Thursday, February 13, 2014

A letter to the dear, dear WBAI family...

As predicted, the Hennelly fundraiser is a bust, he has been fired, and it is back to scamming as usual. Do I hear someone say dejá vu all over again?  Well, here's a letter from Berthold Reimers to the producers, posted this evening. I don't know how he became "Gene" manager, but that is an interesting typo.

Dear WBAI Family,

I have a few announcements to make:

First, Bob Hennelly is no longer a member of WBAI management's team.

Second, as most of you no doubt have observed, the Winter Fund-Drive has been disastrous so far. The experiment launched on Monday, "The program is the premium," is simply not working. This concept does not work for NPR, and it it dd not work for us.

Of course, we all want to get away from WBAI's undue reliance on premiums. Diversifying revenue streams is a high priority, and thee is a team working on a plan to increase the share of funds raised online, in the community, and via traditional non-profit strategies. This plan necessarily includes a carefully timed transition, steadily reducing on-air fund-drives as the new revenue sources emerge and stabilize. We cannot jut jettison overnight the method that kept us alive for the past 20 years. And that is what we did these past 2 weeks.

We are resilient, however. Starting next week, on Monday, February 17, we will return to pitching premiums. I assuming that you are not ready to pitch a premium since management did not ask you to prepare for this. Therefore all programs for next week are pre-empted pending my speaking with each producer. I want to give you enough time to prepare a premium that you can pitch starting the week after next, beginning Monday, February 24.

Of course, all producers who already have a premium are welcome to do so (please call me). Also, I ant to encourage producers to consider pitching to their listeners in-house premiums (ones we don't have to buy) that are offered by other producers. Perhaps, your listeners might like something a bit different? (Contrary to rumor, I DO welcome experimentation.) Please e-mail me before you register or send premiums to Andrea Katz.

What are you going to say to your listeners next week? Share with them, please, my message here to you. Let them know that the last two weeks were an experiment that set us back, and that we need to catch up quickly. But also let them know that we have the possibility, with this drive of turning the corner. IF this fund-drive is successful, we may for the first time in a long time be very close to making it through a quarter without depending on Pacifica to bail us out. Let our listeners know that, after a very long fifteen months since Superstorm Sandy, we are close to getting back on an even keel. BUT ONLY IF THIS FUND-DRIVE IS SUCCESSFUL.

We need to do much more than break even, BUT breaking even is important: it will stabilize us and give all of us new hope. THAT is the message to share with your listeners.

Remind your listeners that they are the ones who have made it possible for WBAI to survive all the turmoil over these past fifteen months: losing our offices and studio; moving to new locations;n producing radio with makeshift studios; trying out several new program directors. It has been one helluva year. But all along, we have been getting closer to financial stability AND deeper community. We have more volunteers taking up the slack, dedicating countless hours to getting out premiums faster than ever before And we also have many more New Yorkers, not that involved in the past, who are merging to help us. We CAN  tun the corner if our listeners will understand that.

Third and finally, the recent drastic program changes are reversed. We are going back to the programming grid from three weeks ago.

Finally, I welcome your calls. I know that all of this change must be disconcerting. There are hundreds of you, however. Please give me time to get back to you. Of course, you could come visit me in our Brooklyn offices. But if you cannot make the trip, I WILL get back to you.

WBAI Radio 99.5 FM
Gene Manager


  1. What can save BAI now?

    I guess that's a rhetorical question. As a commenter on another post pointed out, the "program is the premium" pitch might've helped a decade or so ago, before the station lost most of its listeners. But even snake-oil cures and conspiracy-theory DVDs for premiums aren't going to help now.

    One of the problem is that BAI is in such a hole that every effort at fundraising seems like an act of desperation or, worse, disingenuousness (cf. the effort to turn BAI into a "labor station".) I wish I could be more optimistic about the station's future, but it's hard to imagine that the station has one at this point.

    So sad, really.

  2. They are like a dog that knows only a single trick - pitch the premium to the listening audience!