utrice Leid and Bessie Wash, challenging them as one African-American woman to another. At the same time, she has tried to exert a healing influence at the station, providing a calm, steady presence in a tense and bitter environment. Because of these two not-at-all-contradictory qualities, Kathy is widely respected by her colleagues at the station, even those who disagree with her views on the coup. And I especially will always appreciate and admire her unflagging support for my personal on-air acts of resistance, often in the face of considerable hostility directly to her from certain managers and staff at the station. Thanks, Kathy!

I also want to thank all the listeners who have been so supportive over my 11 years on the air -- first with the AIDS program from 1990-95, then Health Action from 95 to now (at which time Kathy joined the collective) -- and especially during the last 7 difficult months of broadcasting under a dictatorship. A special shout-out to those of my WBAI colleagues -- paid and unpaid staff, and especially the other fired and banned folks -- who have stuck together and defended one another in the face of withering attacks.

Finally, a special debt of gratitude to all of you in the amazing mass movement that has sprung up here and nationally to reclaim our station and network. My interest and commitment in broadcasting always flowed first and foremost from my radical commitment to promote activism against capitalism, imperialism, racism, sexism, homophobia, able-ism, environmental destruction, murderous medical dogmatism and all the other destructiveness of this inhuman system. It is that commitment which motivates me to fight to restore BAI and Pacifica to its original mission of providing a channel for the excluded voices on these issues and others, as well as excluded cultural expressions. There will undoubtedly be more firings and bannings before this fight is over, but in the end, no regime based on repression and deceit can stand. Your continued dedication to fighting for justice leave me with no doubt: We will win. And in the end, we will remake Pacifica into a securely progressive and genuinely democratic people's network.

Best to everyone,
Bob Lederer

P.S. Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! are facing even greater harassment, and are now in greater danger than ever. Stay vigilant - read your email, call the Concerned Friends of WBAI hotline 800-825-0055, and check the websites www.pacificacampaign.org and www.wbaiaction.org. And it's even more crucial to join the demo this Wed. from 4:30 to 7:00 pm at the National Association of Home Builders to demand: Get Ken Ford off Pacifica's board! It will be at the local NAHB office at 55 John Street, between Nassau and William Streets in Manhattan. Take the 2, 3, 4, or 5 train to Fulton St. For more info, call the Pacifica Campaign at 646-230-9588.


Here is the text of the two memos from Utrice, as read to me over the phone today by Kathy:

To: Bob Lederer
cc: Diabel Faye, Nicholas Cimorelli
From: Utrice Leid [signed]
Re: Health Action

This is to inform you that effective immediately, Health Action will be hosted solely by Nicholas Cimorelli. Further, you are hereby instructed that you may not host, co-host or contribute to any other program on WBAI.

You repeatedly had been advised that you were abusing the privilege of broadcasting by using the program as a soapbox for other than public interest reasons. Rather, you repeatedly misused the program for purposes in which you [had] vested interests and which you were a leading participant. Additionally, the programs were decidedly one-sided, unfair, unethical and unprofessional. Despite repeated warnings, you persisted in doing such programs. This memorandum also serves as notice to you that you have no further connection with the station. As such, your physical presence no longer is necessary. Please be advised that you are not to be on these premises. To do so will be considered trespassing.

To: Kathy Davis
cc: Diabel Faye, Nicholas Cimorelli
From: Utrice Leid [signed]
Re: Health Action

This is to inform you you that effective immediately, Health Action will be hosted solely by Nicholas Cimorelli. Bob Lederer has similarly been informed. However, you may continue to host Heart of Mind on Mondays from 8pm to 9pm with the following conditions:

* You will develop a concise program description and once reviewed and accepted, stick to it. That is to say, extraneous matters that do not pertain to the intent of your program are outside of its scope.

* If the program in any way strays from its mission with the intent to inspire listeners to go against the will of current management, and if you as host do the same, the program will be cancelled and you will be off the air. You will receive no further warning about this.

* You will observe all practices associated with ethical journalism, that is, thorough preparation as host on the subject matter, disclosure, where applicable, balance, fairness, and a strong effort to serve the informational needs of our listeners.

* Enthusiastic participation in our fundraising events.

If you agree to abide by these conditions, you may proceed with the program. If not, please advise as soon as possible.

------- End of forwarded message -------


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