Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dear Andrew Phillips...

Below, you will find a letter written to Louis Bedrock, a long-time faithful listener-supporter who—like countless others—finally had enough. Now, like some of us, he sees the new Interim Program Director, Andrew Phillips, make a serious attempt to bring the station back to its feet.

We have had three years of Berhold Reimers, arguably the worst GM WBAI was ever saddled with by Pacifica. That is saying something, considering the long line of hopelessly inept, self-serving amateurss who have held that position. Reimers has not only been useless, he has advanced the decay he allegedly came to reverse, and he remained all but invisible as the station fell apart, outrageously high bills piled up, listeners continued to drop out, and staff morale came to an all-time low.

Now, it has at long last dawned upon Pacifica that WBAI is not self-healing, so they have brought in an alumnus who served as WBAI's PD many years ago and was just recently put on "administrative leave" at KPFA, where he was GM. Mr. Phillips has only had a few days in his new position, but we can already hear significant changes, such as the elimination of Hugh Hamilton, Robert Knight and Esther Armah—three audio scarecrows. Ostensibly let go in order to reduce payroll costs, the savings are but a minor reason to celebrate.

Louis Bedrock has ceased to help pay for WBAI's stagnant programs and a clueless GM's salary (reputedly $100,000 annually), but he has heard enough improvement in the past two days to give Mr. Phillips the benefit of a doubt as he faces the daunting task of turning this sow's ear into a purse, and pass it around for collection.

I have his permission to publish here the letter he sent to Andrew Phillips and I encouage other concerned people to follow his example. Tell him what you like or dislike, and submit your  own suggestions. Berthold Reimers approved of the station pitching fraudulent products to the listener, but when any of us made an effort to communicate with him or the station, he routinely ignored us—Mr. Phillips, on the other hand, encourages contact.

You can reach him at WBAI-FM, 388 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11217 or via e-mail at andrew@pacifica.org


  1. Chris,

    Thank you for your comments and for printing my letter.

    The address I used was,

    WBAI Radio
    Attn. Andrew Phillips
    Church Street Station
    PO Box 7032
    New York City, New York 10008

    Is this still a valid address?


    1. It may still be valid, but the Atlantic Ave. address that I added to the post is definitely au courant.

  2. Louis, your letter is "on the money". (Please pardon the pun.)

    It might actually be better to e-mail or fax the letter for the simple reason that the station is betwixt and between. There are probably e-mail addresses and fax numbers on the station's web page. When I have a moment, I'll post them!

  3. Thank you Chris and Justine,
    Now explain something to me:

    When the garbage truck came to WBAI to pick up the trash receptacles, why weren't Ife and Michael G. among the rubbish?


  4. I've had the opportunity to see Andrew in action. I live near the new home of WBAI in Brooklyn. I've been dropping by...mostly to sleep on the roof garden, but that's another matter. Thing is I've seen first hand the hard very hard work Andrew is doing to bring WBAI back from the very near Dead.

    Heaven's sakes it's only been a week, and ya gotta admit good progress has been made in that week. No spoilers, but more is coming hang fast comrades I think this is the great turn around we've for so long fought. Yeah we've been badly burned before too true. However I am more hopeful now than I've been in over a decade.

    Give him time give him space give him you're support because he's going to need it.

    1. Thank you, Sydney. You are among the few people on the inside whose word I take seriously. While I am discouraged by some of the things Mr. Phillips has said on the air, I have not totally given up on his ability to improve the situation. I know what he is facing (and I don't envy him), and I realize that it is unfair to be so quick with the negatives. My major concern is that Reimers is still in place. Yes, Phillips does not have the authority to fire him, but he should have some pull with Summer Reese—after all, she stands to benefit if he is successful. Reimers is a huge problem, as I think you know.

      So, I'll take your advice and hang in there, but my pessimism grows as fast as an ego in the afternoon shadows. :)

  5. This morning, when Philips was on the air, a caller wondered why Bertold Reimer was still at the station.

    Philips and Michael G. Haskins mumbled something about not bringing personalities and not blaming specific individuals.

    Oh well.

    1. I heard that and it occurred to me that each was tongue-tied for a different reason. Haskins feels a need to be loyal to anyone who has the authority to dismiss him, so he has to stay on the right side of Reimers.

      Andrew Phillips, on the other hand, does not need another obstacle to contend with, so it behoves him to be diplomatic. His immediate allegiance is to the iED, Summer Reese, in whose hands Reimers' fate rests. I felt sorry for Phillips when that question was raised, but the caller was right to bring it up. Actually, Phillips' answer revealed his thinking and raised another question: Why is the management of a radio station handed over to someone whose "expertise" lies in the handling of spreadsheets and not broadcasting or, for that matter, management? Of course, adding to the puzzlement is the clear evidence of Berthold Reimers' deficiencies in the accounting field.