Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Andrew Phillips minces no words...

Solomon caught the following Facebook post by Andrew Phillips, one of the recent Pacifica/Reese victims. His observations regarding Gary Null's increasing dominance is shared by many. One wonders what he thinks of the most recent iPD, Robert Hennelly, who is already proving to be a disaster. What we have left in the way of support for the station is a group of cling-ons, whose growing desperation is painfully revealing. Even Bob Fass, who has every reason to resent management's attitude,  is evidencing moral bankruptcy at the thought of losing his time slot. That bothers me a great deal, but—somehow—comes as no surprise. His failing health aside, Bob should have quit with dignity while that was still possible. He is, of course, not alone, but most of his stagnant colleagues have no glorious past to recapture or reminisce over. I never regretted bringing Bob back to WBAI in the '60s, but I find it sad to hear him come apart on a show that once was remarkable, culturally significant, and way ahead of its time, but now is mired in nostalgia for the few who remember how it once was.

Here' (presumably, in part) is what Mr. Phillips posted today:
"Meanwhile WBAI plunges back into premium and Null driven 2-week fundraiser. Nelson Mandela makes money, Thom Hartman does not. Less than $15k for first day. And SR [Summer Reese] trying to sack KPFK iPD, Allen Minsky who is roadblock to Null/Blosdqle infomercials. Null throws hissy fit because he can't sell his wares and refuses to pitch. He's twisting SR's arm - extorting her to get him on and Minsky out. Meanwhile there's a new reaching out to members and informing them. PNB plans membership voting quorum reduced to 5% so a handful of members get to control and ruin Pacifca - current quorum is 10% but most stations don't make it. Nobody but a few idiots and ideologues gives a fuck. There are exceptions but not many."

The URL link will take you to the Ian Master's piece to which I linked earlier.


  1. "Nobody but a few idiots and ideologues gives a fuck. There are exceptions but not many."

    Is this WBAI's "State of the Union", if you will?

    1. Very likely, but someone tore off the union label.

  2. I deeply respect Fass for what he did in the early years, and I think that should be celebrated, respected, and from time to time recalled.

    He was very badly adrift by the mid-1970s, though, with long, boring conspiracy-theory programs, very little music, and none of the sense of daring, invention, and improvisation of the early years – there was no period of drift followed by attempted rebirth or resurrection, only drift…. Whether that stagnation was the product of the passage of time, the fact that people often become mired in their ways, or perhaps far too much chemical enjoyment I have no way of knowing. I do know that staff at the time regarded him as a sad remnant clinging to air. It was sad, but it was so.

    When I finally got around to checking out the Radio Unnameable film one of the things that struck me most was how astonished and unbelieving Adler and Fass were that Engelman and others in authority took the action they did. I judged that to be the case with them at the time, but, still, it was startling to see such willful, blissful, egocentric naiveté on display. Gorman, who was very influential at the time, and who was not in the film, was very much of the same attitude. Whatever it had been in their lives that led them to think that they would get what they wanted if they really really really wanted it I don’t know – and frankly don’t much care. I’m not big on spoiled children who think they’re adults and who thus bring ill fortune and misery to others.

    Post and Josephson, whether one might agree or disagree with them on particulars, were very much not of that school of privileged children – they clearly knew that one doesn’t always get what one wants simply because it’s really really really important.

    Fass was, of course, extremely influential in the course the critical staff meetings took, as was Adler. Gorman, then still a significant figure, had less direct effect other than his infinite wasting of everyone’s time with long speeches about his personal angst over this, that, and the other. In a group at times approaching two hundred that ‘need’ to present his self-absorption at length with no consideration other than his own ego was less than helpful in what was, for the station, a very critical time.

    The people at the meetings who were most real-world, most pragmatic, capable people like Mercer, who was Director of Operations, or Ardwin, who was Chief Announcer, or Auden, who’d been a real-world union organizer in challenging circumstances, were, unfortunately, only secondary voices as the ‘meetings’ drifted to nothing much and in the end grasped in desperation at a half-baked notion that if only they were a Union – magical word – the likes of Engelman would not dare oppose them, for fear of the negative publicity.

    Fass, then, in my judgement, though not a determinant, was a very significant voice in the process, and was indeed unable to conceive of the staff not getting its way.

    How could he possibly not get his way?

    How could they possibly not get their way?


    Naive children.

    If memory serves Children’s Crusades don’t as a rule end well.

    I was struck by the film’s noting, principally in the words of Post, that the crisis of 1977 was the sharp break that doomed the place.

    I share that judgement.

    In many ways Fass is representative of the arc of the enterprise as a whole: Once innovative, at the edge, and of consequence, ebbing to meh, to nothing much, but hanging on, looking back at the good old days, a sad cliché of age with little wisdom.

    That’s harsh. I wish it weren’t so, I sincerely do. Fass is hardly the only creative person who became becalmed, bemired, and could only look back, imagining that the looking back was a force, still, in the present.

    It’s deeply unfortunate that it all came to this, but it’s all too common – in fact by far the most common arc of life, whether of an individual, a community, a society, or an institution.

    I’d only hope that it’s the fire next time :)

    ~ Indigo, Pirate

  3. Sadly quack medicine might well be the niche that BAI has found. We may not like it but, like I've said before, the nutcase fundamentalist churches are full every Sunday (and maybe other days too!). I think it was Mark Twain who once said something lie, "... the surest way to a fortune is to start a religion...". Well, in the case of BAI the "religion" is "alternative" medicine!