Monday, September 23, 2013

Wimper from under a desk?

One never one? With Reimers making one of his rare appearances, this time slot might attract more than the usual three callers.... perhaps as many as two new ones! Haskins will undoubtedly butt in to reiterate his name and tell the listeners that he appreciates so much their having tuned in to his community radio station...the one Bulgarian housewives and deceased (bottled?) poet/singer can't live without!

Andrew Phillips will also be there, so we might actually learn something new and pertinent.

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


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. My sentiments and judgements are similar. I haven’t listened to or followed the various goings-on at WBAI and Pacifica for years. I only ‘tuned in’ a couple of months ago when I plugged in ‘WBAI’ as a search term in Google News (as I’ve tended to do a few times a year, rather like similar searches of the ‘whatever happened to so-and-so or such-and-such’ sort).

      Until that point, whenever I’d mentioned WBAI to anyone younger than 4,689 years of age they’d never heard of it or had run across it once or twice, concluded it was of no interest and never listened again – bear in mind, these were casual conversations on the Upper Left Side, not the wilds of the West Texas oil country.

      I consider Pacifica’s foundational ideals as worthy of support. I’d also consider other approaches to free-speech, free-expression worthy of support – anything that’s of interest, and of value – I’m fairly flexible.

      What WBAI has become, by degrees, steadily on the whole, with a few dramatic inflection points here and there, is simply of no consequence to anyone I can imagine. It seems to be listened to only by a microscopic cohort of tedious lunatics – yes, yes, there are a few exceptions, but they are in fact very few, and utterly unrepresentative.

      I had hoped that – finally – in the desperation of the last few months (a year, perhaps) some worthwhile last-ditch roll-of-the-dice attempt might be made to reach, however desperately, for something worthwhile.

      Phillips seemed, for a moment, to possibly represent that desperate gamble. Perhaps he does. We’ll likely know fairly definitively fairly soon.

      All I’ve seen and heard to date, though, seems simply attempts to radically shuffle the deck – but to maintain the same myopic tunnel vision as to purpose, as to intent.

      For my part, I’m simply not interested. I strongly suspect that very few are – and that very few are with very good reason.

      So… I suppose we’ll see what the morning brings, if anything.

      I’ll be happy to be proven wrong in my judgements, of course.

      I don’t think it likely, though – the present mindset of Pacifica and WBAI seem too deeply entrenched. Their frames of reference too confined.

      If that’s indeed the case, I’d just as soon see the frequency handed over to someone/something else, preferably someone/something of some merit but in a sense almost anything at all.

      Struggling to maintain an unworthy and largely meritless enterprise which once was worthwhile, which once mattered, on indefinite life support, struggling to continue to breathe to no real purpose… that’s a bit macabre even for my tastes.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

  2. “She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been a time for such a word.”

    Not Billie Holiday; WBAI. The station I once listened to six hours a day no longer exists.
    The producers I enjoyed have been supplanted by incompetents, shills, mountebanks, idiots, and opportunists.
    I too have given up on Phillips. He’s rid the station of a few paid programmers who were truly appalling, but has done little to get rid of other programs that have strayed off their mission or were useless, or worse, from the beginning.

    Blacks are 17% of the population of NYC yet are grotesquely over-represented at WBAI and on its airwaves. Aren’t events in Greece, Ireland, and Spain important? When, since Mario Murillo left, have we heard any good information about South America and The Caribbean? Asia gets one program that lasts as long as the tedious Sojourner Truth program. And enough about Mumia and Ramona Africa already. I lived in Philadelphia when MOVE was ruining the neighborhood around Osage Street with their purile ideas about “living naturally”. Their mostly black home-owning neighbors hated the SOBs.

    Pull the plug. There’s nothing on the station worth listening to. Even "Democracy Now" has become tedious. I still have two friends left who are connected with the station, one of them being Chris. It’s hard to let go of a child, even she’s grown up to be a heroin addict or Charles Manson. But WBAI is no longer Chris’s creation or Samori’s. It’s become a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, as Mumia might have said.


  3. Thank you, TPM. I'm afraid this morning's "Report" brought nothing new to the table, so what little hope I held for Andrew Phillips getting it together is even dimmer, if not gone. The mere fact that Reimers is still around and seemingly not willing or capable of doing anything constructive signals a standstill. They obviously feel that WBAI's life as a Pacifica station depends entirely on the outcome of the upcoming fundraiser., which must reach its goal of $500,000.00. That is naïve beyond belief. Notice that there was no mention of the so-called Pacifica on a Stick premium, so it will not surprise me if they go back to the infomercial style and try to sell the usual crap.

    What we have seen here is a bunch of wrongheaded opportunists dabbling in a field that none of them has a real grasp on, and doing so after wasting the past three years wallowing in the murky waters of their greed and opportunism. Inflated egos kept them afloat, but idiocy has in the end taken the wind out of them.

    I still feel bad for the good people who gave it a good try, but I'm inclined to whisper under my breath the words, "good riddance."

  4. [points in comic cosmic pirate fashion to Maven's and Albertson's remarks above]

    What they said.

    ~ Indigo Pirate

  5. Esteemed Comic Cosmic Pirate:

    Alluding to the deli scene in “When Harry Met Sally”?


    1. Gotta love Estelle Reiner.

      Great scene, classic, but it's not so easy to fake glassy eyes, dilated pupils, and certain other physiological factors I won't mention here.

      We need to find out more details about the pastrami from this place, though – that might explain an ability to fake those difficult-to-fake effects.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

  6. I was referring to the older woman who says to the waiter, "I want what she has."
    Pastrami is a well known hallucinogenic.


    1. [nods] As was I. The woman in question is Estelle Reiner – Carl Reiner's wife and Rob Reiner's mom.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

      ps: Personally, I prefer a pastrami Reuben to the traditional corned beef (with mustard) – heresy I know – perhaps it's that hallucinogenic thing :)