Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A message from Berthold Reimers

As you read this amazing message from the man who has been all but invisible for three years, please bear in mind that he has had ample opportunity to do something about the station's most abominable offerings. The fact is that he has done nothing to improve WBAI—instead, he has allowed the bills to accumulate and such total crap as the numerology program and Ifé's lightweight disc jockey show to be added. This is so contrary to some of the ideas he brings up here as his "vision," that one has to wonder if Berthold Reimers is all there, mentally. I really mean that—read the crap he puts forward here and think about his performance over the past three years, and where it now has put "our beloved station," as he so disingenuously puts it.

What the hell does this idiot mean when he states: "As you can see, I have been thinking a lot about programming and about WBAI's future and its impact on NYC and the world." ?

I, for one, can't see that, much less hear it. And why did he not mention any of this on Kathy Davis' Report to the Listener, a week ago? Was this "vision" of his delivered by one of Davis' homeless angels (remember that one?) this weekend? Did he overindulge on that miracle water?

Does he think pedestrian hiphop music and warmed-over, biased "news analysis" has an impact on the city and the world? The only impact all this nonsense and the station's dummied down conversion to black street rethoric has had is a mass listener exodus.

Dear WBAI Producers and Staff,
I want to thank you for your pro-active participation theses past eight weeks. WBAI is still broadcasting thanks to you and our listeners. I would like to take this opportunity to look to the future although we are not yet past the many hurdles we face.

For the past 15 years, there has been much discussion about WBAI's programming and the need to improve it. Simultaneously, the constant change in management - from the GM to the PD - has had a destabilizing effect on our beloved station. As you are aware, we are now without a Program Director and a Program Council/Programming Committee, and I am functioning as the de facto Program Director.

Although, I did put out an ad for Interim Program Director and I have received many résumés that I will review, time is not on our side. Therefore, as we can no longer wait and use these circumstances as a reason/excuse not to make changes, I want to share with you my vision and goals for improving WBAI's programming.

1. My vision for WBAI comes out of conversations that I've had over the past three years with Program Directors, Producers, the National Office, and Local Station Board members. I intend to make WBAI the champion of content and a place where one can expect to be challenged intellectually.

WBAI can no longer have programs with long monologues and diatribes. We must become the place where intelligent discussion occurs and eventually stimulates everyone’s listening to re-evaluate firmly held positions. Also, as WBAI has lost its ability to be a trendsetter in Arts, Music and Popular Culture, I intend to add at least one extra hour per day of Arts programming that will explore and expose the richness of New York City and its various communities. I would also like to improve our Public Affairs programming by re-directing our focus towards content and themes in lieu of narrowly defined categories. For example, I would rather cover the exploitation of the poor by the rich instead of focusing on say a specific group. Of course, the specific group will be part of the discussion, but the essence of the programming shall be focused on the idea and concept of exploitation.

2. One of the sharpest criticisms of Management has been that we have not evaluated, nor given guidance to Producers for the past 10 to 15 years. I would like to change that ASAP before we embark on massive program changes that are certain to happen within the next three to six months.

3. On January 28, 2013, I sent an e-mail/memo to Producers asking for a self-evaluation programming review of their programs. The deadline was originally February 15, 2013. However, due to the station’s move to two different locations while in the middle of a fund drive during that month, only a handful of Producers submitted their material. Now that the fund drive is over, I would like to remind you that this mandatory programming evaluation is essential for your program to remain on the air. I want to give everyone a chance to champion their program before any changes are made. The form is available at
The new due date is April 30, 2013.

4. I intend to foster an environment where Producers will collaborate on special projects. I would love to see Producers work on projects they feel an affinity towards and Management will do its best to support you. Moving forward, I hope to see most ideas and projects initiated by Producers. Here are two projects that I’ve initiated:

a. After the 2012 debate between President Obama and Governor Mitt Romney on International politics, I was so upset that Africa was not mentioned once that I contacted Wuyi Jacobs of Afrobeat Radio and asked him to begin planning a symposium on Africa. Thankfully, Wuyi had already been thinking of such a project and we are already in the working and planning phase. Several WBAI Producers have advised me that it would be much more democratic, inclusive and efficient to send out a request to all staff interested in this project. Although my style is to approach individual Producers and brainstorm, I immediately embraced this suggestion and I am now opening the invitation to all to submit ideas and to participate in this symposium that will be organized by Wuyi and sponsored by WBAI.

b. Hugo Chavez's death has left us all perplexed. I have reached out to William Camacaro of La Voz Latina to ask him to put together a special on Latin America called, "Hugo Chavez". I am certain that William is very competent given his connections to the Venezuelan government, Bolivian government and other activists. However, again, after advice from several WBAI Producers, I want to open the invitation to all WBAI Producers. Also, I have already contacted our West coast sister station KPFK that did some serious segments on Hugo Chavez to collaborate with us. I am looking forward to your feedback and participation.

5. Many Producers have complained there is not a yearly schedule of events so that they can plan and contribute. I am asking you to send me suggestions for events you want WBAI to cover for the next coming year. Once I get your suggestions and recommendations, I will set up an agenda then get more feedback from you before I set up a fixed agenda for the next 365 days.

As you can see, I have been thinking a lot about programming and about WBAI's future and its impact on NYC and the world. I know these are trying times and I recognize that these ideas of mine have not been shared with you in the past because I was waiting for a PD to do so, but I am certain after what I have witnessed these past four weeks that you will rise to the occasion and do right by WBAI. Looking ahead, it would also be advantageous for any incoming PD to have some structures in place rather than having to create it from scratch. So, I am calling on you to participate in this process and I would like to thank very much the WBAI Producers who suggested to me that instead of approaching individual Producers for projects that I send a call out to all Producers. I am looking forward to your suggestions and participation. I am sure I have missed all kinds of angles that are crucial, but I am sure you will point them out.

I am looking forward to the formation of a program council within the next month as instructed by the PNB to implement my vision.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their effort in these difficult times for we could not have done it without everyone’s participation.

Berthold Reimers
General Manager
WBAI Radio 99.5 FM
250 Vesey St, 26th Floor
New York, NY 10282
(347) 903-2986
(212) 209-2820


  1. I don't keep track of all the internal doings of WBAI (sometimes get a look at the "blue board") so does this mean Tony Bates is out?

    And it looks like Reimers wants to add more music. Does anyone know how how afternoon music Bates put in has worked out? Have those programs generated donations? (I've never had the urge to listen to 'BAI's music programming).

    I fear this marks the beginning of a purge of the old, really informative shows such as "Off The Hook", "The PC Radio Show", "The Expert Witness Show" (Levine doesn't do enough shows but the ones he's done contained some of the most outstanding "eye opening" info on WBAI or anywhere) and Weaponry (don't know if Tom's well enough to do it anymore but it's full of "you won't hear this anywhere else" hard info).
    Also I fear on the chopping block are the other "white guy" shows that are an integral part of what makes me dig out some dollars to give to WBAI such as "Hour of the Wolf, "Everything Old is New Again", and "Golden Age of Radio"

    Bad as it was, it was good while it lasted!

    1. And it used to be better. WBAI's programming standards have ben lowered over a period of many years, many managers. Lightweight pop music shows and the shallow chatter that accompanies them probably attracts a segment of the area's population, but people who snap their fingers to this mundane music are not ready to pay for it, so support goes down. Popularity was never something Pacifica's stations sought to generate—the original idea, as reflected in the principles, was a mandate to generate independent thought by among its listeners.

      Now they wonder what happened to the support and respect WBAI once enjoyed. A look in the mirror might give people like Reimers, Kathy Davis, Knight and Armah a hint—but I very much doubt if they have the integrity to take it.