Friday, May 30, 2014

WBAI is on the rocks—is it time for more D-Helix water?

ARE YOU READY FOR YET ANOTHER ROUND OF INFOMERCIALS?

The Spring Fund Drive is limping into summer, but not to the promised conclusion. Ergo, it should not come as any surprise that Berthold Reimers—despite his mumbled rosy predictions—extended the agony. But wait!!! He's giving us an encore—this thing has more extensions than Tina Turner's hair!!! So now he has added another week, which will take us to June 15th!  Here is the program schedule for the current extended week, and here, again with unrealistic goals, is the new extension (June 9 - 15). By the time this drive grinds to a halt, they will be offering the shocking true story of Santa Claus and Little Bo Peep—a 13-disk DVD set with bonus tracks by Alton Maddox and the Mumia Mummers of South Broad Street.


Scammy Night, 2012. Overcome with emotion, Kathy Davis thanks WBAI
management and assorted spirits for awarding her the coveted Double Helix
Water tap trophy. 
This means that half of 2014 probably qualifies as a Guinness record for the longest begging spree in broadcast history. They have already dug deep into their premiums gutter to come up with  horrors from the Wall Street period, so expect them to dig even deeper and pull up the old Kathy Davis/Tony Bates scam de deux that comes in a small bottle, fresh from somebody's tap. I think Kathy was awarded the coveted tap trophy for that one in 2012, but a homeless angel swooped down and swiped it. 

To get an idea of what undercooked figures may look like, here, again, are R. Paul's presumably uncensored sobering figures for your perusal.

38 comments:

  1. Shakespeare; Julius Caesar. Act I scene ii 140-1 Cassius to Brutus:
    "The fault, Dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves, that we a underlings".

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  2. Interesting how Out FM was interrupted for an infomercial this past week but Off The Hook was broadcast, and discussed the premiums problem. Next week Out FM is listed as airing and Off The Hook isn't...

    SDL

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    1. Where is David Wynyard? Bring him back.

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    2. Yes, I agree. He was better than any of this junk airing now. And besides, crank callers need a forum, too...
      (Looks in a box for his copy of the David Wynyard crank call tape compilation...)

      SDL

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  3. Let's see, how many paid employees BAI now has, THREE? Payroll is $18,000 every two weeks and health benefits is $8,000.00 every two weeks? Every month? That's what, $6,000.00 paycheck every two weeks per person? Money made off listeners back at a failing radio station? Isn't this worse than those TV Evangelists of yore? Correct me if I am wrong.

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    1. Thanks for calling attention to that, BB. The SS [I only looked at the most recent] is to my eyes somewhat unclear in a few respects, but I'd like to have seen a bit more clarity with respect to compensation [even taking into account that they won't break out individual compensation].

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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  4. Don't worry. Bertie is getting paid, and I'm sure "everything is looking good." I heard a rumor he's just waiting for the checks to come rolling in from the lawyers/off spring of presidents/banking officials in Nigeria. He just got some emails from them that they have millions of dollars waiting to clear customs. Just need to extend the pledge drive a few weeks to get the customs impound clearance fee paid to get the checks delivered....

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  5. OK, I have an idea. Why not set up one of those carnival dunking booths (where you throw a ball to drop someone into a pool of water) at WBAI and require every member of the staff to spend an hour in it at some point? At a dollar a ball, all this pent up anger could bring in thousands of dollars a day.

    SDL

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    1. But they're *already* all wet...

      What about paintball?

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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  6. Some insightful and interesting reading that I came across:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2009/10/06/the-new-crisis-at-pacifica/

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    1. In my opinion and judgement a truly excellent piece, BB – many thanks for providing that link.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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  7. Um, yeah, there's no way the drive is ending on June 8th. As of May 29, their tally was only at 293K. Pledges seem to have stabilized at less than 10K/day. Going to June 8 gives them another 10 days, and even assuming they bring in a full 10K/day during this period, they will still be below 400K on June 8. That's not enough. This thing is going until the 3rd or 4th week of June. Then, the summer drive will commence in August.

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  8. They estimate $54,000 in premiums. Ouch. And they are doing about 12K a day, which at 78% fulfillment looks like about $9500 a day.
    Ouch.
    "everything is looking good".

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  9. Is anyone thinking along the same lines as I am at this point? WBAI HAS changed its format right under our noses. They have gone over fully, not temporarily, to a fringe products infomercial format. Sure, they still have a few hosts/producers on the air live, here or there. However, that is a matter of choosing the right time to be able to dispense with them, unless they make lots of money.
    No, I don't think this is a pledge drive any longer but normal programming having been instituted as a pledge drive in order to avoid the resistance an open (and honest) announcement of said format change would have caused.

    Also, am I the only person that feels anyone who pledged and expects normal programming to return has been duped into simply paying to supplement (Red Airwave Stuff) WBAI's hawking products to them? It's like paying for cable TV: you pay a cable bill yet have advertising on said cable TV. In effect, you are, at least partially, subsidizing the advertising directed at YOU! Good scam, eh?

    Once there was a book titles Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace. I think the modern history of WBAI should be titled Perpetual Pledge Driving for Perpetual Solvency...

    By the way, are the Matthew Lasar books about Pacifica worth reading? And is the Steve Post Autobiography worthwhile?

    SDL

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    1. I don't know if the format change is, in fact, a deliberate format change or just the inevitable result of appallingly inept management. I suspect the latter to be true, although there has, indeed, also been a recent change in the format—perhaps "focus" is the correct term.

      The KPFK woman who does the 3 PM "sojourner Truth" program has on more than one occasion referred to WBAI as a "black" station. She is not the only one to engage in such wishful thinking, but she is more direct than people like Haskins, Kathy Davis, and the many other black host/producers who use "community" as a euphemism.

      In February, the preponderance of black subject matter was attributed to it being "Black History Month," at other times it was the deaths of Nelson Mandela, Amiri Baraka, and other prominent people of color. The truth is that WBAI has long been taken over by a group of street corner activists and opportunists who attempt to cloak their agendas and ignorance in anger mismanagement and deformed history. They have been doing this long enough to discourage the intellectually curious independent thinker who once kept the station going. This is not to say that there aren't still good broadcasters on WBAI, but their number has diminished to a point where it is commensurate with the station's diluted program content. This is a fact that the diehard, self-serving inner core of WBAI refuses to acknowledge. The common goal has shifted from an idealistic attempt to provide listeners with an alternative, reasoned perspective on the world we live in to one of indoctrination and mindless pap. That obviously does not work, so they resort to crass, dishonest marketing, which now has escalated to a point where the morals and ethics once associated with Pacifica's raison d'être are only to be imagined.

      We have already seen the end of Lew Hill's Pacifica and Lou Schweitzer's WBAI—what remains of that welcomed association is neither salvageable nor worthy of such efforts.

      Matthew Lasar has written decent assessments of Pacifica, but his fact-checking is wanting, so a grain of salt is highly recommended. Steve Post's book, on the other hand, is perfidious pap, the work of a morally bankrupt hack who played a major role in sparking much of what today has WBAI racing into a dead end. Post, along with Josephson and Millspaugh were pioneering shredders of Pacifica's principles—the first step in a decades-long format change process.

      If you put margarine on the table, butter begins to taste even better. If you remove the butter, you eliminate the absolute reference and margarine eventually becomes acceptable to your palate.

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  10. Chris, kudos to you for stating the obvious about this racial faction which has BAI in its grip -- this is the very faction that Null hinted at on his two hour diatribe that you posted. However, he does not have the courage to speak of these things. Sadly, the left worships at this altar and will never give up the faith.

    rj

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  11. I think the focus on the Third World (as it was called then) and "community" issues/programs went into full force with Samori Markman becoming program director. I know some of the programs that showed variety in subjects had their timing cut down, like Leonard Lopate. Well, in the long run, the members of this thing called "community" aren't hardcore leftists who worship Cuba and Fidel. Bad gamble WBAI.

    Anyway, now I wonder if I should take the batteries out of my radio and stick the radio in the closet. There was yet another infomercial featuring a total loon named Judy Wood, who has a science fiction type hypothesis about 9/11. Something about laser guns or something. When is the Hitler escaped to Antarctica on a German flying saucer show coming up. It's all just too much now.

    SDL

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    1. They ran the Judy Wood thing a few marathons back—as I recall, she has proof that laser beams were used to pulverize cars parked in the street. I just tuned in (at 12:30 AM) to hear her say, "we have evidence of levitation and toasting." She is either a certifiable lunatic or a con artist. Of course, the people who put these idiots on the air are no better, ditto the management that keeps the door open.

      Hitler going south on a saucer is actually mild when compared with the stuff Brady and others present with a straight face. Let us not forget Kathy Davis, an enthusiastic purveyor of Double Helix Water and friend of homeless, gay-loving angels.

      Don't waste your batteries, SDL

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    2. "we have evidence of levitation and toasting."
      I didn't know The Exorcist was evidence of a conspiracy...

      SDL

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    3. Samori Marksman was indeed the man – no question. The question, I think, is as to the choices made by the National and Local Boards that put him in place.

      There are interesting references to Marksman here http://www.federfiles.com/shows-cd/current.htm

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    4. If it's of interest there's a contemporaneous piece with respect to WBAI/Pacifica under Marksman which can be downloaded here – it was written for Bill Buckley when NR was conservative but sane, which is of course no longer the case https://www.mediafire.com/?a5mghsb3k79a1e1

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    5. Thank you for the links indigopirate. They brought me back to some memories.

      Marxman and WBAI/Pacifica were indeed lucky for the Reagan years, as it made them more important for an alternate voice. At the same time, the AM band saw the commercialization/popularizing of talk radio with people like Bob Grant, Barry Farber, etc. The listenership to their corporate reactionary crud increaded when talk radio went from a secondary format to the format that saved AM radio (sports talk was years down the road). However, as the time went on and the world evolved, WBAI/Pacifica didn't, because of the now geriatrics who used them as manufactured walls to insulate themselves from reality. And there lies one of the main problems - WBAI/Pacifica are just a left wing fantasy land so old farts can still live their idealistic but nonrealistic lives.

      I remember back just before Marxman was named PD that there were several applicants for the job, including a 15 year old female listener. I was having an off-air conversation with Paul Wunder about this, and he told me to expect big changes when Marxman took over. He wasn't privy to any particular news, he just knew the Pacifica vibe at the time and that Marxman, or some such hardcore leftist, would be in place. Wunder's words something like, "...because things can't continue like this." He was referring to the lack of any focused aim to programming, PDs coming and going, etc. He felt that WBAI needed to get itself together and have an aim rather than floundering, as it was. If I remember, Wunder's show Soundtrack was shorn of some time by Marxman...

      I also remember those early Fader stories. I liked them quite a bit as a kid for their reality about a person's life. I have always been a fan of autobiographies.

      I used to read New Republic and The Economist back in the day when they were sane conservative voices. They were the counter balance to Mother Jones, The Progressive, etc.I never minded political views different from mine, as long as they were intelligent and well spoken/written. On the other hand, I left American Atheists behind when I realized they exhibited the same personalty traits as intolerant religious fanatics.

      Can you tell I was a politicized kid?

      SDL

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    6. Always liked Paul – he did a program with Jim Freund, once, where he analyzed in-depth The Quiet Earth. It was fucking brilliant.

      His knowledge of film was, of course, encyclopedic, and he was quite simply a very bright guy.

      Yes, he was also close to the vibe of what was actually going on.

      As for reading, I was fond of The Economist for the simple reason that I found that when I disagreed with their judgement there was a pretty fair chance they’d prove to be right and I’d be wrong – that’s something I value greatly.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    7. I remember when Wunder had the fire in his apartment that nearly killed him. He lost most or all of his collection, including many one of a kind items. Well, when he got back on the air and told the audience about this, people who had taped many of the one of a kind items responded by sending him copies, without asking anything in return. That's what you get when you treat your listeners with respect.

      SDL

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    8. That's how it used to be when WBAI attracted listeners, as opposed to shoppers. Very different station±very different audience.

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  12. "So now he has added another week, which will take us to June 15th!"

    Chris, what did I say above? I told you that this IS the new format. It won't end until WBAI is sold or leased out. Give them credit for slipping it in under another guise. Sleazy, but smart. They avoided the type of fiasco they had with Guzman, etc. in 1977.

    SDL

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    1. With every repeat of past misjudgments, Berthold Reimers and his cronies du jour bring WBAI closer to the edge of Poooooof, so what you surmise is by no means far-fetched, SDL There is, however, another factor to be considered: the players in this final act are rank amateurs of the perpetual kind—do they even have the intelligence to formulate strategy? Everything they have done in the past years indicates their inability to see past their next step.

      They are choreographed by swollen egos and shared stupidity.

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  13. What does the R stand for in R. Paul Martin?

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    1. I have no idea, but I don't think it's "Ru."

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  14. The other day, I caught a bit of Radio Free Eirann. One of the hosts or guests was talking about how difficult it is to make a pledge to BAI. He said, in essence, that it's impossible to donate more than $75 because "it doesn't register" with some of the call center operators.

    That's a real enticement to pledge, huh?

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    1. Yes, there are all kinds of horror stories about this outside service. I don't know how many pledges never get registered, but every penny counts right now and this is by no means the only hair in this soup. any mildly astute listener should be able to see that this has become a lost cause.

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    2. I happened to flip on WBAI last night to hear Max Schmid dealing with a caller who said the pledge line doesn't work. He said it rings a few times and hangs up. Schmid gave him another number to try out. I didn't hang about to hear the result. I actually felt sorry for Schmid having to deal with this crap, considering my experience with him was that he was a genuinley nice and jovial guy. In fact, from my times up at WBAI, he was one of the only nice people.

      It must really suck to have to ask for money for months on end, and when someone wants to donate, they can't.

      SDL

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    3. I have never met Max Schmid, but from what I hear and from listening to him, he does appear to be a genuinely nice guy and, for that matter, professional.

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  15. I, too feel sorry for Max Schmid. I am glad to hear that he is as genial and professional in person as he sounds on the radio. He deserves so much better. So, for that matter, do Ivan Hametz, Chris Whent, Peter Bochan, James Irsay, Michio Kaku, David Rothenberg, "Emmanuel Goldstein" and a few others.

    I really miss Rebecca Myles and Delfin Blue, among others. Frankly, I'm starting ro revise my opinion of Amy Goodman: The more I hear her, the more disingenuous she seems. She says she hosts people who pledge $2000 "all the time" or "every week". I would think that if that were the case, BAI wouldn't be in its sixth or seventh or whatever week of its fund drive, with no end in sight.

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    1. We think alike, Justine—I could have made the exact same comment.

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  16. The Max Schmid you hear is the real person. Also, he IS professional. Here's a real story. One night while I was on the air co-hosting the show, the station, all of a sudden, went off the air. Max ran in and was totallly serious checking things and being the engineer he is. He couldn't find anything, so he called the station's chief engineer to discover that station maintanence was scheduled at the Empire State Building, which meant we were knocked off from there, not the studio. Wasn't it so nice of no one to tell us about this scheduled maintanence in advance..?

    Anyway, Amy Goodman may be an informative person through her work, but I never trusted her. She always struck me as devious and hypocritical. What I'd also like to know is how many poor people she takes out to dinner. It's nice to fleece limosine liberals and cadillac commies of $2,000, but does she ever "break bread" with someone who can't afford such a high premium? Who pays the restuarant bill? I guess she places a high value on her celebrity status.

    SDL

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  17. Amy does this for ALL the Pacifica owned and associate stations. There is more to the world than WBAI. And the stations get the money. Pacifica has NOT been paying AMY. I think they owe her about 2.5 million and more each month. She may also be doing this for FSTV and LinkTV, but they probably pay her what they owe. I understand that for a $500 donation Bertie will take himself to lunch on your behalf and take the rest of the week off in Florida.

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  18. This forum is 2 years old, but some folks would like to know what's happening now with WBAI...especially with this Indy Caucus versus Justice and Unity. It's hard to tell what's going on with the station from behind the scenes, especially for folks who live outside of broadcast range (i.e. can't come to meetings) and listen online. Any word?

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