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LSB candidate questionnaire

Lisa Davis (activist on reparations and police brutality; chair, Tri-state Support "Like It Is" Coalition; member, Millions More Movement, NJ; work with Creative Spirits youth organization)

Lisa Davis

Lisa Davis

lisadavis@justiceunity.org, 212-591-2111

1. Why do you wish to serve on the Local Station Board?
I wish to continue serving on the Board because I believe in the mission of the Pacifica Foundation and I think that access to the media to be able to tell of the joys and pains of people – to be able to tell their truths and realities – is essential toward achieving socio-economic parity in this country. And as a New Jersey resident, born and raised, it is also important to make sure that we have a voice on the Board to help ensure that local issues are covered involving the other states (parts of New Jersey and Connecticut) are a part of the WBAI signal area. Also, I want to ensure that WBAI and Pacifica remain a voice for the progressive Black community and other disenfranchised communities. And the only way for that to happen is to have strong progressive people from these communities on the Board. That’s exactly what the Justice and Unity slate represents, why I’m proud to be running with them, and why I urge you to rank all 8 of us. You can get all the information at www.justiceunity.org.

I welcome your suggestions and questions. Please contact me at lisadavis@justiceunity.org or call Justice and Unity at 212-591-2111.

2. What skills, qualifications and experience would you bring to the board?
I am an excellent listener and I respect the rules of decorum.  Whereas I am not afraid to challenge unfair rules/rulings, I understand that there are processes put in place to try to help ensure that matters proceed in an orderly fashion. I have empathy and compassion for what the listeners experience. I have strength of character and I take my commitments seriously. I also have a strong background in office systems, which is helpful with the administrative aspect of the Board work.

3. What can be done to improve the dynamics and effectiveness of the Local Station Board?
I think it is very important for listeners to carefully examine the politics and views of the people they are electing to the Board to see if they are in line with the Pacifica Mission statement.  I also think that Pacifica should examine other ways to conduct orderly meetings besides Robert's Rules, which are extremely bureaucratic, and do not allow for robust discussions.  I also think there needs to be training in interpersonal relationships, communication and anti-racism/sexism.

4. What LSB committees would you like to join? What Pacifica National Board committees?
I am currently a member of the Pacifica National Board’s Programming Committee, and Audit Committee, Technology Committee, and am Chair of the Racism and Sexism Committee. I would like to continue serving on all of these committees. As a member of the National Programming Committee I helped to work on passing an overall Pacifica programming policy. On the Racism and Sexism Committee, which I Chair, we have proposed guidelines for a code of conduct, are examining anti-racism training programs and are working on establishing guidelines for handling complaints pertaining to racism and sexism.

5. Would you be interested in serving on the Pacifica National Board, and why?
I have been serving on the Pacifica National Board for almost two years. I do it because it is important to have strong and progressive voices on the Board that are committed to the people. I would very much like to continue this service.

6. How do you view the dynamics between the Pacifica network and local station autonomy?
I think these dynamics are extremely important and I know as a Director on the National Board that we are constantly faced with balancing the concerns of the network with the autonomy of the local stations. While I do appreciate and recognized the importance of the Pacifica network, we must never grow away from the importance of local programming. That is what makes radio special.  It is a distinctly local medium.  Progressive radio has played a vital role in helping to organize communities by enabling people and issues that might not get the chance to be heard on a network program to be heard.           

7. How should the Pacifica Foundation find a wider audience?
The Pacifica Foundation could build its audience via multi-media integration. In the digital age, people no longer just listen to radio. They interact with it online. I think it’s vital for Pacifica to have a strong Web presence. But also, Pacifica must not forget that there is no substitute for interpersonal communications face to face. So we must always think about events we could have that interact with and engage the public. 

8. What can be done to preserve and share the treasures of the Pacifica Archives?
The archives are truly a treasure. They are invaluable. One of the things that must be done to ensure that the archives are preserved is making sure that all of our old tapes digitized. And we must make sure that this also done for each of the local stations.  But we also need to make sure that the public understands that these archives are available. Museums and educational institutions must be aware of what we have. I know that the Archives Director, Brian DeShazor, is constantly doing outreach work around the Archives, and the local and national boards can do more to help with that outreach.

9. Do you have any ideas for new approaches to fundraising for Pacifica?
Again, digital distribution. We should make some of our content -- not all -- available for downloads for a small contribution. There are quite a few creative ways in which this could be done. I have been one of the National Board members who’s been very supportive of steps to increase the digital distribution of our programming. Once a structure for this is fully in place, it will set the stage for a powerful fundraising idea: a Pacifica record label, using digital files that progressive musicians have agreed to let Pacifica use for airing and fundraising under specific terms. Also, because WBAI has not had a Development Director for many years, I am working with other National Board members about a plan to have Pacifica finance a shared fundraising professional who would start by helping WBAI get out of its current financial problems.

10. How do you view Pacifica’s potential in providing internet content? Pacifica has a vast potential for providing Internet content. (Please see 7 and 9 above)

11. What technologies should the Pacifica Foundation consider for the future?
Pacifica needs to always have its eyes on the field of technology, for it is a field that is constantly changing. But the technology that the Foundation definitely needs to stay abreast of is HD (hybrid digital) radio. WBAI recently got a grant to begin adopting this technology, and I think it could be a useful way to add extra channels that could allow us to broaden our programming offerings, although we have to study its feasibility further.
12. What can be done to improve our signal strength? I don't quite have the level of technical expertise to answer this question. But I do know that cost is a significant limiting factor. For instance, I’m aware that repeater stations, which some stations use on the edge of their signal area to extend the reach of the signal, are extremely expensive.
13. Should the station consider relocating the studio to other facilities? Where and Why?
Yes, WBAI is paying exorbitant rent and it continues to escalate. This is contributing greatly to the financial situation that WBAI currently faces. Once there is a permanent General Manager, we in Justice and Unity are ready, able and willing to work with him or her on a major capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to move into facilities that the station owns. We’ve also been talking with other National Board and National Office staff about ways they could help us succeed in making this much-needed move.

14. How can our station better serve under-represented communities? Our station can better serve underrepresented communities by literally going to where they live. I view the Local Station Board as much more than a governance body. The more engaged that the Local Station Board is with the community, the more it can put a face on WBAI. The LSB can be a conduit for the community and the station.  I also think that representatives of the station should read the local newspapers, the circulars, the weeklies that many communities produce. 


15. How can our station better serve the many linguistic communities of the signal area?
Again, it is important to go where the people are. And it is also important to try to examine the various community publications that service the needs of these people. I also think that the station should look into various translation services.  It might be very expensive right now, but it is still good to be forward-thinking in terms of the various technologies that are available. I also think it would be good to sometimes hold specials in various languages.

16. What do you see as our station’s strong and weak points? 
In addition to the station's very progressive programming and opportunities for progressive disenfranchised voices, I think another of the station's strong points is its diversity of programming and staff. I don't think you will find any institution around that is as committed to diversity as WBAI and the Pacifica Foundation.  I would say that a weak point of the station is its expensive Wall Street location and its very expensive cost of over $300,000 a year to transmit its signal.   The other Pacifica stations barely pay $50,000 to transmit their signals.

17. Have you ever been party to, or provided support for, a lawsuit involving Pacifica or its employees? When and Why?

18. How do you think the election process for Local Station Board can be improved?
Change elections to odd-numbered years with 4 terms. It will be less costly for the stations and will not compete with national elections. Justice & Unity members of a Pacifica National Board committee helped work out all the details of such a bylaws amendment, but in the end it fell short of the number of local boards needed to pass. It should be noted that none of the WBAI opposition bloc voted for it.

One improvement that I’m proud to say has been adopted, again led by Justice and Unity members, is a bylaws amendment that shifts future board elections to earlier in the year, so they don’t interfere with the fall pledge drive. This will also enable voters to get more on-air information while they’re considering who to vote for.

19. What are your hobbies, interests, and other organizational affiliations?
I love reading, writing, acting, working with youth, walking and rediscovering and connecting to my African ancestral past. I work with organizations such as the Millions More Movement in Essex County and the Million Woman Movement. I am Chair of the Tri-State “Like It Is” Support Coalition. I work with The Creative Spirits of the State of New Jersey and I strongly support the activities of the People's Organization for Progress, Waset Kommuniversity and The Clinton Hill Improvement Association.

20. What question(s) would you pose to your fellow candidates? 

Do you believe that local and national board members who engage in racist stereotyping and defamatory attacks on staff should be held accountable for their conduct?