Sunday, August 3, 2014

If your phone don't ring... it's me.

It's Sunday once again and WBAI's post-overnight day began with one of avowed non-believer Berthold Reimers' brilliant fundraising ideas, "High Praize." This was touted as a two-hour program of black gospel music featuring recorded visits to churches in our area. The circulating fantasy was that dropping something in the basket was second nature to thousands of black churchgoers, and pastors--always ready for the spotlight—would welcome the publicity. Reimers probably had visions of money flowing to WBAI by way of vessels passing up one pew and down the other.

Of course, the very idea of religion being pushed on WBAI met with opposition from those who still valued the original Pacifica concept, but principles are readily discarded when they stand in the way of money. Even a Marxist like Mitch Cohen encouraged the proposed show, and many thought it would be lovely to hear those choirs.  Well, host Daulton Anderson's wakeup call wasn't quite what they all expected. His first two or three shows included a near-operatic singer, some familiar pop artists doing familiar borderline church songs, and loudmouthed standup comics doing bible jokes. All this was meshed into a ball of noise that could wake the dead. As a matter of fact, at least two of the WBAI station breaks thrown into the mix were delivered by performers who apparently can't stop listening to the station although they died a few years ago.

It soon became clear that this was not a show focused on "inspirational music," as we now were told, the church remotes having fallen by the wayside, but a dreadful mishmash praising the Lord, Jehovah, Jesus, God, or whatever the tag du jour is. It grew worse and worse, and this morning it was downright awful.

Fundraising wasn't going too well, either, so Anderson had a friend of his join him in the studio for a couple of Sundays. His name is Marc Reddick and he owns a recording studio in Brooklyn which was to be used to compile a gospel CD premium of original music. Church people listening to "High Praize" were urged to contact Mr. Reddick at his office if they had songs or performances to contribute.

Anderson seemed quite excited at the prospect of this special premium, so he brought it up last week and the week before, when Reddick was present, but where was Mr. Reddick this morning? This is, after all, fundraising time, so the projected "thank you gift" would have fit right in. There was no mention of it or, for that matter, Mr. Reddick. But then the clock on the wall read 6:50, a very special moment Anderson has designated as call-in time. The idea is for church people to call in and give their reverend a plug as they themselves receive some kind of blessing.

The first time he tried this, a man identified himself as an atheist and a woman obviously said something that displeased Anderson, so he hit the mute button and admonished both callers.

This morning, a caller likened what he was hearing to excrement and suggested that Anderson play music. The man may have said more, but he was silenced by this holy host. You won't hear the very beginning of this call-in segment, but the dead air is there, and so is a call from the disappeared Marc Reddick. He identifies himself, but Anderson—possibly addled by the previous call—treats his friends as if he were a total stranger, even asking where he is from. It's the entire call-in segment, bizarre and brief--check it out.

Apart from the rather embarrassing nature of Anderson's incoming calls, it's clear that not many people are out there wanting to receive his blessings. Marc, for example, seems not to have had any problem getting through, and the total number of callers was three.

Now for something different but not entirely off topic. The recordings Anderson plays are a far cry from what most people associate with black gospel music. Mahalia's voice was not trained like that near-operatic singer's is, but it reached in and grabbed you, and the exhibitionist organ playing that is so prominent on "High Praize" is polluted water to the pure wine of Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Marie Knight. I know that is the past, but gospel music of similar substance and artistry is still being performed today, so there is no excuse to concentrate on the shallow commercial variety.

As some of you may know, I have spent most of my working years in the music business, and that includes producing many sessions in the jazz and blues area. I have also recorded a smidgeon of gospel songs, especially in 1961, when I spent a couple of weeks in New Orleans conducting sessions that yielded 13 albums. Jazz musicians have always had an affinity for the music they heard in church while growing up, especially older players, such as the ones I recorded in New Orleans. Here are a couple of examples, This is trombonist Jim Robinson's band playing "Take My Hand Precious Lord," a  great song written by the Reverend Thomas A. Dorsey, who used to be known as Georgia Tom when he was Ma Rainey's accompanist and writing and  performing some of the most low-down songs you can imagine ("It's Tight Like That," for ex.). He was "saved" and  made a lot of money in the music publishing business. The singer here is the bassist Slow Drag's wife, Annie Pavageaux.


Here, from that same day is another band, Percy Humphrey's Crescent City Joymakers, playing "We Shall Walk Through the Streets of the City."

I apologize for the bad sound, but all I could find was a rather abused Vinyl LP. I have the tapes, but my deck needs a new belt.


  1. This clown is such a crock of crap. He'd make a good second rate televangelist. I'm not a gospel music fan, but I have heard some of the real thing and know what he plays is pop music.

    I wonder if he had a falling out with his buddy there, since he didn't seem to want to talk to him or, even, acknowledge him, and was so non-personable. Weird...

    In the end, I think Pastor Paranoia is just a self-serving person using WBAI to make himself look like a more important person to his millieu than he really is, like Forlano is doing.

    One thing I'm really feeling in his voice is a developing tenseness. I think he knows his bill of goods has fallen flat, and he is looking the fool. Maybe I need to call him again? Oh, but after the way he snapped at me last time, I'd hate to give him a fit of apoplexy...


    1. He likes to talk about his worldwide audience, but I have a feeling that can be narrowed down to his sister in England. I think you're right about the tenseness; he sold Reimers a bill of goods—it's a case of two deluded cons sharing a fantasy.

  2. Those two tracks are godfuckingdamnwonderful :)

    ~ 'indigo'

  3. HAHAHA! I just saw Preacher Pomposity made a whole $150.00 and none of those BAI buddies he so promised. Give him another decade and he may actually get that $10,000 pledge... NOT! I don't know what's worse, a pittance of money or nothing. I think I would be more insulted by a pittance, because it feels like someone rubbing your worthlessness in your face.

    Add to all this his narcissism being stomped on. You know he is angry. You can so hear it in his voice. This is the kind of person who eventually implodes on the air.

    I remember when I was a kid. On WSOU there was a DJ named Daniel Martin Cooney, who did a good punk rock show. When the new wave stuff started making headway, he started filtering it in. Well, some people nicely told him they weren't into the new wave and would appreciate his keeping the show pure punk. He had a meltdown that night attacking the listeners and quitting on the air. It was both sad and eye opening to see someone who couldn't understand a different view in any way, shape or form.



    1. OVI is a common affliction at WBAI and, in fact, the current Pacifica Board. Knight had a bad case of it, as does Fass, but then there are amoebas, like Haskins and Cohen. They go with the flow regardless of its direction.

      *OVI Opposite View Intolerance.