Saturday, March 2, 2013
Black, Brown, and Gone?
We know that there are several reasons why the current fundraiser is not working. The major one being that bad programming and attitudes have scared off most of the listeners and bad handling of fraudulent premiums has contributed to the station losing its credibility. These are serious damages that could have been repaired were it not for warped, short-sighted priorities, but they were—if anything made worse.
One very damaging aspect that comes to the fore in the current drive will undoubtedly be attributed to the fact that February is the designated Black
History Month. That’s fine and it should by no means be ignored, but neither should it be exploited to further the personal agendas of misguided staffers who want WBAI to be a voice for a select group of people in this area. They have various ways of justifying such limitation, but it boils down to a narrowing of listener interest—as we are already seeing. Here’s what I am talking about.
Today I heard Hugh Hamilton tell the listener(s) that every immigrant to this country ought to be given a copy of the 3-hour 2003 series: “Race: The Power of an Illusion.”
Every immigrant? Hamilton is obviously addressing the so-called “black and brown” people who—in the narrow minds of WBAI's current elite—make up the “community.”
If you listen carefully to Kathy Davis, Michael Haskins, Hamilton, Esther Armah, and others who currently dominate WBAI’s air, it becomes clear that they either already regard the station as a black outlet or are working towards that goal.
Needless to say, this is not just a racist, small-minded approach, it severely limits the scope of any on-the-air fundraising drive Does Reimers not see that, or is he in on this destructive game? He has not raised any complaints or lifted a finger to change direction. That is very telling.
Another negative factor is that the offered premiums (products sold) are overwhelmingly aimed at black people and, more often than not, of an adversarial nature (as I have previously pointed out).
If not emphasizing the negative aspects of America’s race experience, “premiums” tend to be health scams, such as Kathy Davis’ ignominious, shallow kitchen table “advice,” and the iphones-can-kill-you scares raised by the fear-mongering woman sent here from the Coast. The numerology/astrology scammer, who promotes his own business and Reimers seems proud of, also contributes to limiting listener interest in the station's financial woes, but also dragging it further down to an even deeper sub-level.
All of this could and should have been done away with years ago, but Reimers lives in a fog of ignorance and petty concerns, and he is surrounded by equally ineffective, masturbatory cronies.
Why only a few even sense the urgency continues to alarm me. Frank LeFever struts around behind his fellow board occupants, echoing their views and posting them to his FB site, which he once boasted of having brought him thousands of "friends." Instead of throwing to the wind his little leaflets promoting a barely listenable program schedule, he ought to have been gathering signatures to protest abuse and mismanagement. However, that would be antithetical to his self-appointed role as a supporter and promoter of ineptitude.
Jim Dingeman's case is different. He does see what is wrong and he does get very upset about it. He also is not afraid to upset management...well, not to the needed extent. He will bare truths that aren't complimentary to Reimers, et al, but his personal contact with these people holds him back, somewhat. His ambivalence is not uncommon and I can to a certain degree understand it, but WBAI would not be in quite as big a hole today if those who roam its corridors and return the smiles of its opportunistic occupants could divorce themselves from the social aspects of their association with the station and really get down to the business of rescuing it.
When I mention rescue, I don't just mean raise the immediately needed funds, I mean return WBAI to its principles, give it back its brain and intellect, and offer the kind of programs that will entice lost listener-supporters to return.
A final thought: One thing that really puzzles me is this polarization. Listen to the JUC haters and you get the impression that boogeyman Bernard White was basically despised
for turning WBAI onto a one-way track to Harlem, and doing so with a good dose of racial animosity. That is a valid complaint considering the mandate Pacifica stations were given, to bring people together in peace, but pay close attention to the mindset that Michael G. Haskins, Kathy Davis, Esther Armah, Byrd, Hamilton, O'Brien and Reimers have. When they give the hard sell to books and DVDs containing the ugliest side of America's history of race relations, they are not trying to educate young people of color (as they claim), they are trying to sell them products at inflated prices so that they can keep their salary checks coming and preserve their air time. They know that tabloids would rot on checkout counter racks if the stories they contained were nice and positive—violence sells and it does not matter to them that it is more likely to stir up anger and retaliatory action than to promote racial unity.
Were they really interested in promoting "peace and unity," as they so disingenuously claim when raising money, they would be more interested in having the children and grandchildren of racists hear unvarnished accounts of America's shameful past. People of color don't need to be told about discrimination, they still experience it regularly, albeit mostly in a more subtle form.
These days, WBAI's greatest threat continues to come from within. The self-proclaimed good guys are often anything but that, and the line between these "acceptable" players and the hated JUCs is often very thin and sometimes invisible.