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  


  1. part 1 of 2

    Here is an internet article that might shed some light on the situation:

    It appears, that there are two broad camps in non-commercial radio broadcasting in the US. There is Public and Community radio. Public Radio accepts money from the CPB (corporation for Public Broadcasting) and agrees to maintain certain professional journalistic standards in return for grant money. Community radio, on the other hand, remained free of advertiser influence, but relies on its listeners for fund-raising. Bates and Reimers may still be in power, because they understand the mechanics of the community broadcasting model and have no compunction about squeezing every last cent from the shrinking and impoverished audience, Anrew Phillips tried to break away from the model and was replaced, because the management culture at BAI wants it to be exactly what it is now.

    Which brings us to Amy Goodman. The extreme political blogosphere from both sides is replete with mistrust for Amy Goodman and for Democracy Now! One of the posts mentioned that Democracy Now! (aka Democracy Now Productions, Amy Goodman, President, Julie Crosby, Executive Manager) has HIRED activists and organizers to agitate the listeners and put pressure on NPR affiliate stations to carry Democracy Now. The article above seems to substantiate that allegation. Furthermore, Democracy Now not only accepted funding from the same source as NPR in the beginning, to get itself off the ground, but it still KEEPS getting funding grants from large foundations, read here:

    I hope that Democracy Now never makes the NPR broadcasts, because the show is not objective, and does not belong on NPR any more than Rush Limbaugh belongs on NPR, as someone put it, her stuff is less about journalism and more about advocacy. As anybody with a highly successful enterprise worth millions, Amy Goodman is a major promoter of Democracy Now as a marketing brand. I would not condemn or criticize anyone for self-promotion, but this incident is too much for tastefulness or honesty:

    Mitch once asked me of I was trying to make a case that Democracy Now grants affect her broadcasting. Obviously, something affects her broadcasting, as the link above shows! Goodman is clearly being evasive, avoiding to speak on record, like a politician, probably not to alienate her audience of 9/11 Conspiracists, but there is more. There was a 2005 or 2006 blog posting, by a woman in Colorado, alleging that there are "7 things that Amy Goodman will never talk about on Democracy Now!". That article appears to have been taken off the net, and I dismissed it as complaints of an unhappy conspiracist. The seven things that Goodman never talked about, were the types of theories, in which explosives bringing out the World Trade Center on 9/11 and other stuff I don't remember, but I read them and thought to myself - Goodman is maintaining her objectivity and professionalism as a journalist, but then the article mentioned that Amu Goodman never spoke of the "Peak Oil" theory - that the world is about to run out of petroleum. This theory WAS widely discussed by mainstream scientists, so why wasn't Amy Goodman talking about. TWO OR THREE years later Goodman did a show out of Africa and trumpeted the Peak Oil concept. Could it be, that while her show was getting grants from the same foundations as NPR, Amy Goodman decided not to rock the boat and did not talk about the Peak Oil the same way as NPR didn't talk about it?

  2. Finally, I heard the exchange between Clayton Riley and Robert Knight and Amy Goodman. Starting from where he hisses at Goodman not to touch the board, that it is engineer's job, to the famous off the air conversation where Clayton Riley spews hatred. Nobody bothers to question WHAT set off his rage in the first place. Envy? Jealousy? We are told that it took Amy Goodman just two years to go from a rookie to running WBAI Newsroom. In an organization rife with politics and cronyism, by what hook or crook was Goodman able to pull it off?

    Then there is a question of Democracy Now taking off and leaving BAI and the extremely expensive 5 year contract that BAI signed to carry the Democracy Now! the Pacifica's FLAGSHIP station. Could it ne that this extremely expensive contract is really the out of Court SETTLEMENT, that was awarded Amy Goodman for all the insults and abuse that she suffered from the BAI Staffers?

    Finally, there is the question of the NPR style grand funding from major foundations that Democracy Now has been receiving at some point and that it may still be receiving. Why is it that BAI has got none or applied for any recently. And while NPR discloses its funding, why doesn't Democracy Now? And why are the other hosts at the WBAI mum about it? Don't THEY want the BAI station to get some decent grants?

    MY THEORY is that Goodman may have made contacts with people from civil society groups such as the Ford Foundation and the Soros organization, when she was covering hot spots, like East Timore. Having things like the reputation and name recognition, and well deserved professional respect as a daring journalist. got her the ability to get grants, when she needed them for her news organization. At about the same time, the Pacifica Foundation tried to improve its financial security by taking underwriting from Corporation for Public Broadcasting. In the environment, where BAI, and possibly others will fall in line, Amy Goodman applied for grants for her Democracy Now news organization, which were destined specifically for her project through Pacifica. Democracy Now! can comply with keeping its donors happy, Pacifica is happy and Democracy Now becomes its flagship offering, and the rest the programming at BAI and others does not have to comply with stricter standards and editorial policy, and through Democracy Now, BAI is paying its dues for its revolt to Pacifica. Amy Goodman was an insider on a fast track to success and that is why the likes of Clayton Riley were lashing out at her.