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The Militant, 21 March 1949

Ruth Johnson

Dubinsky’s Radio Station

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 12, 21 March 1949, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The International Ladies Garment Workers Union has bought an FM radio station in New York. At first glance that looks like a great advance for labor. Everybody knows that the air waves, like the columns of the daily press, are flooded with capitalist propaganda. It’s high time for the workers of the United States to set up their own broadcasting stations, and newspapers top, and send the voice of labor ringing through the country.

But they’ll be lucky to get a word in edgewise over the ILGWU mikes. The station’s going to be run on the principles that have made the AFL and its garment chief, David Dubinsky, so acceptable to the bosses.

According to the union officials, the station, to be known as WFDR, will be “a community service radio station, not primarily a labor station.” The programs will be divided something like this: 63% of the time for music, 13% for news, 12% for education, 10% for civics, and 2% for religion.

Nobody will object to the musical part ... though we doubt that we’ll get many of the famous labor songs like Solidarity, or the stirring ballads of Joe Hill. We certainly won’t hear Pie in the Sky under the 2% of the time apportioned for religion. All the same, if the rest of the program went to the workers we’d give three loud cheers.

But we have it straight from station director Morris Novik, former adviser to LaGuardia, that labor needn’t expect much. He says, with Dubinsky’s okay, that “a radio station should not be used ... as an instrument to present one point of view or one specific interest as against the interests, of other groups in the community.” So “equal time will be available to all sides if a strike or other controversy is at issue.”

What could be fairer? Garment workers’ dues to the tune of $150,000 bought the station. For at least two years, they will, have to subsidize it with another $50,000 annually. In return, when they’re on the picket line, they will have the great advantage of being able to hear the bosses’ back-to-work propaganda on their own radio station. And they’ll be able to hear him for just as much time as they get to tell their own demands!

Gone are the days when they had to depend on the capitalist stations for attacks on labor. Without a flick of the switch, they can hear all the filth and lies at their own expense.

Broadcasts are scheduled to start about April 1. We can’t think of a day more appropriate for the bureaucrats’ cynical joke on the ILGWU ranks.

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