David Torcivia

My professional career has spanned over 10 years in media working on everything from documentary to ads, television to film, education to music videos. My work has been seen over a billion times and received many prestigious awards, but it’s the pursuits I choose to follow in my personal time that is where my passions really lie.

I produce and host a radio show/podcast about the systemic issues of the world and how we can successfully face and fix them. Our weekly listenership is equivalent to a full 1/10th of WBAI's weekly listens. I organize with the Democratic Socialists of America (particularly the Libertarian Socialist Caucus) as well as the Emergency Committee of Rojava utilizing my tech skills to bolster and enable and further the work of so many other dedicated organizers. These groups do important work to visualize a better future and do so through directly democratic and liberatory practices. When not organizing with community groups, I hack out tools and resources for activists around the world.

But before all this, I spent my childhood trying to run "pirate" radio stations, broadcasting tapes I had recorded off the radio via walkie talkies to whoever would tune into my open channels. I recorded my own "radio" shows and burned them to CD's I'd leave around my community. I’ve always believed that stories when shared can make a difference and build a better world. That same thought echoes in the history of WBAI and is what will carry it forward as an important force for decades to come.

WBAI is a station with deep history of public good with the prime location of the densest metro area in the US. The weekly listens should be huge as should the impact of the words carried on our airwaves. The march of technology has cut into these numbers, but with fresh ideas and modern media and tech experience there is the potential for WBAI to once again be a leading voice for education, entertainment, and justice not just in the metro area but across the US as a whole.

Answers to Candidate Questionnaire

What experience, connections, skills or traits would you bring to the local station board to advance the station's mission?

I have over ten years of experience in the media industry. I started as an intern at a public access television station where I soon became an editor, master control op, and briefly a producer. I went to journalism school and graduated with a degree in Telecommunication Arts before jumping into the film production world. Today I work on ad campaigns for major clients (Apple, Google, New York Knicks, Adidas, Cadillac, Brooklyn Nets, Budweiser, Amex, etc - the list is long) every single day, television shows for your favorite networks, films that have been screened at prestigious festivals, documentaries trying to change the world, and music videos with more than a few VMA wins. My work has garnered well over a billion views.

My time outside of professional work is dedicated to helping community groups meet the technological needs the modern day requires. This is includes maintenance of comms structures, website coding and maintenance, server administration, opsec work, tech teaching, and much more.

But before all this, I spent my childhood trying to run "pirate" radio stations, broadcasting tapes I had recorded off the radio via walkie talkies to whoever would tune into my open channels. I recorded my own "radio" shows and burned them to CD's I'd leave around my community. I continue this spirit today with a radio show/podcast called Ashes Ashes that I produce and cohost. Each week we look at broken systemic issues that threaten life on this planet and our civilization and ask "how did we get here?" and "what can we do?" We make this show, every week, through sacrificing dozens of hours of our own time because we believe these stories when heard by others can make a difference. That same thought echoes in the history of WBAI and is what will carry it forward as an important force for decades to come.

What do you appreciate and value in the station's current operations?

Public media offers a beautiful "second way" compared to the corporate media world we seem to take for granted. The independence this offers WBAI is reflected in the broad diversity of programming and thought that advertisers would otherwise balk at and attempt to sanitize. This resistance to the censorship that capitalism would like to blanket all our media with in order to protect the status quo is the greatest tool this station has. It's the opportunity to experiment, to push boundaries, and to build genuine communities that exist not to be exploited but to build up its members.

This potential is maintained because WBAI is still a real radio station, resisting the urge to go solely online like so many community have in the past decade. And the ability to maintain that broadcast capability is enabled by the dedicated listeners supporting this station.

What would you like to see improved or changed in the station's current operations?

WBAI is lacking in our digital presence. Social media accounts are absent or unutilized, the website is fractured and difficult to use, the donation flow is scattered and confusing taking you through several (different looking) sites just to complete it. All of this needs to be revamped and brought up to date to what people expect from a savvy organization today.

Beyond these digital woes, I’d love to see a wider variety of programming coming from a diverse group of communities that tackle not just what’s going on now, but what we needs to be done going forward.

Describe what you anticipate would be your top three priorities or areas of focus if you were elected to the local station board.

The needs of the station can be divided into programming, operations, and fundraising to support these functions.

Programming needs to be expanded and sharpened, focusing on content that builds community as well as shows tackling the current events of the day with not only reports of what’s happening but also engaging with the radical solutions many of these problems now require.

Operations, in particular the digital presence, needs to be dramatically updated. The site needs to be rebuilt and social media presence must be expanded (or even started as the empty wbai995 Instagram account illustrates).

Fundraising must be grown and strengthened following the lead of (the seemingly endless) Brooklyn podcasts that have secured funding approaching the level of WBAI through their dedicated listeners of just a single show.

Sustainability is an important part of any nonprofit operation. What are your thoughts on how the board can help to improve the station's financial footing?

In terms of practicality, the digital checkout flow of the WBAI site is unintuitive and difficult to understand (I’ve heard from many people who donated but never received confirmation emails wondering if they donated successfully at all, for example). Streamlining this will lower the barrier for donations and proper UX design can make sure we nudge supporters into larger recurring donations.

Growing WBAI’s listenership and corresponding fundraising has to revolve not only around terrestrial listeners, but also growing and pushing the digital presence. WBAI podcast networks, internet radio stations, youtube and social media content, and more can drastically expand the available audience and the pool of people willing to fund their favorite content.

Of course all this revolves around creating content that people feel passionate about to not only support but share. This, above all, is paramount for the continued success of the station and its bottom line.

Is there anything else you would like prospective voters to know?

I have a cat and she likes it when I leave WBAI on for her during the day.