Thursday, October 3, 2013

The hatchet woman of KPFK

The realists among us saw it coming. The announced new approach to fundraising, one where the snake oil people take a hike and premiums actually relate to the station at its best, was too good to be true. It also came much too late—an afterthought preceded by three years of gross mismanagement, low staff morale, and fleeing listeners. The history on a stick idea was good, if not fully developed—there should have been a small, select variety of flash drives—but there were only two, as I can tell, and there was no real promotion behind them. Imagine, not a single mention on WBAI's own web site! One has the distinct sense of Pacifica's dysfunctional board deliberately killing what should be the Foundation's most important station. Of course, they are in California, WBAI is in the other end of the country, and what we have here on a local board is, with a couple of exceptions, a group of dabbling amateurs. The hit man in this final scenario is Christine Blosdale, who has returned from KPFK to finish WBAI off. Well, perhaps she isn't here in body, but those dreadful, dishonest infomercials are just as off-putting when recorded, perhaps even worse, and certainly more deceitful.

I feel sympathy for Andrew Phillips, who had to put up with Reimers, Summer Reese and other roadblocks. His morning appearances have been marred by the interference of Michael Haskins, who has been at WBAI for decades without grasping the concept that used to fuel it. Haskins is a camp follower who lately seems to have aligned himself with a faction that wanted to morph the station into a lower IQ racist outlet, which they called "community." Incidentally, it was a person of that order who played the race card on Andrew Phillips at KPFK and forced his having to take a "leave" from his job there as GM.

Getting back to the WBAI situation, Phillips has made many welcomed changes at WBAI in a very short time, but I think he should have called a press conference and laid the cards on the table. The press loves disasters, so they would show up and it would give the station an opportunity to admit having made colossal mistakes, point out what is being done to return to good radio, and stress the fact that it is a work in progress with many more changes on the horizon. This should also have been an occasion to call for volunteer hosts and producers—WBAI has for many years been sinfully oblivious to the incredible human resources New York has available. Inept management has allowed the station to limp along year after year with the same tired hosts who have big egos and imaginary proprietary rights. The stagnancy has almost become an identifying characteristic of 99.5—most of these people have nothing new to offer, they are on the air for what they themselves can get out of it, and they treat listeners as a necessary evil. Amazingly, nobody is as arrogant when it comes to the listener-supporters as Berthold Reimers, who does not take phone calls and leaves e-mail unanswered, probably unread.

Yes, I think this is really the end and while it is tragic the reality is that WBAI has been dead for a very long time—this is just the last gasp. There is nothing good about the station's demise, but a slight consolation can be found in the fact that it by default decreases the area's air pollution by cleansing it of some truly incompetent opportunists and narcissists.

Sadly, it also closes the microphone to some good people, but I'll be optimistic and assume that their talent will find find them another outlet. While they are best forgotten, I do hope that the people who are responsible for bringing WBAI down will be named and properly disgraced before they go into deserved obscurity. It is a long line that starts with Steve Post and Larry Josephson, and ends with a wimp named Berthold Reimers. 


  1. In the WBAI dictionary, "fundraising drive" means "Gary Null infomercial".

    1. I'm afraid so, and Blosdale is fast becoming a part of this dominant program feature. They can pull that Pacifica stick all the way back, the nosedive can't be averted at this late stage. If there still is a Pacifica station after the crash, it will be even more unrecognizable and of negligible importance. This will be the real wakeup call.

  2. Well, in my opinion anyway, as far as the fundraiser goes things do not look good. Yesterday I tuned in at about 2:00PM to hear Blahsdale hawking some Gary Null premiums and if that wasn’t bad enough I heard the same today and then later (around 4:00PM I think) Blahsdale pitching the WTC conspiracy nonsense that had been pitched during the last fundraiser. I don’t know what happened after that because at that point I tuned to KCR and then I alternated between KCR and NYC for the rest of the night. I wonder how many others did the same? Anyway I’m glad that I held back from donating at the start of the fundraiser so that I was saved from supporting the likes of this!

    As far as programming in general goes, I know we disagree about Hamilton, I liked his show and you didn’t. But I think that now we can both agree on one thing, his dismissal, (and those of Armah and Knight) were do to the expense of the programs and had nothing to do with their contents. Whatever you might of thought of Hamilton, what justification, (other then money), is there for taking him off the air while leaving the likes of Brady and Davis on?

    1. Yes, we are seeing a predicted return to the recent dismal fundraising efforts. This, in spite of the fact that the returns have steadily diminished. It does not take much more than a sparrow's brain to grasp how wrong this direction is, and that stick is not going to alter it to a point where it will make a difference.

      Your point regarding the recent "layoffs" is well taken—any improvement they represent is purely by default. Were performance a factor in their decision, they surely would have relieved Knight and Davis of the time slots they have been filling poorly, but gratis. I don't think Brady was on the payroll, but I had hopes of Andrew Phillips eventually getting around to weed out the place, which would include canceling dross like Brady, Hopper and Starman.

      As I noted previously, the only beef I had with Hamilton was his artificial manner of speaking, which I think he compensated for by coming to the studio well prepared, and having interesting guests and subjects, It was his shrinking focus and obvious alliance with the street-corner faction that eventually made me regard his departure as a positive change.

      Sometimes I pause to wonder if the station hadn't become so removed from its mission as to no longer be worth the time and effort spent keeping it on the air. It was steadily growing worse and nobody on the Foundation or management level seemed to care—their measure of success was strictly writ on the bottom line of questionably honest accounting records.

  3. Christine Blosdale is now hawking and hawking beauty products on KPFA"s never ending fund drives. She absolutely makes me ill and I cannot turn the station off quickly enough. So many of the political programs get removed during fund drives so she can constantly hawk these products; but obviously they bring in money so what does this say about KPFK listeners?

  4. Christine Blosdale is fantastic. You right-leaning liberals need to move on down the dial to NPR, where you'll find all the purportedly "serious" news you like. Labeling documentaries questioning the official 9/11 story as conspiracy theory immediately demonstrates the susceptibility of such persons of being 1) deficient in independent research of the issues; and 2) consequently more inclined to find plausibility in news underwritten and vetted by third parties with an economic stake in such content.

    While I do find some of Blosdale's promotional content counter-productive, especially Gary Null, whose conceit, bombast, disrespect and patronizing exploitation of the network for his megalomania box sets is a travesty, her heart has been and is always in the right place: caring for the health and welfare of the network Lewis Hill started. Any finger-pointing should be at the GM and the LSB.

    The problem with the network is it's been infiltrated by clueless, uninformed, mainstream-media inculcated, political dilettantes pervading the local station boards, who would rather listen to corporatist-libertarian tripe from the likes of Ian Masters, because of its stable, commercial appeal, lauding the content as one of the network's best offerings, than anything else.

    And, Anonymous (Wednesday, December 17, 2014), you can stow that ignorant superiority bull**** regarding the character of KPFK, or any other of the network's listeners right now! It's not were you're from; it's where you are, FFS!

    The network is in dire straits, and I do believe its terrestrial component will falter. Unfortunately, the dumb-down of America has infiltrated even our own bastion of free speech and social justice on the airwaves.

    Just leave Christine and people bold enough to ask questions, and the entire Pacifica mission alone! Charlatans!

  5. gary null = same tired hosts who have big egos and imaginary proprietary rights"