Monday, June 23, 2014

Do you smell something burning?


Read the iED Report to PNB June 19, 2014 and check out the following:

June 23, 2014: Two interesting updates are found here and here.

CLICK ON ABOVE TEXT TO ENLARGE
Here is the application's attachment, with photos, map, and minute details.

The following post was made to the Pacifica Radiowaves list by Mitchel Cohen. It indicated escalated panic among the Atlantic Avenue Saviors, and kicked off the discussion you see here. It also raised the question: Did Berthold Reimers deliberately keep this ESB eviction development a secret, just as he did the stunning arrears?

Mitchel Cohen wrote: WBAI paid in full its rent on the antenna to the Empire State Building thru June 2014. Nevertheless, the ESB -- whose attorney specializes in squeezing non-profit corporations -- has just returned the last two rent checks, and has sent WBAI a notice to clear out. (Note: There is a ridiculous clause in the contract between Pacifica and ESB -- signed on behalf of Pacifica by the late Ambrose Lane -- that seemingly allows them to forego the normal process for "curing" late payments.) This is the first time the ESB has done this with Pacifica in all the decades, far as I can tell, and it is very serious.

For more than a decade -- possibly longer -- the Empire State Building has allowed WBAI's rent to accumulate for several months, to be paid out of the income generated in the next fund drive. This has been the process, the precedent. The Empire State Building has accepted this for, as I've said, at least a decade (albeit charging WBAI late fees). Suddenly it changes now! Why?

67 comments:

  1. First, could you post the full url for this posting. Thanks.

    Was Reimers lying? Well, if he just said that WBAI paid the rent, that's the truth. Not saying the rent was sent back? Well, that's a different issue, really. Not telling the full story may be better terminology.

    Why does the ESB want WBAI out? Maybe they are tired of the nonsense? Maybe they have someone less troubling who wants the space? Maybe both? It's all speculation at this point. Maybe a journalist should call the ESB and ask for an official comment? Oh, wait. There's no real WBAI news department anymore. Well, maybe Linda Perry Barr could give them a call, anyway. Is that the same Linda Perry who had a show in the late 1970s?

    What I would wonder is if the ESB has allowed this to go on for so long, whether that wouldn't set a precedent in court, stop the ousting and void said clause. However, that WILL require Lawyers, Guns and Money- Oops, sorry... Thinking of the old Warren Zevon song. Anyway, maybe Reimers will become and Excitable Boy...

    SDL


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    1. With respect: I'm not an attorney, but I don't think that would establish precedent. I would think it would simply strengthen the argument for them to vacate.

      In any case, I'd think deep pockets would matter if it came to that, and Pacifica has only lint in its pockets.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

      ps: Love that song. Even Meat Loaf's cover isn't half bad, though of course it can't touch the original.

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    2. Send legal aid, slingshots and I.O.U.s
      The shit has hit the fan...

      SDL

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  2. I cannot imagine a business such as the Empire State Building returning two months' rent without giving WBAI/Pacifica advance notice. This is what leads me to believe that Berthold Reimers must have known this would/could happen. Bear in mind that the colossal arrears in transmitter rent came as a big surprise when Summer Reese (not Reimers) revealed it on her first NYC visit as iED. Those rose-colored glasses!

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    1. Agreed. There was likely more than ample notice.

      The ED's report said they were scrambling to negotiate a move to 4 TS, but I can't but wonder if those 'negotiations' might not be complicated by their terrible payment history and terrible financial state – would *you* want them as tenants?

      Also, there seems to be the question of the transmitter. There have been numerous statements that it's old and can't survive a move (parallels abound).

      Appears to be an interesting situation.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    2. Yes, who would want them with their bad history? That's a good point, Indigo.

      As for the transmitter's condition, remember that it is 48 years old. That, in terms of electrical equipment is very, very, very old!

      BTW I wonder how much of the monthly $50,000 covered rental of space and how much was for hooking up to the antenna?

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    3. I was surprised it was still the original transmitter. I'd thought the various references to the transmitter being old had been to a replacement that had been made at *some* point – that transmitter was described by the Chief Engineer as old and difficult to maintain for that reason at the time of 'The Crisis' of 1977 – he loved it, but said it was old, and was a challenge.

      For that matter, and pure speculation on my part as I'm no radio engineer, I wonder if they'd have been able to save money on power by replacing it at some point. I'd presume newer equipment might well be more efficient with respect to power consumption relative to final broadcast power output.

      An interesting consideration, too, is that some folks have pointed out that if they succeed in moving to 4 TS, that that would mean a signal with less effective radius, that that in turn would be reflected in the license, and that that in turn would reduce their commercial market value.

      They seem (no surprise) to be awfully good at making the worst possible choices (or making them by default, passively, as non-choices, as they busily squabble with one another – so much for 'the common good').

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    4. I assumed this was the 1966 transmitter, not having heard of it having been replaced. The one we replaced was not really old, but we also boosted our power and got ready for stereo with this one. A had meetings with a Pennsylvania station that was on the same frequency—the FCC required that we make an agreement with the other station, because FM signals do not follow the earth's curvature so the signals would cancel each other out where they intersected. The other station also saw this as an opportunity to raise its power.

      While greater coverage was a major advantage, the switch also strengthened the signal considerably, eliminating the need for roof antennas, etc.

      I think it might well affect the license, but, with the crap they transmit these days, they would probably get a larger audience by placing a loudspeaker in an open window :)

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  3. Even if WBAI DOES have to move, are there any ancillary costs, such as rent deposits, insurance, etc. to a new place?

    If the transmitter is so old, does it have to be tested in any way to make sure it is safe to broadcast from the new location without irradiating people? Who does the testing? Gary Null?

    SDL

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    1. Deposit? You bet, especially in view of WBAI's pathetic payment history. Insurance is also a given. and the move and installation will be costly. Add to that, time off the air, this is hardly an overnight procedure.

      WBAI, already comatose and largely forgotten, cannot survive the damage inflicted by these opportunistic fools.

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  4. The New York Radio Message Board has a discussion of some of the issues involved in the mooted relocation: http://www.musicradio77.com/wwwboard/

    ~ 'indigopirate'

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  5. I thought you were going to post some audio from Reimers' presentation.

    I hope that this latest crisis speeds the sale or leasing of the station. It should have been done last year. The bottom line is that these folks want $2 million/year to essentially fund a hobby for a few dozen on-air hosts, who have few listeners and whose work is unworthy of a college radio station. Let the transmitter get evicted, the station will go off the air, the PNB will quickly sell or lease the station and the new owner/lessee will solve the transmitter problem and then use the frequency for good programming.

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    1. I don't think Reimers is using it for a hobby. He's using it for $100,000 per year. I don't blame him for taking advantage of the situation. I'm starting to wonder if he isn't smarter, in a sly way, than we give him credit for.

      SDL

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    2. I was referring to the on-air "talent." These are people who have no business being on a NYC radio station at all, let alone for 20, 30, or 40 years - with no audience. NYC is a metropolis which draws in talented people from all over the globe. There are thousands of interesting, engaging, extremely hard-working people here who would kill for a chance to have a shot at their own radio show.

      NYC is home to leaders, policymakers and thinkers in communications, law, science, business, international relations, philanthropy, government, and almost anything else you can think of.

      But there's no place for any of these people. Instead, we get 30 years of R Paul Martin reading newspaper clippings and chatting with his girlfriend about nothing. 50 years of Bob Fass, even when his show is little more than mumbling and a hum. Sidney Smith has been on for decades. He posts over at the Blue Board that he doesn't prepare, and couldn't care less what happens with it. But on and on he goes, "his" slot never being turned over to someone new, who actually cares and might produce something worth listening to. WBAI is a $2 million/year hobby for these people and maybe 2 dozen others, and no one in their right mind would consider funding it.

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    3. What you state is the sad truth, and something I have been saying for as long as I have been listening to this diluted version of what once was the gem on New York's FM band. I do believe that Sidney Smith has what it takes to keep intelligent people tuned in, but he must feel like one of my favorite lines from a Big Bill Broonzy song: "I feel like hollering, but the town's too small."

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  6. Bring back Bernie Fleshkin. That will give WBAI a boost.

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    1. But they have so many real scam artists now, :)

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    2. Do you think it would be profitable if WBAI and/or Pacifica were able to get enough money together to hire a well to moderately well known radio talk show host to do a daily show that they could network out the show for a fee? Maybe a Tom Leykis (hide the station phone book) or someone like that. Someone with a sizable, built in audience.

      Does WBAI or Pacifica pay any fees for networked stuff like Thom Hartman, FSN, etc?

      OK, I have the PERFECT leased time partner for WBAI - RTN. Now they could actually get Russian money for real. The themes of Pacifica and RTN would work perfectly together. Come to think of it, RTN does a better job of USA bashing.

      How about a $2,000 pledge to have Ife Dancy DJ your kid's birthday party?

      Here's one that has worked for other groups in the past. Make a calender of people associated with your organization. In WBAI's case, it could double as a dartboard...

      SDL

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  7. WBAI has "Cuba In Focus". When are they going to get "The DPRK In Focus"?

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  8. ‘Uncle Happy’ says that plans are to move the transmitter to 1WTC rather than 4TS, at $20k/month – an enormous savings of ~$30k/month – and that National is willing to finance the move and new transmitter.

    This would be, I think, an interesting situation in that it would both make it more possible for the station to claim it can survive independently and also make it more valuable as a sale or lease item.

    Uncle Happy’s observations on the Blue Board http://www.listenerforums.net/cgi-bin/issues2/issues2config.pl?page=1;md=read;id=206207

    User Name is: poster
    Password is: enternow

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    1. I think Sid Smith had lost his marbles when he posted this one. Besides, at 1WTC would the landlord not be Silverman? Delirium set in at WBAI quite a while ago, but I somehow expected Sid to be among the immune. Obviously not.

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    2. My understanding is that as a result of the ongoing legal battles, 1 WTC is controlled by the Port Authority, with Silverstein retaining other properties and/or development rights.

      Perhaps Sid has lost it, perhaps it was a matter of simply passing on the scuttlebutt current with the engineers?

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    3. Add'l bit of info: The Durst Organization apparently controls both 4TS and has a portion of control of 1WTC.

      Have to admit I'm curious as to whether, if the early reports are accurate, they may have power turned off Monday? If they haven't been able to negotiate time on that issue I think they'd be facing a very real and immediate question of survival.

      All speculation, of course, based partly on rumors, so your mileage may vary....

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    4. Uncle Sidney plays the fool rather than being the fool. It is a calculated act to keep the troublemakers at arms length. He's so sane, it's INSANE.

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    5. I have a saying: "Insane = IN the state of being SANE."

      SDL

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  9. You know you're a laughing stock when a semi-literate youtube imbecile is making fun of you getting booted from the ESB.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iohwufim7g

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    1. That YouTube video, wow. Just wow.

      So I'm not "anonymous", I'll sign from now on "Christopher in NJ."

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    2. Sorry. I forgot to sign my SDL to the youtube video post. I don't ever want to be accused of hiding.

      SDL

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  10. The "imbecile" tag is a compliment in the case of this guy. He's even two dense to be reachable by WBAI's pap.

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  11. The ESB has changed ownership from a privately held company to a publicly traded REIT. Now they have stockholders who want a return on their investment.

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  12. I worked at WBAI in 1975 during a summer internship. I met a bunch of great people: Marnie Mueller; Steve Post;
    Mickey Waldman; Bill Kurtom, etc., etc. I was amazed that the station (apparently) only had one transmitter and every time
    it went off, Dick Demenus and others would race to the Empire State Building and (I felt) immediately figure out what the problem was. We were between 99-X WXLO and what later was Z-100. I wondered how it was possible even then that so many people were on salary when what they got paid oftentimes was not enough to live on. The college station I later worked at (and other listener-sponsored stations such as WPKN) have minimal paid employees. Usually the director of radio or general manager is the only paid employee. I started listening to WBAI in 1973 and maybe there was more of a niche for WBAI or maybe there was more of a necessity for a station like that. I keep fearing that corporate will either sell the license (upwards of $50-$100 million) or trade the 99.5 frequency for something less desirable. But where? There are no
    available frequencies left. In fact, for example, 89.1 consists of partners WFDU - Fairleigh Dickinson University and WNYU 89.1 and that 89.1 frequency was meant for the United Nations, who turned it down.

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    1. Thank you, Larry. Just ten years earlier, we were offered one million for the frequency and thought that was a lot of money, but we were not in any way desperate, so it was easy to turn it down.

      I'm sure you will be asked a few questions here when your presence becomes known.

      I wonder how Steve Post came off as "great" :)

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    2. Isn't there a union thing that a chief engineer must be paid a salary?

      SDL

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    3. By unanimous staff choice, we did not have any union in my day, but I seem to recall that there has t be a chief engineer—ours was Tom Whitmore, who—like all other staff members—was salaried.

      BTW, elsewhere in this blog is our 1967 payroll. Here's a link to it:

      http://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/2013/08/payrolls-beyond-recall.html

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    4. Larry:

      Nice to hear. I believe you typo’d on Bill Kortum – who was a damn marvel at operations (though I think his formal title was simply Switchboard Operator) and a hell of a nice guy to boot.

      Dick Demenus, David Lerner (and Mike Edl) later, of course, founded Current Designs, then Tekserve.

      I think that the large number of paid staff positions was a hangover from the fat income years of the late ‘60s – by the late 1970s practice was that no one was paid for a live or freeform show (though Fass, as icon, may have been an exception, I’m uncertain on that point). Produced programs were not paid for per se, but a good number of produced programs were produced by department heads or news/public affairs staff, who were on salary – other produced programs, in all areas, though produced to a very high standard, were ‘volunteer’ efforts, though of course they represented many hours of work. Engineering shifts were either volunteer or paid on an hourly basis if Lindsay and/or Margaret judged you to be good enough (applying a very high standard). There were also a fair number of unpaid interns, most from various educational programs – they needed to learn, of course, but most of them were pretty damn good.

      There was no union until at the time of ‘The Crisis’ in late 1976-early 1977 the staff, meeting in Margot’s living room, eventually seized on the idea of ‘Union’ in desperation – the thinking was that the liberals on the board wouldn’t dare put through their intended changes against the opposition of a ‘Staff Union’.

      As I say, a desperation move, ill-considered, of course (though ill-considered at maddening length), and it meant nothing, but it ultimately led to the current union situation.

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

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  13. http://www.allaccess.com/net-news/archive/story/130793/report-wbai-faces-eviction-from-empire-state-build
    http://www.radioworld.com/article/unpacific-pacifica/271016

    The end is near, Baruch HaShem

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    1. Thank you much for these illuminating links.

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    2. http://www.mediafire.com/view/qjlahney66rdaa6/pnb-report-jun19-14+%281%29.docx

      If you liked those, here's mud in your eye.

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  14. There's also a comment on the New York Radio Message Board, noting that if they move they'll permanently reduce the value of their license http://www.musicradio77.com/wwwboard/messages/414899.html

    ~ 'indigopirate'

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  15. Another piece relating the transmitter and overall financial situation http://rbr.com/wbai-looking-for-a-new-tower-site/

    ~ 'indigopirate'

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  16. What's perhaps particularly interesting, I think, is that the Blue Board is effectively dead (essentially no one arguing, as they used to, that the situation is salvageable), and that Pacifica Radio Waves appears still to be completely dominated by internal debate as to who blames whom for what when and who was convicted for what when and so forth.

    Perhaps there's a 20 Group secretly at work masterminding Salvation Strategy with respect to finances, the transmitter, etc, but somehow I doubt it.

    ~ 'indigopirate'

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    1. I have to read that last line just as I'm laughing at the Geoff Brady conspiratorium canard...

      Now I'm starting to think Guy Grand secretly bought out Pacifica years ago.

      SDL

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    2. Yes, Indigo, the hiss of vipers is—like the disintegrated Fass show—barely audible. Reality has crept into the old snake pit—truth is about to set them free, albeit not quite in the traditional manner. We don't know how many banishments were performed from behind the turquoise curtain, but I only know of one creepy crawly—the hare-brained Somers woman—who ever begged and schemed to be led back in.

      The infantile goings on at Pacifica Radiowaves are really quite remarkable, Did Futran feed Fido? Are banjo-pickin' backwoods boys bashing Bach in Houston? Has it all been fiction from jump street? Will Reese sing "My Luttle Margy" at the upcoming Padlock Summer fest? When lies collide head-on, do they cancel each other out? Was the Morning Mix spiked? Will Central Casting take all these people back when the bills are not paid? And what about Mumia??????

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    3. ... and good ol' Dingeman just put in his customary 'and these guys have no clue as to what is going on' with respect to the comments on the NYRMB. He's quite the little Authoritarian, isn't he?

      Quite the sad old tune.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    4. I noticed that, too. Whoever programmed him can score it as a success. Like I said before, these naïve holdouts are the amputees learning that the war was for naught.

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    5. Also, as you may have noticed, Mitchel Cohen has just claimed on Pacifica Radio Waves that they're in 'negotiations' with the ESB. Of course, he also acknowledges that he and other WBAI members 'have been intentionally kept out of the loop' but nonetheless asserts that 'as far as I can tell, everything is open to negotiation, including the Empire State Building ....'

      It's rather difficult to reconcile such statements with the actual words of the iED in the report of 19 June.

      I suppose I lack faith...

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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  17. Gee, there's a "rent party" fundraiser at WBAI on July 5!! They went a whole 2 1/2 weeks without a fundraiser! After the "party" we can start looking forward to the August drive! Which will need to be extended in to September. Then there will be the final drive in November, extended into December. During this entire time, there will be constant reminder notices regarding honoring pledges.

    When the ball drops on Dec. 31, 2014, about 2/3 of airtime will have been used for fundraising to sustain utter crap - to which virtually no one listens - during the remaining 1/3.

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    1. How about a rant party hosted by Jim Dingeman?

      Delete
  18. Wait. I'm confused about something. Maybe someone can explain this to me.

    I snapped on WBAI this morning to hear Hay-tie babble about Arbitron not ranking WBAI because of too few listeners or some such esoteric knowledge we all know, right?

    OK, so Gary Null's show is supposed to be the most listened to show on WBAI, right?

    So, how many listeners does Null actually have on WBAI? Sounds to me like not many.

    So, if this is the case, why does Null bother with WBAI? He used WBAI for what it was worth already, if this is true.

    SDL

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    1. I think Null still does alright selling his products during the station's marathons. He may get a reduced material benefit from these so-called "gifts," but think of them as serving the same purpose as any marketer's "free samples"—once he has his foot in the door....

      Why does he stay on WBAI? Here the motivation may well lie in his knowledge of the station's ongoing, escalated need for fundraising over programming. Then, too, he may see this as an image polisher—notice how often he emphasizes having included a product "at no cost to the station."

      As for Haskins' babble, he is deluding himself with his we-are-family-this-is-our-station-we-are-not-going-anywhere nonsense. He has painted himself as a modern-day Hans Brinker and a few hare-brained listeners call him every week to praise him for keeping his finger in the dike.

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  19. Brian (not the KPFA Brian) has posted hard information re the transmitter on the Infamous Ridiculous Blue Board:

    FCC 340 APPLICATION FOR CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FOR RESERVED CHANNEL

    Engineering Statement in support of a Minor Change to WBAI New York, New York BLH-19940204KK

    Pacifica Radio Inc. (PRI), licensee of WBAI, is requesting a minor change to relocate to the Four Times Square electronic site. The Times Square location is .86 kilometers distant at 356.9 degrees true from the current location. The proposed RCAMSL is 297 meters, and a power increase to 10 KW is also proposed, this to maintain the currently authorized coverage contour.

    This modification is does not significantly change any of the existing, grandfathered overlaps to other facilities. The 54 dbu contour remains virtually the same as the current site. An allocation study, along with detail maps, is attached to this statement...

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    1. I have posted the application text at the top of this entry. The attachment, however, leads to a WSJ article on physical exercise.


      If you are having a hard time posting to the BlueBoard, it is very likely because you included the name of someone who has been barred by censor R. Paul Martin, who—I believe—is currently away, visiting friends in Purgatory.

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  20. The WSJ piece on physical fitness for the aging may nonetheless be useful for both the organization and its listenership.

    I don't think I'd included any names of The Banned & Excoriated, so who knows?

    Purgatory, in Christian theology is for the punishment and ultimate salvation (ticket to heaven and angels but so far as I know no virgins) of souls, whereas Hell, of course, is for those irredeemably and immediately damned. Tough call, sometimes... justice vs mercy....

    ~ 'indigopirate'

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  21. I'm in lower manhattan 1st Ave and 4th St...since last nite the WBAI transmission has had a audible crackling to it, which makes it all but impossible to listen to...and absolutely impossible to listen to the music

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    1. I tuned in around midnight, and again four hours later. Both times, the sound was worse than usual—a steady distortion that I can best describe as a hiccup rendered music unlistenable. Reggie Harris mentioned this, but in a passing remark, With sound that bad, I wonder if they have any listeners at all.

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    2. The audio problem began early yesterday evening/late afternoon. Yesterday evening Max Schmid came on to explain (in his more than usually jocular manner) that it had something to do with some repars(!) there earlier in the day. I didn't catch it all, so I don't know the entire story.

      Anyway, don't worry. Radio Unlistenable's engineering crew hasn't officially taken over the station, yet.

      I do hope it gets fixed before two of the only shows I like come on tonight - Off The Hook and The Personal Computer Show.

      SDL

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    3. Thanks, SDL.... I was about to post a sample.

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  22. This morning I couldn't help but to wonder whether WBAI had already lost its transmitter. As you described in today's post, the sound quality was choppier than the ocean during an approaching storm.

    Poor Max Schmid. He must feel more like he's in a MASH unit in the bush than in an urban radio station.

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    1. As a kid in Europe, I used to listen to shortwave radio, which sometimes sounded like today's WBAI, but this is FM, and I can assure everyone that the transmitter was not made by Mattel.

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    2. Hey, Chris. I was a shortwave listener/DXer, too, as a kid up to my early 20s! I think that is one of the reasons I became politicized so young. I still have my massive collection of QSL cards and letters.

      Now you brought the DXer out in me. Maybe you could answer a couple of techy questions?

      Did you ever get any reception reports when you were manager? Did you send QSL cards or letters in return?

      What was the farthest distance WBAI was ever heard during your tenure?

      SDL

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    3. No, I never received any reception reports when I was manager. Remember, we were a modestly powered FM station with the limited reach of such technology. That reach extended before I left, due to the new transmitter and increased power, but it was still FM. Lou Schweitzer, by the way, was an ardent ham operator who had a setup in his office, as well as at home.

      When I grew up, most home radio sets had long, medium and shortwave bands. During WWII, my grandparents had a radio in in their bedroom window on the ground floor. They lived on a very small island (Christiansø) in the Baltic Sea (you could walk around it in 20 minutes) and two Nazis were stationed there—a soft assignment. My grandfather kept the radio tuned to the BBC on longwave. A couple of times, one of the Nazis would walk by as the BBC was on, pause briefly to listen, then tap on the window with his stick and politely as my grandfather to "turn it down a bit."

      The islanders (there were 140) eventually helped one of the Nazis get to Sweden, which was neutral.

      As for WBAI's coverage, we were happy to hear that the new transmitter got us as far as the tip of Long Island without the need for a roof antenna.

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    4. Truly is a wonderful story :)

      Are we confident the problem is Verizon, or may that be an excuse?

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    5. It may be an excuse, but it may also be a half truth—in other words Verizon being in no hurry because there are unpaid bills. Apropos expenses, I wonder if WBAI or Pacifica is paying the engineer's bill—more to the point, how much was charged. I can't imagine it was cheap, and what with the marathon having run short of expectations...

      I also wonder if they think they can avoid buying another transmitter, and what will happen while the move is being made. Will they be able to hang on at ESB until 4TS is ready to go on the air? Think of the dozens of listeners who might be inconvenienced! :)

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  23. Quite an island, quite a grandfather. A former navy man, he loved islands. St. Thomas, Crete, Iceland and the Dominican Republic were "home" over the years. What's left of my immediate family is a rather large group of Dominicans.

    It's 7 PM, "Off the Hook" just came on and he audio problem is still there! They say that word is Verizon "installed static." Imagine this sound compounded by Radio Unlistenable's!

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  24. If you want the inside scoop, read the Pacifica Radio Supporters group on Facebook. The legal, political and engineering news gets posted there first. The blueboard is too hard to follow, and the Pacifica Radiowaves email list and facebook page is not trustworthy.

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    1. I checked it out and find it to be another collection of biased twaddle by the likes of Edwin Johnson and others of his ilk, representing both sides of this increasingly irrelevant sandbox fight.

      I can understand why you posted anonymously.

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