Friday, April 12, 2013

The right move: James Irsay is back

This morning at 10, intelligent programming returned to WBAI...well, at least for a couple of hours. 

I don't know whose idea it was to bring back James Irsay, but it is a 
big step in the right direction. Whoever initiated this (was it Reimers?) 
deserves applause. Irsay, an accomplished pianist, is witty, intelligent, 
very much at home with the microphone, and thoroughly professional.

Giving him two hours a week is as good for WBAI as would be getting rid of Ifé, Armah, Knight, Kathy Davis, Tony Ryan, Starman, and others, too numerous to mention.

The program is Morning Irsay and it will air Friday mornings from 10 to Noon. 


  1. Thanks, Chris. Could you please contact me through Facebook? I have a request. James

    1. Hi James, I am allergic to FaceBook but you can reach me at


  2. It would be really good if he did some of hie religion stuff. I have tapes of his Primary Sources programs and they were absolutely the best.

  3. Irsay? That man is the greatest host of a radio show on classical piano that ever lived!

    1. There are not too many radio shows dedicated to classical piano, so that's not as great a compliment as you may have intended or as Mr. Irsay deserves.

      That said, James Irsay's scope goes far beyond classical piano. His authoritative, unconventional approach to broadcasting makes him the consummate Pacifica producer/host—a rarity these days. WBAI is lucky to have his talent aboard. This is a program that, in my opinion, should be rebroadcast in an evening time slot.

  4. James Irsay has history with WBAI; an excellent broadcast persona. I wish him the best and, for ol' time sake, WBAI. I hope James has opportunity/time to disciple up and coming personalities. Just as Fass discipled Post and Post discipled Irsay.
    All the Best!
    An old listener from the Bronx.

    1. James Irsay is a gem. I don't know what you mean when you say that Bob Fass "discipled" Post, but there was not much contact between them in the first few months. I taught Steve how to operate the audio console and arranged for him to take over my Saturday midnight show, "The Inside." He named his version "The Outside." Bob and Steve became close, as far as I can tell, and each exaggerated his relationship with the other.

      In all fairness to Bob, I don't think he taught Steve the rudeness and backstabbing he practiced as he wormed his way into Millspaugh's inner circle.

      James and Steve were very tight, close friends. I don't know what James learned from Steve, but he is his antithesis when it comes to having respect for the audience and devotion to the station.

      That said, thank you for commenting here--I hope you will do so again.

  5. Thank you for the detail Chris! I based my comment on memory and surfing Steve's obits. I'm not familiar Frank's inner circle. I do know that radio is a very competitive business. Backstabbing etc.... do anything to get to the top; or get near it and stay there... I do not condone that behaviour and I'm sorry to learn Steve might have behaved that way.
    It comes down to radio persona, what ever sells, draws and keeps an audience. The "contrarian schtick" stuck.

    And you're right, Bob as well as James, have a gentle and friendly style.

    My interest in WBAI was piqued by Steve's passing. Interestingly enough, I learned of this just a couple of weeks ago.
    I vaguely remember the late night show, I was in the fifth or sixth grade, a certain repeat caller, namely, "the enema lady" kept my immature sense of humour titillated. Perhaps I've lost the details in the mists of time and confused "The Outside" with "The Inside".
    As I moved into adulthood, I was a "Room 101" fan and listened until I moved out of NYC in the late 70's. I missed the all the years of Steve's career at WNYC.
    I'm sorry WBAI fell on hard times. "A house divided cannot stand". Hopefully, a cohesive staff and management will emerge; things will change for the better.
    It's good to talk with you, connect and learn.
    An old Listener...

    1. Dear old Listener, your comments are greatly appreciated by this old Manager :) Some of us who care deeply about WBAI and its future tend to make light of the current situation, but it akin to having nervous giggles, because it is very sad to see people come in and—knowingly, or not--abuse it. This has been going on for decades, but I fear it has now reached the point of no return.

      You obviously have fond memories--cherish them. --Chris