Friday, September 13, 2013

Selling talk...will it walk?

Click on image to enlarge it


  1. I guess it can't hurt to try it--as long as the stick doesn't include the "best" of Kathy Davis, Kristine Blosdale or Z. Starman--or conspiracy-theory stuff. As long as those conditions are met, it's got to be better than offering "Double Helix Water" or a lot of the other premiums BAI has been offering.

    1. I agree, it is certainly a step in the right direction to offer a premium that directly relates to the station's intended direction.

      I do, however, question the wisdom of making the only premium offered so narrow in appeal. Ideally, the only offer should be the prospect of WBAI staying on the air with a schedule of intelligent, enlightenment. That used to work, but the listenership has been remolded into a more myopic, materialistic version of supporter.

      If WBAI does not have a successful October marathon, its chances of survival are drastically reduced. I don't see a stick of oratory ringing a lot of phones for a whole month. I also sense from Andrew Phillips' memo to the staff that he might feel the same.

  2. I recently met one of the recently-fired BAI staff members, who happens to be the partner of a friendly acquaintance of mine.

    This former employee worked in one of the truly vital areas of the station, not as a host or producer of one of those programs fueled by someone's ego and paranoia. So, I think such a person's insights are valuable.

    Briefly, they went something like this: Gary Null and the conspiracy-theory folks are bad for the station, not only because of the low quality and limited appeal of their programs. For one thing, Null leaves the station vulnerable to lawsuits and worse with the claims he attaches to double-helix water and "supplements" that are offered as premiums. Some of the conspiracy-theory folks could be hazardous in similar ways to the station.

    The biggest problem of all, according to this former BAI staffer, is that people who listen to Gary Null or the conspiracy-theory shows tend to listen only to those programs. So, not only do they not help to build dedicated listeners (the ones who tend to bring other listeners in); they tend to bring down the credibility of the station, which drives away longtime listeners and deters potential new audiences.

    This former employee claims to have sounded the warnings for years, but was not heeded.

    1. The former employee may be using Gary Null as the most prominent personification of the station's parade of quacks. He, himself, is by no means "clean" when it comes to that sort of thing, but he drew the line at the Helix Water's edge. Nulls's own success as the hawker of alternative medicine is what led to the station entering that realm so vigorously, but I'm sure he is not happy with the competition. Still, free airtime is free airtime!

      The link at the bottom will take you to a post I put up in June of 2012, which specifically deals with Gary Null's stand on Double Helix Water....he ain't buyin' it! You will hear an audio of his challenging interview with the guy from whose tap those miracle drops drip. It's actually quite interesting and the laurels go to Null. Rather than cutting and pasting this URL, you can simply use this blog's search option and enter the name, Gary Null .

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  4. Whatever opposition Null put up to the "miracle water," it's more than balanced out (in a very bad way) by his prominent role as an AIDS denier. He gives alternative medicine a bad name. See this Salon article for the background:

    Conspiracy theory is still being given a home at WBAI with the prime time slots given to Project Censored and Guns and Butter, both run by conspiracy wack jobs from KPFA.

    As for the stick, it's probably mostly archival programming, which could be good, but you're right, might not have as broad an appeal as more diverse premiums.

    1. I totally agree with you regarding Null having flushed down the drain whatever credibility he might have had when he became an AIDS denier. The man is slick, self-serving and deceitful—not the sort of person who should be a regular on WBAI, yet smarter and, perhaps, less harmful to the station than people like Reimers, Katz, Haskins, and some of the people who were recently gotten rid of..

      I don't think WBAI should completely ignore the conspiracy theorists, because they do exist, but neither should they go on the air unchallenged. The solution to that kind of a problem lies in the selection of host/producers. Just as Null ought not have his own commercial platform at 99.5, so I see as blights Geoff Brady (as loony as his guests) and the "Where I live" people, who worship Mumia and seem to think that all prisoners of color are victims of political maneuvering.

      They should have considered having 3 or 4 sticks, each with a different appeal. The big advantage of offering memory stick is that they are easy to replicate, fit into an envelope, and can be mailed out at a very low cost. The fact that not all listeners are equipped to access the data on such sticks is also a problem that should have been considered. Such decisions should not be made by Pacifica without consulting the local station people involved—it apparently took Andrew Phillips by surprise.

  5. First I love your graphic. Indeed I like most of them. The other thing is this a parody or are they really only offering a flash drive of our stuff. Good idea for those that are digitally enabled at home. Me I would toss in all sorts of other stuff like I did when I was in charge of the t-shirts.

    Ya know junk we had laying around.

    I did a "stocking stuffer" routine for each order. They'd get what they ordered plus extra neat stuff to show that we liked them. It worked. We need to re-build not only loyalty, but affection.

    With the info stick toss in some nice nick-knacks, and a note of thanks, and other assorted jazz.

    As for Andrew he's in a hell of a jam trying civilize WBAI. My g-d where to begin. Putting teeth in the rules of on air behavior is a swell start...three down 78 to go. Okay we'll see what the next weeks, and months bring.

    As for myself I'm living the retired far so good.

    Stay tuned.

    1. Tossing in odd stuff is great, it reminds me of the most unusual Christmas present I ever received, and received, and received. It came from a listener of mine in Philly, Bertha Waters, who became a lifelong friend (it's been 54 years, so far!). The gift was the idea of John Wilcock, one of the founders of the Village Voice. Applying the same departure-from-the-norm principle that had gone into the Voice (what a great paper it used to be!), his gift idea brought the recipient something in the mail each month—nothing of real monetary value, but an item one was not very likely to have beforehand, and each month's "installment" was sent from a different part of the world.

      I don't know if everybody got the same gifts—I suspect, not, but a year of monthly anticipation made this idea worked. I recall that one month it was an item from Dirty Dick's, the notoriously dusty, cobwebby 1745 pub near Liverpool Station. I loved it.

      Good to hear that you are still enjoying retirement, but finding it in you to do the show. Your blog photos show an eye for composition that should surprise no one. Thanks for the compliments on my graphics.

  6. I forgot to mention that the former employee I mentioned also denounced Null's denial of AIDS. "For that, he's a murderer, in my book," the former staffer declared.

    As for conspiracy theories: I can understand giving them air time as long as there's equal time for a cogent rebuttal. I am always skeptical of government or mainstream media accounts of events. (Indeed, I regard the 9/11 Commission Report as the first major work of American fiction in the 21st Century.) On the other hand, I am equally skeptical of the conspiracy theorists: Their accounts often have as many problems as the official ones. But, they always seem to have the idea that if you question their theories, you're a "tool" for established powers.

    1. I share your skepticism of the 9/11 Commission Report, I think we have seen too many instances of our government reshaping the truth to not view anything they say with well-grounded suspicion. However, there is, as we both see it, a line that WBAI (tabloid radio in New York) crosses with seeming impunity.

      Null's denial of AIDS is a bit blurry in my mind—I think he recognizes its existence, but maintains that the nasty, nasty pharmaceutical industry is fooling those stricken by selling them medicine that doesn't work. He, of course, has something else, and it really works! He is a clever con artist.

      BTW, when a neighbor of mine was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, he could no longer work, so he lost his apartment. I took him in for about 20 years and saw how prescribed medicine (those "cocktails") made him fully functional again. They really worked (just look at Magic Johnson). Sad to say, my neighbor passed away in 2007, but he had developed a crack habit. AIDS was a factor, the doctor told me, but the combination proved fatal.

      Imagine how much money a pharmaceutical company could make if it offered a cancer cure—why on earth should they deliberately stifle it, as the Nulls of this world often claim? People like Null assume that most people are idiots. Well, there is some truth in that, I'm afraid.