Rosa Palmeri

I'm an actor, teacher, visual artist, and a member of the New York City Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America. As an organizer, I've worked primarily in abolitionist struggles. I'm a member of No New Jails NYC, a radical grassroots organization fighting Mayor de Blasio's jail expansion plan, and I help run an aid and outreach table at the Riker's Island bus stop in Brooklyn. I'm also a member of a marshal collective within DSA that helps organize and execute direct actions for campaigns within DSA and across the city.

I'm a proud member of Actors' Equity Association and have my Masters in acting from the American Conservatory Theater. In addition to acting, I've worked in various positions across the entertainment industry with voices that have been influential on the Left, from Spike Lee to Wallace Shawn and Deborah Eisenberg. I teach theater in Vermont, where I grew up, and have served on the board of the New England Youth Theater.

Answers to Candidate Questionnaire

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

As a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, I have a hand in many of the struggles happening across the city and have built connections to organizers and communities that should have their voices lifted as described in the station’s mission. As mentioned in my candidate statement, my work as an organizer has focused on prison and jail abolition and I believe in the coming months, this will be a particularly pertinent topic to broadcast as we fight to shut down Rikers and new jails in four boroughs, and as Tiffany Cabán takes office. My experiences as a theater and art maker and within the entertainment industry will help steer the station creatively as we define content and reach new listeners.

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

WBAI champions voices in New York City that would not otherwise be heard on the radio. As a socialist, I believe this is key to raising class consciousness. Its resistance to privatization and its commitment to its listener base make it one of the few spaces in media not yet co-opted by corporate power. This is a testament to the tireless efforts of its board, staff, and volunteers.

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

I am concerned about the station’s financial situation and ratings. As Left movements swell, so should WBAI, especially with the popularity of podcasts that share a similar ethos. I think this is in part because programming does not yet reflect the diverse struggles that are happening across the city. The website is also inaccessible by today’s standards and could look more appealing with some basic changes to style.

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

I would focus on financial security, broadening our base of listeners, and helping guide programming that represents a diverse working-class. I would use my connections on the Left and in the entertainment industry and pull together socialist content creators as well as organizers for shows that are dynamic, creative, informative, and galvanizing.

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?

First, we must continue to resist privatization. The thing that makes WBAI unique and exciting is that it is free to push boundaries that capital often sets for media. It is only beholden to its listeners, not to corporate money. When I served on the board of a youth theater, we set out to make theater that was “for kids and by kids”. With this mission, what was once a small collective in the back of a Chinese restaurant slowly became an institution in the town, providing children from all different economic backgrounds consistent opportunities to share their stories, stories of our community, to packed audiences. If we can platform organizers embedded in struggles across New York City, their communities will sustain WBAI as we in turn help to sustain them.