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WBAI GM Programming Changes and Reform Plan

Date: Sun, 16 Nov 2003 23:11:23 -0500
From: donrojas@wbai.org
Subject: Press release--copy edit and post to site, listservs etc.

Contact: Don Rojas (212-209-2830)

WBAI 99.5 FM Announces Programming Changes and Reform Plan

NEW YORK (Nov. 17) -- WBAI Radio 99.5 FM today unveiled the implementation of a wide-ranging reform plan designed to attract new listeners and strengthen its historic role as New York's radio voice for peace and social justice.

Among the new programming initiatives to be launched by December 1 are headline news at the top of the hour, a re-designed drive-time morning show, Latino public affairs programs in both Spanish and English and a weekly civil liberties program.

And, beginning in January 2004, the station will expand its coverage of the national election campaigns, the ongoing war in Iraq and the growing movement for media reform.

"Now, more than ever, the people of the New York metropolitan area need independent media like WBAI to provide them with an alternative source of news, commentaries and analyses," said Don Rojas, the station's general manager.

"Media giants like Infinity Broadcasting, Clear Channel, and National Public Radio are not doing the job of adequately informing listeners of what's happening in the comunities of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut let alone Iraq and around the world."

Only independent voices like WBAI can counter the daily dose of lies and deceits from the corporate media, added Rojas.

The restructuring package outlined by WBAI's general manager involves a combination of work-force reductions, new and improved programming, strict cost controls, increased administrative efficiencies and more accountability to the station's listeners and financial donors.

As a non-profit, community radio station, WBAI does not accept commercial advertising or corporate underwriting. The station operates on a yearly budget of $4 million with 85% of revenues coming from listener support primarily through on-air fund raising drives.

But in the recent Fall fund drive the station missed its goal of $1.2 million by $400,000.

In a remarkable display of unity and resolve, a team of representatives from station management, labor (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists -- AFTRA), the local board, volunteer producers and concerned listeners has been assembled to plan and execute an emergency fund-raising campaign with a goal of raising $300,000 by December 31 in order to forestall imminent staff layoffs.

This campaign will continue through the first half of 2004 with the goal of raising an additional $1.4 million by the end of September 2004.

"While positive energy is building on all fronts to make the emergency campaign a success," said Rojas, "it is imperative that we also focus on the development of sustainable, recurring revenue streams that would complement the periodic on-air fund drives."

In this regard, WBAI's management is exploring the revenue generating potential of several initiatives such as electronic commerce, streaming Internet radio channels and strategic partnerships with other progressive institutions and with major membership organizations based in communities served by the station.

"Our team is appealing to the peace and labor movements as well as to New York's arts and entertainment communities and to listeners with fund-raising skills and development experience to come to WBAI's assistance in this time of need," said Rojas.


WBAI--99.5 FM in New York---Peace and Justice Radio
On the Web at http://www.wbai.org.

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