Wednesday, February 5, 2014
There's more than one way to skin/sell a station...
Let me begin by emphasizing that I am not anti-union, I just think it goes against the grain Lew Hill sowed to turn a Pacifica radio station into a voice for a select few. WBAI is there to fill a void in the New York City area ether—not to serve any particular segment of the population. Robert Hennelly obviously disagrees. Like so many who come to stay at WBAI, he has a personal agenda. The following is my take on it:
Robert Hennelly entered scheming. Today he not only announced (more than once) that he had revisited his old (former?) employer at DC37, but that he had "discussed business" that resulted in a $2,000 donation. In other words, the guy is still selling air time to union locals. Of course, he also once again mentioned the previous union "donations," one by one. I may have it wrong, but my personal reading of what is happening goes as follows:
WWRL-AM was the station labor unions could rely upon for propaganda, but that ended when it switched to a Spanish-language format. Opportunist that he is, Robert Hennelly elbowed his way into WBAI (a station with which he had previously been involved (Bernard White) and took advantage of the station's disarray, its desperate dishrag of a "manager", etc. He quickly found a lemming (Haskins) doing the morning show, so he wasted no time maneuvering into a position where reeling Reese in was child's play.
Haskins and Hennelly aren't bringing in the money, but the latter has come up with an idea: turn WBAI into the area's Voice of Labor (to cite just one of the many meaningless slogans he has come up with) and offer the area's labor unions WBAI as an even more powerful (albeit FM) replacement for WWRL, then sell them air time veiled as "donations." So far, the scheme appears to be working, but we have to wait and see how much these unions are willing to pay for a new propaganda outlet. In his pitch to the unions this morning, Hennelly emphasized the 50,000-watt transmitting power (never mind that a recent Nielsen survey ranks it at the very bottom of the NYC FM listenership rating).
The way he has set up the current fund drive, Hennelly himself makes an appearance on every program, which allows him to do his labor routine all over the schedule. When this drive is over, I'm sure he has plans to keep those plugs coming—after all, they are paid for. In the meantime, it's to hell with everybody else out there. Not that there are many listeners left, but I don't see their ranks growing as long as this approach is maintained.
That raises the question: How long?
...and what about that pesky union-dictated severance pay the station keeps ignoring?
I wonder if the new sponsors (Null seems to be history) realize that they are throwing their membership's dues into a very leaky bucket. —Chris Albertson