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 Besides falling apart at the seams and becoming outdated content-wise, the current mis-management has so brought down WBAI that it is a technical nightmare with the smallest listenership in the station's 54-year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.

9 comments:

  1. Ironically, it seems that the only kind of criticism of BAI allowed on its airways is the self-serving kind that comes from Gary Null or the muted bemusement of Max Schmid. I think the latter is tolerated because Max engineers a lot of the shows and is one of the few technologically competent people at the station.

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    1. I think you are right about Max, his safety also assured by the fact that he does rather well for WBAI with his vintage radio shows premium.

      I have just added the Gary Null segment referred to by the lady whose call was truncated ny Bob. It appears at the bottom of that post.

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  2. I'd guess you're right about Max – and more power to him.

    As I've said before, Bob was an enormous talent and ground-breaking back in the ancient past when dinosaurs still roamed the Manhattan schist – but he was widely understood at the station to have become completely burned out by the mid-1970's.

    It's perfectly ridiculous and quite sad.

    ~ 'indigopirate'

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  3. Gary Null is so tiring.

    And, even given the sad financial state of BAI, I bet they are able to find the coin to pay Reimers, Haskins & Ryan.

    rj

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    1. I think everything Gary Null does is in some way a marketing ploy. Hid high praise for Dingeman, Cohen, and the other premium processors is understandable, considering the priority his products are given. The losers in this game are the listener-supporters.

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  4. Chris--You're right about Null. And I hope I didn't seem as if I was damning Schmid: I like his show and, if nothing else, he has a sense of humor.

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    1. I did not think that for a moment, Justine.

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  5. Here is a good article by Dan Siegel, written at the end of 2012, encapsulating the issues at Pacifica. What problems do you see with Dan Siegel and Save KPFA?

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/05/the-battle-for-pacifica/

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  6. Here's a response published in Counterpunch the next week. It seems to be saying that Siegel is a hypocrite, which is a fairly common perception.

    http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/11/09/the-battle-for-clarity/

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