Sunday, July 5, 2015

If at first they don't cough up...

A. Berkman's July 4th post on the all-but-abandoned BlueBoard reflects the current listener-fatigue that is bringing the station farther down and—soon, I predict—out:
"Can They Put a Disclaimer Up at the WBAI.ORG Website? 
It would say: Attention! WBAI is not a real radio station, it is only a pale imitation of one. Please be alerted that 90% of the programming stinks, none of the health premiums have any validity to them, and conspiracy theory shows are unintended comedies. In order for you to maintain your sanity please do not listen to the station for more than two hours per day but if you do please consult a doctor immediately. Thank you."

Except for fundraising and political promotions, the WBAI web site has been outdated and inaccurate for years—so much so that its purpose now seems aimed at nourishing narcissism, selling products, and instilling the baseless optimism manager Reimers and his cronies use as a coverup for their chronic ineptitude.

Last week, in the wake of another failed marathon, the "GM who never was" launched a sneak attack on that remnant of listeners who dodged the extended Spring assault. At first, hourlong recorded quack attacks were launched at cracks of dawn and, as the week progressed and desperation remained unabated, the onslaught escalated. Earsores, forced into memories via previous Bertholian blitzkriegs, reappeared unannounced, moving stealthily down and about the station’s unchartered program schedule, indiscriminately bumping off the air the worthy as well as the shameful.

There is a whole lot of recycling going on: Fumari and Segal (the Amino Sisters) were brought back for more acid tests of listener tolerance. Likewise, ubiquitous expert Null did da capos as phones (recorded weeks and months earlier) rang assuringly and sidekick Haskins hee-hawed. Then—great Gwen Scott!—up popped the dreaded duo act of Nutdom hawking seemingly worthwhile but overpriced DVDs. Sure, you can get them at Amazon for one sixth the price, but why even mention that? Why be cheap? 

Inevitably, rumblings were heard from the tuned-in few, forcing WBAI to 'fess up and find justification for these pesky asides. Tell it like it is? NO… not an option where truth is a total stranger to fiction. Besides, who would ever believe that Reimers’ trick of the light-fingered hadn’t been a treat? What to do? Earmark this one for the new studio… no, not the porose, camera shy cluttered audio closet—this, we tell ‘em, is for the state of the art showplace that apostle Mitchel forever declares to be a miraculously inaudible work in progress. Hey, we'll even post a picture on our site... never mind the work we said was underway, or imaginary architectural design we commissioned, we'll pull something off the internet and make it look real good... people fueled... yeah, that has a nice ring to it!
   
From the WBAI web site.
So, a few years after the need for it became apparent, WBAI’s studio is as real as Mary Chase's rabbit, Harvey. A holographic figment of delusions, it is not on the air, it is air… hot air, like the station’s declared bank balance, Reimers’ financial expertise, Haskins’ intellect, the PNB "majority's" integrity, and any expressed concern for the listenership.

One wonders if Pacifica's past and very costly experiences with frivolous lawsuits has anything to do with Reimers' ability to keep his well-paid pro forma position. He was hired as GM over five years ago, with a mandate to rescue WBAI from near fatal mismanagement. He knew how to do it, he said, but that was only the first in an ongoing series of blatant lies. So, why is he still there as all hope of turning things around ebbs?

The only benefit to be had from making mistakes is that one can learn from them, but there are no lessons learned here. As many former listeners have observed, bad programming is a major problem for a station whose very existence is owed to bringing listeners an alternative to bland radio. Here we don't just have programs of inferior technical and production quality, we have small-minded, ignorant propagandists spewing politically expedient falsehoods and fomenting hatred—people whose notion of "community" is racially based and exclusionary. To them, there is but one ingredient in the New York melting pot.

Dragging the dreary, often fraudulent hour-long infomercials back for "encore performances" shows Reimers' failure to grasp even the fundamentals of the problem. WBAI is a station with a powerful, ideally located transmitter, capable of reaching a very large audience in the country's biggest broadcasting market. It also streams its signal throughout the world, but one would never know it, because WBAI is stagnant and it has lost its audience to a point where its listenership does not even come close to matching that of lower powered area college stations.

For years, WBAI aimed its programming not at any particular ethnic group, but at people of intelligence, those who hungered for truth and enlightenment. Did it succeed? I think so. Why else would the listenership dwindle so drastically when the station dumbed down its programming? Raising the intellectual level alone will not do it, but a thorough re-evaluation of the station's offerings ought to be given the highest priority.

Instead, Reimers ordered a repeat of past failures.

Nostalgia is wonderful. I often find myself indulging in it, but never to the point where it begins to replace reality. A good chunk of WBAI's program schedule comprises shows that can better be termed as fillers—valuable air time given over to the agenda-driven, the mercenary, the self-indulging, the opportunistic, the racism perpetuators.

Shows that should have died of old age many years ago, stay on the air, many of them because an ingrown host cannot face facts and let go.

This past week I heard from the rubble of Radio Unnameable Fass' fragmented voice repeatedly stumble through the call letters of small hinterland stations that may or may not have a closet-full of locals tuned in. Notice that he also gives a caller the wrong address for the station (it should be 388). Undeterred by reality and fueled (though barely) by a time-worn ego that hourglass sand cannot cover, the perennial flower child forms a sad figure as he serves up scraps from a distant past. Out there, in the dark void where people once listened and felt inspiration, aging actors now cling to life, vaguely remembering how things once were... in a different era, an earlier century, on a station that instinctively looked beyond the horizon and took them there.

Fass also ran the well-known Frederick Douglass 4th of July speech with several annoying interruptions for which he never apologized. That points to other WBAI problems, such as the sloppiness of announcer/board ops and a general neglect of listener needs. It is not uncommon for programs to start with as much as a half hour of segued music before anyone announces the name of the show or identifies its host—even basic FCC requirements are ignored.

When guests or hosts make outrageous statements, they are given the WBAI nod—nothing is questioned, nobody with an opposite viewpoint is given access to the station's so-called free speech microphones. For example, we have been fed idiotic uncontested runaway fabrications regarding 9/11 and other news events; Kathy Davis has burrowed through dormant management to two and a half hours of weekly airtime which she devotes to faux profundity; the devastating Haitian earthquake of 2010 was a political ploy; reptilians from another planet roam about our cities in human form; tap water can cure cancer and autism; etc.

When a guest on yesterday's "On the Count", stated that living under colonization in current Puerto Rico was almost worse than slavery, the host grunted his agreement. Apropos asinine analogies, we were recently told by a "respected" talkshow host that the gentrification of Harlem is tantamount to genocide.

Do you think Reimers listens to WBAI? It actually matters not whether he does or doesn't—he should never have been hired and that "Interim" tag ought never to have been removed.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Heart of what mind?


Kathy Davis is known for blabbering fiction week after week. She cleverly maneuvered herself into the Wednesday midnight slot that used to be wasted by a fake "anchorman", who hopped the Oblivion Express to Obscurity City. She also managed to keep her regular Monday afternoon show, so she now has two and a half hours a week in which to embarrass intelligence with her utter nonsense.

This morning, she announced that she is starting her own "practice" (presumably a pseudo-spiritual scam center), so we can expect her to start promoting that soon.

She also talked about WBAI, telling her sometimes guest/co-host (Robert Knight's girlfriend, Paulette), how white and radical the station used to be before she ever heard of it. I don't know where she picked up the revised history, but it is amazing, so I wanted you to hear it (assuming that your intellect precluded you from tuning in).

As you listen to this amazing history update, bear in mind that WBAI has always had black-oriented programming and black producers (on and off the air). The News Director was a black woman and—we hired our first black engineer (Tom Tracy) in the mid-Sixties, when I became manager. Knight apparently told his girlfriend that he was the first black console operator/engineer, but this was a man for whom reality was fiction.

I hope Sidney chimes in here and tells us how he had to sneak in through the back elevator! I think people like Kathy have lied so much and so often that they simply don't know what is and what isn't... if you know what I mean.

Listen to the revised history and have a bucket of salt by your side!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Exile Report: July 1, 2015


Another informative report from Tracy Rosenberg (posted here by permission).

Empty Pockets

Berkeley - In fairly stark terms, Affiliates Director Ursula Ruedenberg addressed the national board and asked them to support a plan she has been developing for over a year for Pacifica to administer a group underwriting plan for the 200+ Pacifica affiliates (independent radio stations that partner with Pacifica - most of them already take underwriting as independent entities). Ruedenberg told the board they could embrace the plan or face the erosion and end of the Affiliates program which she said was "no longer competitive". Some snippets from the meeting were recorded by a NY-based listener and are available here. The national board did not embrace the plan. The NY listener characterized the meeting as follows:

"Essentially, the PNB spat in the faces of the new ED, John Proffitt, and Ursula Ruedenberg, with respect to the proposal for an experimental trial of limited vetted underwriting on the part of the Affiliates that Ms Ruedenberg had been working with the affiliates and the previous iED and various Board committees to develop for the past year-and-a-half. It speaks for itself, as does the frustration and anger evident in Proffitt's and Ruedenberg's voices at the end of the audio, when the PNB collectively insults them for their efforts and kicks the can down the road once again". 

The board next meets in closed session on July 9th, where it will consider the restoration of corporate counsel Siegel and Yee, five years after Dan Siegel's resignation and later testimony that led to a $440,000 settlement against Pacifica for the termination of CFO Lonnie Hicks.

John Proffitt, Pacifica's new executive director, notified the finance committee on the phone on June 16th (the issue does not appear to have been discussed during the four preceding days of in-person meetings of the board) that the 2014 audit, which was due to the State of California Registry of Charitable Trusts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting on Tuesday, cannot be started until Pacifica pays another $65,000 to audit firm Armanino - and Pacifica doesn't have it. Armanino has already been paid a substantial sum and appears to be charging at least $140,000 for the 2013 audit under former CFO Salvador, almost double the 2009-2011 period when annual audit fees ranged from $60,000 to $80,000 under CFO Lavarn Williams. The lack of cash is alarming, considering that the five Pacifica stations just completed their last large fund drives of the fiscal year, grossing pledges of at least $1.6 million between the five stations and received an additional $950,000 in bequests. Berkeley station KPFA has spent at least $65,000 on elevator repairs and new carpeting in the last month, introducing some serious questions about the nonprofit's ability to control its resources sufficiently to maintain legal and regulatory compliance while under State of California investigation. Failing to secure CPB eligibility again in 2015 by missing the June 30 deadline for audited financial statements puts at risk public grant funding of $750,000. 

Los Angeles station KPFK remains in a financial meltdown after the last-minute appointment of former national member Leslie Radford as an unqualified general manager by Margy Wilkinson on her last day before new ED John Proffitt took over. Financial documents given out at the in-person board meeting listed KPFK's cash in bank at May 31st as $63,000, three weeks into the station's spring fund drive. The fourth week of that fund drive, in the first week of June, booked a dismal $67,000 gross as Radford's plentiful "fund drive specials" failed to engage listeners and garner pledges. The station's payroll and benefits are $75,000 twice a month. KPFK listeners have been receiving letters from Radford explaining their premium orders cannot be fulfilled due to lack of funds.

A donor waiting since February for a copy of Robert Scheer's book They Know Everything About Us, provided a copy of their letter which said "We unfortunately don't have an estimated time of arrival to give you". The letter blames the lack of Corporation for Public Broadcasting funding for the inability to purchase premiums, although CPB funds are not supposed to be used for premium purchases  which cost 1/10 of the donor's donation amount when they choose a gift. KPFK's May/June spring fund drive was reported to have grossed $600,000 in pledges, $533,000 of that in the first three weeks under terminated general manager Zuberi Fields.

At KPFA-Berkeley, the apprentice-driven initiative to create a video web channel featuring live coverage of community events, protests and demonstrations, continues to be sharply discouraged by station management and the Save KPFA-affiliated local board. GM Quincy McCoy and PD Laura Prives got into conflict over staff desires to broadcast real-time coverage of the Block The Boat protest at the Oakland port and the statewide March for Real Climate Leadership and PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert characterized the planned coverage as "self-serving" at a local station board meeting. KPFA came under heavy criticism for broadcasting music during much of the Berkeley Ferguson protests, when protestors marched right by the station and got into heated confrontations with police within two blocks of the station with little to no live coverage from the progressive radio station.

Apprenticeship co-director Frank Sterling has pushed forward the video streaming effort as a volunteer.  Sterling, who serves as a staff rep on the KPFA local station board is  paid for four hours a week of board operation and staffs the station's training program as an unpaid staffer allowing the program to continue without sufficient support from KPFA. Sterling provided a copy of an email he sent trying to get KPFA-staff created videos of community events posted on KPFA's website on the video channel page. His email can be found here and is reprinted below. The videos can be found on Youtube here and here.

On 6/28/15 4:49 PM, Frank Sterling wrote:

Here is our latest video.. I hope this is more in line of what you were hoping for. We ask that this latest video from Full Circle and also the latest video Steve sent out be posted to the video channel. We really hope this qualifies as legitimate material for the video channel as we believe it is. Especially since the top two videos there now are Alice Walker from 2007 (an 8 year old video), and a music video whose relationship to kpfa is unknown., which frankly speaking is a slap in the face to the video team as you have buried one of the most recent and most relevant videos at the bottom of the page which is the Block the Boat video from 2015. We also have the Gilman Benefit concert for KPFA which yielded some great footage.. It would be nice to have those up. I think we need some sort of order to the video page like maybe chronologically? 

If you feel that you do not want to post these videos to the video channel, please provide us with an explanation on why and what we need to do to have our videos posted there.. I would also ask that the second hour of Block the Boat be posted, which actually featured the apprentices as the hosts and the youngest members of the leading organizers of the event.

FULL CIRCLE 6-26-15 LIVE at Casa MaƱana The link is here..  https://youtu.be/CKUk893KufA.

UCB BSU Protest South Carolina Church Massacre-Black Lives Matter  http://youtu.be/b_KDzRoocjA

Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you, Franklin , Full Circle crew and the video team..

Sterling was notified in response to his request that the videos would not be posted to the KPFA website on the video channel page and that KPFA's $99/month U-Stream account was being terminated. Sterling added the following comment: "A large portion of the community of Fairfax came out to where we were broadcasting a local event and they expressed great gratitude that KPFA was there and broadcasting".

Pacifica's local station board elections, after consecutive postponements, one authorized by the board in 2013 and the other election in 2014 simply omitted, have gotten underway with a July 14th deadline for voters to register and candidates to file their papers. Details can be found at elections.pacifica.org. So far, halfway through the candidate nomination period, only 5 candidates have filed to fill the 72 seats available: 3 at KPFK, 1 at WPFW and 1 at KPFA. KPFA's only candidate so far, Save KPFA-affiliated David Lynch, is a lifelong Southern Californian who has never lived in the Bay Area and currently resides in Ojai, California near Santa Barbara., 355 miles from the station's Bay Area home. If elected, he would join Save KPFA-affiliated local board member Burton White, who lives in Southern Oregon, Kate Gowen who lives in Portland, Oregon, and national board member Jose Luis Fuentes, who relocated to Los Angeles 5 months ago, in sitting on KPFA's local station board without residing in the station's locality.

In New York City at WBAI, the station's ad-hoc new studio space has been coming in for some criticism from station programmers. During the in-person board meeting, an emergency meeting was convened in the late hours of the evening for the New York representatives to talk about it with new executive director John Proffitt. No report out as to the substance of that discussion or the outcome has been made available. The photograph on the left is of the studio space, which was rapidly constructed after the station lost its temporary leased studio facilities at City College of New York. The space is not soundproofed, and has been installed in the station's unfinished space at 388 Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. 

At Berkeley station KPFA, chemically sensitive employees and volunteers have expressed distress at some of the capital improvements that have been embarked on with bequest money left to the station in the spring. A new coat of varnish in the station's performance studio and $20,000 of new carpeting have led to reports of staffers being sickened by fumes and lack of ventilation. The two million dollar downtown Berkeley building has long been troubled by mold and water damage from its location right on top of the creek. Former employee Maya Orozco received a quarter million dollar settlement in 2011, largely due to being placed in a work space later determined to be unsafe for human habitation due to excessive mold by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).

KPFA's Twit Wit Radio, a 30-minute satirical sound collage, riffed on Pacifica's upcoming local station board elections (the deadlines to register as a voter and/or a candidate are on July 14th) on June 28th. You can listen to the archived program here or on KPFA's website in the June 28th program archives.


Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at pnb@pacifica.org

To subscribe to this newsletter, visit www.unitedforcommunityradio.org. 

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Affiliates also matter...


Here is an audio clip of Affiliates Director Ursula Ruedenberg's report, courtesy of Indigopirate, who had the Audacity™, as it were, to extract it for the encore it deserves. Note the prevailing civility, even when the obstacle called "The New" Pacifica is duly criticized—the current PNB could learn a lesson from these affiliates.

Friday, June 26, 2015

PNB Special Committee 6-25-2015 (exerpts)

Here is an audio from the June 25, 2015 telephonic Special PNB Committee meeting to discuss a proposal to implement fund raising via underwriting. The proposal was submitted last year and scheduled for discussion at the recent live PNB meeting, but time apparently ran out. This audio, edited to include "a few of the more salient points," comes to us from a trusted visitor—we thank him for his insightful comments.

Here, tweaked for clarity, is a brief revealing soundbite—a study in frustration, it abruptly put the lid back on this important subject. "John" is Pacifica's newly appointed IED, John Proffitt.