Friday, April 17, 2015
WBAI: Drifter Radio in New York
When the Pacifica National Board's Finance Committee met last Tuesday, they did so with rare civility. Perhaps the gravity of the current financial situation had something to do with it, perhaps it was the realization that figures reflected in spreadsheets are often at variance with each other. We have long known that Berthold Reimers and reality don't get along, but what often is generously written off as "optimism" on his part is, in fact, chronic lying. The man got the job under false pretenses around 2009 and he has somehow managed to maintain the absurd charade of having skills that never manifested themselves.
Figures speak louder than words. As Reimers and his lackeys continued to paint a false picture of prosperity being just around the bend, the location situation grew ever shakier and the bills piled up. If you have been following the stories circulated regarding the Atlantic Avenue property, you may recall that Reimers led the staff to believe that WBAI was purchasing the building at 388 and would be renting out parts of it. That sounded great and it was assumed that something was being done to come up with the down payment. No longer having to pay the high rent at Wall Street, that saving alone would make the purchase easier. In the meantime, there was this kind offer from CCNY's WHCR: they would rent WBAI a studio for $5,000 a month. Great, that arrangement would assure WBAI a broadcasting location for two, perhaps 3 months—WHCR had plans to use the space for an expansion.
Well, three months passed, then four, five, six.... and still no sign of WBAI moving. Quiet as it was kept, Reimers had put WBAI's rent in arrears at CCNY as well as at Atlantic Avenue and the Empire State Building. All this while telling the staff that things were swell—he even had Mitchel Cohen believing that the New York station would probably end up supporting the rest of Pacifica. The farce took another turn when Reimers had the NYPD called to the NYCC campus to arrest Sidney Smith on some unproven charge. The cops came, decided that there were no grounds for arrest, and left. Reimburse then ordered his sledgehammer man, Tony Ryan, to confiscate Sidney's campus pass and escort him off the premises, "banned for life." To this day, Reimers has never contacted Sidney to explain his bizarre firing, but the head of CUNY decided that the WBAI charade had crossed the line, so he ordered WBAI to abandon the space by March 31. With no place to go, Reimers did not comply, so—as R. Paul Martin puts it, WBAI became a "squatter". Word was now put out that an architect and designer had been hired to turn space at Atlantic Avenue into a studio. Tony Ryan announced on the air that he was personally putting together a studio there, at his own cost. As you will hear on the following audio, that is just another stall. How long will CCNY put up with Reimers? How long will it be before WBAI is forever silenced?
Here is R. Paul Martin's report to the Committee on WBAI's situation.
And here is more of the meeting. The first clip leads up to R. Paul's report. The second is what followed it.