Sunday, December 21, 2014

I have added an interesting link to "A Question for Mario Murillo." Go here and scroll to the bottom.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Ad libs with a limited vocabulary...

If there were advance announcements of Friday morning's "Report To the Listener," they must have been made during one of WBAI's many presentations of dead air. I heard of it because I happened to tune in the morning tangle of audio gropes and heard the gee whiz kid, Haskins, mention it.

For once, Berthold Reimers was on time, but iPD Mario Murillo spent the hour on the phone from his car, unsuccessfully searching for a parking space. Also  in the cast were Andrea Katz, who has kept a very low profile for the past several months, and a guest of Reimers, the lady who runs CCNY's WHCR-FM. It was she who arranged for WBAI to rent a studio there.

As usual, hardly any concern was shown for the remaining diminish group of WBAI listeners, but compliments and platitudes were exchanged between the participants who, as it turned out, had been singularly dormant. Burning questions, such as where WBAI stands, financially, were not answered, but Haskins injected his false optimism whenever he could.

There were calls, but people obviously hadn't a clue as to what was going on, so they were off topic, asked irrelevant questions and were fluffed off. Murillo tried to bring up the programming work he has been doing and, in all fairness, let me note that he has indeed not sat idle by, but he has a South American agenda which gets  first priority. He apparently likes being heard on the air and it would seem that he doesn't really mind that totally inappropriate, mindless shows continue being aired.

I should add that Murillo has not responded to my question regarding the airing of false, sensationalized "news," such as Geoff Brady wallows in. I sent him an e-mail link, to make it easier, but that is also ignored. In fact, if you go to WBAI's poorly designed, error-ridden web site (mishandled by Andrea Katz's brother, Alan) you will find a curious listing of WBAI's "management" that leaves out the GM as well as the iPD.

Murillo mentioned that Doug Henwood is returning—which I see as a right step--but he gave no indication of who will get the boot—that is worrisome. There also were no updates on the various fundraising projects that have come and gone, such as the Africa Trip and Daultin Anderson's big church bang. Granted, they did say that the church  was "fun" and that some 300 people attended, but Anderson had announced grander expectations: he predicted that over 2000 churchgoers would show up. At one point, he even said that they would be fed. The absence of details and Anderson's own failure to give the event more than a passing mention on his program, the following day, leads to all sorts of speculation that, perhaps, this "lord" did not so readily find a way to heal this dying radio station.

Enough about Anderson's WBAI ministry's weekly two-hours of worship, here's another example of radio at its worst. It's a one hour panel discussion on an artificial subject, seemingly recorded on a not-so-smart phone in need of repairs. There is a hum throughout and the device is equipped with a volume compensator that thrusts the room noise at you whenever there is a moment of silence. One has to strain to hear what is being said, but these are black theater people (real and imagined) who are trying to justify the presentation of inferior productions. The excuse is that white critics don't have a sufficiently clear understanding of black people's problems and psyche to write valid reviews. Of course, they eliminate the fact that many theatrical works created and performed by black have had successful runs, been revived, made into movies, awarded trophies, etc.

These panelists are mostly fringe people whose work has not captured many imaginations, but my point is that the discussion is based upon defensive assumptions and the technical quality is embarrassing. This ought never to have been aired, yet it was heard twice. Listen to this fragment and see if you agree:

Apropos the kind of pap that scares off listeners, we have Kathy Davis, whose homespun sub-Reader's Digest "philosophy" is painful to hear. She has a sweet voice, but there is nothing behind it that warrants a hug. With Robert Knight out of the way, this "charming" lady saw her opportunity to take over the hour and a half he himself had wasted every Thursday at midnight. At first, she veiled it as a tribute, running some of his outdated, seriously biased blather, but that wasn't working, so she opened the mausoleum door ajar and let in one of Knight's companions. That, apparently was not working either, so somebody (Mario or Reimers, or both) told her that the program was too stale to do the station any good... fresh voices and subjects were needed. That also isn't working. This week Knight's friend was on again, interviewing Ray McGovern, a well-known former CIA analyst turned activist. This is a man whose accounts are often outrageous, but probably true—he spent many years on the inside with regular access to the clowns at the very top.

The recently revealed data on U.S. torture activity has brought Mr. McGovern into the spotlight again, so he is much in demand for interviews. Thus, his on-the-phone WBAI appearance was not in any way a scoop. He had interesting things to say, but Pauline, the lady who performed the interview, left important stones unturned. On the fragment that follows, you will hear some follow-up listener calls that drain the sugar out of sweet Ms. Davis. The first one is from a listener who dares to question the one-sidedness of the interview—Kathy rudely gets rid of him and goes on to a call from a lady who lavishes compliments on her, but makes the mistake of mentioning her nemesis, Alton Maddox! That, as we heard the week before, turns Ms. Sweetness sour.... well, listen:

Getting back to stagnation, poor radio, technical embarrassments and mishandling of phone calls, we have Bob Fass, who each week underscored the reason why he ought to have retired from WBAI years ago. The dead air that eventually shocks Bob into consciousness is not fabricated.

Here, too, we listen as callers either drone on with redundancy or arouse Bob's ire. He hates to be told that he is anything but the wonderful legend, as advertised, so when he has made uninformed assertions regarding a fatal Rikers Island incident, he is not at all pleased to hear from a gentleman who wants to set the facts straight. Bear in mind that this caller is courteous and respectful, and that he does not disagree with the outrage generated by this death. He just wants Bob to have the facts and be able to discuss this intelligently.

A one point, Bob tries to tell the man that he is not at all ignorant of the procedures, because—don't you know—he "I played the warden in The Three-Penny Opera."!!! That was over half a century ago, but had it been last week, Bob's use of it would have been just as laughable. Now the question becomes, how much did the late Kurt Weil know about prison regulations, and how do rules differ between London and New York? That fat lady who has started her song... could it be Lotte Lenya? Listen...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A question for Mario Murillo

I'm sure that Mario Murillo, the current Interim Program Director, does not read this blog, but I will send him a link, and perhaps someone who has his ear will tell him that there are questions he needs to answer.

He was brought aboard, presumably by Berthold Reimers, to perform a sorely needed makeover of the program schedule. It is not an easy job, especially given the selfish nature of the ingrained incompetents who claim proprietary rights to air time in perpetuity.

An essential move in restoring WBAI to a station worth listening to—not to mention, sponsoring—is the weeding out of chaff. There is an abundance of that being aired each day, programs that insult even the mildest of intelligence, programs that can be heard nowhere else—not because they contain taboo revelations, but because they are below a standard observed by even the least demanding broadcasting outlets.

One case in point is Geoff Brady's "The Other Side of the News," a weekly parade of paranoid fraudulent fruitcakes like this week's guest, Don Croft, who claims that his Zapper is "routinely" curing "AIDS, malaria, the deadly fevers and infections, dysentery, snakebite and even such conditions as elephantiasis" in East Africa.

This program offers a good example of the kind of fraud WBAI allows opportunists to perpetuate. Geoff Brady's tacit acceptance and, indeed, encouragement of the most outlandish tabloid-like claims indicates that the station's management does not find such pap objectionable. While management is not appalled by such programs, the faithful listeners seem to be. They have abandoned WBAI in droves, reducing the station's listenership to the lowest count in its 54-year history. Only by running dishonest infomercials in almost back-to-back marathon fund drives can WBAI stay on the air, but even its self-generated, dumbed down "community" of gullible now appears to have had enough.

Mario Murillo has had several months in which to cleanse 99.5 of its embarrassing dross, but WBAI still sounds like trailer radio on a bad day, internal moral bankruptcy seeps out over the air, and aural blemishes like Brady, Davis, Haskins, Null, et al persist. Mr. Murillo has his own agenda, which he pushes mostly in the morning, and Berthold Reimers may be off on a cruise, for all we know.

The questions many of us have for Mr. Murillo are as numerous as the excuses they generate, but an honest answer to one of them should give us a much clearer portrait of this man who has chosen to spend his sabbatical in the wreck of WBAI.

Mr. Murillo, please listen to the following  unedited recording of Geoff Brady's "In Other News" and tell us why this lunacy is a weekly feature, decade after decade...


ADDENDUM (Dec. 21, 2014)

This morning I came across "Etheric Warriors", a forum run by Brady's frequent guest, Don Croft. It contains a link to this blog, provided by Croft, who seems to think that it belongs to the station. Brady, who posts to that forum as KSD22, sets him straight, albeit not accurately as to my WBAI background. He calls me "a bloated parasite on the neck of this station," which I think is pretty funny. Here is a link to Croft's forum; the pertinent posts are No.s 7, 8 and 9.

I'll be interested in reading what y'all think of it. :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Houston, you have a new problem...

True to form, Mitchel Cohen, rose-colored glasses in place, emerges from the WBAI bunker doing the Reimers twist.
Hi Richard,

Many of us have taken a "wait-and-see" attitude towards Pacifica nationally, while working to strengthen our local stations -- at least at WBAI, which I know best, of course.

Even though Cerene Roberts announced that Margy was elected as Chair of the PNB almost a year ago, this clearly was a tie vote and should have been decided by a flip of the coin. 
But the minority did not effectively challenge that, and instead even further alienated many of even its supporters by overreaching and throwing the kitchen sink at a very simple, understandable, and flawed decision. Even the minority's own choice for Chair, George Reiter, did not go on to challenge that decision. (We had been previously horrified by many in the minority's attempt to lease out the station.) Why turn every decision into a factional war? Whose interests does that serve?

I and MANY others withdrew from that bureaucratic fight. After all, Margy has been involved with KPFA and has a long history herself in the antiwar and socialist movements, so why not put our swords away and get to work trying to improve things? Which is what we at WBAI have done, despite WBAI's non-representative reps on the PNB.

Despite the badly run PNB officers' election, I don't see that Margy's actions have been any more harmful to the network than anyone else's. And she has been nothing but supportive of WBAI, the way any national officer should be.

In fact, things are looking up at WBAI, despite the naysayers on this listserve. Our programming has vastly improved (thank you Mario Murillo, with the help of many of us). Funding is starting to recover (although all-too-slowly). We NEED those CPB funds, what's the hold-up now?

So my question for you, my friend, is what would you have done differently IN SUBSTANCE (forget the bureaucratic manipulation and maneuverings)?

Would you please make a list of the substantial policies that you and the minority would have enacted had George Reiter won the  Chair that would be different than what has been done this past year? A listing like that would be helpful.


Mr. Uzzell's response is brief and honest:

Hi Mitchel,

I applaud any real effort to strengthen the local stations, and I wish you a great holiday season (for the ones you don't "hate.")


She's warming up...