Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Will it be snake eyes in the snake pit?

Please scroll to bottom of this post for updates

Interim Program Director Mario Murillo's tenure draws close, which means that he will soon be returning to his regular job at Hofstra University, and some of us are wondering what he will leave in his wake.

So far, his work at WBAI has brought a few improvements, but it does not bode well that he has already spent several months at it without making some of the most elementary improvements, such as removing shows that continue to insult the average intelligence and serve mostly to stroke the ego of a mediocre host/producer.

Numerous such programs have festered in valuable time slots for decades, chasing off the listenership and stifling the media interest WBAI once enjoyed. Were it not for a few aware radio people, who combine their talent with an abiding devotion to and grasp of the original Pacifica concept, WBAI would not just be facing extinction, it would have experienced it.

So, with programming being all-important, it ought to have had priority and undergone a major revision from the day Murillo came aboard. Obviously, the schedule cannot be changed overnight or in a week, not even in a month, but significant improvement can be made by eliminating the dross, and that can be done in a day. It takes time to find or develop worthy replacements, but even rebroadcasts of good programs will serve well in the interim. In the early years, many programs were routinely given two time slots, scheduled to maximize access. Even the current online archive system does not make such a feature obsolete.

Original or rebroadcast dates underlined in red. (From a 1964 Folio).
Mario Murillo was well aware of the sorry state of WBAI's schedule before he took this interim job, so no time need have been wasted—but waste it he did. In fact, we became more aware of this man's narrow geopolitical horizon than we did of his touted skills as a programmer. Earsore-inflicting hosts had nothing to worry about, inept, stagnant radio continued to thrive at 99.5, although it now addressed a listenership so low that that it didn't even make it to the bottom rung of the Arbitron ladder—the lowest in WBAI's 54-year history.

Keeping the demented paranoia of Geoff Brady and his nutcase scam artists on week after week, or Kathy Davis's blathering advertisements for her off-air "classes,", or all that simplistic pop music, which takes up most of the week end, is precisely the kind of pap to which Pacifica was designed to offer an intelligent alternative.

Murillo did not cleanse WBAI of Haskins, but he limited his input in the 6 to 8AM slot by bringing in other voices, including the incessant babble of Mimi Rosenberg and, as expected, himself. That took the show in a better direction, off the dilettante approach.

As I said, Murillo's failure to act quickly is worrisome, and so is the continued meddling by Berthold Reimers, the $100,000.00-a-year misfit who seems to be as untouchable as he is unreachable. This is the bozo who introduced christianity into the schedule in the form of Daulton Anderson's "High Praize" Sunday hodgepodge of mostly crappy music and humorless "comedy." It does not take much perception to deduce that this was Reimers' reach for church money, but it didn't work too well, so he has now instructed the loudmouthed host to introduce a "Pastor's Corner" If two weekly hours of thinly-veiled record promotion doesn't siphon money from those collection basked, perhaps giving free advertising to the reverends will work.

The fact that Reimers is still trying to come up with program-related fundraising schemes is not making it any easier for Murillo. What Reimers touches usually turns to dust and debits.

There has been some shifting in the schedule this week, but it is all done impromptu and without formal announcements. Were the station's online schedule kept up to date, there would at least be a way to find out what is what, but the web site is hopelessly neglected unless a fundraising is involved. They urge you to subscribe to a monthly newsletter that hasn't had a comma moved or a tee crossed since August; programs whose host has either died or--as in the case of Sidney Smith—been arbitrarily banned for life, are still listed, and information about the station, its purpose, etc. is either outdated or untruthful.

In short, WBAI is still in the hands of morally bankrupt incompetents, still operated in an atmosphere of petty jealousies, racism and other forms of hatred. In general, it is a heap of failure upon failure  from which restoration is not likely to occur.

Please use the comment option to express your views, tell us of any program changes you might accidentally have caught. Perhaps we can embarrass them into acting professionally--on second thought, I think not. Apropos that amateur aspect,  do you remember when Murillo hired an expert to conduct a workshop on the proper way to pitch on the air? Did you hear any difference during the last drive? I didn't, and another one is scheduled to begin in about three weeks.

Murillo's crapshoot is not going to bring about effective, lasting change. It takes a pile of pink slips to open that door.


Murillo has written a report that appears on the WBAI web site. Here is a direct link.

UPDATE Tuesday, Jan 6, 2015
Apropos pink slip, the following soundbites from this (Tuesday, Jan 6) morning's "Thump and Growl" give us a glimpse of how Murillo is doing things. I also included Haskins' dead air and station break--a reminder of his unprofessional ways.


  1. Pacifica and WBAI have literally no one with any vision, daring, or discernment. No one. Not one. Literally.

    They are enmeshed and absorbed in the processes of their long, lingering death and their pasts – both real and imagined.

    As has been discussed, WBAI exists at the center of the great creative and media nexus of the world and can neither imagine nor effect a vision, or strategy, for creating something new, powerful, and great.

    There are schools of journalism, music, the arts, political studies, the full reach of the humanities and the sciences, artists, actors, engineers, financiers, stage designers, musicians, chefs, carpenters, craftspeople, and all the myriad people who create, shape, and imagine the world.

    They could easily be sought out, would readily scrap in every sense to speak to the world and shape the world.

    Yet WBAI and Pacifica offer them… what, exactly?


    Insular, ancient, irrelevant, as the world spins on, as media technology mystifies, befuddles, and quite simply absolutely escapes them…

    Murillo teaches… what?

    WBAI offers… what?

    Pacifica offers… what?

    Nihil ex nihilo.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

  2. Pretty much says it all. Nothing much I can add without being redundant. I just don't think Murillo really came in with a focused idea of what he wanted to do, other than some broadcasting of his own.

    You know what? If they put Brady in as GM, maybe they could get donations from outer space? Or maybe make deals with other planets to offer premiums of real Mars rocks. Would be cool to be the first dim wit on your block to own a real rock from Mars, while drinking Red Stuff.

    They could put Daulton in charge. "Now folks, if you donate $1,000 to WBAI this morning, you will receive a piece of the true cross Jesus died on!"

    I'd rather play Lotto...


  3. (JustAListener)
    Program changes in classic "Bates" style.
    I caught the host of "Thump and Growl" signing off wondering if she'll be back on next week.
    Why can't a PD decide what the schedule will be, inform the producers, announce the changes, post them on the website and then implement them?
    Guess they figure folks like surprises...

    1. I caught that, too, and posted it as an update (above)

    2. That was nice of Murillo to let her have a last show to say goodbye to all 6 of her listeners. I wouldn't have been so kind...

      I hear from Hay-tie there that WBAI has shifted frequency to 99 bumbleebabableh. Did that require an FCC application and approval?


    3. He probably would have snatched the two hours while she was away, but—you heard her—he didn't have time.

    4. Sounds like Murillo has picked up a bad habit from Reimers...


    5. He wasn't wearing his Null-patented Osmosis Shield™

  4. "Program changes in classic "Bates" style".
    Is that Norman?


    1. He told Ms. Massengill that her show's life hinged on whether he would have time to dump it, or not. How idiotic, considering all the time he has wasted, and how unprofessional, considering what he claims in his career description.

      I am reminded of my predecessor as manager of WBAI. His name was Joseph Binns and he used to take his extended vacation at a time when income was at its lowest and need for managerial guidance was at its highest.

      Returning from a swell time in Europe, he would see--but not be surprised by--a dangerously low bank balance, but instead of going out there to raise funds, he implemented a series of layoffs. He would pass one of us in the hallway, smile and give comfort with, "You will be happy to know that you are not going to be laid off this week."

      It was not great for morale, but it effectively grew the staff grumble to a point where all but one of us handed in our resignation. That's, basically, what led to me becoming the manager.

  5. Just wanted to make a minor observation. For all the talk about community and grass roots radio that WBAI does, while harping incessantly on about three different topics, I got a lesson in REAL community grass roots radio tonight.

    While having dinner, I was tuning the FM band and stumbled upon one of the Spanish pirate stations that surrounds WBAI (at least here in Queens). The host was talking about some demonstration coming up over some issue that gypsy cab drivers have with the Taxi & Limousine Commision (didn't catch it all). I realized that is real local community grass roots radio.

    WBAI can only dream...


    1. And their dream is the listener's nightmare.

  6. Saw this while bopping about ebay. Since it's from your era, I thought I'd post it. Maybe you have some story to relate to it.



  7. There is a Murillo report to the listener. i haven't read it yet.


  8. Thank you, KGT. I'll post a link to it.

  9. Mario Murillo is a bombardier. He releases bombs but does not wait to see their devastation at ground level.