Monday, June 30, 2014

Pauses that refresh...


This morning, during the time usually wasted by Michael Haskins, we were treated to fifty minutes of a barely perceptible hiss. No explanation was was offered, no station break given, but just as one was adjusting to this program improvement, in came Tony "Sledgehammer" Ryan with the usual babble.  

43 comments:

  1. I wonder if it was related to the problems that plagued the 5:00PM - 7:00PM slot.

    SDL

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    1. I missed that one. The morning problem had to have been a matter of neglect on the part of Tony Ryan, because it didn't go to dead air in the middle of anything—it was a clean shut off. One major problem these clods have is that they don't monitor the station. They should have a direct-from-air feed in the studio, but they obviously don't so the station can go off the air or emit a distorted signal without them being aware of it. The delay is only needed when they take calls or get a live outside feed, so that isn't an excuse. Of course, it doesn't help that management is a part of that listener exodus. This sort of thing could not happen in the early days on East 39th,

      The whole operation is a sorry farce.

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    2. Since they were able to play music from the studio instead of Thom Hartman and Juliana Forlano in the 5:00PM - 7:00PM slot, my guess is a network feed problem.

      Now, seriously. WBAI doesn't have some speakers spread throughout the place to monitor the station? How about buying a $15 little AM/FM radio you can slip in your pocket and listen to via earphone so Mr. Engineer Man can do his job? Or doesn't he care?

      Why am I being so logical?

      WBAI is the new WKRP.

      SDL

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    3. That's what makes this kind of thing all the more idiotic—a solution can be had for $10. If things are that tight, they ought to consider selling the sledgehammer and ordering a small Chinese FM radio. Perhaps each listener could chip in $2—that ought to bring them about $26....enough to add ear buds.

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    4. Now, now, let's not belittle WKRP....

      I can attest that air was monitored constantly on 62nd Street.

      Isn't it a serious violation to fail to have someone actually controlling the transmitter from Master? It certainly used to be.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    5. I think you are right. Ditto at 39th St.—board operators had to have an FCC license (3rd class, I believe) and we took meter readings in master control. Come to think of it, I never had to do that at any of the other station I worked at, but that's how it was at WBAI. We also had a tape that recorded the outgoing signal at a very slow speed, just good enough for recalling in case the Jesuits complained...which they liked to do.

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  2. At 62nd Street, aka The Church, Master had full control of the transmitter in the Empire State, and readings and/or adjustments had to be made and duly recorded in the transmitter log hourly.

    It also had full control of Edits A,B,C, and Studios A,B, and C, with the ability to delegate control to Edit A,B, or C (which could also cross-delegate), while maintaing overall control and responsibility for transmitter operation. Free Music Store concerts, for example, which were produced by Ira Weitzman (who went on to produce shows like Sunday In The Park With George, Into the Woods, etc, and is now Associate Producer of Musicals at Lincoln Center Theater), were most often delegated through Edit B, which had the very highest recording capability (though all recording capablity was of very high quality and maintained to high standard) and had, as did Master, a direct view of Studio C, where the Free Music Store was held.

    In the late 1970s Lindsay Ardwin, who’d done graduate work in biology at Cornell and Woods Hole, was Chief Announcer, in charge of many of these considerations, in cooperation with Margaret Mercer, who was Director of Operations (later, in the aftermath of The Crisis, Margaret moved on to become the longstanding, much-respected, and well-liked Program Director at WQXR).

    If whoever was signed on as in charge of Master had to leave Master, however briefly, for any reason, they were monitoring air every moment, and were back very swiftly.

    All these things were taken very seriously, both as a matter of maintaining serious professional standards and as necessary and serious FCC requirements.

    Think of the Pros From Dover bit in the film M*A*S*H – that essentially captures it – informal, yes, but operating with very high, very serious standards.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    1. Thanks, Indigo, for pointing out the startling downgrade WBAI has undergone, both in terms of operation and staff. With a couple of exceptions, the recent and current crew would be fish out of water if brought into the kind of operation you describe. Even after spending decades in and on radio, some of them still don't grasp the fundamentals of broadcasting. Sadly, the governing boards—national as well as local—are equally mis-directed and clueless.

      I still firmly believe that this extraordinary, drawn-out decaying process has its genesis in the introduction of the star system by people like Post and Josephson, who greatly overrated their own import while a milquetoast like Millspaugh had mescaline for breakfast.

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    2. That's because so many are politico amateurs playing radio, who wouldn't be able to graduate from The Connecticut School of broadcasting. They just want a venue to spout their self-absorbed nonsense while taking no responsibility for the forum they use, at other peoples' expense.

      I have wondered how long those logging tapes are kept and where.

      SDL

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    3. You are right, of course. As for the tapes, I don't recall how long we had to keep them, but I'm sure it was less than a year, The quality was lower than the current BAI's on a bad day. I had a B&O deck that did remarkably well at 17⁄8-ips, its slowest speed, even when set to 4-track. Sample the result in the jazz performances from our first marathon that are found elsewhere on this blog.

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    4. I'm surprised log recordings aren't held for a period as long as the statute of limitations goes for things like slander, defamation of character, etc.

      SDL

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    5. As you know, I disagree with you as to the value of Post and Josephson as on-air talent.

      Millspaugh does sound like a horrorshow, no question.

      Isn’t it inevitable that on-air talent will overestimate their own import?

      That said, it seems to me the truly critical divide, the point-of-no-return, was the choice in the mid-to-late 1970s, first at the national, then at the local board level, that WBAI/Pacifica were first, last, and above all, political tools of political ‘truth’ as defined and determined by a group of fifth-rate leftist/progressive wannabe political hacks.

      The criteria for air time became purely political, as so defined, and so determined.

      Nothing else was thought to matter.

      The ‘mission’ was clear, as exemplified by the hero-of-the-revolution delusional fantasies of a Samori Marksman.

      Much of the audience until that fork in the road being liberal, they tended at first to be somewhat sympathetic, then grew concerned, then alarmed – but all the while they tended to be reluctant to criticize for all the obvious reasons – even fifth-rate leftist/progressive wannabe political hacks are easily capable of taking advantage of liberal guilt, liberal decency, and liberal fear of being accused of being ‘racist’ or ‘classist’.

      The result of that choice, that fork in the road, then, long ago became all too clear, but, since they’re a closed system, and politics is the only thing that matters – a clumsy, dysfunctional, poorly articulated politics at war with reality – they carry on, snarling pointlessly in their impotence all the way down.

      So it goes… definitely in the not-with-a-bang-but-with-a-snarling-bitter-resentful-whimper-category, at least in my observation.

      So it goes….

      ~ ‘indigopirate’

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    6. Actually, that may well be the case. On my watch, we were never called upon to produce an audio defense. When the Jesuit watch group complained to the FCC that Amiri (then Leroi) had used a couple of four-letter words in reading his poetry, we did not deny it. The fact that he was a published author/poet of some renown apparently made the difference. When an overly sensitive listener expressed his shock over a host's (Judy Collins) use of a pre-diluted common phrase, "darn it" as proof that we were "subversive," the FCC sent us an FYI copy of that letter, and probably had a good laugh.

      Remember, too, that our live programs were routinely recorded by us for rebroadcast and/or distribution to KPFA and KPFK. I cannot recall any instance of slander or defamation floating to the surface. We pushed the envelope, but we were not that venomous bunch of ignoramuses and pseudo activists that eventually destroyed WBAI (past tense is deliberate here).

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  3. Oh, jeez... This Julianna Forlano is the WORST! I swear she is a Jimmy Dore wannabe. I feel like I am listening to an unfunny, second rate AM morning show. I can't wait to see the tallies for her show during the next pledge drive. Want to bet she'll be lucky to make $30/show? Four hours a week for this crap? I hate to say it, but I'd rather hear Hay-tie take phone calls. Seriously. They can't just rerun Democracy Now?

    The way she's going I bet we will start hearing old jokes like, "He has more chins than a Chinese phonebook..." soon.

    Sorry to vent.

    SDL

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    1. I have yet to hear Fortano's WBAI show, but I can't imagine that she developed a sense of humor and intelligent satire since she did those Youtube selfies. She was obviously picked by Berthold Reimers, whose batting average is too low to calculate. The station already has an embarrassing show that attempts political satire: the painfully bad CCCP (Christmas Coup Comedy Players).

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    2. OK. She opened with her kiss ass view of WBAI history. If nothing else, you need to check it out. It was obviously from a wikipedia entry or something. Her view of the '77 fiasco made no - NO - sense!

      "Where a new board of directors determined a new agenda, and it was one that attempted to offer an alternative perspective within the mainstream commercial aesthetic rather than from outside."

      HUH?!?!?! Is that what NPR does? She is so clueless. I bet she doesn't even listen to WBAI.

      And, like I said on youtube, networked crap. She pretends she's not networked then reads a list of networks that run her show. No credibility to speak of. She isn't just bad, she is truly offensive and a proven liar now.

      SDL

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    3. What you describe sounds like something I ought to grab and post, Look for it later tonight,

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    4. Can SDL or someone else tell me at what time this aired? I'd like to check it out in the archive with respect to representation of the imbroglio of '77.

      Thanks in advance,

      Your friendly neighborhood pirate,

      ~ 'indigo'

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  4. This Julianna Forlano is the WORST! --- Here comes a new program that may be un-listenable for me. The host speaks too fast. Slow Down. Slow Down. And, never use the U-word, you know, you know, you know. If I already know, why should I listen? I may as well move on to the next speaker. The next speaker also says, You Know, You Know, You Know. So, I may as well move on to the next speaker. Medea Benjamin had some good information to deliver, but, you know, you know is not good radio. Just like the N-word, the U-word should never be used.

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  5. FYI: The Forlono disaster was on Tuesday from 6PM to 7PM. The show is split into two 30 minute seqments under the wrong titles. However, I checked the audio and it IS Forlono's show. WBAI competence strikes again!

    What bad omens. First, her show doesn't premier Monday. Next, her show isn't listed properly in the archives.

    SDL

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    1. Thanks, SDL...

      ~ 'indigo'

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    2. Okay... gave it a bit of a listen, expecting it to be very very bad, and wasn't disappointed in that respect.

      I bailed at ~ 12 min when she was bringing up the 'oldest human poop' story – I have to wonder if this program doesn't have an antisemitic aspect to it... sort of as if she's doing a terrible caricature of a very very bad Borscht Belt Comic.

      I'm also trying to figure out why she seems to try to inhale the microphone every few seconds... is that part of the shtick?

      Very needy, no material, no persona... should serve WBAI/Pacifica's needs perfectly.

      ~ 'indigotheeasilyamustedpirate'

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  6. I am listening to it right now and I agree with you, Indigo, it isn't the worst I have heard on WBAI, neither is it something I will find myself discussing at a dinner party. The best I can say is that it isn't awful. WBAI's programming is not the oldest human poop, but most of it falls into that category—the station does not need to bring in programs based their low cringe factor, it needs something fresh. Forlano brings up trendy issues and deals with them in trendy ways—even Ifé's listeners have heard all this before. Hartman in drag.

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    1. Hmmm... No, not Thom Hartman. I'm not a fan, nor a detractor of his. However, he is, at least, informative and intelligent. I don't agree with a lot of his views and answers, but if there is a left leaning show with a properly done commercial radio feel to it, his is the one. I listen to him and don't find him to be bad, just kind off drab.

      SDL

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    2. Definitely an inauspicious debut for a show that is scheduled to run 4 days a week. Let's hope she was just having an off day, but this does not add anything new. Yes, Hartman is drab and less annoying, but neither of them would have made it to air when WBAI was a Pacifica station in other than name.

      BTW, I didn't know that WBAI had studio access at Brooklyn College, or is she just confused. Expect a Chinese-made oak-mounted replica of the world's oldest poop to be introduced as a premium (sorry, "Thank You gift") later this month. It will be referred to as a turd in hand, blessed by Kathy Davis and endorsed by Null who will point out that it predates Big Pharma and thus is a product of organic dietary habits. Haskins will add that just having this miracle poo on one's nightstand brings relief from constipation.

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    3. My guess is that Brooklyn College is where the show is produced, independently or in association with a network. It is then sent out on some feed to the stations that broadcast it. WBAI is just an affiliate, not the origninal station. Also, I bet Brooklyn College has better facilities then WBAI.

      Nutri-Poop Brown Stuff! Made from the excrement of guaranteed 100% vegans!

      SDL

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    4. WBAI doesn't – *she* does http://www.brooklyn.cuny.edu/web/academics/schools/mediaarts/undergraduate/televisionradio2/facultyandstaff/juliannaforlano.php

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    5. Thank you both. So, Forlano joins the ranks of hosts who are given WBAI air time as an aside, another set of call letters to add to the hypeumé. Reimers still has not figured out a way to attract original program ideas from fresh voices—his little brain has finally let in the fact that WBAI needs to present a different schedule, but he thinks that change, in and of itself will solve the problem.

      Here, Bertie, is a surefire way to double the listenership, which is what you vowed to do when Lefever got you the job: Hijack a crowded bus (Haskins will help you) and pack the passengers into a room with a loudspeaker carrying WBAI's signal. Voila!

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    6. In other words, Forlano gets around a bit, so WBAI is going to try and ride her coattails for some publicity, which they hope will bring in new listeners/pledgers. Thom Hartman, who is better known, has the same basic social democratic ideals and hasn't brought in anything that I can see.

      Time will tell, but I think she will be a major flop on WBAI. The audience she goes for is a younger crowd that doesn't listen to radio stations, even via the world wide web. They are also the "entitlement generation" that thinks everything should be free.

      I think they would do much better if WBAI used some of her four hours for LGBT programming. LGBT matters are a hot topic and would probably bring in more listeners and money.

      On another topic. I notice that all of us here, whether we agree or not, have been totally civil and respectful to each other. I'd just like to thank everyone for this rarity on forums of any sort.

      SDL

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    7. With a total listenership that may well have made Arbitron history for the wrong reason, I don't think anyone can become a "major" flop on this WBAI. At best, she might become part of a major flop, along with everyone else. :)

      Isn't she also too light for the dumbed-down target audience? This "crowd" (being generous here) craves its M&M (Mumia/Maddox) rhetoric—over and over and over again—and Haskins, the poor guy, eggs them on. Forlano isn't a dummy, but I do find her wanting, shall we say, when it comes to good radio. She clearly has been too busy pushing herself (in every direction) to find out what WBAI was and has become, but I'm sure Reimers painted a promising picture of the sinking ship.

      As for the civility you mention, I greatly appreciate that. Lately, there have been attempts to troll into this blog, but the blueboard made me pretty good at spotting them. :)

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  7. There's no way I'm committing much time to listening to her show, especially after reading highlights from her Twitter: https://twitter.com/JuliannaForlano/with_replies

    I just don't get her perspective (which, incidentally, seems completely unmoored from anything resembling a grassroots community). The program seems like a sub-mediocre, public-access-TV imitation of the Daily Show. Which makes sense, since that's what it is.

    I also really question her choice of bringing the ultimate factionista, Mitch Cohen, on her first program. Has he done anything with his life other than whine about WBAI for 600 years? What qualifies him to be a guest on any kind of show, other than his factional bona fides?

    Overall, I'm giving this one wide berth.

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    1. Today's airing of this initial show was the third—it did not warrant it, but this is the station that has scammer Kathy Davis perpetuate the bigotry and twisted "news" of deceased wannabe Knight once a week. It is one thing to rerun programs excessively, quite another when those programs ought not to have been aired in the first place.

      WBAI not only lies, it perpetuates its own lies as it glorifies mediocrity.

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    2. Ultimately, it comes down to her being totally unoriginal and derivative of others and their schticks. Probably a middle class kid who never starved, seeks affirmation, wants to belong, etc. Seen them so many times in my life. The type that will tell you what it's like to be poor because they had to eat ramen noodles and mac & cheese at times in college. Middle class boredom personified.

      SDL

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    3. I've had to eat ramen noodles in my lean periods, but I rather liked them. She obviously is no shrinking violet, although she could have been at one time. I went through my first 3 years, or so, as an obsessed jazz fan without knowing anybody who shared my passion. I used to sit, shyly in the back of a roomful of fellow enthusiasts, envying them for being able to communicate with each other. When I finally cracked the shell, I emerged flapping my wings excessively until I was airborne. I believe it is not uncommon for introverts to make u-turns, which has nothing to do with talent. I have come across quite a few people of modest talent who owe their recognition to ego-driven, unscrupulous elbowing. :)

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    4. My ramen noodle comment relates to so many college kids I have met, including my ex of ten years. They get taken out of their secure middle class lives, where mom and dad work, provide, etc. Now they actually have to provide for themselves and don't have money for all the goody goody yum yum food they were used to, so they whine poverty. Poseurs.

      " I believe it is not uncommon for introverts to make u-turns"

      I see a man who fits that description every day in the mirror. >:P

      "I have come across quite a few people of modest talent who owe their recognition to ego-driven, unscrupulous elbowing."

      No. Certainly not at WBAI. Can't be.

      SDL

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    5. At WBAI, there was Steve Post, but he did not show his true nature while I was there (soon after I left, however). Today? A very different station, they are stacked from top to bottom.

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  8. I like listening to Thom Hartmann. I think that he is naïve about some things and wrong about others, but he means well, has a positive tone, and does not spike my blood pressure. He is the only recent BAI offering, that I enjoy listening to. West Coast Pacifica offerings are better, Ian Masters and Letters in Politics. Masters definitely has his limitations and they are on display, but one of this things that make him an excellent journalist is that when he is interviewing his guests, and his biases clash with what the guests are saying, he will allow the guests to express their disagreement with him and carry on the interview to a point where the guests exhaust their topic of conversation, without getting confrontational like Amy Goodman or losing track of the original conversation, like the mainstream conservative talk show hosts.

    I don't listen to BAI much any more. Drive time dead air. They miss the major issues and really interesting stories and cultural trends off the beaten path. BAI is withering away, like the Capitalism is supposed to, in Marxist ideology.

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  9. Listening to Richard Wolf and am enjoying it. Not so the BAI. They are consistently crossing the lines of good taste and common sense. I am by no means a flag-waver, but the Fourth of July is a big holiday of tremendous value to the millions of people, who celebrate it, and in the cultural life of a unique, significant, and one of the most progressive nations on the planet. That the BAI station has totally ignored this holiday and decided to raise money for itself by hosting an "Anti" Fourth of July BBQ, shows how far out of touch they are and how far they got their head up their tail pipe, when they choose to offend and drive off millions on potential listener-supporters, who could potentially agree with them; but their driving off of their target audience is nothing new: First, the mainstream young and the professionals, then the middle class, and now the working folk, who tend to share the core American values regardless of ethnicity, origin, and the social class. But then again, can we expect anything else from the stooges running the BAI?

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    1. I am in complete agreement with you on this, BB. I just heard some idiot named Robin McGinty do a racist rant on "On the Count." By totally eliminating the many non-black people who fought, and sometimes lost their life, in the struggle for equality, they show themselves a very small minds. This attitude is increasingly prevalent at WBAI and it is a major factor in losing the station's supporting audience—not just whites, but intelligent listeners of any color.

      The "anti 4th of July" BBQ they are having today points to the hypocrisy of these misguided people. I'm afraid WBAI deserves the extinction it faces—I just hope that the good people there find another outlet for their talent.

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  10. Let's say it like It is at BAI -- their focus is anti-White; anti-Western culture -- the mainstay of contemporary Leftist theology.

    rj

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    1. Their thrust, not their focus—these myopic fools have no focus.

      As SDL said about today's "anti-4th" party in another forum, "Parents who bring their kids to this crap are the left wing equivalent of parents who drag their kids to anti-abortion or anti gay demonstrations."

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    2. I've seen the results of these parents again and again. They are going to make their kids mirror images of themselves, or their perceived images of themselves. The kids either end up in therapy for years or bouncing between political/religious/conspiracy cults/millieus.

      OK, let's look at this. Kids are going to make signs for a demonstration and write letters to seminal class prison infrastucture members (see Network comment) instead of running around playing and exercising? And people talk about childhood obesity?

      You know what the Anti 4th of July joke is? Contrarianism. It's the kid who says "NO!" to the parent just to go against the parent's wishes. It's all childish.

      You wonder why Thom Hartman is a flop on WBAI? It's because he isn't left wing enough, just being a lightweight social democrat. Never mind that he will talk on many different topics during his program. That's too intelligent for the angry black man focus of WBAI, which can deal with no more than whining for a freebie.

      Anyway, here is a scene from the mid 1970s movie Network. I think it shows what happens when money comes the way of political fanatics. Network is the most prophetic film ever made about the media. If you haven't seen it, you must do so.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AObkT7wJ108

      SDL

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    3. Contrarianism, indeed.

      Well-placed scene, SDL. It's been years since I saw that film.

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