I, Jose Luis Fuentes, was born in El Salvador, San Salvador, on June 28, 1968. My first memory of radio was being home at night with my caretakers. The voice over the radio was warning of fugitives loose in the barrio. The warning was to close all doors and windows. The sound of police whistles penetrated the house. The fugitives were at the back window.
Fast forward to 2002-the unlawful and anticompetitive practices of a major radio broadcasting and concert promotion conglomerate, Clear Channel Communications, Inc., threatens localism and diversity in programming. A group of concerned citizens from Media Alliance, the National Lawyers Guild, University of San Francisco, and I began to do the groundwork to revoke the corporation charter of Clear Channel for being an outlaw corporation engaging in pay-for-play, payola, parking or warehousing, and cyber-jockeying practices that threatened all local and diverse media. By 2010, this corporate raider was facing bankruptcy due to crippling debt.
My interest in running for the Local Station Board (LSB) is to uphold the principles of Pacifica’s founding member Lewis Hill to ensure that localism and diversity in programming remain at the core of Pacifica. The LSB must remain constantly vigil and apprehensive to seek and learn to recognize who in the midst of deregulation, are not neo-liberals, then make them endure, and give them space. The LSB has the potential to lead the media reform movement by having clear goals and a clear strategy to make our nation’s promise for democracy real. One of these goals is to bring about tax breaks and subsidies to promote local media. Economist Dean Baker has proposed to allow any American to redirect $150 from their tax payments to any nonprofit medium of their choice. The LSB is in a position to unite the left, nonprofits, and unions to bring about the redirection of our tax dollars.
I have come a long way from being that scared child in El Salvador in the ’70′s. I have grown up with the help of many kind souls to be a people’s lawyer, defending the rights of formerly incarcerated juveniles and adults, as well as trade unionists fighting for democratic governance, to university professors trying to cross the gender gap. I have learned that power concedes nothing without a struggle, and I wish to join the LSB to focus our struggles against the corporate media that attempts to constantly divert us from issues of consequence. We have to respond to the corporations’ distractions and deceits by organizing and educating our sisters and brothers to remember that the media must be their uppermost issue to break the chains of bondage to the greed of the corporations.
1. In what ways is your station moving in a positive direction, that you would want to continue or perhaps improve?
The station is trying to figure out morning, mid-day and evening programming to deliver what listeners during these time periods want to hear. We can improve this by making sure that there is more localism and diversity in the programming.
2. In what ways is your station moving in a negative direction, that you would want to stop or change? What changes would you work for?
The station needs to be vigilant and apprehensive to combat liberalism. Political degeneration and unprincipled peace needs to be addressed in a restorative justice context and not through gossip and irresponsible criticism. We have to return to principles of our founding members and to the collective life that makes the station strong.
3. What key experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the Local Station Board to advance the station’s mission?
As an attorney, I have learned to listen. As a people’s lawyer, I have learned to listen to the movement. As a lawyer, I have learned to struggle through until the end and move on. As a human being, I have learned humility and tolerance.
4. What ideas do you have for helping the station and the Pacifica Foundation meet the financial challenges currently being faced?
Pacifica needs a campaign to organize other non-profits to bring about tax breaks and subsidies to promote local media.
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