Sunday, March 30, 2014
Reimers' embarrassing confrontation with intelligent producers
Last year, Berthold Reimers told a Village Voice reporter that he did not answer his phone because there are too many crazy people out there. If you have ever tried to call this man, you probably know that he does, in fact, ignore phone calls. He also ignores e-mail, even from producers and hosts of the radio station he purportedly manages. Well, he does have cronies with busy tongues—they will go along with anything that comes to his little mind, so it's safe to speak to them.
One of WBAI's most useful programs used to be the weekly "Report to the Listener," a live hour that gave the manager and producers an opportunity to listen to and speak with the station's listener supporters. Much good came out of those live dialogues for not only did they give listeners direct input, it also allowed the Manager and staff to discuss new ideas and future program plans. Berthold Reimers never had a real program of that nature, he only made three or four cameo appearances on alleged listener reports that were conducted by his cronies. Communication is not something Berthold Reimers finds necessary.
One reason may be that he is clueless and inarticulate, a "manager" who has not the faintest idea of how to operate a radio station. If you think I am exaggerating, you have come to the right audio clip, but let me first give you a brief background.
Last week, word got out that Reimers had added a new 2-hour Sunday morning black gospel show to the schedule. It was not an original show, but rather one that is already running on WHCR, the college station that, literally, is down the hall from WBAI's rented studio. Furthermore, this is an area of the country that has more black churches and gospel choirs than Seattle has Starbucks, but Reimers reaches out to a host who isn't even American—for a black gospel show? Idiotic.
He scheduled this borrowed show, High Praize," for a 5 to 7 AM slot, thus chopping an hour off "Through the Opera Glass," a popular program that is unique to our area and has developed its own loyal audience over many years. Apart from the fact that host Ivan Hametz has impressive knowledge and love for operatic music, he has just finished participating successfully in the latest fundraising marathon where his program and the station were the only premium. That is how it should be, but most of WBAI's producer/hosts have little or nothing of intellectual value, so they have to resort to gimmicks, phony cures, sloppily thrown together doomsday "documentaries," etc. Reimers should appreciate that the opera program—like Chris Whent's delightful "Here of a Sunday Morning," which follows it, have remained mission appropriate, but his mind remains in the sewer, where there's more money. Mr. Hametz felt a need to apologize to the supporters who sent in their money so that the program and station could stay on the air—that, of course, never occurred to Berthold Reimers; neither did the fact that a two hour time slot makes it impossible to air most operas in their totality.
This morning, Mr. Hametz did a farewell show, not knowing what was around the corner. He was never told of this change and none of his calls or e-mails to Reimers were acknowledged. There was a rumor that Chris Whent planned to quit in protest, and that Reimers would be coming to the studio for a discussion. Not having received any official word, Mr. Hametz announced last Sunday that this morning's program would be his last unless Reimers rescinded the rumored intention. Airtime came without any response, so Mr. Hametz did as he said he would, and delivered his last show.
Then we heard that Janet Coleman invited Hametz and Whent to appear on her 11 AM program, "The Next Hour," for a discussion of the station's arts programming.
They stayed around for that and had barely started when Reimers popped up. It was obvious that he had not intended to have a discussion on the air, but they cornered him. He tried several times to weasel out of it and go off the air, but he was outnumbered. Now I highly recommend that you listen to the program and hear how embarrassing this high-salaried :manager" is. There are a couple of phone calls at the end and one might say that they demonstrate the intellectual contrast that attracted a new audience to WBAI and sent the old one fleeing.
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