Friday, May 6, 2011
The WBAI Folio was a program guide issued every other week and mailed to the station's listener-supporters. It contained somewhat detailed day by day listings of all the station's offerings and was meant to be an indispensable tool since it was the only source of program information other than the sporadic newspaper listing. The New York papers tended to only list "special" programs ore ones that caught the editor's fancy, so you really had to have the WBAI Folio if you wanted to know what was coming up at 99.5. Subscribing to the station only cost $12.50 annually when I started there, and it brought you the Folio every fortnight.
Joseph Binns, who was the station manager when I began volunteering at WBAI, had—in my opinion—made a big mistake when he authorized Cue magazine, a weekly NYC performing arts guide (long since absorbed and killed by Rudolph Murdoch), to carry the WBAI program listing in toto. It might have brought us a modicum of prestige and made potential listeners aware of us, but I saw it as an insult to the station's subscribers who received that information for supporting us. When I took over as manager, I informed the editors of Cue that they could no longer print our complete schedule, but that highlights would be acceptable. That inspired editor Greer Johnson to write a vitriolic editorial condemning WBAI and me—it's around here, somewhere, I'll share it when I find it. Short of having the old tapes to listen to, surviving issues of the Folio are the best way to get an idea of how WBAI's broadcast day used to be, but it can never be more than a hint. Of course, some of the programs are now in the Pacifica Archive, but not nearly as many as there ought to be.
All three stations (back then Pacifica only owned KPFA, KPFK and WBAI) placed an emphasis on original material, had excellent producers on staff, and attracted many talented volunteers. Locally produced programs were offered to the two sister stations, and that enriched all our schedules. I think it was a good system and I know that it yielded some extraordinary broadcasts.
The Folio that follows, covered the period from May 24 to June 6, 1965. All the pages are there and they should be quite readable if you enlarge them with a single click. I will scan and publish a different issue every week until my collection is exhausted. Please feel free to use the comment option at the bottom of each post.