Saturday, January 3, 2015
From the rubble of what once was...
Friday morning, I was working on a writing assignment when I needed a break, so I turned on WBAI and heard Bob Fass grunting something about Horst Wessell. This was an early Nazi who died in 1930 and was made into a martyr, so I wondered what Bob had to say about him. Imagine my surprise when it turned out to be a somewhat strained introduction to a lengthy, agonizingly slow and slithering attack on me!
Fass has never taken criticism lightly, but I think you will agree that he went overboard on this one. It is no secret that I have had much to say about Fass' program on this blog—simply put, I think it ought to have been refreshed or discontinued many years ago, when stagnation first set in. That also holds true for many other WBAI offerings, but, unlike most programs, I regarded Radio Unnameable as part of the inventory and very much a presentation that only Bob could host. My concern was not so much for the program itself--it had already run its course and time had rendered it an cultural aberration. Now, only a handful of the guests who once made this such an exciting free-form forum were around. The great artists who used the show as a stepping stone were either dead of old age, too busy maintaining a successful career, or so disenchanted with the turn WBAI has taken that they no longer felt comfortable at 99.5. Yes, there are aged activists who may call in and reminisce, but that only underscores the obsolescence.
As anyone who has regularly read my comments here and elsewhere knows, I was disgusted by the station's shoddy treatment of Bob, who was performing gratis and whom management even refused to compensate for having to spend his own money on gasoline. No other person at WBAI was as closely identified with the station or as well remembered, but when his program became the subject of a documentary film, Berthold Reimers and his bunker crowd only wanted to know how the station could generate income from it.
In one sense, Bob himself helped to create the situation, but I believe his ego--somewhat boosted by the film—stood in the way of his doing the sensible thing: Give up the program and work on a book about his half a century at WBAI. He should have done that at least a decade ago, but the film's release would have provided a natural transition.
Now it is too late to close that chapter with any dignity, so he just goes on and on, a weak echo emerging, although barely, from the ruins of a station he helped to establish many moons ago.
I think his rambling attack on me pretty much speaks for itself, but I would like to clear up a few of the untruths, whether they be deliberate twists or lapses in memory. I will skip the uncalled-for, outrageous analogies he makes of me with a notorious Nazi or a berserk bloodlusty monster, but some of his clearesr lies or age-induced fantasies are listed below this unexpurgated sound clip.
1. I was not fired from WBAI. I quit and Pacifica President Hallock Hoffman offered me a network-wide job that he and the PNB created. I considered it, but turned it down and went with the BBC instead. Here's Hallock's letter.
2. Bob never did my show, nor did I ever do his, and the only time I was drunk was on October 18. 1949, my 18th birthday.
3. Bob had, as he says, been fired by my predecessor when I became manager, otherwise I would not have been able to hire him back.
4. I have never supported fracking, on the contrary. However, I did criticize Bob for letting this very boring guy, Fred, hog so much of his air time every week. I thought Bob should have worked to get some real discussion of fracking on the air at a time when there might have been more than a handful of people listening.
5. I have never practiced censorship on this or any other blog, unless not approving spam can be considered as such. Unlike the Blueboard, this blog has been spared meaningless trollery, so when Bob asserts that I "very strictly limit what can be said" on this blog, he is being rather dishonest.
6. Finally, let me add that one of my criticisms of Steve Post was his use of WBAI's air to level personal, slanderous attacks on people like Tana DeGamez, Barbara Dane and Bob Bisom, people who had created extraordinary radio for WBAI. I am not saying that any of my programs were as good as Tana's commentaries, Barbara's interviews from Cuba, or Bisom's coverage of the Columbia students' uprising, but I did not abuse my WBAI broadcast privilege to air dirt. This is what Bob Fass did Friday morning.