Monday, July 23, 2012

Just as we thought the on-air fund-raising had gone legit, here come the in-house scammers, crawling out of crevices in the moral fibre of Lew Hill's marvelously non-conformist wall, long since cracked by predecessors in pursuit of personal agendas. Where was Mr. Hatzis, the newly installed Program Director, the savior summoned to correct the destruction left behind by another "savior," Tony Bates?  Did Berthold Reimers, WBAI's inert General Manager, come out of hibernation, roused by  the desperate whines of tenured opportunists? Did frantic five o'clock fossils aim their tongues at yet another PD? Whatever lies behind the stagnation, it does not bode well for the promise of WBAI as a returning champion of unvarnished truth in broadcasting. The soapbox Lew Hill hammered together in the post WWII years began to come apart in the late 1960s, when Larry Josephson and Steve Post took it over, but there was still room for the occasional voice in the wilderness. Then, this year, as WBAI came too close for comfort to the edge of extinction, along came an Aussie. Was that a hammer in his hand? Did we see a box of nails? Was the soapbox about to be reassembled and open to fresh voices? Some of us thought so, and it may still come to pass, but if there was a bright light up yonder, the summer "fun" drive cast an ominous shadow to dim it. I hope I am being overly pessimistic. —Chris

So they drank the double helix water and generated more disdain for
WBAI than money. What now? Oh, let's give 'em a heavier dose of
conspiracy—get me Mother Mud, have Bobbie do his psycho act on
Psy War—no, it's not an act? Oh, well... and let's have Kathy do her

Quant number, the one with the extra deep vibes. Make sure that
Michael G. is wound up and that the phone ringer fx gizmo is turned
up to the max. That ought to do it.
What's that Berthold? No refund on them empty little bottles? Damn!

Please also read the comments (below) 


  1. While trying to find something on the radio worth listening to, I experienced an epiphany: it’s not that I don’t like the present incarnation of WBAI: it’s that I hate it.

    Trying to listen to WBAI is like listening to one of the AM news stations when an advertisement for “Cars For Kids” comes on. You run to the radio to turn it off.

    I turned on WBAI to listen to Gary Null about 12:00 noon and confronted a barrage of nonsense from the most inept, obnoxious three people I can imagine: Ifé, Michael G. Haskins, and, to top it all off, the bloated cherry was Kathy Davis. All seemed to be reaching into their upper ranges of eloquence to say something meaningful; all three emitted what can only be described as verbal flatulence.

    All three are paid employees.

    There are five or six programs on WBAI that I really enjoy. Among these are IN THE MOMENT, RADIO UNNAMEABLE, ECONOMIC UPDATE, DEMOCRACY NOW, GUNS AND BUTTER, and EXPLORATIONS. There are others that I listen to and which entertain me. However, out of a broadcast day of 24 hours, I’m lucky when I find three or four hours where the stupidity and obnoxiousness of a program doesn’t raise my blood pressure to an unhealthy level.

    The WBAI news is no longer the premier product it once was. It only lasts a half hour and seems limited to interviews about mostly local events. I cannot endure Playthel Benjamin’s nauseating panegyrics to Barack Obama. Benjamin is someone who was ambitious enough to enroll in a correspondence course in rhetoric, but who mistakes overuse of alliteration and an occasional quotation from Shakespeare for eloquence. He is as superficial as a hangnail.

    Aside from OFF THE HOOK and THE PERSONAL COMPUTER SHOW, there are almost no shows after the news that are not as annoying as NPR. After DEMOCRACY NOW in the mornings, only LAW AND DISORDER or GUNS AND BUTTER seem designed to appeal to people with three digit IQs.

    Afternoons bring us the well-prepared Hugh Hamilton who deals for about an hour and a half (of two hours) with black issues, never ending soliloquies by the tedious Michael G., public service announcements five minutes before the hour–with each announcement repeated two or three times, annoying station IDs by people who don’t speak English, and Robert Knight who solos on tape recorder. And then, the shell of WBAI News followed by OCCUPY WALL STREET. Why is Tony Bates still here?

    Not everyone will agree with me on the programs listed above that I like. But most will agree that, like a strong martini, WBAI is four parts din and one part vermouth.

    The Pacifica Maven

  2. Addendum:

    Listeners can support many programs directly without supporting WBAI. You can donate directly to Democracy Now, Gary Null’s PRN, or the groups that produce Law and Disorder and Counterspin.

    In other cases, you can communicate with the producers you like. Most of them produce their programs at their own expense. They will be grateful for direct support to defray the costs of doing their programs.

    Some have direct phone lines at the station. Others offer e-mail addresses. You can always call off air or send a letter.

    Money that is sent to the station pays the salaries of Davis, Reimers, Ífay, Bates, Armah, Knight, Felipe Luciano, and other people you probably hate. Support the people and organizations that produce your favorite programs and not WBAI’s paid staff.


  3. WBAI Scuttlebutt:
    (Guaranteed 100% accurate.)

    1. Maven would like to compliment his sources for their astute report which correctly identified Station Manager Bethold Reimers as the person who solicited funds for WBAI at the screening of Radio Unnameable despite Reimers’ insidious trick of disguising himself as Alex Steinberg and Dr.Frank Lefever.

    2. Inside sources at Pacifica indicate that leading candidate in the bidding for WBAI is Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor, publisher, and part-owner of the magazine The Nation.

    Vanden Heuvel’s filthy rich family bought her THE NATION as a 35th birthday present. WBAI will be a present in honor of her up-coming 53rd birthday.

    Vanden Heuvel is making no promises for continuity at the troubled NYC Pacifica radio station:

    “Amy and Sidney will have positions at the station as long as I own it. But most of the other employees will have to look for work elsewhere.”

    3. Hearty congratulations to Bob Fass for his lucrative--estimates start at $10 million, five year contract at Sirius Satellite Radio. The Maven will miss having him at his regular Thursday midnight time slot, but will definitely be subscribing to Sirius.

    A gleeful CEO Mel Karmazin states, “ With Bob Fass and Howard Stern, we have now locked up about 90% of the radio audience.”

    4. Robert Knight has become first WBAI producer to accept corporate funding. His Wednesday night show will now be called “EarthSwatch”. He is said to be negotiating with Braun and Norelco for the rights to rename his afternoon show.

    The Pacifica Maven

  4. Some positive suggestions for improving WBAI and saving money:

    1. Fire the entire Wake-Up Call staff. Have rotating hosts who do their own producing.

    2. Do the same thing with Talk Back. A different host-producer and perhaps a different theme each day.

    3. Replace Five O’Clock Shadow with Behind The News, again with different producer-hosts daily. Bring back Doug Henwood, Ralph Schoenman and Mya Shone, Dr. Kaku, and maybe even the narco- cop Mike Levine, although the idea of a narc on WBAI doesn’t go down well with me.

    4. Combine the salaries of the PD and GM. Now subtract $10,000. Now hire one person to do both jobs. My choice would be Nicole Sawaya if she’d accept the position. Give her hiring/firing power.

    5. Get out of 120 Wall Street. Yesterday! Find a smaller place in Queens or the Bronx. Brooklyn is getting too expensive. Negotiate with landlords, threaten them, kidnap their children, beg, grovel. Do whatever is necessary to get out of the lease.

    6. Get rid of the Interim Development Director, the Public Affairs Director, and the Premiums Coordinator.

    7. No host-producer should be paid unless all are paid. Allow listeners to direct up to 10% of their donations to a fund which would pay an honorarium to all program hosts- producers.

    8. Reach out to listeners who have been driven away by the current incarnation of WBAI. Compromises can be found which will enable WBAI to retain its current audience and retrieve the people driven away by Esther Armah and her ilk.

    9. Set up a WBAI blog for feedback on programs.

  5. I see the KKK listens to WBAI too.......................