Controlling WAIF

My “evil” and “treacherous” plot to take over WAIF (88.3 FM) is being foiled by a legitimate effort to help the radio station realize its full potential. Bummer!

Joe Wessels, a WAIF member and avid supporter, is spearheading a membership drive in advance of the next membership meeting in an attempt to bring in enough people to vote for new board members and restore responsible stewardship to the board of trustees. The Aug. 1 deadline is approaching fast, so he’s in a hurry to explain his motivation.

“A good faith effort was put forth to talk with the organization’s leadership in the hopes that collectively we could come up with a solution to the stations problems and begin to discuss an alternate future for WAIF,” Wessels wrote in an e-mail to supporters. “Unfortunately, these overtures fell on deaf ears and issues at the station continue to go unaddressed.”

Those issues include allegations of FCC violations documents in “Naughty Stepchild” and a board president, Donald Shabazz, who apparently doesn’t keep his word and who discusses WAIF business on the air — a violation of station policies.

A programmer who wishes to remain anonymous so that s/he can keep her/his show, informed CityBeat last week that all the people who spoke on the record and were critical of the board of trustees have been banned from the station and lost their shows. This after Shabazz said programmers wouldn’t face repercussions for sharing their views. His statement appeared in the article “Watching at WAIF” about security cameras installed in the production booths earlier this year.

After speculating about who criticized the cameras, (Shabazz) dismisses the idea that anyone would be penalized for doing so.

“Nobody has ever been terminated,” he said.

According to the WAIF programmer, Bill Polak was the latest victim.

“They had a meeting last night and lynched him,” s/he said. “As of last night, all of the people who spoke to CityBeat have all been fired.”

Wessels isn’t going to allow the board to stop his efforts.

“Unfortunately, the board of directors, aware that a membership drive might be launched, apparently moved the deadline ahead nearly a month. I am sorry for the short notice,” Wessels wrote. “Joining is important, but more than joining, we need new members to vote at the upcoming Sept. 17, 2006 annual meeting. That way, five new board members can be voted onto the board and begin the work needed to take WAIF to a better place. Here are some of the reasons I think you might be interested in helping WAIF:

• “Once a member joins the station, they have a say in one of the country’s last community radio stations. WAIF — owned completely by its members — has been on the air in Cincinnati for more than 30 years.
• “WAIF embodies a way for your group or organization to become the voice of the station — whether that is on the air, being on the board of directors or a member.
• “With an FCC educational broadcasting license, WAIF delivers truly original programming, commercial free — and the opportunity to create new programs — to an audience throughout the Greater Cincinnati area.
• “The potential for the station is limitless. Remote broadcasts, new programs, the chance to increase WAIF’s programming hours, better management, better programs, better audience development and better fundraising.
• “Cincinnati has dwindling radio diversity. WAIF represents a chance to improve diversity and have less-heard and unheard voices on radio in Cincinnati. WAIF truly is ‘what radio is meant to be.’

“Here’s what you can do. First, members need to join the station — and we need a lot. Second, and arguably most important, we need members who can be at the WAIF annual meeting Sept. 17 to help get enough votes for qualified people to join the board of directors.”

To join, send a check for $15 to WAIF Radio, along with your request to join, to WAIF, 1434 East McMillan Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45206.

Keep a copy of the canceled check and your request, in order to verify they were submitted before the Aug. 1 deadline so you can vote Sept. 17. This is important because the board has banned new members from voting in the past, according to Wessels.

— Margo Pierce

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One Comment on “Controlling WAIF”

  1. Joe Says:

    With the e-mail, the ball is definitley rolling on the WAIF membership drive.

    Be looking for an announcement on an event at the Southgate House and at Simone’s restaurant – both to inform the public about and support WAIF.

    The sky’s the limit. The momentum is strong. Hope others will consider helping.

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