Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When Frank Fitzgerald announced that his Blue Board would not be shutting down on Saturday, June 9, 2012, as announced, I was unsure whether the news was good or bad. It had apparently always mirrored the unhealthy relationships that festered within WBAI, but it survived because the board was also the only place where serious announcements and dialogue could take place. Recently, however, it has been overrun by an agenda-driven faction comprising insiders who realize that the ride is coming to an end and their handful of supporters. It is called Radio Listeners' Forum, but here, too, the board reflects reality, namely the steady decline in listenership—few posters are not in some way involved in the internal operation of the station. I have already given my impression of the current BlueBoard, and will continue to do so for a while. Today, Frank Fitzgerald posted that he no longer is the moderator, so we now must hope that R. Paul Martin (one of the few WBAI insiders who on the air spoke up against Bates) will at least attempt to clean up this snake pit. That, of course, would be a natural byproduct of cleaning up WBAI's schedule, which is the new PDs job. By all    accounts, he is approaching that task in a sensible, professional manner. 

In the meantime, serious WBAI listeners can go to the Pacificana board set up for us by Brian, whose affiliation is KPFA. It is not exactly off to a flying start, but it has the potential for becoming a true discussion spot for concerned WBAI people and not a combat arena. We'll see. Scroll down for the most recent update.

Update: It is sad, but not surprising to see that the malcontents are easing back into the very attitude that brought the Blue Board to the brink of oblivion. Pamela Somers, whose posts fomented the latest round of hate exchanges, is at it again, delusional, as usual, she has been joined by a small clique of Knight supporters (possibly including RK himself) and now sees her as a long-time "victim" of abuse who has been rescued by her loyalists. Ludicrous nonsense. She will not behave for long, so I'm afraid we will see a return to rancor—all it takes is one honest assessment of Robert Knight's on-air behavior. In the meantime, Somers has found an on and off target is Sidney Smith, WBAI's most prominent on-air voice of reason. Sidney often tells it like it is—which often isn't good—and these trouble-makers simply don't want their delusional world invaded by anyone telling the truth. It is regrettable that Frank Fitzgerald, whose heart seems to be in the right place (on the side of WBAI) allowed this to go on, and perhaps even more lamentable that Frank LeFevre, a board member, has abandoned any integrity he might once have had and is now blindly encouraging inferior  programs. He has the notion that the fund-raising must continue before the programming is improved, which is a status quo attitude that only will bring WBAI into deeper water.  He is rather naïve in the area of broadcasting, so the opportunists will use his for their own advantage. In my opinion, WBAI will never regain its health as long as people with the attitude and inexperience LeFevre represents have any say in the matter.

Tuesday June 12, 2012  So far, the BlueBoard remains uneventful. Some of the disruptive, delusional elements linger and post, but nothing of any substance. The most frequent poster is LeFevre, who—being a member of the Management Search Committee—presumably has at least one foot inside—seems as clueless as ever and posts absolutely worthless attempted humor. When he wondered why WBAI was not using the annual Bloomsday event at Symphony Space to promote the station, he was quickly reminded that there had been a divorce quite some time ago. Robert Knight's girlfriend continues baring her infatuation by posting souped-up announcements for his tabloid shows, still crediting him as an "anchor", and LeFervre has begun a practice of posting a response, announcing his own shadow link. This new pattern is then completed by girlfriend/shill Somers posting her approval. Knight's program has not improved, it is still a fear mongering mixture of his bigoted views with a good measure of Glenn Beck-like venom spewed at President Obama. The new PD might throw a cog into that opportunistic wheel—one can only hope.

Friday June 15, 2012  Still  nothing of any substance being posted in the BlueBoard. James Irsay—who is regarded as "legendary" by some posters—seems to be trying hard to compliment anyone who might give him a WBAI show. Is he good? Some posters seem to think so, but they are not exactly a neutral lot. I told you about the Pamela Somers/Frank LeFevre pattern that had developed: Somers posts her Knight drooling shadow plug, LeFevre follows it up with his "I put it on my FaceBook" routine, and Somers returns so say that she "loves it."  Well, the love was short-lived and Somers now has her fangs in LeFevre. She is also advocating the banishment of any poster who dares to criticize Knight's programs of recycled news and self-adulation. It's all infantile sandbox stuff. What hole did these people crawl out of, and why are they not doing positive things to help WBAI?

Apropos the station, the other morning, when most people are still sleeping, I heard a plug for an upcoming two-hour live Report to the Listener show that would feature management as well as producers. Normally, that would be a weekly one-hour program wherein the GM gives a report on what is and will be happening at WBAI, followed by calls from the listeners. We haven't heard that from Berthold Reimers, who prefers not to communicate, so this was very good news. The problem, however, is that the announcement was aired when even fewer than the normal number of listeners are tuned in, and I haven't heard any mention of it since that morning. There is no mention of this Report on the station's web site (which has a new look, but a very unimaginative one), so one gets the impression that this Report to the Listener is another management secret. This is no way to run a radio station, this is no way to treat the paying public.

Sunday June 17, 2012 As I explain below, before handing over the keys to R. Paul Martin, Frank Fitzgerald placed me on the BlueBoard's censored list. This has nothing to do with content, it is strictly a "punishment" for daring to criticize Robert Knight—Fitzgerald has always been blind to Pamela Somers' outrageous lies and immature behavior, it seems. When someone posted a thank you to me for standing up to the Knight's coterie, Somers responded with the following, typical, threat:

"He better not start attacking She (that's what Somers, ironically, calls herself) or RK again or he'll get his ass moderated."

Here is the post Somers responded to, followed by my reply, which has been placed in BlueBoard limbo:

"Great to see you back again, standing up to the BB Bully Junta here. By the way, why is a BAI staffer boss of the Blueboard? Plus he's a pal of RK, so not kosher."
My response (in essence):

I agree that partiality poses a potential problem, but R. Paul Martin spoke out against Bates even as RK continued to pander to him and his other cronies. Bear in mind that those who were victims rather than pets of management—RPM was the former—had to tread lightly in order to avoid further punishment. I suggest we give RPM a chance to administer the BB in a fair and reasoned manner. 

Here, I need to disclose that Frank Fitzgerald had begun suppressing my posts, even though they were totally non-controversial, while routinely looking the other way when rather nasty stuff was submitted by other posters. Now some of my posts are beginning to come through, albeit inexplicably delayed two or three days. 

The fate of this post will tell us if R. Paul Martin is really calling the shots or if he is taking dictation from Somers or someone else of her ilk. I fully understand that RPM finds himself in a difficult situation, so only time will tell if your fears are unfounded, or not.

Also happening on the BB is Pam Cooke's persistent effort to have a censorship order against Edwin Johnston lifted. I have no idea who Johnston is, but I gather that he played a not so nice role in a past coup. Anyway, Cooke—who appears to be a selective free-speech advocate—is very eager for him to be allowed to speak freely. Johnston is probably a nice guy, but one has to wonder about anyone who is endorsed by these native habitués of the infamous snake pit—they'll hiss on you in a New York minute if you say something that doesn't sit well with them.

Monday June 18, 2012
Progress: My post appeared on the BB today—only a day late. Also, one of the posters who has a habit of instinctively rooting for WBAI's on-air misfits, has made a u-turn—at least in one case. The blue air somehow seems a bit clearer.

Tuesday June 19, 2013
I am now more convinced than ever that R. Paul Martin is going to be good for the Blue Board. He already has demands on his time, so we shouldn't expect overnight changes, but he is working on it and his concern for WBAI is genuine. 

In the last couple of days, an exchange has begun regarding the suitability of Esther Armah to host Wakeup Call. She is a fast and smooth talker, but focuses the program on black feminism. This severely limits the appeal of a program that should be aiming at as broad an audience as possible Also, it ought to be hosted by a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. Monday's program was a painful example of inept radio production/presentation.

Lefever was very busy today, but posted nothing worth repeating. He and Somers are wallowing in their respective health issues and disagreeing as to what might solve them. As if we didn't have cure chat on WBAI's air.

Friday June 22, 2012 I thank R. Paul Martin for fully restoring my access to the Blue Board, and commend Uncle Sidney for speaking up against censorship and unwarranted restrictions on posters. With two exception, the predictable Pamela Somers, and Frank LeFever, Fortunately, they hiss mostly at each other. BB habitués seem to be getting the message and I doubt if anyone misses the hisses.

Monday June 25, 2012 Things are looking up and the problem is basically down to three disruptive, troubled posters: Somers, of course (she knows no other way), Pam Cooke (she's the one who applauds atrocities committed against Palestinian people; and Frank LeFever, who—sad to say—is a member of a WBAI advisory board.  Somers, true to form, nearly had a hissy fit because I praised a program, Equal Time for Free Thoughts that isn't Robert Knight's. To her, any criticism of Knight is grounds for dismissal, so she is once again advocating censorship on the BlueBoard. I don't think anyone take her seriously.

Wednesday June 27, 2012 Last night, Radio Unnameable, a documentary film about Bob Fass, had its premiere New York public showing at Brooklyn's BAM. It was standing room only and some peole couldn't even get that. Berthold Reimers apparently showed up without a ticket, as did Frank LeFever, so they were among the people who were there but didn't see the film. One wonders why Reimers was not given a ticket—he is, after all, the GM of WBAI, the station that made Radio Unnameable, the radio show, possible. Given his demonstrated arrogance, I venture to guess that LeFever assumed he didn't need a ticket and I am not at all surprised that he latched on to Reimers. He is one of the ghostlty GM's apologiats.

Ibrahim González found standing room on the inside and wrote a glowing review, which he posted on the BlueBoard—check it out here. In other BB happenings, Pam Cooke is having conniptions over Hugh Hamilton, whom she labels as an anti-Semitic and blasts for not ignoring the Netanyahu government's atrocities. I pointed out that she was twisting the facts: Hamilton and his guest, Nunu Kidane were speaking of the Israeli governments human rights violations, not the Israeli nation. I know, it's a thin line, but Cooke is foaming at the mouth with outrage and hate. She is now challenging me to...well, here it is in her own words. Remember, she is talking about WBAI, specifically,:

I'll make it easy on you: Name just ONE other country that's been demonized the way Israel has for just the period of one year. How's that? Oh, wait; NO other country has been torn down the way Israel has, not even for one WEEK, much less one YEAR!

So, no, of *course* you can't name a country. Verbose as you are, you're finally at a loss.

I am not at a loss, I just decided that I wasn't going to engage in a meaningless exchange with Pam Cooke. She conveniently overlooks the fact that our own country, the U.S., is routinely and heavily demonized by several WBAI hosts, Robert Knight—whom she repeatedly applauds—being chief among them. What is it about Pacifica that attracts so many hateful people?

Monday July 2, 2012 Yesterday, R. Paul Martin posted a reasonable, much-needed request to forum members, asking that we try to "make this work." He added rules that obviously are designed to curb or eliminate the malicious nonsense that has seriously marred the BlueBoard in the past couple of years. So far, it seems to be working and I suspect that Paul Martin's following admonishments, excerpted from his post, are having the desired effect. Thank you, Mr. R.P. M.

If you post on the board that someone else needs to be banned/moderated you will either get a warning or be banned/moderated yourself.

Billboarding is not allowed. Complaints about some right wing person on another radio station saying something you don't like do not belong here.

The long threads of back and forth very personal vitriol have damaged this board. I want to see an end to that sort of thing. We're all adults here. If everyone will act like an adult I think we can have a better bleepin' blue board than we've had over the past couple of years.

It has always been acceptable to render opinions about radio programs here. If you disagree with someone's opinion go ahead and say so, but interminable tit for tat threads will be deleted.

Tuesday July 3, 2012 Well, the civility didn't last long, but I hope R. Paul nips the vitriol in the bud. The first breach of the guidelines was a totally frivolous insult aimed at me by one of the anonymous trolls ("Cog dis"), who seemed to be testing the waters. Later in the day, Frank LeFever, an "advisory board" member with urgent needs for attention, started posting snippets of nothing (he's very good at that) all over the place, making sure that we knew he had been to such places as Newcastle-on-Tyne and St. Petersburg (when did that become a big deal?). As the day wore on and he wasn't getting oohs and aahs for his imagined witticism, LeFever turned on his nasty button and modulated into a name-calling mode. I don't care what this guy calls me, but I hate to see the BlueBoard return to the snake pit it had become. What bothers me even more is to see such childish behavior by a person who is supposed to be an advisor to the station.

Thursday July 4, 2012  The cyber bullies escalated their disruptive wriggling overnight, apparently horrified at the thought of WBAI's weekly schedule undergoing an improvement. What we have here is, basically, a very small, nasty group rallying behind Pamela Somer's ongoing efforts to paint the object of her drooling, Robert Knight, as a man. Well, let's say as a "brilliant", hard-working "investigative reporter" whose importance—in terms of insight—is close to equalling that of Dr. Martin Luther King. Apropos MLK, Somers once posted that there was a good possibility that Knight might be a product of a dalliance between his mother and the great Civil Rights leader. I know, Somers' little brain is as dull as a bad summer movie. His, of course is not a heck of a lot sharper, he just covers it up with theatrics and archaic, stilted language. Pam Cooke, a Zionist who never heard of an unjust atrocity committed against Palestinians, is ever at Somers' side, but she shows flashes of independent thought, even reason. Frank LeFever is the old rooster turned chronic crower, an opportunist on WBAI management's periphery. Add to this trio a couple of anonymous posters and, occasionally Knight himself, shedding his pretentious skin for a veneer of vitriol. They use a variety of "handles" and IP addresses, but they are ever so transparent.

Motivation? Well, Somers, of course, is making a fool of herself for the sake of her "man." She wants us to believe that she is a feminist under attack for that alone. She also declares as her mission (mandate, actually) the defense of Knight against those who would destroy him. Rather pathetic.

Back to motivation, I believe that what started as a calling from above to protect a delusional, worn-out "reporter" eventually shifted to a pixel war on yours truly. The second line, as it were, seems to be fueled more by the latter. In the end, it's all a matter of preserving ill-deserved jobs and having read the not so favorable news on the wall.

I think this will be the last dated addendum on this post. The new entry, Hissin' into the Wind, will continue the saga with one or two updates. By then, we will see how R. Paul Martin handles these people and whether there will be a return to frivolous venom as usual.

I am sure that most visitors to this blog have viewed or participated in the exchanges that have been taking place for many years in a WBAI-dedicated forum called Goodlight, but more commonly referred to as the Blue Board.

Sad to say, that forum is closing on June 9, 2012, having been abused by disruptive elements, mainly members who reacted—often rather immaturely—to any call for change at WBAI that might affect their particular interest. With so many opportunists involved in the station and a management that more or less gives them free rein, it is not surprising that WBAI has become something very different from the Pacifica stations Lew Hill had in mind.

The venom and self-serving agenda pursuits that over the years have reduced WBAI to a pitiful, penniless station were recently increased when Pacifica added an interim Program Director, Tony Bates, who, in very short order, made a bad broadcast schedule worse, lowered staff and volunteer morale, and took on-the-air fund-raising to a previously unimaginable low.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bates developed a following among the opportunistic panderers, who used his lack of experience, and GM Reimers' lack of presence, to obtain more or better airtime for programs that didn't belong on WBAI in the first place. The fraudulent premiums offered during extended marathons, endless rebroadcasts of blatantly untruthful sales pitches, and a petition calling for his ouster finally brought Bates down. Amazingly, even some board members continued to make excuses for Bates long after it became clear that he was forging a destructive path. This "interim" employee's job lasted longer than many so-called permanent  positions do.

Now there is a glimmer of hope, but the task that faces the new Program Director, Chris Hatzis, is huge. He has made it known that he will examine the program schedule and individual shows carefully, and his background indicates that he has the experience and good judgement needed to start a recovery procedure. I think we should all do our best to support him in his efforts. One way is to have constructive open discussions among people who wish to see WBAI returned to its high principles and quality programming. 

Brian, a staunch long-time Pacifica supporter—aware of the Blue Board's demise—has set up an area on Pacificana.org that is devoted to WBAI issues. There isn't much to read there now, but it's off to a good start. Here is how to get there:

Lets do this thing right and discourage those who only wish to disrupt. As things stand, WBAI (and Pacifica, for that matter) is on the edge of extinction, so this is no time for petty feuding. Let's agree to disagree, if we must, but do so with civility.

Finally, I hope you will join me in thanking all who have shown true concern for WBAI's future, including Mitchel Cohen, Chairman of the Local Station Board, and the handful of producer/hosts, staff and volunteers who have had to put up with a management gone bad. 



  1. Hello,

    Why bother with this station. I'm a supporter of two public broadcasting stations. I'm from New Jersey and I'm african american female. I now download programs from itunes (mostly from New York station WNYC,NPR programs, and a lot of PBS programs. I know you care, but WBAI is has become irrelevant for these times. I remember the station fondly for being iconoclastic. I know the history of the political and racial strife that has damage the station. I never will support it. If the station loses it's signal, I hope WNYC picks up the signal and broadcast WQXR. I miss the classical station when New York Times sold its signal.

    Good luck but, I think it's too late

    1. Thank you for your comment, which I fully understand and increasingly agree with. I find myself listening more to WNYC and I wish the Times had held on to WQXR, but I am going to wait a bit longer and see what WBAI's new Program Director might do. If I don't hear truly positive changes in the next couple of months, I will probably no longer bother, as you advise.

      Given the low quality and inappropriateness of much of the current program fare, and the attitude I perceive by reading posts on that BlueBoard, hope for the station's intellectual recovery grows ever dimmer.

      I appreciate the fact that you visited my blog and took the time to comment. Clearly, you share my feeling of loss.

  2. Thank you for reading my comments. I will check on your blog from time to time to see if you noticed any improvements at the station. I not optimistic, but listners like you need to heard.

    Good luck again

  3. More WBAI Scuttlebutt:

    1. Congratulations to Ifé Dancy for receiving the prestigious Kathy Lee Gifford Morning Media Bimbo of the Month Award for June.

    2. Also honored this week was Robert Knight who received The Sierra Club’s Green Producer Medallion for his extensive recycling of news events on his program, Five O’ Clock Shallow. Knight sounds more like Cokie Roberts every day.

    3. Andrea Katz, token white paid employee, will be taking a 6 week leave of absence from her sinecure as Berthold Reimer’s Spiritual Adviser–a position that pays her about $5000 per month. She will be doing consultant work for a television project in her specialty fields of wardrobe selection and porcelain polishing. She will continue to receive her salary from WBAI during her leave of absence.

    4. The best thing on WBAI is the WBAI News. Rebecca Myles, Jose Santiago, Andrea Sears, Sally O’Brien, and Barbara Day are simply top notch. Why is WBAI News limited to a half hour so we can listen to crap like “Occupy Wall Street”? I’d rather hear the WBAI News for an hour.

    I'm also pessimistic about the station's future. I am grateful for this space where I can read the comments of other disillusioned ex-listeners and ex-employees.

    The Pacifica Maven

    1. Thank you for the latest scuttlebutt, PM. Isn't Robert Knight himself recycled?

      I agree with you re the WBAI News crew. I hope you will eventually find time and inclination to contribute your thoughts to the Pacificana board (http://forums.pacificana.org), which sorely needs input and could be a useful venue for constructive dialogue.