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New General Mangager for WBAI

Posted at: http://www.pacifica.org/news/021127_newWBAIGM.html

Pacifica Radio Appoints Don Rojas to Lead WBAI 99.5 FM in New York

November 27, 2002
Contact: danc@pacifica.org
For Immediate Release

NEW YORK (Nov. 27) -- Veteran journalist, activist, and new media innovator Don Rojas has been named as the new general manager of Pacifica Radio station WBAI 99.5 FM in New York City, Pacifica officials announced today.

The appointment of Rojas concludes an exhaustive six-month search process that reviewed some 50 applicants and involved a broad array of WBAI staff, listeners, community groups, as well as local and national board members.

"We are delighted to have chosen someone with the depth of media experience and the international stature of Don Rojas," said Dan Coughlin, the executive director of the five-station Pacifica Radio network. “Don brings to WBAI and Pacifica an expansive vision and a proven commitment to the cause of peace, democracy and justice for all."

With a distinguished career in journalism and communications spanning more than 30 years, Rojas’ background covers stints as the former editor of the New York Amsterdam News, director of communications of the NAACP, and founder/CEO of the award-winning Internet portal, The Black World Today (http://www.tbwt.com), and its Internet radio network, BlackWorldRadio.com.

"I’m honored and excited to have been selected to lead WBAI into a new era," said Rojas. “The station’s historical role as an independent and uncompromising voice for peace and justice is even more critical today in the context of an imminent war in the Middle East, rampant corporate crime and corruption, rising poverty, assaults on our civil liberties and major media’s capitulation to the right-wing’s agenda."

In the early 1980s, Rojas worked in Grenada as press secretary to the late Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and in the mid 1980s as an executive at the International Organization of Journalists in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He has reported from numerous countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, has edited four books and has lectured on the history of journalism and on Third World affairs at several universities.

Rojas, 53, succeeds outgoing WBAI General Manager Valerie Van Isler, who is joining Pacifica’s national operations staff. Under her 11-year leadership, WBAI became the largest and most successful station in Pacifica, posting the first one million dollar drive in the network’s 53-year history and winning more than 50 major national programming awards. Van Isler also led a capital campaign to build WBAI’s first home in more than 25 years.

Following a recent period of turmoil at WBAI and other Pacifica stations, a new national board has succeeded in stabilizing the network, improving its finances, and restoring its progressive perspective. In 2000 and 2001 listeners and rank-and-file staff fought against the network¹s board of directors in an effort to prevent the sale of the stations and restore the network to its historic peace and social justice mission.

"The entire Pacifica Radio network is back on track and moving forward with increased momentum," says Dan Coughlin. “We’re raising more money thanks to the tremendous support from our listeners and we’re setting up structures of internal democracy and full transparency. I’m confident that under Don Rojas’ leadership WBAI will grow from strength to strength."

For his part, Rojas recognizes the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead for WBAI. “As a progressive institution in one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities, the station has the potential to become a microcosm of New York’s rich diversity, both in the quality of its programming and in the composition of its listeners, staff and volunteers -- a harmonious multi-cultural radio community that can, indeed, become a model for the entire country. To realize this potential will require tolerance, maturity, mutual respect and solidarity in action from all the members of the WBAI family," he said.

Founded in 1949, Pacifica Radio is the nation’s first listener-supported, community-based radio network. Today it is the largest progressive media outlet in the United States. Along with WBAI in New York, it includes KPFA 94.1 FM in Berkeley, KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston and WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington DC and some 50 affiliates in 27 states. The network features Democracy Now!, a daily news magazine hosted by Pacifica’s award-winning journalist Amy Goodman.


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