Wednesday, April 9, 2014

How to get out of the hole: Two proposals...

Today's deadline came from the trenches of Pacifica and WBAI's two factions, having parked their buckets of verbosity, sledgehammers, and whatever else they might have at the ready,  met it head on. An exercise in futility? Perhaps, but I hope you will take a good look and share your assessment of both.

Here are links to the two PDF files:  
Toward a Vibrant, Sustainable WBAI.pdf
WBAI LSB Sustainability Plan 9 April 2014.pdf

As the fighting continues, we hear a voice in the wilderness of New York City cry out for unity. This link will take you to a petition that appeals to all sides


  1. [rolls up sleeves]

    Okay, here we go:

    ’Toward a Vibrant, Sustainable WBAI’

    This will sound like a casual brushoff, because it is: No competent decision-maker would glance at this for more than sixty seconds before consigning it to the circular file. It consists entirely of empty words of the following form: 1) Develop plan; 2) Raise funds for plan from people who have funds; 3) Implement plan.

    Page after page, with numbers plucked out of the air.

    As a footnote: One of the advisors, Mr Engelman, was one of the principal architects of Pacifica’s redefining itself away from the original mission to a mission of political advocacy with an emphasis on minority outreach. It was precisely this inflection point in the late 1970s, the attempt to turn WBAI into a quasi-commercial-format salsa station, with Mr Engelman leading the charge, that began the long downward spiral.


    ‘WBAI Sustainability Plan’

    This is a slight variant on the previous. It has the great advantage of consuming less space in the circular file.

    It, too, consists of placing a number of words on paper, one following another, with the author(s) clearly incapable of recognizing that it consists of nothing more than saying: We should have more volunteers, and more outreach, and raise more money.


    My two cents (on second thought, make that a penny):

    The simple truth is that these efforts reveal nothing other than the complete lack of competence of those involved.

    To repeat, please pardon the repitition: They are literally incapable of grasping that the papers they’ve presented have no actual content.

    Whatever on earth they may be, they cannot rationally be judged to be ‘plans’ in any meaningful sense of that word.

    They won’t be able to hear that, of course, they’ll simply hear it as nay-nattering.

    Which is, of course, in turn, why they’re dying.

    These are not terribly bright people, nor talented, nor capable, and as amply demonstrated in a number of venues they’re incapable of working together – or with anyone else.

    They seem to have failed to address these latter considerations.

    As if….

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

  2. Thanks for posting both plans, Chris.

    I read both of them, & it is disrespectful, not least because it is irrational given their content, to treat either of them with indigopirate's "casual brushoff".

    It is often easy to oppose, to say 'no'; the much more difficult task is something else, not just to propose but to achieve. The authors of the two plans have gone to the trouble of applying themselves to a severe problem, & have asked knowledgable people for their ideas & opinions. For that all involved should be commended. From the little I know about the managers & other decision-makers at Pacifica, these two documents are far superior, not least in their systematicity, to anything I have heard from them.

    What is striking to a Pacifica listener is that the network decision-makers not only don't have a sense of direction but, even more worryingly, seem oblivious to the urgency of the situation. In this one only has to consider the Pacifica website, not least the publicly available record of National Board proceedings, the audio files & the reports. There is no recognition of crisis, either monetary or, increasingly, of trust. How can any rational person be confident that Pacifica has the individuals capable of creating the teams needed to devise & carry out the needed work? Why, for example, has the four-day February meeting in Washington, DC not yielded a publicly available 12-month strategy document, with correlate policies & plans, demonstrating to listeners how the immediate crisis will be addressed? There isn't even this, let alone a two, five or 10-year vision.

    To return to the posted plans. A quasi-necessary condition for adequate improvement is successfully identifying what is either wrong or harmful. A necessary condition is identifying the scale of the difficulties, & here one needs to stress the ability of WBAI to meet its immediate liabilities. Perhaps because the authors of these two reports are not privy to this datum both plans are, to an important degree, free-floating, not anchored in the pecuniary imperatives impinging upon the station. It's in a monetary crisis, & only knowing its scale allows one to identify how drastic the response has to be. If only for this lack of datum it is not possible to judge the contemporary relevance of these two plans: they may be too modest in their ambitions for WBAI to survive.

    1. I do not respect fools.

      These ‘proposals’ are worthy only of a less-than-sixty-second glance and a trip to the bit-bucket recycler. I mean that literally – it isn’t a slur, it’s a fact.

      How much time do you think someone from either a major foundation on the one hand or from an outfit like BlackRock on the other, would give them?

      They are supposedly documents meant to address the present financial disaster and to propose a path forward, yet they clearly lack anything even approaching specifics, their numbers are pulled out of thin air.

      They include *no actual paths for implementation*.

      A ‘projected time table’ is not a path for implementation – it’s simply a sad excuse for a dreamscape.

      How much time do you think a management expert, a turnaround specialist, a director of a non-profit considering donations and possible organizational support, or any other non-full-time-academic/clueless-day-dreamer would give them?

      Would you invest money on the basis of such ‘plans’?

      Know anyone who would?

      One may want to note, too, that these ‘plans’ and ‘proposals’ are simply bundles of ‘ideas’ and ‘plans’ that have been ‘planned’ and ‘proposed’ and ‘suggested’ for years and years and years, to absolutely no effect.

      They are absolutely worthless, as are their authors if one is to judge on the basis of their work product.

      Ah, but they meant well, and they tried hard.

      So fucking what?

      It’s a cruel world.

      Look outside the window.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

  3. I place my question here as this is 'the 9 April post'.

    The court hearing is due today, round about now, at 9am PT (6 April post, 'Latest from Pacifica Radio In Exile'). It's in Hayward, a city in the East Bay, overlooked by Mount Diablo. Just as ominously it sits on the Hayward Fault; hence the 1868 Hayward earthquake. It's also twinned with an Afghan city 60 miles from Pakistan. In another world this case could have been heard under sharia; given notorious remedies, the mistaken & the unkind might have found virtue in this.

    I know Chris will post as soon as he knows, but what are the likely 'breaking news' sources, other than Fox?

    I presume the network's site,, won't post news - it hasn't mentioned today's court hearing - so today which Pacifica programme is likely to run a report? Do any of WBAI, WPFW (D.C.), or KPFT (Houston) have a lunchtime or evening news programme?

    Any tweet hashtag to monitor? Is someone's Facebook page likely to post something before the station advocacy websites?

    Any ideas, peeps?

  4. Both plans propose more of the same and neither offers any thinking outside the box. One germ of an idea is to bring in the professionals - professional fund-raisers, professional non-profit execs, professional strategy consultants, and have them come up with a funding model to keep BAI operational and with production funds to match its output. Of course, the question is, how to pay them. Maybe offer them transmitter time as a form of an limited lease agreement, when they can run the transmitter, whether as commercial radio or however they see fit, so as to reap the financial reward that they would receive as payment for services rendered.

    Good point, Indigo, about Engleman's strategy in the late 1970's, and in that light the Sustainable BAI report seems self-serving.

    One interesting bit of informational that I had been able to pluck from these two similar plans is that the Pacifica National Board before February 2014 wanted to cut the losses and lease the BASI signal part time, and accordingly, the new Pacifica National Board in February, voted to give BAI more time to fund raise itself out of financial insolvency. This seems to indicate, that the Pacifica Board that put forward Summer Reese was for leasing the BAI signal, and Margy Williams, whether you like the National Board or not, wants to hold off on the monetization off the broadcast licenses held by Pacifica. The same board that fire Summer Reese also voted to give BAI another chance out of the financial red.

    1. Frankly, BB (and I sincerely mean no offense), what this largely delusional lunatic cast of characters has in mind (or thinks they have in mind) is so muddled, so often veiled in self-important 'secrecy', and so straight-up delusional, that though I attempt to fathom their intent and their competence, it seems to me at many points (speaking only for myself) an exercise in folly.

      It's like trying to find patterns in a bunch of marbles cast randomly on the floor. One can find patterns, but what level of confidence does one have in the 'patterns' one thinks one has found?

      As I say, speaking only for myself.

      ~ 'indigo'

  5. No real suggestions on programming changes/focus to get an audience, just hire more people to raise funds? And to promote what WBAI has now. WBAI folks should listen to KALW or KCRW and imagine doing that type of thing with a little more radical, NY hipster snark mixed in. Blow out what's on the air now. Maybe even do some type of on air stunting in between playing Undercurrents and interesting Pacifica archives stuff and hype "The New I - Coming June 1" and build a radically new sound - current air people could make proposals. Maybe run PRX re:mix for a few weeks. Do something wild! And lets have fun, be snarky, entertaining, educational. Daily Show and Colbert Report often do more radical stuff in terms of ideas than 99% of the mainstream, but by making it humorous get the ideas out there. As Mary Poppins used to say "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down in a most delightful way". Or we could be cranky old dour Trotskyite Vegan Marxist drones, shouting from atop our lonely soapbox as the teeming sidewalk of people make a wide berth.

    1. Well put. I fully agree.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

  6. Indigo, forget about anything the either side of Pacifica say or think that they do. Look at the sharp demographic lines among the Summer Reese plaintiffs and the PNB Defendants. You have major, major sociocultural fault lines, no mere marbles spilled on the floor. This is a nasty in-fight that has divided people supposedly beyond their typical factionalism. Whatever caused this have to be real. Again, to recap: Reese faction has 8 out of 9 women and no Latinos. Margie's faction has 6/10 Latinos, and a particular set of Latinos at that. This is not a product of random division. Consider the two delegates to PNB from the DC station. Both were chosen by the DC's local station coalition, Tony Norman and Luzette King, but then they were split over Reese, with King backing Reese. Same kind of a thing can be said of the Texas station, that had Hank Lamb and Richard Uzzell, Uzzell is backing Reese. See what separates these two pairs of individuals and you may have an insight into the nature of the Reese Wars.

    Here is an interesting article about Reese's action at the DC station last fall. Last fall Reese brought in a consultant to assist the DC station in relocating, and then fired John Hughes, the station's GM and replaced him with the consultant, whom she brought in earlier. Remember, how she came to BAI and spared Reimers? That was an exception to the rule. I wonder, what he had or what he offered her. Here are some interesting links to the scene at the Pacifica DC station:

    1. Brooser, you’re inclined to impute meaning and signficance far too readily for my taste.

      I see this, as I’ve said repeatedly, as a struggle conducted within a group composed overwhelmingly of fools, with a passel of knaves thrown in for good measure.

      Nothing more than that.

      It’s a form of death-struggle, that’s all.

      It mattered once, long long ago, but it doesn’t matter now.

      Enjoy the show.

      ~ ‘indigo’

  7. And yet you fail to address the demographic fault lines, along which the sides in this conflict have been taken.

    1. They have no significance.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

  8. Then why do you bother to follow the events at all? Or root for Reese, for that matter, since you have no clue as to what is involved in the conflict?