Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Tuesday meetings

Tuesday, July 2nd could be interesting.

The so-called JUCs are having a "community" (i.e. "black and brown") meeting 
in a Harlem church from 6 to 9 PM. This group comprises mostly people of color who have splashed, 
and now wish to immerse WBAI into an artificial solution of Africana, hip-hop, and 
street-corner rhetoric. Their heroes include some of the most notorious front-office 
failures in recent years, some of whom are scheduled to speak.

That same night, and almost at the same time (6:30 to 9:30) another WBAI faction will 
meet at a downtown location. These people seem
content to continue floating in a lighter, albeit equally toxic vintage solution, but they
also number among them some who simply have been caught in the middle.

The purpose of both meetings is to “solve” the current crisis. The JUC (Justice and Unity Coalition) has a political agenda that it strongly feels ought to be WBAI’s mission. The other group is meeting (informally, they say) to comply with a demand from Pacifica’s National Board that the station’s Local Station Board and staff present them with “a written plan for the survival of WBAI for the next two or three years.”  The meeting announcement points out that “it’s time to get cracking.”  Actually, it was high time for that several years ago.

Neither faction is to be commended by anyone whose concern for WBAI and Pacifica's 
welfare is genuine. Although some individuals are well-intentioned, both groups are by their very existence detrimental to WBAI and, remarkably, just now waking up to reality. Their decades-long soporific experiences at WBAI did not blind them to the decay that surrounded them, but
guilt was not a factor, for each side had tons of blame to heap upon the other. And then there was Mother 
Pacifica, where slightly different but equally ignoble motives brought out the worst 
in people. Everybody had a personal agenda, fueled by ego, greed and the kind of
desperation that sets in when the end of the road is in sight and there are no other paths to take.

Most simply closed their eyes and ears, stuck their head in the sand, and hoped it 
would all go away. Somehow, it always had, and when yet another clerk was sent 
in to untangle the twisted remnants of past mismanagement, a sigh of relief was 
heard and Morpheus beckoned again, successfully. To wonder what kind of super
naiveté has overcome all these people, one has but to tune in 99.5, listen to the shallow program offerings, and consider the huge and ongoing debt WBAI finds itself in today. Few outsiders listen to the station anymore, and 
those who do are not likely to sense the severity of the current financial crisis. It's
mostly blather as usual, and one might even catch a commercial plug for events 
and products that bear as little relevance to WBAI as a numerology scam, homeless 
guardian angels, and drops of "cancer curing" tap water. There was a flurry of fundraising activity a couple of months back, but as soon as the immediate needs were met or temporarily warded off, WBAI’s management and staff went back to sleep.

So what will they talk about at these concurrent Tuesday night meetings? Who will go 
uptown? Who will go downtown? Will there be a reoccurrence of Hitler salutes? Will those baseball bats 
come out again? Will Frank LeFever distribute fliers promoting programs that stagnated 
years ago? And where, one wonders, will Berthold Reimers' spirit flit about? Which movie will a demoralized WBAI crew take in on Tuesday night? How will they handle the dichotomy?

The reality is, of course, that they are all losers. The fall of WBAI is the result of joint 
efforts that go back many years. At WBAI, the contaminated seeds were sown in the late Sixties, but I think the most serious blow, the point of no return, was reached 
with the emergence of the so-called "new" Pacifica. It was, indeed, new, diluted and rudderless—a vacuum into which scheming incompetents were sucked like dirt. We 
owe our thanks to a few good people who were slow to lose hope, but one has to wonder if the end should not have come sooner—before Pacifica and its satellites 
became a shattered dream and models of mismanagement and hypocrisy.

Some of the good people have already fled—the rest would do well to skip these 
useless meetings and stay on the side of WBAI. Lift a glass to the memory of Lew 
Hill and the pioneer broadcasters and listeners who helped him realize a dream.

When the book is written, as it surely will be, the closing chapter will lend to this 
amazing story a Rip Van Winkle wrinkle Washington Irving could not have imagined. 
To be sure, this is a tragedy, but an oddly farcical one—the stuff low-budget summer movies 
are made of.  —Chris Albertson

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sadly, not so far-fetched...

Ineptitude alone is not the bane of WBAI's existence—selfishness and a disrespectful attitude towards the listener-supporters have played a major role in its deterioration and imminent demise. So has Pacifica's corrupt governance and gross mismanagement. The above photo is slightly modified, but I think it captures the essence of the problem, and it is no more deceptive than the WBAI host it depicts.

When the microphones are off and pre-recorded programs air, much animated discussion takes place in WBAI's rented studio at CCNY.
A comment from the BlueBoard:
"There may be more going on in the studio when the mics are off."

You ain't kidding!
You folks out there don't know the half of the shit that's really going down.

Yeah looks like the curtain is falling on this circus.
It's been real!  —Sidney Smith

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Sound observations from the snake pit

Anyone who has visited the infamous BlueBoard has encountered the trolls, peacocks, disgruntled opportunists and management cronies who strut around in there. However, there are also times when intelligent voices are raised. That happened this morning when an anonymous poster, using the handle, "IndigoPirate", made the following observations:
Please click on below text to enlarge
Text translation: TPM • Graphic translation: CGA • Source
Click on image to enlarge

Saturday, June 15, 2013

About those "premiums"...

The following post by Sidney Smith ("Uncle Happy") and follow-up by Delphine Blue appeared on the BlueBoard. I quote them here, because they express a view of WBAI's fraudulent fundraising offerings that is widely held among it's staff. They also show rare respect for the listeners, who are seen by many of the station's hosts as ATMs rather than  human beings. Such attitudes reflect on the management. Kathy Davis is a major participant in the hawking of bogus "cures" and complaints to Berthold Reimers are either brushed off or ignored by him. This gives their "community radio" claim a hollow, shameful ring.

Friday, June 14, 2013

While Reimers slumbers...

Recently, I received a call from a CPB representative who said she had seen this blog and had some questions. Louis Bedrock had already alerted me to the fact that I might get such a call, and I am reproducing the following with his approval. He actually left it up to me to decide whether or not to re-publish Ombudsman Kaplan's report. I opted to do so, because I see little hope for WBAI to survive the abuse it continues to undergo. Perhaps this will open some eyes.

Fundraising Ethics and WBAI
Joel Kaplan
June 11, 2013
One of the first warnings I received when I assumed the position of CPB ombudsman two years ago had to do with the Pacifica Foundation-owned and operated radio stations across the country.
It seems like those stations did not play by the same set of rules that most public radio stations adhered to, particularly when it came to issues of objectivity and balance.
But so far during my tenure as ombudsman there have not been a significant number of complaints about any of the Pacifica stations—until now.
Louis Bedrock, a retired science teacher who lives in Roselle, New Jersey, says that WBAI, the Pacifica station in New York City, is engaging in ethically-challenged fundraising activities.
“It used to raise money by offering memberships to its listeners and by soliciting donations in addition to membership fees,” Mr. Bedrock writes. “For many years, this formula worked.
“In recent years, because of changes in management and programming, the station's tactics for fundraising has changed. With a payroll that has swollen to approximately $1.5 million, 'marathons' now last over a month and are held every three months. Sometimes they are held more often and for longer periods.
“In what I believe is a violation of the station's non-profit status, WBAI raises money be selling books, CDs and DVDs at greatly inflated prices.” He goes on to say that among the items for sale are materials produced by employees of the station.
“As a recovering cancer patient, I am offended by the hawking of materials that offer outlandish 'alternative' cures for cancer. Curing cancer by diet, and special programs that the government and medical establishment repress is the theme of many of the station's premiums,” Mr. Bedrock added.
For more than a month, we have tried to contact the general manager and other employees at WBAI to no avail. They have not responded to either email messages or phone calls.
Chris Albertson, a former general manger at WBAI in the 1960s, agrees with Mr. Bedrock that the station has strayed from its mission and says it has become unlistenable. He agreed that WBAI may have “stepped over their legal bounds” when it comes to fundraising.
“It's getting worse and worse with more and more fundraising,” Mr. Albertson said. “I started the marathon in 1964 because we needed funds. We weren't offering any premiums; WBAI was the premium.
“Now it's like constant fundraising, months at a time. The things they are offering, they are actually lying to the listeners. One or two fundraisers ago they were offering something called Double Helix water that they said would cure not only cancer, but leukemia and autism. All you needed was a drop or two in a bigger container and it would cure it. It was outrageous.”
It would be nice to hear from WBAI but since they have declined to respond to any overture for comment, it has been impossible to get the station's point of view. Neither station general manager Berthold Reimers nor public affairs director Kathy Davis has responded to any inquiries.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Red letter day...

...and read this letter from a head-in-the-sand Berthold Reimers:

A click on the above letter will enlarge it.

WBAI treasurer’s Report June 12, 2013

The National Finance Committee (NFC) met on May 14, 2013, May 28, 2013, and June 11, 2013. The NFC only got some new financial documents from the National Office last night and there are serious flaws in those documents, the new CFO only last night’s NFC meeting and he said that he was not comfortable with releasing the flawed financial documents. He said that the major problems in the documents were caused by mis-coding of entries in the accounting software and not reconciling accounts for many months.

The FY12 audit is not done yet. The PNB Treasurer, who is also the NFC Chair, reported that the auditor said that the pre-audit prep work is 90% completed and that he anticipates making the June 30, deadline.

The National Office has liquidated Pacifica’s Charles Schwab stock account, which is worth about $250,000. The money was used to cover expenses at WBAI, especially the back payroll, back rent to Silverman and the Empire State Building rent. The account was from the days of the interim Pacifica National Board and is at least a decade old. The signeee on the account was then Executive Director Dan Coughlin.

The NFC is discussing “crowd-funding” for some off-air fund raising projects.

In a discussion at the NFC it was felt that the PNB motion which mandated that, “the WBAI LSB and the WBAI Staff shall present to the PNB a written plan for the survival of WBAI for the next two to three years,” intended that this be a joint report from the LSB and Staff. This is, of course, totally unrealistic. It was felt that if more than one plan is submitted they will probably all be accepted.

The May 30, 2013, payroll was made on time. The June 1, 2013, Empire State Building rent was paid on time.

The CFO said that he will be streamlining the way things are done at the National Office. He also said that he visited with the current auditor, Armanino Mckenna LLP, and together with someone from that office had visited the previous auditor. He said that they had found that the quality of the previous auditor’s work papers was of the lowest standard and was not adequate. He said that the interim Executive Director will be talking to the CPB about extending the June 30, deadline for Pacifica’s audit. He believes that by the end of this week he will send out an update on the progress of the audit.
The FY14 budget preparation is behind schedule at all stations.

The General Manager has sent out an E-mail extending the Spring on-air fund raiser by four days on an emergency basis to raise more money. He says, and the CFO concurs, that WBAI does not have the money to make the June 15, and June 30, payrolls, nor the July 1, Empire State Building rent. The rest of the Pacifica Foundation may not be able to cover WBAI’s expenses later this month and early next month.

There was a meeting of the LSB's Finance Committee on May 21, 2013. Much of the meeting was spent on a report from the General Manager about the move to 388 Atlantic Ave., where WBAI has signed a lease for a floor of the building for a rent of $4,800 a month. The offices are in the process of moving there. The General Manager said that the studios will move to that location once all of the cabling, phone lines, etc. are fully installed.

The LSB's Finance Committee had scheduled a meeting for June 4, but we were unable to gain access to the 26th floor despite numerous calls to Management seeking entry.

R. Paul Martin WBAI LSB Treasurer 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Spotting the crocodile tears...

The following letter was submitted by two friends of Ibrahim González, who knew him well for many years, both at WBAI and in the real world. The hypocritical expressions of grief that are laced into genuine feelings on the WBAI site's tribute were to be expected, but nevertheless need clarification. CA

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

A good voice stilled

June 4, 2013
Early this morning I received a phone call from my friend Janet Norquist, Ibrahim Gonzalez’s wife. She informed me that Ibrahim had died sometime last night. Cause of death has not yet been ascertained.

He was a wonderful human being and a man of many talents. He not only produced radio and video programs, but was a working musician, a gifted photographer, a teacher, and a writer. And a loving and loved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend 
I will miss him.

Louis S. Bedrock 


I just listened to the WBAI Evening News. About 10 minutes was devoted to news of the coming events at the Left Forum; about 5 minutes to the death of NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg.

No mention was made of Ibrahim. Not one word about his death and not one word about his wonderful life--which included 25 years at WBAI.

Shame on WBAI. Shame on everyone affiliated with the station. Shame!  —TPM

More shocking news:

The tragedy that seems to follow WBAI apparently knows no end. As many of us mourn the untimely departure of Ibrahim, comes the news of two of the station's hosts committing suicide. Here is a newspaper article dated June 5. Here is a clip from their WKCR show,

not long before they moved to WBAI.

June 6, 2013

There's this story in today's New York Post.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

When charity does not begin at home...

They used to say that charity begins at home, but what, exactly, is home? Let's take a look at WBAI's home page...

On the right, we see Bertold Reimers touted Transmitter Fund thermometer. Is there something wrong with it, or has only $15,505 been raised in the past 37 days? Remember, the monthly rent for the transmitter room is $60,000—you do the math.

Thermometer on April 25, 2013
June 1, 2013
Could it be that the WBAI website is dormant due to layoffs? No, that can't be it, be-cause if you look at the site's most prominent spot, the one with the shift-ing mess-ages, there is a recent entry for an upcoming event: The Left Forum. Click on it and you will find that it has several layers that not only advertise this non-WBAI event, but also allows you to sign up for registration—and pay them a fee!

It's a little bit like Jeannie Hopper's boat rides and Ifé's hippety-hop "community"* dance do's, except that the Left Forum does not seem to be sharing any of its money with WBAI. Unless, of course, they paid for this elaborate multi-tiered ad. But that's probably not the  case, because the current WBAI is very generous when it comes to handing out free advertising.

They do, however, offer "premiums," drops of tap water that cure all ills come to mind, and—of course—the the scams and blather of people who can only be found at WBAI, for reasons you might have guessed.

There's another saying..."A turd in hand..."

* In the minds of Reimers' inner circle, "community" refers to people of color.