Monday, March 17, 2014
The sound of silence...
Yesterday's news of a swift, somewhat radical, and likely underhanded change of command at Pacifica is still sinking in. Forums are abuzz with speculations, staff—whether ass or asset—wonders what happened and what the future will bring. The schemers and boot lickers (I am being kind here) don't yet know whom to placate, and the good guys faithfully plow on under steadily worsening conditions. One thing most of them probably agree on is that the end is near. Michael Haskins says otherwise each morning, as he tries to convince himself that everything will come up roses.
This morning at five, eleven minutes of dead air preceded Haskin's arrival at the microphone. He came on, stated his name and the titles he has given himself, but made no mention nor an apology for the dead air. This is in keeping with the lack of professionalism one has come to expect from this crony. Then he introduced "a truncated version" of Richard Wolf's show. Bear in mind that this is not a real radio network (as Robert Knight used to pretend it was), but rather a single station that allows flexibility and does not require strict compliance with pre-set program and commercial schedules.
Haskins also read a letter from Kathy Davis. It contained no mention of the fact that she has joined Gary Null's online stream as a producer/host, but it, typically, accused WBAI's detractors of capitalizing on the lateness of recent severance payments. Of course, the mass exodus of listeners that preceded the six-months of shameful arrears must have been a case of premonition.
Getting back to the aforementioned dead air, the way Pacifica stations used to operate, programs ran their natural course—there was no . If there was nothing more to add to an hour program at, say, 00:48, listeners heard a 12-minutes "miscellany" for which the announcer/engineer on duty had sole responsibility. I was one of those guys when I first joined the staff of WBAI—it was great to be able to play favorite records, recite poetry, relate an experience, etc. The listeners loved it, too, because they knew the next program would start at the time listed in the Folio, and the miscellany had in it an element of surprise. If a program's natural conclusion was reached at 1:07:00, the following offering would be scheduled for 15 minutes after the hour. Very simple, very unlike standard radio procedure. We would never have "truncated" anybody's show. There is a big difference between being unconventional and unprofessional. After decades at WBAI, Haskins remains the latter.
In contrast, we have people like Max Schmid, who has the personality and knowledge to produce good radio. Max also sees through the crap that fills WBAI's air these years. He still supports the station, but does so with interesting programs and other appropriate contribution incentives. He feels no need to resort to hypocrisy. Here's what I mean—it's part of a pitch he made last night on his Golden Age of Radio program. You might find it refreshing.