Wednesday, August 27, 2014

As Null fiddles...


As the bills pile up, rent remains in serious arrears at three locations, fundraising marathons fall way short of their goals, customers don't receive the products they paid for, and the programming continues to drive away listeners, there is a small group of dreamers at the Atlantic Avenue location. Dreamers? Well, I used to think that, but, as the station continues to deteriorate, I am more inclined to believe that something duplicitous is going on. The group comprises Berthold Reimers, who has a history of twisting the truth, and his cronies, who have a love-hate relationship with him. Why he still holds that job is a question that underscores my suspicion of a dubious scenario being played out.  So, yes, there may be dreamers in this cast, but their naiveté is being taken full advantage of by the schemers.

Bear in mind that these are inside people surely they know more about what is going on behind the green curtain than we do, at least that's what they like to tell us--except, of course, Reimers, he has been undercover  since 2009. Cross his palm with silver and he might answer his phone, but nothing is guaranteed. 

Mitchel Cohen and  Jim Dingeman sometimes admit that WBAI's programming needs work, but neither of them seems willing to do anything about it. Reimers is the only one in this group who has the authority to affect changes, but he is totally clueless when it comes to any aspect of broadcasting, so the station's glide into the morass if mediocrity continues with its diluted fare of insipid show, like mundane dj shows that push anything from record labels and boat rides to Jesus Christ. Null and lesser-known quacks use the station for free product advertising, and irresponsible producers foist upon a small dumbed-down listenership outlandish lies that are never challenged as the opportunists who create them get rewarded with free access to the station's microphones. 

I don't think anybody can deny that Mitchel and Jim have put in a lot of work in an effort to straighten out the mess generated by sloppy, unlawful handling of the so-called "thank you gifts," but when the station keeps running infomercials for products that it has not had the money to purchase, no progress can be made. Reimers has a habit of earmarking funds solicited on the air, then spending it on something else. We are told that Gary Null's products get special treatment, but even his "stuff" has been known to collect dust at Atlantic Avenue. Reimers has not made many appearances on the air, but he each time we hear his whimper he assures us that the "premium" issue has been taken care of—however, it hasn't.

As you may have noticed, when they run a marathon, WBAI's air becomes dominated by Gary Null—he is slick and he can bring in money. The fact that his good friend, Steve Brown, is an active member of the aforementioned Reimers coterie is something to worry about, and if Mitch thinks the newly appointed interim PD, Mario Murillo, is going to turn things around, he must not realize that Murillo is interim by choice and seemingly more interested in getting himself on the air during the short time he intends to stay. Here he is Tueday morning, August 26, calling Haskins from Bogata:
 
Now Dingeman is suggesting home delivery of the products, which is unrealistic, but this coterie lives in another world. In the midst of all this, Dingeman invites people to WBAI's office for a communal reading of "Hamlet" and to enroll in seminars on broadcasting! As they say, you can't make this stuff up.

Unless you look in on Nalini's PacificaRadiowaves list, you may not realize how disorganized and dysfunctional the Pacifica National Board and local boards are, but they have been going on for months, bickering, name-calling, finger-pointing, and accomplishing nothing. Most of those people have an inside track, but they are stuck in it. Sometimes, Mitchel Cohen will tell this rain-soaked group that the sun is shining, and they will tell him that WBAI will soon be gone. Here, some mean that it will finally succumb to years of abuse, others are determined to forcefully get rid of it. Mitchel's is the sole voice of ersatz hope. Here's a post of his from a couple of days ago:

"Actually, I think we HAVE done a very good job at WBAI, given the things we were up against. We kept the station going for 14 years in spite of all the negativity, violence, and stupidity coming from National. 
WBAI will not be 'gone soon' -- in fact, we have the possibility of becoming the funding source for the entire network once again (as we had done for years) if we do the proper promotional campaigns that Steve Brown, I, and pretty much everyone else except management has been pushing for (We're finally all united, here), as programming improves (which I think will begin happening in mid-September as Mario Murillo takes over as interim Program Director), and as we kick into gear more internet programming that is not hamstrung by the 168 hours per week limit in over-the-air broadcasting (and as we make the archives sortable by topic, key word, show, guest, etc.). What an opportunity!


Even though the numbers don't show it, we are not far from turning it all around financially. Just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind.


You, however -- as a Director of Pacifica -- have a special responsibility for refocusing the network. In my view, you should strive to reach agreement with members of all factions to achieve that refocusing of national PROGRAMMING, PROMOTION, and INTERNET; end all the committees for now and bring everyone into focusing on those things. Put out coherent proposals that would win consensus or near-consensus from all directors -- it's really not that hard if you stay focused on the actual radio work of the network and less on the internal politicking."
                                                                    Mitchel Cohen

One wonders if Mr. Murillo will tolerate the kind of nonsense Geoff Brady dishes up once a week. This is from last week and it has to do with pyramid power:



Perhaps that's what they should be  doing at the Atlantic Avenue location: building a pyramid that can eliminate the electric bills.

41 comments:

  1. In my experience it's remarkably difficult to communicate with the profoundly ignorant and profoundly stupid – the key problem, it seems to me, is that they tend to see profound insight in the simplistic and are largely incapable of grasping the possibility of error.

    I believe it's known formally amongst those who have studied the phenomenon as the 'This one goes to eleven' problem.

    ~ 'indigo'

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  2. Reimers holds his job due to a contract? Good butt kissing? Nobody can get in touch with him to fire him? He's the perfect "useful idiot" to bring about WBAI's downfall? He knows how to use Excel spreadsheets? He kicks back some of his salary to the right person? Who knows. Something is strange, though. We can speculate all we want, but speculating on The Bermuda Triangle or UFOs is more productive and enjoyable.

    There were other long term GMs, like Rosemary Reed, Valerie Van Issler, but none of them were the sort of disaster Reimers is. His only match was Anna Kosof, of course. However, she wasn't long term.

    Cohen and Dingemen are just politicos enjoying playing radical radio. They have nothing to offer beyond hot air. They should just be ignored.

    The home delivery of premiums is so absurd it can't be a serious consideration. How are they going to affect delivery? Drive around and burn gasoline? How "green" of them. Costs? More than wrapping and mailing a package, for sure. Dingeman is trying to look like he's doing something and garner followers and power. Screw him.

    I saw Cohen's post and laughed. He must have mental problems if he believes that crap. He must be the kind of person that would have believed Goebbels right to the end. Does he sing "Always look on the bright side of life..." Yes, Monty Python is perfect here.

    Anyway, Geoff Brady isn't just a New Age conspiracy moron, he a boring dork. He is amateur hour in the land of speculation and belief but no real evidence. Even Gary Null is better at the same jive. For my money, I'll go listen to Dave Emory archives on WFMU or Alex Jones on shortwave, though. They are old professionals at doom and gloom.

    I'll tell you the biggest potential threat to WBAI, though. If the white bourgeoisie New Agers ever get pissed off and/or bored, WBAI can kiss 60% of their money away. No matter how "progressive" this segment likes to think it is, they are nothing more than suburban white picket fence bigots and materialists. I know because I have been around them. Push the black station stuff a bit further and you'll find out.

    Remember, Gary Null has PRN online, once he gets a radio station to simulcast it, WBAI is screwed big time. I mean in a total exodus of the financial lifeline WBAI relies on disappearing kind of way. Null is just waiting to make his power play. Right now, he'd lose. His other option is buying WBAI, but I don't think he can come up with the backers and money. Either way, you know he wants control of the 50,000 watts.

    SDL

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    1. I agree with your post except the bit about the 'picket fence bigots.' Sure, most white 'liberals' live as far away from diversity as they can, all the while demanding that others toe the line. However, it's not 'bigotry' if they don't like the current BAI anti-white agenda shoved at them while they're being exhorted to fund that agenda. That only means that they're not totally stupid.

      rj

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    2. No, it's not bigotry if they don't like the current affairs programming, which is repetative junk for morons, anyway. I didn't mean to make it sound like that. What I mean is that if it gets to be much too much, it could drive away the most monied segment of WBAI listeners. The New Age crowd has its own agenda, as does everyone. If they feel they are being overly attacked, they could walk away. They live a middle class/upper middle class lifestyle, and at some point may get tired of being subject to venom from a hate speech radio station like WBAI, regardless of Null or infomercials for products they want.

      Remember, there is a reason WWRL changed to Spanish language programming - their ghetto privilege listeners were small in number and paid no more than lip service to the station. Your suburban white liberal didn't listen to it. Don't believe me? Did you see a single demonstration outside WWRL when the upcoming format change was announced? Nope...

      Anyway, imagine if PRN could get a decently powered 24/7 radio outlet in the New York market? I bet it would decimate WBAI in 90 days. Null has a power that hasn't been unleashed yet. He'll make his move when he thinks the time is right. In fact, I think he may have insinuated that not too long ago in that one conversation with Haskins. Remember when he said he knows of someone ready to buy WBAI? Made me wonder if he was alluding to himself.

      SDL

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  3. And the band played on...

    On another topic: Last week, I listened to "Rape Declaration Forum". It's one of the few shows I actually make a point of listening to. On it, I heard something I rarely hear on BAI anymore: an interviewer (in this case, the excellent Rebecca Myles) who actually let her interviewee talk. Moreover, the interviewee actually had worthwhile things to say, to which Myles responded with intelligence and empathy.

    I almost wonder what she's doing on BAI.

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    1. Rebecca Myles is in a very different class. I bet she keeps her voice on WBAI because she is that rare person who places the original Pacifica mission above any ego.

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    2. Word on the street is, she has also had trouble finding another paying job after she was laid off. It's tough out there for an older (50something?) journalist looking for a new job. Especially if her main work experience is WBAI and if she continues to do hyper-local community journalism (despite doing it well). As she spent more than a decade of her career at WBAI, the media landscape outside the BAI bubble completely changed. Whatever lefty grassroots reportage is done now is done by amateurs online. Where, really, could she get a paying job, exactly? How many job openings are there at those places, what is the work experience of her competition, and do those outlets want to hire an older woman?

      It's really a shame because she is talented. But it might serve as a cautionary tale for younger journalists who might be tempted to become part of WBAI.

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  4. I keep meaning to ask and always forget, until now. Where did this Dr. Majid Ali guy come from? He sounds like a Gary Null wannabe. Useless...

    SDL

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    1. I don't know how he came to WBAI, but I recall seeing somewhere a Pacifica/WBAI document listing him having made a sizable donation ($10,000?). I came across this recently, so I might be able to dig it up.

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    2. (In an Artie Johnson voice) Verrrry innnnterrresting...

      SDL

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    3. Dr. Majid Ali is or was Bernard White's personal physician

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    4. I hope he wasn't Bernard's weight-loss doctor.

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  5. Dr. Majid Ali makes Gary Null seem legit. Well, almost.

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  6. Well, isn't Radio Unlistenable moving down in the world... Yes, it added a new radio station, WIOF-LP - an LPFM! What a joke! Maybe that pothead Randi Ripley still has a few brain cells remaining and will realize what a load of crap he's running and drop it. He'd be better off, and more entertaining, playing tapes of his old crank calls to WBAI. Yes, irony, isn't it? One of WBAI's old crank callers has a radio station playing Fass? You can't make up this shit.

    http://www.fccinfo.com/CMDProEngine.php?sCurrentService=FM&tabSearchType=Appl&sAppIDNumber=1583310

    I wonder whatever ever became of the most infamous WBAI crank caller of all, Frankie The Belcher.

    Anyway, I guess the late 1970s to early 1980s was the heyday of the call-in show crank caller.

    SDL

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    1. Alice was the most entertaining by far, but she never actually phoned in on-air.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    2. I'm not familiar with Alice. Do tell...

      SDL

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  7. I was looking over the WBAI newsletters of late and noticed something. Forlano get swooned over but Dauulton Anderson is all but ignored. Interesting, considering he actually pulls in slightly more money than she does and was the great savior.

    SDL

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    1. The money Daulton pulls in is too small a sum to make any difference, so I don't think it would be a factor. The fact that Daulton's show is black and Forlano's is not eliminates the race aspect, but both shows have in common that they are off the mark and painfully embarrassing.

      I think it was you who once brought up the possibility of Forlano's appeal to Reimers being her Brooklyn College location and the many outlets she apparently has. He is nothing if not an opportunist.

      BTW, I would also like to know who Alice is/was.

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    2. Yes, it was I. My suspicion is that Reimers thought he was going to get use of Brooklyn College facilities and/or money and/or publicity. There is no way he can possibly think she has any appeal to WBAI listeners or is a financially good prospect. She's proven herself a total flop. Maybe she had a good spiel like Anderson did? She can sure talk a mile a minute, without saying anything worthwhile at all.

      Maybe Forlano and Anderson remain on the air because taking them off would be hugely embarrassing to Reimers remaing grain of a reputation. Imagine if they were fired? What an admission of judgemental failure on his part.

      I was reading about Josephson's tenure as GM. Many think he was an abject failure (even Josephson seems to agree). Well, Reimers seems to be worse, if measured by the percentage of listeners having dropped. It's a hell of a lot more than half the listenership.

      You know what is really sad and rather cultish? How shows can make nearly no money and still have defenders, no matter how obvious the evidence is. I guess fanatics are all the same everwhere. Jim Bakker still had followers no matter how much evidence was presented to his being a fake.

      SDL

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  8. The discrepancy between Forlano's experience--as listed on WBAI's site---and what she offers on the air is as big as that which exists between Reimers' Linkedin resumé and his actual performance.

    I am not surprised to hear that Larry Josephson's stint as GM was unremarkable, so, apparently, was Steve Post's. Both were fueled by ego, which is not something that position nourishes. When a position is consistently filled by incompetent or misguided people, the hiring process needs serious scrutiny. Frank Lefever, who has wisely disappeared himself, used to brag about his major role in selecting Reimers. With that and his subsequent claims of having Reimers' ear, he painted himself into a corner. Pacifica and WBAI give the term, dysfunction, a whole new meaning.

    Not only can shows that don't make money garner defenders, the same can be said of shows that don't make sense.

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    1. We call it dysfunctional
      Haskins calls it family
      Pacifica is a big feud

      Truly the Dysfunctional Family Feud.

      Imagine an episode of Dr. Phil at WBAI or Pacifica? I think he'd be speechless for once.

      SDL

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  9. In "The Talking Cure", Mike Feder describes his first day as WBAI's assistant manager. It's comical and painful to read about how, within his first fifteen minutes, he fielded angry phone calls from the owner of an electronics-supply firm threatening to sue BAI for $2200 (This is in 1977, mind you!) the station owed and from the phone company, threatening to cut off service---and a visit from the city marshal, who repossessed the station's postage meter.

    Read it here ( go to pp. 1914-197): http://books.google.com/books?id=jRH7I9ZExDcC&pg=PA4&lpg=PA4&dq=Mike+Feder+The+Talking+Cure&source=bl&ots=9tUyEx6NB3&sig=TwzPJWpmeNcJwX3yUlk9MlzxKc4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=T1YBVILYB4bIgwTxoYLQCA&ved=0CEYQ6AEwBA#v=onepage&q&f=false


    As for Juliana Forlano: In response to another post, a commenter said she'd be more intellectually stimulating with a ball gag in her mouth. To which I say: probably more entertaining, too. And she'd probably bring in more money that way, too. As awful as Kathy Davis is, at least she doesn't seem to fancy herself as the comedienne or intellectual Forlano seems to think she is.

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    1. @Justine Valinotti: Thanks for the info. I didn't know Feder had a book. I shall be ordering a copy. We never pay any bills! HAHAHAHA

      Davis is just a dummy. Forlano defines pretentious.

      SDL

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    2. I inherited a debt when I became the manager, but there were no nasty phone calls or cut-off threats. My answer to this was to go on the air, express my own dissatisfaction with the overall programming, promise more emphasis on the real world around us, and to fulfill that promos via more original, WBAI-produced documentaries. I told the listeners to tune in and allow these changes to inspire their support. I also invited our creditors to come on the air and discuss their bills with me and others. I remember most vividly our Folio printer, he had a small printshop with a tight budget, so he could not afford to be as flexible as he wanted to. That bill was paid in a NY minute. Later, dire need inspired the creation of what became known as the "marathon." We made it annual, it lasted no more than two weeks, if that, and it was fun, with live performances, surprise guests popping in, et. Nothing that remotely resembles the marketing nightmares that dominate today.

      I wish people could hear those fundraisers. I brought my own B&O deck to the station and plugged it directly into the control room panel, catching the first marathon in its entirety and parts of the second, but no machine that can handle the speed and configuration that poverty dictated

      Some musical moments were dubbed by me before tape machines became dinosaurs. You will find them on this and my jazz blog if you search. Here are a couple of links:

      http://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/2011/05/marathon-metamorphosis.html

      http://wbai-nowthen.blogspot.com/2011/05/little1965-marathon-music-while-you.html

      And here's one with Dave Lambert that I posted on my jazz blog:

      http://stomp-off.blogspot.com/2013/12/dave-lambert-drops-in.html

      There are more, you just have to search.

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    3. Justine, a search for pp 1914-197 in Feder's Google book comes up empty.

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    4. I like that about inviting creditors on the air. Talk about transparency! That's exactly what a listener supported station SHOULD do. Don't hide anything. Let the people hear it all. No secrets. I can only imagine Reimers doing that. He'd get yelled at by the creditors! Could be good, funny radio....

      If I am correct, the 1960s marathons not only lasted a shorter time, but earned more money per year when converted to 2014 Dollars.

      I'm curious what the process was to initiated the first marathon. Was it a solo decision? Did you get staff input on the idea? What went into it?

      SDL

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    5. The first marathon was strictly impromptu. We have an old saying in Denmark: "The naked lady soon learns how to use a spinning wheel." I know, that would be regarded as sexist today and isn't nearly as straightforward as "Necessity is the Mother of Invention." I hope you don't mind my taking a shortcut by transporting you to my original blog.

      At the end pf this link, you can read how I came to be the Station Manager and inherit a WBAI that was on the brink of a tumble. It is what led up to a highly impulsive decision to perform a fundraising experiment.

      http://stomp-off.blogspot.com/2010/02/recalling-on-air-marathons-primal.html

      The second link takes you to my initial reaction almost 5 years ago, when I revisited 99.5 after a very long absence. Please take my "afterthoughts" with a grain of salt, because most of them have long since ceased to apply.

      http://stomp-off.blogspot.com/2009/11/in-1960-when-i-moved-to-new-york-from.html

      If this does not answer your question, I'll gladly try to answer them.

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  10. Chris: I meant pp. 194-197. Mea culpa. They're in Chapter Twenty, which begins on p.181.

    I think this is the most telling statement in the passage: "WBAI never did pay any bills. Or we paid as little as possible to preserve the minimum amount of services and supplies to keep us on the air. We stiffed anybody and everybody, major corporations and little old ladies in Vermont who made Save The Whales stickers for us. We were equal-opportunity deadbeats....[A]s I pondered the notion that paying bills was considered a crime at WBAI, the building manager came in. I introduced myself as the new assistant manager...He reminded me that the rent was due and he expected me to mail it out immediately. I promised him I would. He frowned: 'Yeah, well, I hope you do, because you don't want another mess like last month, the dispossess and all.' Dispossess? Jesus!"

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    1. Thank you, Justine. Normally, one might believe Feder was exaggerating, but it's still happening. Is Berthold Reimers merely maintaining tradition? We had a mandate to be different, but... :)

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    2. Sound like Reimers is trying to "one up" the tradition. He rips off old ladies on fixed incomes who simply donated for premiums.

      SDL

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  11. JustAListener
    Seems Geoff Brady is continuing the tradition of promoting convicted fraudsters:
    (Patrick Kelly, his "free energy" guru was convicted of defrauding investors in his energy schemes)
    http://sci.tech-archive.net/Archive/sci.energy.hydrogen/2006-11/msg00069.html

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    1. Thank you for that information, JAL. Your timing is perfect, I was just preparing another example of Brady's outrageous gullibility—or deliberate deceit.

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    2. Obviously this was just a conspiracy to suppress a means of free energy for all.

      I bet if I tried my idea of a hermetically sealed room (except for oxygen masks) full of people who ate lots of beans making methane based free energy, I'd get convicted, too...

      Just look at government agents PETA. They wanted to slaughter the sheep in New Zealand because of all the methane they release into the atmosphere. Seeing a pattern here now? Imagine if that energy could be harnessed? Yup, a conspiracy...

      It's all a conspiracy. Everyone is not what they seem. I know because if I believe in truth, I would have to take responsibility for my own actions, and I don't want that...

      SDL

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  12. Longtime WBAI listener. Can someone tell me why the station is now 100% incapable of broadcasting Democracy Now! without really screwing it up? Every single morning, some clip gets stuck on repeat for four-five minutes. Or the clock shows 8 am but they've forgotten to what, turn up the volume? So we lose the first 2 minutes of the show. On a regular basis, there are long, ticking minutes of dead air. For no evident reason, or because they can't figure out how to fix something, WBAI cuts away to another show altogether. Does Amy Goodman know what's going on in NYC? It's insanely frustrating that community radio (a good thing) is absolute Amateur Hour.

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    1. The station's equipment is in very poor shape and Tony Ryan, into whose hands Berthold Reimers has put yje job of maintaining such things, is incompetent in that area. Another factor is Michael Haskins, who consistently fails to monitor audio levels and, in general, is either as lacking in technical knowledge or simply sloppy.

      This morning, Democracy Now was cut off abruptly on their own video feed, a couple of minutes before reaching the normal end, so we can't blame that on WBAI, unless it all goes through their system, which might be the case. Berthold Reimers should know how important good audio is to a radio station, especially one on the FM band, but his concentration is somewhere else.

      Amateur radio, indeed.

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  13. (JustAListener)
    Now, now, let's be careful with our terms.
    I may be a lowly Technician class but I can assure you WBAI would sound much better if it were run with the care of most amateur radio stations. Even run by "hams" it would sound less ham-fisted!

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    1. If you are suggesting that WBAI has established a sub-amateur class, I think you've hit on something. :)

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    2. Actually, who owns the studio equipment WBAI uses? Was it already there when it moved in? Or was it an empty room it outfitted? A mix of both?

      Anyway, these days you can set up a professional sounding studio for a few thousand dollars.

      SDL

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    3. The console was definitely there, but I'm not sure about the mics and disc players. I believe there was considerable re-wiring done, and—from the sound of it, possibly with a sledgehammer. A collective finger seems to be pointed at Tony Ryan. One thing is clear, Reimers gives a rat's ass and nobody at the station appears to be listening—that includes Haskin.

      Today, the cost of acceptable audio equipment is way below what it was when WBAI had a decent sound. Nothing these bozos do makes sense.

      Did anyone hear Null's call to Haskins this morning? I will post it here.

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    4. Yeah, I heard the mutual buddies brown nosing each other. Nothing of note other than some new programming supposedly coming our way and Null's latest anti-KPFA spiel. I wish the two of them would go off and get married to each other already and leave the rest of us alone.

      Considering anything Null says has an ulterior motive, I wonder why he brought up the supposed new programs. Hay-tie didn't bite, but he knows what's on the drawing board. He may be a boring dolt, but he knows everything going on at the station.

      SDL

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    5. I never doubted Null's intelligence, so I can only take this morning's praise for Haskins and his taking Kathy and her phony "spirituality" aboard as proof of his deviousness.

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