Monday, November 4, 2013

Heavens help Pacifica!

The following is not something I made up. It was posted on the WBAI LSB list last weekend.



  1. It's only a matter of time until Brady has a show about the black helicopters.

  2. I had some random thoughts related to BAI so I figured I’d put them here. People can comment if they care too.

    First of all as far as recent developments go, I have read elsewhere that Reese’s programming moves may just represent cold business decisions. The other night she came out and said that the Null infomercials are on all the time because they bring in a lot of money, (Null is a slick salesperson), so maybe, given the dire situation, Reese has decided to go with what she thinks will sell right now, believing that BAI could not afford to wait for decent programming to build up another audience. Meanwhile Null’s huksterisim can support the real dreck of the likes of Davis and Brady who I don’t think, bring in much money. By the way NYC is presently in a fund drive and it seems that in at least some of their pitches they are subtly mocking BAI.

    On another note, I have been listening since the time that BAI moved to the church on 62nd street, (I always thought that it was a huge mistake to give up that building, but more on that later). Anyway I’ve found it interesting to see the information on some of the on-air personalities of that era. To me Riley always came off as a vile creep so I was not surprised to see the comments about him. I also, by the way, disliked Josephson who, at least judging by his on-air persona, came off as a pompous and self-important jerk. Contrary (I guess) to others who post here I also did not like Feder although I grant that he is a gifted monologist. On the other hand I did like Steve Post and was surprised to find out that he is such a despicable individual. Based on his radio presence I never would have guessed that.

    Getting back to the 62nd street location – I have always been baffled as to how the terrible decision was made to abandon the lawsuit and give up that site. This was just compounded when I learned that the other non-profits, who stuck with the lawsuit, eventually won. Then I read, I think elsewhere, that certain people with executive responsibility at BAI at the time had CIA connections, hmmm interesting!

    1. It is a book screaming to be written—not because it would hold an x-ray to Pacifica, rather because it—if meticulously researched—would tell us much about a generic tangle of obsessive political activism, hypocrisy, greed, bigger-than-life egos, delusions, and backstabbing—all in the name of "peace/"

    2. The much-rumored ‘CIA connections’, were in fact slight at best and in no instance related to decision making.

      The matter of the sale of 359 East 62nd Street is in fact quite straightforward. Though the formal contractual terms of the sale are not part of the public record, and any informal considerations would also not be part of the public record, the actual net profit of the sale was at minimum $500,000.

      If you read the public records you can find that minimum net profit number by simply connecting the dots.

      As for mysterious and ominous ‘CIA connections’, those are imaginary.

      The sale was to a well-established, perfectly respectable, quite successful family company, there are no puzzles or mysteries to be found there.

      The board at the time was controlled by Percy Sutton’s people, and the installation, first, of Kosof/Guzman, and upon that failure the subsequent swift sale of 359 East 62nd Street were also neither puzzles nor mysterious.

      No CIA involvement or black helicopters necessary.

      The signs are in the public record, though not the details.

      Simply connect the dots.

      This is all, however, the very definition of moot consideration.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

    3. The only CIA connection I am aware of has to do with Frank Millspaugh and Chris Koch. According to the NY Times, all the U.S. delegates to a Helsinki peace conference—which they attended—were working for the CIA. To me, that only became interesting when I learned that Millspaugh became my replacement at Koch's recommendation. Koch, having upset the Pacifica National Board by traveling to Hanoi illegally, was officially persona non grata at Pacifica when he—essentially—picked the new WBAI manager. That, in and of itself, was rather odd, but then there was the fact that Hallock Hoffman (Pacifica's president) had asked me to recruit candidates for the position and perform the preliminary interviews. I did that, but when he came to New York for the purpose of doing follow-up interviews and selecting my replacement, Hallock told me to cancel the appointments he had asked me to make for him, because we already had the new manager. It was Millspaugh, a man from the midwest with no radio experience, and no NYC contacts.

      If that is not grounds for suspicion, I don't know what is. Millspaugh's tenure as the station's manager was a disaster—it led to open drug dealing/use on the premises, censorship of politically controversial programs (we had never censored anything prior to that), and a radical change in format that introduced "celebrity" indulgence by Josephson and Post. This was the beginning of the kind of bland programming that now makes few people care if WBAI survives, or not. Although laws were clearly infringed upon and Lew Hill's mission derailed, the station stayed on the air and Millspaugh went on to serve on the Pacifica Board—he even managed to have the term limit ignored in his case.

      I have told you no rumors, just facts that may sound unimportant all these many years later, but probably were an omen of things to come. All in all, it was a very strange experience.

    4. With sincere respect, Chris:

      The only basis for the suspicion of a CIA connect with respect to Koch/Millspaugh as I understand it is the Times piece. If you consider that item with a bit of distance, setting aside your entirely understandable and indeed well-founded and appropriate righteous indignation at the ‘selection process’ on the part of Pacifica, I suspect you may be open to questions as to actual sourcing and purpose of the sourcing of that piece.

      Your annoyance, offense, and righteous indignation are perfectly understandable, but is at the core unrelated to questions of capital-I Intelligence.

      Actual Intelligence connects with respect to WBAI were slight, incidental, and insignificant with respect to WBAI/Pacifica.

      Slight, incidental, and insignifcant as they were, none of them involved executive, managerial, or board personnel or decision processes.

      Rumors as to that were simply rumors derivative of the slight incidental connects, which rumors inevitably grew, particularly in the need of a left/progressive organization to see itself as of consequence and a threat to the established order.

      In any event, the original post speculated as to possible connections to the sale of the Church.

      There were none.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

    5. No indignation here, righteous, or otherwise. This is not something I worry about, but I am as curious as most people probably wood be when nothing adds up. I recall Nat Hentoff writing in the Voice that I should know that the CIA never gets involved in domestic matters. Well, that proved to be a wrong assumption on his part.

      All I am saying—and only because someone brought this up—is that something was not right. It may, indeed, not bear any relationship to the subsequent slow deterioration of WBAI, and it certainly has nothing to do with the sale of the church building.

    6. I only know of Hoffman as a child of considerable wealth, privilege, and ego, whose 1966 reorganization plan as you had posted called for essentially complete centralization of all power and authority over programming and finance in a central office – which he would control.

      In his 1966 grand plan for central control he names Millspaugh as one of three principal decision makers.

      Is it then possible that irrespective of what he may have said with respect to a consultation and selection process he saw himself as the grand central decision maker and that he would therefore high-handedly and in a very real sense capriciously expect to impose his will?

      Children of wealth and privilege have, in my observation, been known to operate in such fashion.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

    7. Interesting thought, Indigo. Did I mention that Hallock was a member of a Santa Barbara think tank, The Center For the Study of Democratic Institutions. Its head was Bob Hutchins,former President of the University of Chicago, who introduced controversial changes in the academic approach and shocked many by doing away with the school's football team. Their conference room, atop a hill that overlooked the Pacific, was where many of our board meetings took looked like something out of a James Bond film.

      There was a scandal in the tanl—apparently, these bright minds suffered from mutual mistrust, for it came to light that they were bugging each other's offices. As I recall, that emptied the think tank. BTW, Hallock had the looks that Central Casting would have placed in their "federal agent" file. His wife, Gene, was far more interesting, a wild lady who was as much fun as he was not. She, too, came from a wealthy family, her father was a Dane, Knudsen, who immigrated in 1909 and became rich by inventing cottage cheese. I think relations between conservative Republican Knudsen and his everything but daughter were strained. I spent many interesting weekends at their California house, where each of the children (seven, I think) performed a house chore according to a strict schedule set up by Hallock. They were perfectly trained.

    8. Knowing of Hallock only through your references, a bit of quick googling, and a quick skim of his grand master plan for Pacifica, I’m not surprised the children were well trained.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

    9. CIA or not the sale of the Church stinks to high heaven - actually a CIA explanation would get however was really responsible for this off the hook!

    10. The public record indicates a minimum net profit of $500,000 on the sale of the property.

      I emphasize that this is profit – net profit.

      Any other monies and/or consideration are not and would not be evident in the public record.

      The purchaser was a large, reputable, well-known family outfit of good reputation, and with many charitable contributions over the years.

      The board, on the other hand, was controlled by Percy Sutton’s people, particularly focused at the time on Inner City Broadcasting, but with many other interests as well.

      The dots aren’t difficult to connect.

      You’ll never see the details, though, and statutes of limitations are in the distant past.

      People do what people do, it’s human nature, and no mysterious secret agents or black helicopters are necessary.

      ~ Indigo Pirate

  3. Maybe a starship will deliver some of Kathy Davis' homeless angels to help the station.

    Meantime, the station could make Z. Starman its accountant. He couldn't do much worse than Reimers did as the station manager--or an accountant.

    1. WBAI and Pacifica have been retrograding for many a moon, haven't they?

  4. 11:29--Interesting to hear your thoughts. I've been listening on and off since 1979. I agree with what you say about Steve Post, although I grant that I heard more of him on NYC than on BAI. I always liked Mike Feder and James Irsay: I'd be curious to know what they're like off-air.

    One host from that period who would fit in with today's BAI is Diane Lacey (sp?). I wanted to like her because I wanted to hear more about black issues, but I felt that she did little more than to rattle off litanies of the sins of various white people, or to spout some hollow rhetoric that ostensibly related to Black nationalism.

  5. To my mind BAI was always too dominated by nationalists and ultra-leftists. Now it seems to be dominated by mysticism and quackery so but still has it's share on nationalists and crazies, in my opinion at least, it has gone from bad to worse. Speaking of the nationalists I have heard now and again some of them ranting and denouncing Manning Marrible, (who btw can't defend himself now) but in my view Manning's politics were very good - far superior to anything I've heard on BAI.