Friday, November 1, 2013
Interims in the interim...
A few days ago, misinformation had it that former WBAI iPD, Andrew Phillips was going to continue doing work for the station, as a volunteer. It didn't make any sense, nor was it true. I used to wonder why Summer Reese, the iED of Pacifica hadn't fired Berthold Reimers, a well-paid "GM" hired by her predecessor about three years ago. This is a wimpy man whose resumé belies his actual experience and capability to a greater extent than most such self-generated documents.
That Reimers—keeping his visibility as low as possible—has made one idiotic mistake after another, is a matter of record, as is the thousands of dollars WBAI's listener-supporters have unwittingly wasted on his salary. The reason why Summer Reese has retained such a costly deadweight becomes clearer each time she is heard from: she either shares his incompetence or is using him to bring WBAI so far down that liquidating it will not only seem justified, but advisable. t think the truth lies somewhere in between.
Last year, when Andrew Phillips was iGM of KPFK, he was dealt what, from every angle, appears to be a fabricated race card. Reese put him on "executive leave of absence" in an attempt to quell a potentially explosive situation. Then, before you could digest that turn of events, this interim Pacifica head was sobbing before an open microphone in WBAI's interim studio and declaring Mr. Phillips the station's interim Program Director. Are you beginning to sense a pattern?
Having seen an earlier appointment of Chris Hatzis to the interim PD position yield nothing more than expressed good intentions, Andrew Phillips' hiring met with understandable skepticism. Would he also extend, rather than curb, the programming stagnation? WBAI was still spiraling downwards, and nobody was loving the spin it was in—or were they?
Certainly not Mr. Phillips, who wasted no time preparing and affecting changes that listeners could hear. The salaried staff had been reduced by 19 when he went to work—that saved the station money, but it was a mixed blessing, because WBAI lost its entire news department, which had been one of its rare assets. Esther Armah, Robert Knight, Kathy Davis and Hugh Hamilton were also gone off the air—which was a good thing—but Knight and Davis kept their gratis shows, their egos not allowing them to let go.
Back to Andrew Phillips. He worked very hard and productively, turning staff and listener skepticism around and giving hope where none had been left. The fraudulent infomercial scams were gone, replaced by original premiums that actually bore a relationship to WBAI's original mission. One does not have to be visionary to know that such a mess cannot be solved in a few weeks, or months, or a year, but a sensible direction had finally been taken. Now it would seem a good idea if Pacifica aided Phillips in his efforts by raising money through other means—enough to allow his repair work to continue. Yes, that would have been a natural, practical thing for the Pacifica Board to do, but the Pacifica leadership has long been loath to do anything practical.
Read the Current article below, and you will get a good idea of what happened. Listen to the station now, and you will hear that Summer Reese not only took it back to the bottom of the pit, she dug an even deeper hole. Bringing back former interim PD Tony Bates, who was ousted when over 100 WBAI staffers signed a petition demanding his removal, is a further betrayal of trust that touches insiders as well as listener-supporters. There were witnesses to Bates' sexual harassment of a WBAI coworker and his playing favorites as he badly bungled the program schedule had dipped staff morale to a new low.
Very recently, Summer Reese seemed to find all that acceptable as she made Bates the new interim GM of Pacifica's Washington, DC station. Bringing him back to WBAI as an interim fundraiser is simply too outrageous a decision to discuss rationally. Bates was the man who had taken premium selection and pitching down, beyond the imagined boundaries of legality and decency.
I hope you will ass your comments below. —Chris