Max Obuszewski’s comments and requests made to the WYPR Community Advisory Board on December 3, 2014
It is my hope that WYPR 88.1 can provide better programming and become a better public radio station.
1] Peace and justice activists continue to be ignored on the YPR programs. This leads to important stories being ignored. For example, there is no coverage about the connection between Pentagon spending and Baltimore poverty, or climate chaos, the military research, including a killer drone contract, at JHU’s Applied Physics Laboratory, a peace perspective on ISIS, the unconstitutional behavior of the National Security Agency and how the U.S. drone program kills an estimated 28 noncombatants for every militant.
I encourage CAB members to read this article: “Poor Kids in Baltimore Have It Worse Than Those in Nigeria.”See http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/27269-poor-kids-in-baltimore-have-it-worse-than-those-in-nigeria. Yes, we have many problems in Baltimore, and in my opinion, WYPR programming should consider seeking guests who might offer some solutions.
I suggest the following. For example the Everyman [sic] Theatre recently presented the play GROUNDED, which is about the psychological damage down to a “drone pilot”trained to use a computer to kill people in other countries. Why not interview the playwright George Brant?
David Hartsough, author of “Waging Peace: Global Adventures of A Lifelong Activist,” is on a book tour in the area. Hartsough, an anti-war activist since the 1950s, should be interviewed.
Long-time peace activist Kathy Kelly, just back from Afghanistan, was sentenced to three months in prison in December, and will start her sentence in January. She was convicted for taking bread and an indictment against the U.S. killer drone program to a military base. What a story she could tell.
Rory Fanning, who became a conscientious objector after two tours of duty as a Ranger in Afghanistan, wrote a book WORTH FIGHTING FOR and spoke recently at Red Emma’s. He walked from Norfolk to San/Diego to raise money for the Pat Tillman Foundation. His life story is remarkable.
Another public radio station did an interview with Dr. Thabit Abdullah. He was tortured by Saddam’s secret police, but he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
YPR hosts should consider some of the speakers at Red Emma’s Bookstore Cafe, as consistently it has timely discussions. For example, Frida Berrigan, daughter of Philip Berrigan and Elizabeth McAlister, just spoke at Red Emma’s after the publication of her book on parenting for activists: "It Runs in the Family: On Being Raised by Radicals and Growing into Rebellious Motherhood."
There is room on the station’s local programs for more substantial issues. To take one example, Midday actually aired an interview with Earl Swift twice. His book AUTO BIOGRAPHY is about the thirteen owners of a 1957 Chevy. I would describe the interview and the book as fluff.
And Dutch Ruppersberger was recently on Midday extolling praise for the NSA, ignoring the unconstitutional behavior of its data-mining program. Sadly, Dutch is opposed to net neutrality. How about a progressive voice or two.
With some patience, a listener can find some progressive guests. The May 1st interview on Midday with Nomi Prins was excellent. It was a thrill to hear Tom Hall on May 2 interview Walt Michael and Caleb Stine about Pete Seeger. Also worthy of listening were two Midday shows. On October 23, the subject matter was “The Invisible Soldiers”— U.S. funded mercenaries and on October 31, there was a show about Poverty Capitalism.
2] I am hoping I can get an answer as to what happened to two Fresh Air interviews, both of which were dealing with serious issues. On August 11, Dave Davies was interviewing Eric Schlosser about his book “Nuclear 'Command And Control': A History Of False Alarms And Near Catastrophes.” It is a terrifying book which cries out for nuclear disarmament. Someone cut off the interview midstream, and a portion of a previous Fresh Air interview came on.
This happened again on YPR during the October 7 Terry Gross interview with Jonathan Eig, the author of “The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution.” YPR cut off the interview midstream and replayed a portion of an earlier Fresh Air interview.
How did this happen? Were the interviews cut off because of a complaint? Was there an underwriter intervening? Can the CAB get me an answer?
3] The recent drive to form a union indicates all is not well in Happy Valley. At the November 19 board meeting, Tony Brandon said a union was unnecessary. That is normal management-speak. He added, if I understand what he said, a union at YPR would allow WAMU to poach listeners. This made no sense to me. I suggest that the CAB should invite one of the employees who voted for a union to speak.
The station responded to the union drive to hire an anti-union law group to fight collective bargaining—Jackson Lewis. How much did management pay this firm, and what funds were used?
CAB members should read the articles about the union drive written by Ed Ericson in The City Paper. The initial vote was in favor of the union. However, in another vote which went against unionization, two hosts were declared management and people like Hugh Sisson were determined to be employees. The liberal David Warnock, however, did not vote. Anirban Basu, the conservative economist was given the vote, despite the fact he is an underwriter. And now he is part of the group preparing for the inauguration of Larry Hogan.
While Joel McCord interviewed some of us who demonstrated outside YPR in favor of the union, nothing ever aired. I am far from naïve to think the news department would allow our pro-union voices to be heard. There was a reporter from The Daily Record who also interviewed us, and her story did appear.
WYPR management hires union-busting law firm to quash union efforts By Edward Ericson Jr. City Paper 11:39 AM EST, November 11, 2014
Below is a portion of the article:
Workers at the NPR-affiliated radio station WYPR are raising questions about the station’s policies in the wake of their failure to form a labor union. At the forefront: How does a station underwriter become an “employee” under labor law?
Last week a hearing officer at the National Labor Relations Board effectively ruled against several challenges union organizers made to the makeup of the proposed bargaining unit, and that left the union without enough votes to win the election.
The News Hole
The WYPR union effort is dead
By Edward Ericson Jr.
6:24 PM EST, November 5, 2014
Below is a portion of the article:
“This is a disappointing conclusion that reflects an imperfect process,” the WYPR Organizing Committee says in a statement sent via email. “When we started our union effort, we proposed a bargaining unit that included regular, full-time staff who produce WYPR’s programming. A majority of the full-time regular production and news staff still believe that our workplace and work product would be improved by collective bargaining.
“While we certainly think it’s important for employees to be compensated justly for their work, this was never the essential tenet of our grievances. We want to work at a radio station that values and prioritizes its locally produced content; that understands the importance of an effective firewall between commercial and editorial concerns; and where all staff feel empowered to raise legitimate concerns without fearing that we’ll be ignored, ostracized, or dismissed.
“We are disheartened by management’s decision to spend significant station resources to undermine our democratic effort. We hope they will commit as fully to making measurable improvements to the workplace and supporting the production staff. Because a public argument between staff and management could damage the reputation of WYPR and rattle the good faith of our valued listener/members, we will offer no further comment.”
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] verizon.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs