Through these years of economic chaos and debate, through endless cycles of electioneering, we have been bombarded by pundits armed with numbers—10% unemployed, over 46 million living below an absurdly-outdated poverty line, a $7.25 federal minimum wage yearly falling further below minimum necessity—and we have been wooed by politicians turning phrases—“It’s about jobs, stupid.” And yet, somehow, contrary to fact and logic, at the end of the day, workers became the enemy, and unions, the power that needed to be stopped.
But Pacifica stations and the many community radio stations with which Pacifica is affiliated tell you otherwise. Unlike any other media entity in the country, Pacifica’s sister and affiliate stations bring you the voices of workers and thereby ensure that working people across the country and around the world have a platform from which to tell their own stories and to make clear a most different and fundamental economic truth: only when workers prosper can a society thrive.
Programming on Pacifica’s sister stations consistently advances society’s commitment to equity and fair play for working people. “Building Bridges: Your Community and Labor Report” (WBAI 99.5, New York, New York, Monday 7:00-8:00 PM EST), co-produced and co-hosted by Ken Nash and Mimi Rosenberg, is the longest running labor and community affairs program in the New York metropolitan area. Ken and Mimi note, “We’ve sought to highlight the intensification of poverty and the global struggles against the politics of austerity and the plutocracy.” Steve Zeltzer’s “Work Week Radio” on “The Morning Mix” (KPFA 94.1, Berkeley, California, Monday 8:00-9:00 AM) often focuses on health and safety issues, with a particular emphasis on the newly-emerging dangers faced by workers in bio-tech industries. He has broadcast symposiums from New York and San Francisco dedicated to defining the impact of the Fukushima nuclear accident and is active in coordinating national support for striking Wal-Mart workers.
Pacifica’s community affiliates are also reliable sources of keen labor reporting and outspoken worker support. For the past 15 years, Frank Emspak and Ellen LaLuzerne, co-producers of Madison Labor Radio (WORT 89.9, Madison, Wisconsin, Friday 5:30-6:00 CST), have served their community by guaranteeing media coverage of labor issues. Recently, they have been instrumental in insuring that the economic agenda of Governor Scott Walker is countered by close examination of the effects of his legislation on working people. In addition, since 2002, Frank has produced Workers Independent News (WORT 89.9, Madison, Wisconsin, weekdays 8:00 AM CST), a nationally syndicated three-minute headline newscast focused on workers and working family issues. Frank says, WIN finds its mission in the will “to encourage others to see that it is possible to achieve change through collective action.”
And, on other affiliates, other programs thrive. From Missouri, since 1989, producer Judy Ancel has brought us Heartland Labor Forum (KKFI 90.1, Kansas City, Missouri, Thursday, 6:00-7:00 PM CT). Judy says, “Our goals are not only to inform listeners about the vital role labor plays but to help working people find their voice through radio.” Her programs address local, national, and international issues and include monthly features, such as “Know Your Rights,” “Safety First,” “Economics Unmasked,” and “Washington Window on Workers.” In Columbus, Ohio, the voices of working people can be heard on “Labor Creates All Wealth” (WCRS-FM 102.1/98.3, Columbus, Ohio, Wednesdays 4:00-4:30 PM EST). Co-producers Bruce Bostick and Kurt Bateman interview labor leaders and explore family and safety issues. In Atlanta, Georgia, Dianne Mathiowetz produces “Labor Forum” (WRFG 89.3, Atlanta, Georgia, Tuesday and Wednesday 4:30-5:00 PM EST), a program that balances local and national labor issues. Producer Jim Smith’s “Radio Labor Journal” (KSER-FM 90.7, Everett, Washington, third Mondays 6:30-7:00 PM PST) features both field recordings and music and examines the issues that face workers in this new century. And, in Texas, “Voices at Work” (KPFT 90.1 Houston and 89.5 Galveston, Fridays 8:00-9:00 AM CST), produced by Ron Gonyea and Robert Lawrence, is “radio for workers and by workers.”
We hear the news every day: workers struggle and wages drop; unions are weakened and workers lose benefits; politicians and pundits, against all economic logic and sense, promote austerity budgets, shrug their shoulders at sequestration, and denigrate safety net programs and programs of compassion; but Pacifica’s sister stations and affiliates remind us how important it is to listen first to the voices of workers and to fight for those policies that strengthen workers’ rights and lives.