Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Tally figures for October 20 and 21 have been added and show an improvement that overall is slight.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall Fund Drive: The story, so far... $162,685 + 31 "Buddy" sales


The down arrow is merely a prediction...these are the realities (click on any image to enlarge it):






The wind of funds still appears to be favorable—at least, this week's gust has not died down—but the old mill is still not making the assigned goal. This time it is Dr. Ali who gives the boost, assisted by Null's Healthy Woman. Juliana and Ifé... well? If we go by Reimers' anticipated daily figure of $18,000, the total pledged as of Oct. 21 ought to have been $288,00, so it is short by $125,315. In the meantime, new bills are added to piles of overdue ones. Do the math.

A sorely needed boost, at last, but the Oct 20 total is still below the set goal. 

And so the plunge continues with the October 19 and 20 results. The drive is now $119,235 behind the goal Berthed Reimers announced. For all the artificial excitement Dalton Anderson generated, his flock seems to have different plans for their money. There wasn't a lot of sugar in the bowl this week but Max came through and Chris Whent did better than anyone. It's time to go back to the old drawing board.

The October 16 and 17 figures do not bode well. What will Reimers come up with now? That infamous water?
Figures slightly more favorable now, but still below announced daily goals. Did anyone catch the Monday, 10-13 tally sheet entry for Gary Null's 1PM slot? Check it out and tell the rest of us what you think it means. Just heard Janet Coleman, who teeters on the border of reality and WBAI-think. She is pitching Dr. Ali's various discs, "Reversing Diabetes," "Reversing Kidney Failure," etc. It made me wonder of the doctors couldn't come up with a disc to distribute free to WBAI's "management": "Reversing stupidity." 

The figures for Sunday, Oct. 12 are interesting. Are we to believe that Prescod's Ebola show only raised $50? That mean $25 to the medical charity. Simon Loekle and Ivan's opera program did very well, as did Max Schmed. Null's grapes were apparently not the right stuff, and nobody was interested in Daulton Anderson's grab bag.

The Saturday, Oct. 11 figures show $1,495.00 as collected for "Ebola charities." These are cash payments made directly to WBAI, not pledges. There are no premiums offered and no installments on credit cards. The question is whether this amount has enriched WBAI by $747.50 and, of course, whether the other half will actually go to the Ebola charity. 

Note that the October 9 figures show Margaret Prescod as having raised $6,315. There is no indication that 50% of that amount went to help in the current ebola situation, which was a major point made by her in her hysterical pitch. Berthold Reimers clearly owes the pledgers an explanation and breakdown while some believe this departure was actually law-breaking (see here).

This morning. WBAI's iPD, Mario Murillo, made no mention of the odd turn taken by Prescod (who screams at us from KPFK), but he did express his disappointment in the daily totals, which fall short of the $18,000 per day goal.

A further update:

This evening (Oct. 11), WBAI rebroadcast Prescod's program from Thursday, the 9th. It was to have been a WBAI fundraising hour, but she went right into the ebola situation, with audio clips that blamed the death of Thomas Duncan, two days earlier) on his being black. She, herself, did not say that, but neither did she contest it. The program was, of course outdated, but I believe this might have been the first of the charity switches, because she launches right into the ebola disaster and having been given the go-ahead by management and higher ups to skip the "thank-you gifts" and donate 50% of the money she raises to a charity that helps equip ebola medical crews.

Noble as that sounds, this could be read as WBAI raising money for a worthier charity and taking half of it for its own use. Would it not have been more in keeping with Pacifica's original intent to simply have a separate fundraiser for the ebola crisis? Prescod has laced her frantic pleas with a racist political thread and, even if money will actually be passed on to the ebola fighters, is this foaming-at-the-mouth woman not guilty of blatant opportunism?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A backward glance: Sowing the seeds of destruction.


You may have seen some of my own ideas as to how WBAI's deterioration began. If so--whether you agree, or not--you know that I place much of the blame on three individuals who seized the opportunity to reshape the station into a form that suited their egos and aspirations.

A particularly ugly facet of this effort was the witch hunt that began as soon as they had command of the microphones. While they boasted long and hard of being a part of New York's only "free speech" radio station, they got busy narrowing that freedom down to themselves. The worst offender was Steve Post, a person who became widely admired by people who either never saw his nasty side or saw it and partook in his viciousness. I would rank Josephson as second, but he was also driven by self-interests and he did not allow morals and responsibility to get in his way. Bob Fass' case was slightly different for he already had access to WBAI's air and that ego was still bubbling under the surface. It was the era of the "flower children" and I used to say that Bob was quite capable of strangling you with his love beads. In the phase that I will deal with now, Bob's main flaw—a rather big one—was that he never spoke up against the, shall we say, integrity-busting "celebritizing" that the opportunists were introducing. WBAI has never recovered from that, nor is it likely to.

People who did speak up were ridiculed and demonized on the air. Remarkably, the victims included Lou Schweitzer, the man to whose generosity and love of free speech Pacifica owed its ownership of WBAI.

When Chris Koch turned against Pacifica and, to my amazement, pursued a job at right-leaning Time magazine, his trip to Hanoi brought him speaking engagements at which he never failed to suggest that he had been forced to leave WBAI because the manager "censored" his reportage. That was an absolute lie, but people like Post picked up on it--although they new better--and used it to turn listeners against me. That sort of thing is not difficult to do at a station like WBAI, where the walls of idealism are thin. I was bothered by it, disappointed to find the length to which people I once trusted and, indeed, had hired would go in pursuit of their personal agenda, but I was more upset by what they were doing to dedicated WBAI workers like Tana DeGamez, and it really upset me when Steve Post started lying about Lou Schweitzer. Soon, Lou became everybody's target--the absurdity  was mind-boggling, for here was a man whose belief in free speech was beyond reproach. 

I finally decided that we had to discuss this whole mess openly in a live, open-ended broadcast with call-ins. Harold Taylor, who headed the local board and was only seen when he could get some personal press out of it, thought it was a good idea and offered to moderate (if that is the term). Chris Koch turned down my invitation to participate, although his presence was absolutely necessary, but he gave in when Harold told him that his absence would not look good. Koch, like Fass, Dale Minor, and others who knew the truth, had remained silent, thereby seeming to be on the side of the finger pointers.

The broadcast went on at the announced time, but when--about an hour later--the questions became tough for Koch to answer, Harold announced that we had run out of time and, in very short order, ended the program. I was furious. The tapes I had ready in Master Control were never played, they contained outright lies leveled against Lou and me. This is when I decided it was time for me to leave WBAI, which I did a couple of months later. 

The attacks on Lou Schweitzer were outrageous. Susan Brownmiller wrote a shamelessly slanted piece in the Village Voice, where she referred to Louis as "Fat Cat Schweitzer," and membership cancellations were beginning to come in, all based upon the slanderous lies Post and company spread.


Herbert Biberman at HUAC hearing.
On the day of the broadcast, I received a telegram from film director Herbert Biberman who--having been one of the so-called "Hollywood Ten"--knew better than most people how vital freedom of speech is. His 1954 film, "Salt of the Earth", was deemed Communist propaganda and he was jailed and blacklisted. Congress denounced the film, and all but a dozen theaters refused to show it. That would change dramatically in later years and "Salt of the Earth" was described by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."  The current WBAI marathon has the film as part of a premium, but it can be purchased on DVD for much less.

Here is the telegram Biberman sent regarding the upcoming live on-air discussion. He was reacting to the vile accusations made by Post and others of his ilk against Lou Schweitzer.  WBAI/Pacifica never had a better friend than Lou.


Friday, October 17, 2014

Pacifica Radio in Exile: Press Release 10-16-14

The following press release is from the Summer Reese faction of Pacifica, prepared by Tracy Rosenberg. 

October 16, 2014
For Immediate Release 
Donating to the Tea Party and 
Expelling Spanish Speakers

Berkeley-The new corporate call center collecting pledges for Pacifica stations KPFK in Los Angeles and KPFA in Berkeley is owned by Bruce Hough, an Oregon republican who runs a Tea Party campaign advertising/fundraising business called Impact Marketing with his partner, rabid Tea Party congressman Sal Esquivel. Esquivel traveled to Arizona to stand with Michelle Malkin, the Minutemen and others in support of Arizona's anti-immigrant law SB 1070. Hough (who regularly threatens to move his Medford-based call center Comnet to Nevada should the Oregon legislature raise taxes) and Esquivel are regularly called out for Tea Party shenanigans including funding vicious attack ads against local Democratic candidate and military veteran Jeff Scroggin. The ads were so disgusting that two out of three local Republican County commissioners refused to endorse Tea Party candidate Doug Briedenthal,  whose "Friends of" committee had the same address as Hough's Impact Marketing and paid for the mudslinging ads. Hough and Esquivel were labeled "Rogues of the Week" by the Williamette Weekly for an unethical scam to charge gulliable voters to email Congress. Hough and Esquivel also house conservative PACS (political action committees) at Impact Marketing giving aways hundreds of thousands of dollars to local and national Tea Party candidates.  Each call to donate to KPFA or KPFK routes .90 cents a minute to Hough's company or $3-5 per call.
On the East Coast, Pacifica is using a call center called Telerep, which is a subsidiary of cable giant Cox Communications. Anonymous comments by employees on a review website indicates poor working conditions at Telerep with comments like "grow a conscience", "compensation is terrible", "don't stay here or you'll hate your life", "run for the hills", "I was paid less than a Burger King line associate" and "the most traumatic and depressing work experience I have ever and will ever experience in my entire life". 

The rogue majority on the board is scheduling an annual allocation of $200,000+ in listener-sponsored funds to be paid out to Tea Party outfit Comnet and fast-food call center Telerep to expel fund drive volunteers from 4 of the networks 5  community radio stations, while laying off staff and refusing to hold board member elections.
Members objecting to the board majority’s actions over the past nine months can sign a petition here.

A pending complaint to the CA Attorney General Registry of Charitable Trusts by 8 former board members can be found here (in a slightly updated version). The AG is responsible for California charitable compliance. Pacifica members can send a note to the AG here. 

KPFA, the Berkeley Pacifica radio station received a scathing letter on October 14th (copied to author Naomi Klein) from Movement Generation, one of the groups central to the organizing effort that brought 400,000 people to New York for the world's biggest ever climate change rally.

The letter alleges blatantly anti-immigrant and racist behavior from KPFA's event staff in trying to prevent Spanish language interpretation at Klein's September 29th speaker series benefit.

The letter, which is signed by  Brooke Anderson and Mateo Nube, both prominent figures in the social justice movement (Nube was the NW Coordinator for the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute and Anderson is former deputy director of East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy), stated they "were shocked to be told that we could not provide translation because it would be “annoying to English speakers” and “create a disturbance for attendees who had paid for tickets.” Despite repeatedly assuring the interpreter would not interrupt the program and that we would work on the placement of the interpreter so as not to impact the room acoustics or audio recording quality, X became quite belligerent with MG staff Mateo Nube and Brooke Anderson, and speaker Cynthia Muñoz Ramos, telling us that X wouldn’t make exceptions for people who needed “special treatment.” But let us be direct here: X's attempt to prevent Spanish translation was deeply problematic and the comments justifying the position blatantly anti-immigrant and racist. The behavior reflects poorly on KPFA as a station and jeopardizes the relationships and reputation of KPFA radio in a social justice movement in which immigrant and non-English-speaking communities are at the forefront". The letter can be found here.

Also at KPFA this week, AM host Brian Edwards-Tiekert and local 9415 of the Communications Workers of America sent a letter threatening a lawsuit to the San Francisco Bay Independent Media Center, demanding they remove an anonymous post.

The post referred to the planned staffing reductions at the station's investigative newsmagazine Flashpoints, which has been broadcasting daily on KPFA since the first Gulf War. The reductions of about a quarter of the programs staffing hours are being offset by the $25,000 acquisition of the Reuters-Thomson corporate wire copy news service to accompany an existing subscription to the Associated Press corporate wire copy news service.

The threatening letter was sent to the IMC's fiscal sponsor, Media Alliance, and forwarded by them on to the editorial collective at the Independent Media Center, as they are the only individuals who exercise editorial control over the content on the open publishing website, one of 150 that have criss-crossed the globe since the first Independent Media Center was launched in Seattle, WA in 1999 to cover the World Bank/International Monetary Fund protests.

As of press time, the post in question had not been removed by the IMC's editorial group. The letter threatening the lawsuit and the response sent by Media Alliance and forwarded on to the Bay Area Independent Media Center can be found online by clicking on the links.

The members of KPFA's bargaining unit do not appear to have been consulted or to have approved the use of union dues to pay a lawyer to threaten the Bay Area Independent Media Center.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Right track, wrong gauge?

This is so overdue that I doubt if it will do anything to improve the programming. Murillo has already indicated his approval of programs and hosts that should have been banished years ago, so I don't hold out much hope that he will conduct these meetings with the integrity and dedication to Pacifica's original mission that is required.

They should record these meetings and make them available to the people who pay the bills.