Thursday, July 18, 2013

A bolt from the past...

The following comment was sent to my jazz blog by John Lightning, a now disenchanted former WBAI volunteer who did the right thing: used WBAI as a learning experience and stepping stone to further adventures in broadcasting. That's how it should be, and John sounds like the kind of person whose advice and expertise WBAI should have been able to call upon, but keeping friends is not the station's m├ętier. John's opening comment refers to a Meade Lux Lewis recording he heard on my blog,
A fine recording, from someone I associate with classic New Orleans music. Thanks for the post.

However, I am writing primarily to let you know that upon the passing of an old pally of mine, I inherited a box of reel to reel tapes from him. They got boxed up with all of my reels when I moved, and in sorting them out, a few of them were WBAI airchecks, some of which appear to have been made at BAI (one was in a box with the yellow continuity label on it). One reel was labeled 'Scraps' from 8/68.

As a regular 'Scraps' listener (Yes, I was the one), and someone who airchecked some shows (still have a few), I quickly cued it up... played just fine... 15 minutes of vintage 'Scraps'.

I am writing to inquire as to if you would like me to digitalize it for you to download, or if you wish, send you the reel. 'Scraps' was one of those programs that influence my early tape editing, and made me seriously consider radio as a career (although it turned out to be a 25 plus year hobby for me).

I found out you were still alive and quite well, following the ongoing saga of WBAI, and its impending demise. Frankly, save for a handful of programmers doing something unique and compelling, it will not be missed I am sorry to say.

I was a volunteer at BAI back in it's heyday at 30 East 39th Street, when it provided the type of vital, informative and entertaining radio that it rarely manages to do today... and for the most part, has failed to do for decades. It demanded you care, care enough to give of your time and money, because it featured personalities and presenters who cared... and gave great radio!

When I began fooling around at radio by putting my own pirate station on the air some 25 plus years ago, I did so because of the dearth of the type of radio I was seeking. Fortunately WBCQ has provided me gratis air time to follow my prime directive for almost 15 years!

And you are among those I owe THANKS to, 'Scraps' along with 'Techie Time', were an influential part of my radio diet, and made me long to do something similar.

I also must thank you for turning me on to Uncle Sid... now there is a crazy person doing my kind of radio. No agenda driven, same old, same old, by rote radio rot from that character. If WBAI does go bye, bye, perhaps I can get him to do 'radio' of sorts on the internet. As even I attract a reliably rabid audience, I know he surely would!

If BAI continues it's suicide march to oblivion, I'll not miss it, save for the relative handful of talents there that create unique content worthy of it's ESB based signal. I have barely and rarely listened in many a decade, to the narrow casting nonsense of many of it's core air personalities, the wack jobs, the self promoters hawking their tinctures and potions, the astrological phonies, and the proverbial plethora of other con artist and communications charlatans wasting precious air time on a station that was one a precious commodity that meant something to so many.

Now, the spent shell of BAI, about to put itself out of our misery, is a jumbled mess of ego driven dolts and fakers, unworthy of our support no less our time. Too bad, but then, the internet does supply me with most all the alternative view points and music I require, making BAI even less relevant.

I only hope those at WBAI who are doing great, interesting, and entertaining radio, continue to somewhere. There is just not enough unique content out there now, and such content is what I believe radio overall needs, to survive as a viable option for news, views, entertainment and music. I think it can happen, and yet, I'm one of those who is too realistic to be at all sanguine about it's future. Thanks again pally!

John Lightning WBCQ & Radio NewYork International (

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