Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Today, when BlueBoard administrator R. Paul Martin, expressed his displeasure with my critique of WBAI's mismanagement, I responded by pointing out what I see as having led up to the present crisis. I didn't say anything that he hasn't read in my BlueBoard posts, but I admit that I took advantage of an opportunity to speak freely. Unlike the BlueBoard, Nalini's Pacifica Radiowaves list-serv allows one to do that. Anyway, my response to R. Paul brought the following from Kevin White, a man who owes his education to Houston's Pacifica station, KPFT (well, a good chunk of it) and is a long-time uninhibited critic of Pacifica in its present form.
Chris, I feel exactly the same way as you do. What's so frustrating about the hole Pacifica is in is that its problems are so easy to fix. Houston's Leo Gold emailed me that "All Pacifica's problems could be solved by a second year MBA student. "Number 11 is my favorite. Pacifica managers are the laziest I've ever encountered. —Kevin White, KPFT - Houston
What do you think? Please leave a comment—and speak freely! (Click on text to enlarge it.)
Monday, July 29, 2013
It might have worked somewhat better had they tried to turn WBAI into an intelligent black station, but myopia and racism got in the way. Of course, WBAI was never meant to limit its appeal to one small segment of the NYC populace, especially not an even smaller faction within that group.
Friday, July 26, 2013
As the Board Bozos meet to come up with a 2 - 3-year plan for WBAI's future...
Click on text to make it a readable size.
I don't know how many former listeners have contacted the Pacifica Board, but I am told that several have complained to the CPB. The outrage is mounting and I know of at least one major media outlet that is preparing a story. Reimers and the LSB cannot say that they didn't see this coming, so they are but reaping what they themselves have sown. If Pacifica had listened, I think they could have dumped this management and turned the station around. At this point, I see no hope for that occurring.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Monday, July 22, 2013
This morning, WBAI launched its latest—and, perhaps, last—fundraising marathon. The goal is a million dollars, but the schedule and its content have not been improved. This means that they are not only trying to sell you a flawed product, but one that you have already rejected.
Esther Armah kicked off this drive with George Quant on the phone from KPFK, where he is a host of questionable credibility. Quant is the self-named "Master Teacher of Meditation," a guy whose QIM (Quantum Integrated Meditation) falls perfectly into Pacifica's bag of healing scams. He has a set of four CDs for sale and Armah is offering them at a very special price of $250. She assures us that "Others pay thousand and thousand and thousands for" the same thing. If that is so, they obviously don't know that these discs can be had from Quant's own website for $150.
Listen to Quant ramble on about his famous "clients," the movie stars, heads of state, corporate moguls, etc. Imagine being so admired the world over ("some of these people have called me from their private jets," he boasts). Why, with such fame and success, is George Quant still a local KPFK broadcaster? Why is the high praise we read online all coming from his own website? If you fall for this one, you probably deserve to be rooked by Pacifica and the Reimers group.
The following is, of course, a product of my imagination, but it really isn't far fetched
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The following comment was sent to my jazz blog by John Lightning, a now disenchanted former WBAI volunteer who did the right thing: used WBAI as a learning experience and stepping stone to further adventures in broadcasting. That's how it should be, and John sounds like the kind of person whose advice and expertise WBAI should have been able to call upon, but keeping friends is not the station's métier. John's opening comment refers to a Meade Lux Lewis recording he heard on my blog,
However, I am writing primarily to let you know that upon the passing of an old pally of mine, I inherited a box of reel to reel tapes from him. They got boxed up with all of my reels when I moved, and in sorting them out, a few of them were WBAI airchecks, some of which appear to have been made at BAI (one was in a box with the yellow continuity label on it). One reel was labeled 'Scraps' from 8/68.
As a regular 'Scraps' listener (Yes, I was the one), and someone who airchecked some shows (still have a few), I quickly cued it up... played just fine... 15 minutes of vintage 'Scraps'.
I am writing to inquire as to if you would like me to digitalize it for you to download, or if you wish, send you the reel. 'Scraps' was one of those programs that influence my early tape editing, and made me seriously consider radio as a career (although it turned out to be a 25 plus year hobby for me).
I found out you were still alive and quite well, following the ongoing saga of WBAI, and its impending demise. Frankly, save for a handful of programmers doing something unique and compelling, it will not be missed I am sorry to say.
I was a volunteer at BAI back in it's heyday at 30 East 39th Street, when it provided the type of vital, informative and entertaining radio that it rarely manages to do today... and for the most part, has failed to do for decades. It demanded you care, care enough to give of your time and money, because it featured personalities and presenters who cared... and gave great radio!
When I began fooling around at radio by putting my own pirate station on the air some 25 plus years ago, I did so because of the dearth of the type of radio I was seeking. Fortunately WBCQ has provided me gratis air time to follow my prime directive for almost 15 years!
And you are among those I owe THANKS to, 'Scraps' along with 'Techie Time', were an influential part of my radio diet, and made me long to do something similar.
I also must thank you for turning me on to Uncle Sid... now there is a crazy person doing my kind of radio. No agenda driven, same old, same old, by rote radio rot from that character. If WBAI does go bye, bye, perhaps I can get him to do 'radio' of sorts on the internet. As even I attract a reliably rabid audience, I know he surely would!
If BAI continues it's suicide march to oblivion, I'll not miss it, save for the relative handful of talents there that create unique content worthy of it's ESB based signal. I have barely and rarely listened in many a decade, to the narrow casting nonsense of many of it's core air personalities, the wack jobs, the self promoters hawking their tinctures and potions, the astrological phonies, and the proverbial plethora of other con artist and communications charlatans wasting precious air time on a station that was one a precious commodity that meant something to so many.
Now, the spent shell of BAI, about to put itself out of our misery, is a jumbled mess of ego driven dolts and fakers, unworthy of our support no less our time. Too bad, but then, the internet does supply me with most all the alternative view points and music I require, making BAI even less relevant.
I only hope those at WBAI who are doing great, interesting, and entertaining radio, continue to somewhere. There is just not enough unique content out there now, and such content is what I believe radio overall needs, to survive as a viable option for news, views, entertainment and music. I think it can happen, and yet, I'm one of those who is too realistic to be at all sanguine about it's future. Thanks again pally!
John Lightning WBCQ & Radio NewYork International (www.Johnlightning.com)
Friday, July 12, 2013
Sidney Smith posted the above words on the BlueBoard following a rash of suggestions from people who want to see WBAI survive, and those who want to see their own stagnant job remain in place. Sidney's original post was accompanied by this clip of Bogart's memorable "Caine Mutiny" breakdown.
Here is a comment from a BB poster who uses the handle, IndigoPirate, and has consistently addressed WBAI's problems with refreshing independence and the kind of insight that, ironically, often is a reward for detachment:
Here is a comment from a BB poster who uses the handle, IndigoPirate, and has consistently addressed WBAI's problems with refreshing independence and the kind of insight that, ironically, often is a reward for detachment:
Superb choice on the vid, dude !
I agree, absolutely – unless you have a truly clean sweep it's pointless: Management at all levels, programming, the works, quite possibly including severing WBAI from Pacifica altogether.
These things are risky, desperate, and will be ugly in any of a number of ways – but without them... nothing changes, really, until final absolute failure and death, accompanied by the sale of the frequency to Clear Channel or a comparable interest.
I, with the luxury of distance, suggest you sharpen your knives, steel your hearts, and get serious. —IndigoPirate
Monday, July 8, 2013
Here is a post and some responses from the BlueBoard that are worth repeating. The spark was a suggestion that Null's operation and some aspects of WBAI itself may be a "cult." The author uses the telling handle, Former Listener, Member, Volunteer, and if ever the nail was hit on the head...
I added a couple of interesting responses at the bottom and hope that you will add your own. Faction feuding having prevented a real dialogue from taking place on the BlueBoard, I hope you all know that all reasonable (i.e. not frivolously venomous or trollish) comments are welcomed here—and there are NO UNMENTIONABLE NAMES! Apropos this old forum, it's good to see that keenly observed, intelligently worded truth is surfacing here while infantile trolling seems to be in decline.
Former Listener, Member, Volunteer: My experience with listening a few times to the laughable "Dr." Gary Null show, and having the distinct displeasure of taking pledges from his desperate, terrified zombies begging (in tears) for me to ship the premiums even if they couldn't afford the "price" all at once... I think that he and his listeners/worshipers have many cult aspects. I will never forget or forgive those painful moments at WBAI. Preying upon NYC's multitudes of desperate people with smooth-FM-delivery of such a toxic message. No, I'll never forgive that. Never.
On a lighter note, here are some obvious-to-anyone-with-a-brain off-the-cuff observations re Null as Cult:
1. Plenty of portentous "end-of-the-world" pronouncements, with featured content including “Apocalypse 2012: An Investigation into Civilization’s End" (that was in 2010, oh well), "solar superstorm apocalypse" (featuring what stuff to buy to prepare for it, that was announced in 2012 and due by May 2013), and I personally remember the "They're gonna regulate my supplements! You must stop the FDA!" Armageddon... all to help Null's multimillion-dollar business, and WBAI aired it with enthusiasm... and I need not go on.
2. Null's near-constant refrain of "I - and only I - know something that 'they' won't tell you, and 'they' are persecuting me for it." You know, awesome truths like HIV doesn't cause AIDS... so buy my Berry Boosters! I am The Way, The Truth, and The Life! Talk about quality educational radio!
3. Charismatic media personality attracting desperate people in search of healing and meaning. Gary's FM radio voice stylings make me nauseous, but apparently they are nectar for some people's ears. Demographic analysis suggest that the loons are disproportionately white, affluent, and feel very VERY entitled to eternal life.
4. Enablers and leeches like WBAI-FM and Pacifica who will, in turn, tell you that it's Gary's ability to bring in that $$$, his sacred free speech, all that $$$, and the holy factional revenge required after his due process was ignored by the devilish other-faction head Bernie, plus all that $$$, - and did I mention the $$$? - that are of paramount importance, instead of the Pacifica Mission statement. No, the Pacifica Mission statement is irrelevant in the face of apocalypse, factional jollies, smooth FM radio marketing, and all that $$$. Of course, Pacifica was never smart enough (or perhaps this was purposeful) to realize that for every $ you got with "Dr." Null, there's no telling how many $$$$$$$$ you lost from sane listeners. Who could possibly tell their friends to listen to a station with Gary Null on it? No, excuse me, where Gary Null is the - far and away - NUMBER ONE ATTRACTION, often played and replayed ad nauseam (literally) to extract the last cent from his worshipful flock. Even if the "scare away" effect from garbage offerings and programming wasn't enough - did it EVER OCCUR TO ANYONE that all of WBAI's/Pacifica's eggs shouldn't be in one basket? Of course not, because... you see...
It's a cult.
But please don't take my word for it...
"... there is a quick and cost-free solution to WBAI's (and Pacifica's) worsening financial crisis. And that is to invite Gary Null back to WBAI --." - Steve Brown, on this very Blueboard, Wednesday, 28 May 2008, at 11:41 pm
HAAAHAAHAHAAAHAHAHAAHAHAAA!!! Please, please, that last part again! "." - Oh, please again again! - " ." - - More, more!!! - " ."
Oh now, maybe I'm being a bit rough on the whole Null faction. Perhaps we should ask an outstanding judge of broadcasting quality and character.
"Gary Null Is Almost OUR ONLY HOPE for SAVEING Our OWN NATION = As WELL as THE WORLD !!!!!" - Monroe Litman, de facto Program Director of WBAI for decades, on this very Blueboard, Monday, 31 October 2011, at 4:34 pm.
Bigger than JESUS, I tells ya! BIGGER THAN JESUS! Steve says he'll save the station (obviously, that worked!) and Monroe says he'll save America and the World (5 exclamation points... if only there had been a sixth, I would have believed him.)
by Former Listener, Member, Volunteer:
You know, now that I look back at my post, I do regret the anger. Not at "Dr." Null and the Null faction or even WBAI generally, but at listeners I wrongly called "loons" and "zombies." I have been in desperate places, and I have been open to and fallen for artful deception as well. More than once. That didn't make me stupid or bad. I regret my moral error and apologize.
Many WBAI boosters will tell you how "powerful" radio is... only to forget that radio is, indeed, powerful.
IndigoPirate (another astute observant) responded:
With respect: Even though you may have used those words, I felt your empathy for their desperation was clear, and that your anger was not directed at them but at the horror of their situation and the fact that it would be taken advantage of by a fraud-scam-meister like Null.
Tank Hankerous (rarely, but occasionally, cantankerous) added:
I think it was earlier this year or late last year, he was calmly screaming (as only he can) about solar flares. Solar flares are coming, he said, he knew "experts" who said that "the big one" was coming down any day now and it would be THE END OF EVERYTHING ELECTRONIC. Donate now and you would receive a survival kit that would prepare you for every eventuality in this post-electronic world which would be bereft of phones, the internet, TV, and radio.
That's correct, no radio. So what the fuck was the point in making a donation to a facility that was going to be fried in the upcoming apocalypse? Talk about a shitty investment strategy. He doesn't care. No one at the station cares.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
Since the middle of the week, when some of us waited to hear what went down at the Tuesday night meetings, there have been a few rumors and suggestions. The latter range from wishful thinking to practical ideas that could work if it wasn't for time running out. During all this, Reimers and his minions are acting as if this very real crisis were nothing more than an aggressive, pesky fly circling above the WBAI soup bowl.
A couple of sensible, appealing suggestions came from anonymous posters to the BlueBoard and a short, to-the-point one was submitted by Delphine Blue (you will find that one at the bottom of this post.
There were all kinds of reactions to these ideas. Some were sound, others not so, it seemed to me. Here is one of the latter and the rather lengthy reaction I had. Call it a tirade, call it redundant, call it Shanika...I hope you read it.
"A key problem in all this is not having steady drive time hosts... with Hugh, Esther and Robert possibly gone their (sic) needs to [be?] a lot of debate as to what to do." —Jim Dingeman (on the BlueBoard)
Dropping Hamilton, Armah and Knight is no loss to WBAI and its listeners—quite the contrary is true, for it is imperative that the station return to the principle upon which Pacifica was founded. Hamilton and Armah feed their myopic messages to a very small segment of WBAI's remaining audience: people of color, but only those who share a narrow view of the world. The fact that WBAI has also discouraged "black and brown" independent thinkers is often overlooked. Using an ancestral yardstick to focus on one particular segment of the area's population is wrong, per se, but further narrowing one's target down to a faction within that group is utterly ludicrous. Whether by design or incompetence, WBAI's audience has been dumbed down over the years. So much so, that it would accept an Ifé, a Kathy Davis, a numerologist, a DiMehle, a Geoff Brady, and a clammy handful of health "experts." primed to be spoon fed over-priced/under performing bogus "cures", digitalized doomsday theories, and pre-recorded pseudo spirituality, the station's most vulnerable listeners became its victims in a reprehensible practice designed to keep on the air, year after year, the opportunists and hustlers we all can name.
That includes Robert Knight, whose case is slightly different. He blathers on and on, but not about an imagined "community," his favorite topic is his love for self and hate for the man he voted for in 2009. Knight is driven by an agenda, but it is not—as one might gather from listening to the downloads that comprise most of his programs—totally sparked by an abiding hate for the current administration. I admit that I once thought that was his motivation, but I have come to realize that Robert Knight is a desperate man making a last-ditch effort to capture what he once apparently came close to possessing: a meaningful career in the world of journalism.
They tell me that he showed promise when he first came to WBAI, some forty years ago, but he overestimated his own talent, which included a fair amount of bamboozling. Now he is the ambulance chaser who Googles and throws his downloads on the air to satisfy his own biases, fill time slots and cause a stir that might turn a spotlight his way. The problem is that it isn't working out for him. You may hear a faint "amen" from the small corner choir he preaches to, but gone with his windbaggery is whatever integrity he may once have had. Knight may himself believe that he is a journalist serving “cutting edge” news as a network anchor, but I think he knows that it’s all smoke and mirrors.
Sad, really, but self-inflicted.
All of this worked for far too long, but there came a time when WBAI's management, front-office cronies, and—very likely—Pacifica's board could no longer obscure the fact that listeners were abandoning the station in droves and outrageous bills were piling up like traffic in a flash fog.
So, i.m.h.o., dumping the three salaried, pretentious hosts, Hamilton, Armah and Knight is a no-brainer. I am not so sure that WBAI needs to think in terms of "drive time," anyway.
Were it not for the fact that racist, polarizing program content of a political nature has begun to characterize a schedule that also includes an overdose of insipid music programs, WBAI might have retained listeners whose need for intelligent radio brought them to 99.5 in the first place. They came and tended to stay, many even transferring their enthusiasm to their children.
Now the lure is double helix water, homo-friendly guardian angels, hours of alarmist crap on DVDs, heavenly shampoo, etc. worthless products that too often are not delivered to the paying listener, bear no relationship to Pacifica's stated mission, and do not inspire return visits. WBAI's current audience is not only small, it is nomadic.
The scramble to come up with a quick rescue plan at this stage demonstrates how disorganized and inept local and national management has been.
It is mind-boggling to think that there are a manager and board members who have been so blind for so long to the inevitable outcome. I see the most obvious victims of these games (for that is what they are) as the loyal listeners who gave their financial support, but there is another group that deserves our concern—perhaps even more: the hosts and program producers whose work and spirit is in keeping with Pacifica’s mission and the intelligent listener’s expectations. I hope they will be able to find another outlet for their talent and keep alive that odd enthusiasm that helped them survive the abuse and pettiness that polluted the WBAI work environment.
Delphine was one such person. She made a commendable statement when she quit WBAI and she also deserves our admiration for coming up with a simple, no-nonsense, do-able recovery plan that, alas, does not have time on its side.
Delphine Blue's proposal:
Date: Friday, July 5, 2013, 12:29 PM
I think WBAI should go to recordings from the Pacifica Archives exclusively for 2
weeks to one month in order to re-establish the identity of the station. That would mean round the clock, exclusively, for two weeks to a month. After which a new grid would be introduced. The entire new grid must be in place prior to its launch.
• No TBA slots sitting idle. No cart before the horse grid.
• No paid on-air hosts other than the news dept.
• The initiation of underwriting. This means a 10 second or shorter announcement saying the name of the underwriting entity.
• No premiums offered unless they are in house.
My 4 cents. Feel free to argue amongst yourselves.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Last night I tuned in to "In Other News," and heard Geoff Brady listen, agree with, and not once question a batty Brit's ludicrous theory that our Fourth of July celebrations—and, indeed, the Statue of Liberty and American flag—are, in fact, the living relics of a mystical rite that has sinister origins in ancient Egypt. The gist of this man's transatlantic rant was that we are all, somehow, being bamboozled. That wonderful line from a TV classic came to mind, "It's a cook book!"
Brady obviously admired this fellow nut and told him, by way of encouragement, that several previous guests on his show had made similar observations. Brady did have one thing right: only on WBAI could one hear this revelation.
I bring this up, because it is one reason why people don't bother to listen to the station anymore. Another reason would be Esther Armah's breakfast racism, which she served in a generous heap this morning, and, earlier on, Z. Starman's astrology/numerology scam. This morning, he told Max Schmed that listeners are asking him about the "pink slips" received by WBAI's paid staff. Schmed confirmed this, adding that he can't say much about it since the station's management has isolated itself from the staff and no information is given out. Even the severity of WBAI's debt had been kept a secret, he pointed out. The resident astrologist told him not to worry, because some planet is in retrograde and that means everything will be honky dory by the 20th. Before the end of the show, Starman urged people to call his personal business number for "a consultation, or whatnot," and gave the number out 9 or 10 times.
So, tonight we have two warring factions, one more deluded than the other, meeting separately to solve WBAI's problem.
Laughable? Yes. Pathetic? Even more so.
WBAI needs to exercise the "free speech" it so falsely claims as a proprietary feature, and open that microphone to people who know what the story is and are not afraid to tell it. This won't solve the problem—it is already far too late for that—but at least WBAI will go under with a smidgeon of credibility intact.