At its Dec. 15 meeting, the Federal Communications Commission dismissed a challenge to the license renewal of Pacifica radio station WBAI. At the heart of the complaint was an issue of content. I analyzed the ruling for Global Comment in the essay, “Winter in America: What the FCC’s WBAI Decision Means for Community Radio in the Trump Era.”
I find myself commenting frequently on goings-on at my old employer, the Pacifica Foundation, but this analysis is focused on the commissioners’ memorandum, what we should expect from the incoming Trump Administration, and how community radio may be pressed to respond.
“Winter in America” refers to the 1974 Gil Scott Heron song, which seemed apt.
As a curious postscript, in the analysis, I touch upon the likely person WBAI allegedly called a hero, Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur. She’s not named in the memorandum, but was from the signal area; is a subject of programs like Democracy Now, which began at WBAI; and was featured at least twice in WBAI programming in 2016. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a major supporter of President Trump, has often called for the extradition of Chesimard/Shakur to serve the rest of her sentence for the 1973 execution style murder of a New Jersey state trooper. The case also has some buzz in the conservative blogosphere, which sees the passing of Fidel Castro and election of Trump as creating motion on the extradition front.
This essay was on the shelf about two weeks with another publication, but was shifted to Global Comment in the new year. You can also find it at Thoughts on Journalism.