RUMOR: There is a rumor going around as to the nature of this Report tp the Listener. According to sources that may or may not be informed, a new and somewhat desperate cost-cutting programming approach will be announced. There will, some say, be stronger emphasis on outside material, even to the point of eliminating local programs entirely. The idea of swapping 99.5 for a less advantageous signal is also being bandied about. The latter is not a new idea, nor is it senseless when one considers the years of waste inherent in broadcasting humdrum, stagnant programs using great transmission power and a choice antenna location.
Of course, this may be but apocryphal hearsay, however—given the severity of WBAI's present situation—more drastic measures are called for and inevitable.
When I read the current posts in the so-called BlueBoard forum and—to some extent—on this blog, I sometimes wonder how many of us really want WBAI to rise again, and if we aren't being too pessimistic. It brings to mind Billie Holiday, a lady who in her final years could be a sad sight, her looks and voice ravaged by a lifetime of abuse—much of it self-inflicted. Yet, Billie continued to attract large audiences. Her voice, fragile as fine china, had lost much of its original character, but it was still unmistakably hers. Billie's delivery retained and, indeed, amplified the human quality that had always distinguished her performances, and many of us found her singing even more compelling in those years. Billie herself had grown cynical as her relatively short life ebbed out. Standing in the wings of Carnegie Hall at a concert celebrating the publication of her autobiography, she looked out at the capacity audience and remarked to a friend:
"They have come to see me fall off the damn stage."
I sincerely want WBAI to survive, but only if it can once again become the meaningful source of enlightenment Lewis Hill envisioned when he and his associates first turned on KPFA-FM, in the late Forties.
THIS JUST IN @ 10:20 PM, Tuesday: According to a source on the WBAI paid staff, Pacifica's Interim Executive Director, Summer Reese, has recommended to the Pacifica National Board leasing out the station for several years to the nonprofit that runs WFMU (a mainly music station in NJ) and WMFU. Another leasing offer being considered is from Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the public-access cable TV station. Both would involve handing over control of programming to these outside organizations in return for some level of ongoing payments to cover WBAI's operating costs.
The Pacifica National Board will probably make a decision on this matter soon in a secret meeting (conference call). What is at stake is the very identity and integrity of a station that has been a vital voice of dissent for more than half a century. —Anonymous