As we all know, this is more a scam than anything else. Berthold Reimers, his immediate predecessors, and their abettors need to keep WBAI on the air. Not because the station is significant and vital to the New York area, but because it is all some of them have standing between them and the unemployment line.
Times have changed, trends have come and gone, technology has altered the landscape, but there is still a serious need for intellectual stimulation of the kind WBAI and Pacifica once represented.
We half-jokingly refer to Reimers, Mitchel Cohen, and the rest of the station's small inner circle as the gang in the bunker, but the tag is not without merit. There is indeed a bunker mentality surrounding the small group of people who, with increasing desperation, attempt to reverse what they and others have done to the station and its parent organization. They know that the damage can not be repaired, only covered up, which is what they are doing by any means they deem necessary.
As we all know, these fund drives are now more a scam than anything else. Berthold Reimers came in on a vow to double WBAI's income in a not so realistic short order. He had a plan that would straighten everything out, he said. So, what did he do? He spent his first year as interim GM in the premium room, where unfulfilled orders formed a major part of the clutter left behind by the previous regimes.
When he re-emerged, a year later, this self-professed financial expert (see Linkedin resumé) assured us all that the problem was almost solved, the backlog of product handling and shipment cut down to a negligible size. Sighs of relief were heard, but this turned out to be the tip of the iGM's iceberg of twisted truths, downright lies, and delusions. Even the Sandy blast, which was devastating, did not exonerate Reimers—he was collecting a $100,000,00 annual salary based on the smoke and mirrors that Frank Lefever and a WBAI committee of selection failed to detect. It has been downhill since then and the deeper the station sank, the bigger and more frequent the lies became. Now it has reached a point where just about anything goes, so the fundraising attempts are more dominant and increasingly irresponsible. The listeners? Well, most of them wisely evacuated themselves and those who remain seem comfortable with shameless political indoctrination.
No thinking person expects WBAI to revert to Mozart in the morning, but a thought-inspiring schedule of multi-ingredient brain food remained obtainable in spite of changing times and life styles. In its earlier years, WBAI not only survived changing trends, it often helped to shape them, doing so in a seamless, open manner. The listener's mind was ever nourished, never forced into a mold. These days, technology has—more than ever before—been difficult to keep up with; it has widened generation gaps and, as always happens, left some people out.
Back in the days when few people owned computers and the new internet was referred to as a "super highway," I recall seeing an elderly black woman interviewed on Public TV by the more respectable of Adam Clayton Powell's sons. His description of this new electronic "highway" produced from her a lengthy pause, followed by a question: "Will it run through Harlem?"
My point, though clumsily expressed, is that some things never change, quest for knowledge being among the perennials. Delivery methods evolve, but there will always be a serious need for intellectual stimulation of the kind WBAI and Pacifica once represented.
We half-jokingly refer to Reimers, Mitchel Cohen, and the rest of the station's small inner circle as the gang in the bunker, but the tag has merit. There is, indeed a bunker mentality surrounding these people who, with increasing desperation, attempt to reverse the damage they have inflicted on the station and parent organization. They know that their vandalism can not be repaired, so they focus on covering it up, but only succeed in doing so partially.
They lie by rote—and, almost a la Occupy-ers, in chorus—to the few remaining listeners as well as to themselves and each other. With Gary Null cast as Popeil the station's morally bankrupt amateur hucksters have long since abandoned efforts to raise funds for the Hill concept that made Pacifica stations so special. That was only possible when principles of good programming and communication were observed. Now the aim is to keep their own little "shows" and designer politics on the air, even if it calls for embroidering or downright eliminating the truth that once fueled Pacifica stations.
Sunday night/Monday morning, I listened as Tony Ryan played soul music from his own earlier years and offered a premium comprising a children's novel, Indigo Blue, and equally unrelated CD-resident MP3s from "my own collection." As listeners reported problems with their calls to the phone center, Mr. Ryan (Yes, that sledgehammer- toting management member) told them to just ask and pay for the book... he would personally and separately send out the CDs. In fact, he impulsively decided to throw in one or two extra ones. These are obviously discs that he burns, so you know there are no licenses or royalties involved. Copyright infringements do not matter to these people as long as money comes in.
Off the Hook is one of the station's good programs. Its producers have never minced words when it came to voicing their disgust with the way things are handled by Reimers. His cavalier attitude toward them is all the more inappropriate when one considers that their premiums are always relevant and made by them at no cost to the station. When it turned out that many of the show's paid-for premiums were collecting dust in a corner at Atlantic Avenue, and calls to the station went unanswered. OTH spoke up and received Reimers' assurance that all would be taken care of. That promise was empty, so now OTH has again commented on the destructive Bunker game played against the show. You can read it here. The matter was brought up at the WBAI LSB Finance Committee last week and here's what the Treasurer had to say about it:
The Finance Committee must have been persuasive, because Berthold Reimers came to his senses long enough to let the Off The Hook team back in last night. I doubt that Reimers realizes what a colossal ass he is and how grateful he should be that WBAI has such good, forgiving volunteer producers. Here's what they had to say about their return:
UPDATE II: Don't expect to hear OTH this week (March 4), because Reimers extended the drive for another week AND PRE-EMPTED "OFF THE HOOK" AGAIN!!! Has this idiot a brain???
As noted, the OTH people are forthright, offering quite a contrast to the misplaced WBAI inmates, who lie by rote to the few remaining listeners and, I think, to each other. With Gary Null cast as Popeil the station's morally bankrupt amateur hucksters have long since abandoned efforts to raise funds for the Hill concept that made Pacifica stations so special. Now the aim is to keep their own little "shows" on the air, even if it calls for embroidering the truth that used to fuel the station—and embroider they do.
I heard several other good examples of bad radio in the past couple of days, but the WBAI site's archive is so messed up as to be unlistenable