I am on the Grass Roots Radio list and have recently received many posts about the situation with Pacifica.
As a long time listener to Pacifica (mostly WBAI) I can sympathize with the problems that are confronting the org (and the stations) now. But surely having something of an electoral process in place will be ultimately better than none! And there is some comfort in the "transparencey" of all these discussions. (AIR!)
I am glad that the WBAI audience has widened to be more diverse. It is always a thrill to get into a cab and hear the station being played. It is the favorite of most of the cab drivers I seem to get. Although I was also touched by the New Yorker article, I think that it is great that Fass is still on even one night a week. But maybe there could be other types of "free form" energy there from different people on the rest of the week.
One of the problems I see is the reluctance of program providers to allow their time slots to be preempted. To me the excitement of the "old Pacifica" was the tremendous coverage of breaking events, whether it was a march on DC or a "happening" at Grand Central Station. Where was the WBAI coverage of the Sean Bell marches? Just a few call ins from the street on the Prison Show, but no substantial coverage of this event.
In a conversation with some WBAI staffers, I recently brought up the possibility of covering the World Social Forum that will take place in Nairobi in a few weeks. They shook their heads sadly. There was 1. no money for that sort of thing 2. no air time available.
Why can't there be some sort of forumula-- that on-going program providers need to relinquish one program a month (accumulatively if necessary) for special events. My recollection is that it was those events in the past that brought new listeners and more funding.
What I miss most was the willingess to do brave cultural specials such as the marathon readings of War and Peace. I will never forget Julius Lester reading the section in which young Petya is wounded. A whole generation of New Yorkers was introduced to Tolstoy with that reading.
There was a flexibility in the schedule that brought new listeners: because you never knew what to expect, so you tuned in. Nowadays, it is pretty predictable.