Friday, May 2, 2014
I read the news today, oh boy!
I have known Bob Fass since the day he came to my office at WBAI a half century ago, in hopes of getting his show back. I am not sure why my predecessor and former boss, Joe Binns put the lid on Radio Unnameable, but I think he found it too unpredictable for a station that was becoming a bit too pretentious. In my first Report to the Listener, I said just that and made a promise to loosen things up and air less Mozart and Busoni, more Miles and station produced documentaries. Bob saw that as a door reopened, and he was right.
I loved the show and the timing could not have been better, but we know all that. Now, I am not as enthusiastic. Times have changed, the love generation has long since cut its hair and stepped into three-piece suits, and unorthodoxy has many new and handier outlets. Personally, I think Bob himself should have put the lid on a few years back—while he was still ahead and in good health—and written a book about himself and that extraordinary show. The material was certainly there and you couldn't easily top the cast of characters.
Well, he decided to hold on and I wonder if he still thinks that was a good idea. Besides falling apart at the seams and becoming outdated content-wise, the current mis-management has so brought down WBAI that it is a technical nightmare with the smallest listenership in the station's 54-year history.
That was brought home by a caller this morning. I don't know who she is, but she appears to have good inside information and she obviously has genuine interest in WBAI's welfare. In this brief audio clip, you hear her mention some facts and figures that may take you by surprise. These contradict the routinely cited optimism we have grown accustomed to hearing from Berthold Reimers and his inner circle. Bob listens to the caller, but when she suggests that Reimers resign and becomes a volunteer, he declares an end to her free speech quota. Reality is only partly faced at WBAI, but selective acceptance of it becomes increasingly difficult for those who feel compelled to protect their turf. It is precisely this head-in-the-sand attitude that now is bringing WBAI into its final lap.
The caller continues to be gracious as Bob orders her silenced. What a sad situation this is.
And here, sans much talk by Null about his film, is what the lady referred to when she called Bob Fass.