Sunday, July 5, 2015

If at first they don't cough up...

A. Berkman's July 4th post on the all-but-abandoned BlueBoard reflects the current listener-fatigue that is bringing the station farther down and—soon, I predict—out:
"Can They Put a Disclaimer Up at the WBAI.ORG Website? 
It would say: Attention! WBAI is not a real radio station, it is only a pale imitation of one. Please be alerted that 90% of the programming stinks, none of the health premiums have any validity to them, and conspiracy theory shows are unintended comedies. In order for you to maintain your sanity please do not listen to the station for more than two hours per day but if you do please consult a doctor immediately. Thank you."

Except for fundraising and political promotions, the WBAI web site has been outdated and inaccurate for years—so much so that its purpose now seems aimed at nourishing narcissism, selling products, and instilling the baseless optimism manager Reimers and his cronies use as a coverup for their chronic ineptitude.

Last week, in the wake of another failed marathon, the "GM who never was" launched a sneak attack on that remnant of listeners who dodged the extended Spring assault. At first, hourlong recorded quack attacks were launched at cracks of dawn and, as the week progressed and desperation remained unabated, the onslaught escalated. Earsores, forced into memories via previous Bertholian blitzkriegs, reappeared unannounced, moving stealthily down and about the station’s unchartered program schedule, indiscriminately bumping off the air the worthy as well as the shameful.

There is a whole lot of recycling going on: Fumari and Segal (the Amino Sisters) were brought back for more acid tests of listener tolerance. Likewise, ubiquitous expert Null did da capos as phones (recorded weeks and months earlier) rang assuringly and sidekick Haskins hee-hawed. Then—great Gwen Scott!—up popped the dreaded duo act of Nutdom hawking seemingly worthwhile but overpriced DVDs. Sure, you can get them at Amazon for one sixth the price, but why even mention that? Why be cheap? 

Inevitably, rumblings were heard from the tuned-in few, forcing WBAI to 'fess up and find justification for these pesky asides. Tell it like it is? NO… not an option where truth is a total stranger to fiction. Besides, who would ever believe that Reimers’ trick of the light-fingered hadn’t been a treat? What to do? Earmark this one for the new studio… no, not the porose, camera shy cluttered audio closet—this, we tell ‘em, is for the state of the art showplace that apostle Mitchel forever declares to be a miraculously inaudible work in progress. Hey, we'll even post a picture on our site... never mind the work we said was underway, or imaginary architectural design we commissioned, we'll pull something off the internet and make it look real good... people fueled... yeah, that has a nice ring to it!
From the WBAI web site.
So, a few years after the need for it became apparent, WBAI’s studio is as real as Mary Chase's rabbit, Harvey. A holographic figment of delusions, it is not on the air, it is air… hot air, like the station’s declared bank balance, Reimers’ financial expertise, Haskins’ intellect, the PNB "majority's" integrity, and any expressed concern for the listenership.

One wonders if Pacifica's past and very costly experiences with frivolous lawsuits has anything to do with Reimers' ability to keep his well-paid pro forma position. He was hired as GM over five years ago, with a mandate to rescue WBAI from near fatal mismanagement. He knew how to do it, he said, but that was only the first in an ongoing series of blatant lies. So, why is he still there as all hope of turning things around ebbs?

The only benefit to be had from making mistakes is that one can learn from them, but there are no lessons learned here. As many former listeners have observed, bad programming is a major problem for a station whose very existence is owed to bringing listeners an alternative to bland radio. Here we don't just have programs of inferior technical and production quality, we have small-minded, ignorant propagandists spewing politically expedient falsehoods and fomenting hatred—people whose notion of "community" is racially based and exclusionary. To them, there is but one ingredient in the New York melting pot.

Dragging the dreary, often fraudulent hour-long infomercials back for "encore performances" shows Reimers' failure to grasp even the fundamentals of the problem. WBAI is a station with a powerful, ideally located transmitter, capable of reaching a very large audience in the country's biggest broadcasting market. It also streams its signal throughout the world, but one would never know it, because WBAI is stagnant and it has lost its audience to a point where its listenership does not even come close to matching that of lower powered area college stations.

For years, WBAI aimed its programming not at any particular ethnic group, but at people of intelligence, those who hungered for truth and enlightenment. Did it succeed? I think so. Why else would the listenership dwindle so drastically when the station dumbed down its programming? Raising the intellectual level alone will not do it, but a thorough re-evaluation of the station's offerings ought to be given the highest priority.

Instead, Reimers ordered a repeat of past failures.

Nostalgia is wonderful. I often find myself indulging in it, but never to the point where it begins to replace reality. A good chunk of WBAI's program schedule comprises shows that can better be termed as fillers—valuable air time given over to the agenda-driven, the mercenary, the self-indulging, the opportunistic, the racism perpetuators.

Shows that should have died of old age many years ago, stay on the air, many of them because an ingrown host cannot face facts and let go.

This past week I heard from the rubble of Radio Unnameable Fass' fragmented voice repeatedly stumble through the call letters of small hinterland stations that may or may not have a closet-full of locals tuned in. Notice that he also gives a caller the wrong address for the station (it should be 388). Undeterred by reality and fueled (though barely) by a time-worn ego that hourglass sand cannot cover, the perennial flower child forms a sad figure as he serves up scraps from a distant past. Out there, in the dark void where people once listened and felt inspiration, aging actors now cling to life, vaguely remembering how things once were... in a different era, an earlier century, on a station that instinctively looked beyond the horizon and took them there.

Fass also ran the well-known Frederick Douglass 4th of July speech with several annoying interruptions for which he never apologized. That points to other WBAI problems, such as the sloppiness of announcer/board ops and a general neglect of listener needs. It is not uncommon for programs to start with as much as a half hour of segued music before anyone announces the name of the show or identifies its host—even basic FCC requirements are ignored.

When guests or hosts make outrageous statements, they are given the WBAI nod—nothing is questioned, nobody with an opposite viewpoint is given access to the station's so-called free speech microphones. For example, we have been fed idiotic uncontested runaway fabrications regarding 9/11 and other news events; Kathy Davis has burrowed through dormant management to two and a half hours of weekly airtime which she devotes to faux profundity; the devastating Haitian earthquake of 2010 was a political ploy; reptilians from another planet roam about our cities in human form; tap water can cure cancer and autism; etc.

When a guest on yesterday's "On the Count", stated that living under colonization in current Puerto Rico was almost worse than slavery, the host grunted his agreement. Apropos asinine analogies, we were recently told by a "respected" talkshow host that the gentrification of Harlem is tantamount to genocide.

Do you think Reimers listens to WBAI? It actually matters not whether he does or doesn't—he should never have been hired and that "Interim" tag ought never to have been removed.


  1. It's all in this post, in a nutshell.

    It's easy enough to dismiss someone like Kathy Davis or Ron Daniels or those "On The Count" hosts who can't even hope to fill Eddie Ellis boots. Or the endless fundraisers,complete with Gary Nulls' "stuff", Amy Goodman's endless recitations of place names, Christine Blahsdale being, well, Christine Blosdale--and "Dr," Gwen Scott. But it's more distressing to hear a program that could offer a valuable service or simply a pleasure no other radio station could offer, with a host that doesn't have the intellectual chops, humanity or simply the radio presence to pull off. "On The Count", as it stands, is one such program. Also, I think of Corinne Fumari's and Richard Wolff's programs. I wanted to hear them. I even wanted to like them. But Fumari turns out to be Kathy Davis with about five or ten more IQ points (and, one assumes, about 50 or 60 fewer pounds) and Wolff is one-dimensional.

    Even though Bob Fass seems to have completely "lost it", even he's more palatable than those folks. That's really sad.

    1. Thank you, Justine. As I think you know, I agree with your appraisal of the late Eddie Ellis. It still amazes me that the decent denizens of WBAI seem to take the destruction around them in stride.

    2. Steven "Humble" MangualWednesday, March 30, 2016

      How well did you know Eddie Ellis and what makes you think that any of us are trying to "fill Eddie Ellis boots?" Those of us who are on the On The Count show have known and worked closely with Eddie Ellis for many years and he himself asked each of us to join his crew. I don't see how such negative ranting is helping any positive cause and if you or anyone else really cares about the show then try joining the network and sharing your expertise around criminal justice.

  2. A good rant that encapsulates it all. I guess this nonsense is why, according to Hank Kee on the past week's TPCS, the last beg-a-thon made less than 50% of its goal. Now, it seems, programming is made up of full blown beg-a-thons and semi beg-a-thons. "Regular" programming is now a thing of the past. Oh, how the desperation is setting in. Maybe Mitch "Goebbels" Cohen can tell everyone how WBAI invaded England and won? Less than a year and Murillo has caused this incredible destruction.

    As for Fass, who cares? He should thank me for giving him some publicity recently. I wonder who will get the letter at 88 Atlantic Ave. Here's a google pic of the address:,-73.997168,3a,75y,198.1h,90t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1svpkIBtaTcsp2IK-IAk_wug!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

    Remember how I always say WBAI will last as long as they can suck money out of The Remnants? Well, I think they have hit the wall now, and the money has dried up. They sucked all they could.

    WBAI has entered freefall without a net. Remember The Flying Walendas? WBAI is trying to replicate their great accident.


    1. Less than 50%? No surprise there.

      Murillo is a disaster and he may well turn out to be the Walenda whose misstep brought it all down. At this moment, the peddling duo of Ali and Coleman are traipsing around for dollars. Janet Coleman (whose integrity will leave room on a pinhead) just parted with a deep observation: "Nobody," she said, "wants to have kidney trouble." It may be the only truth she parted with during the infomercial's two hours.

      The depth of her wisdom astounds me. Were it not for her, I would not have known that one erases a reel of magnetic recording tape by physically breaking it! What a straightforward solution that is. Now, in a bravura encore performance, she and her medical mystic are selling DVDs to an audience that probably is as tuned out as Reimers.

      Ali has just pledged $1000 in support of Janet. This is a recorded pitch, so will he have to come up with another thousand?

      Dr. Ali may well be the real McCoy, but a rose in the garbage bin is just not as fragrant as one on the bush.

  3. 'indigopirate'Sunday, July 05, 2015

    They've been circling the drain, ever lower, ever lower... for so long that one is hesitant to say it yet again, but they may be nearing collapse.

    John Proffitt and Ursula Ruedenburg both attest to the overall decline in support for listener-supported radio, at all levels. Ruedenberg’s present efforts bring Pacifica ~$200k/yr, and she’d been working on assembling a solid, credible experiment to try out vetted underwriting for six months. She and Proffitt felt this was very promising, and very much in line with the mission of community radio in general and Pacifica’s mission in particular – the vetted underwriting, in any case, was to be at the affiliate level, not at the five core stations.

    Proffitt had indicated a couple of meetings ago that they desperately needed to raise the ~$65k for the next audit to begin (already late as hell) to attempt to quality for CPB monies, which are (here comes that word again) desperately needed.

    The bequest KPFA received was a large and invaluable windfall, but in Proffitt’s judgement even if the CPB monies are received down the road, which is highly doubtful, he isn’t confident given financial pressures on Congress, that they’ll continue to exist further down the political road.

    Thus the interest (his interest, anyway) in evolving the model.

    Yet, of course, Pacifica as presently constituted is demonstrably incapable of evolution. They have ~200 affiliates in an age of profound media evolution, and they can’t even begin to get it together to develop something out of that.

    Impressive, in a profoundly perverse sort of way.

    Yet this has been the reality of Pacifica for quite a few decades now. The past when it mattered is *very* long ago.

    As for final outcomes? Who knows?

    Hard to see any sunny days on the horizon, yet that, too, has been the case in a sense for decades, yet they cling on.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

  4. Claude HorvathMonday, July 06, 2015

    I've been involved and 'involved' with WBAI for decades now (time flies). Reading these contributions to NowThen seems to demand of me some response as The Station's distress continues. In lieu of that, here's Woody Allen: "More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.". The 99½ situation, as described, leaves me feeling a bit nauseous.

  5. (JustAListener)
    So I popped onto the archives to hear Max's "Golden Age of Radio" and the first thing I hear is a fundraising promo by Armand DiMele. "This is Armand Dimele with you, help us with our recovery".
    I suppose WBAI is as likely to recover as Armand is!
    Maybe it's time for the station to bring back the dead hosts. Wouldn't mind hearing Grandpa Al shouting "It's a piece of crap!!" again...

  6. Heard something amazing listening to Gary Null last Friday.

    Null mentioned a conversation with a listener re the passing of Dr Martin Feldman, its author shocked at the early demise of this health advocate, asking how it was possible that such a great MD could die early.

    Null went on to call Feldman his best and oldest friend. Then, he confirmed that "Marty" died of a heart attack brought about by "autotoxemia - impacted stool! He slammed his "friend"... for eating out, and eating badly. He went on to say that Feldman was one of those people who was able to help others, but was too busy and distracted to help himself.

    And I was thinking... this is the conversation you're having, on-air... about the demise of your "oldest friend"??? What a piece of work is Gary Null. I'd say it's astonishing that anyone still listens, but I know better than that.

    Podcast here, if anyone's feeling masochistic. Attack on his oldest/best friend begins at ~19mins in.

  7. Armand De Miele used to be a Wall Street guy. Maybe he's giving the station a "dead cat bounce".

    1. As the lady in the wings gets ready to do her thing, someone may be working on the finale, a dance extravaganza with a conga line out the door—"Dead Cat Bounce" has a nice ring to it. The walking dead apparently like the talking dead... still running Solomon Burke and Gil Scott-Heron, for example.

  8. which is more annoying , Margaret Prescod's Hiay-tee or Haskins Hay-tie .
    @ slave central , We Beg At Intervals .

    1. Prescod. She's so damn smug.

      I wonder how both dopes will pronounce "bankruptcy," when the time comes.

      I tuned by earlier and heard Reggie Johnson explaining how they were about to play an extendomercial to raise dinero for the studio fund. Wait, didn't they already have the money for that and were moving forward on making the sound closet a studio? Yeah, OK. What's next, asking for money for transmitter room rent, salaries, etc? In other words, all the things they already have beg-a-thons for?

      Oh, and looks like I may be doing a show on a shortwave powerhouse out of Germany. Can anyone recommend a good mic to hook up to a Windows 7 laptop?


    2. I don’t know from Windows, but if the question is what decent-to-good-to-excellent USB-input options are available, I can address the issue:

      Blue makes some good and some pretty nice stuff. The Blue Snowball isn’t half bad, very compact and portable, and will give you polars to choose from. The Blue Yeti is better still, and more importantly gives you a zero-latency monitor capability – it’s physically larger if that’s a factor.

      If you want higher quality the current best route for a single mic is to take any studio quality mic of your preference and route it through a Shure X2u, which handles the conversion, XLR>usb, high quality, provides phantom power as will in most cases be necessary, and also of course gives you a zero-latency monitor capability.

      If you need to go multiple inputs along with the conversion from XLR we’re talking RME Babyface, but I’d guess you only need the simpler single-mic capability.

      As with all things mic and signal chain these are very much a matter of individual choice, preference, and talent/operator skill and sensibility.

      If you need to talk to someone about any possible Win 7 issues in this picture, as well as things in general, you may want to drop by B&H.

      ~ ‘indigo’

  9. One point about 'BAI's view about Puerto Rico Independence. Now as when I was an engineer you'd think that 95% of the population there wanted immediate freedom form their "Yanque Slavery!" Whereas in fact a larger percentage of Vermont wants to secede than in P.R. This lopsided distortion especially on this subject has been institutionalized at the station.

    As for the professional sloppiness of the board ops.

    This is likely due to the complete absence of any morale. I don't mean 'bad' morale. I mean 'none' whatever. They're working the shifts of all those laid off a few years back,...for 'no' additional pay...none. They're under great pressure to perform with wretched equipment incompetent stupid, and arrogant hosts, and guests.

    An example a host directed me to play a music cut, and a recorded piece,...'which she hadn't given me' then on the air the moron claimed "Sabotage!"

    As if the FBI or anybody cared what she did.

    Another had a guest that said the the white children killed at "Sandy Hook" "were not our problem." Quote, "...the children of the enemy is of no concern to the community."


    I told the host during her out-theme, the air, that she had to go back on and apologize for that statement. She refused, and left the studio with her entourage of nutters, and the offending guest. I later took this to the manager...nothing.

    Facing this many of us then, and clearly now of the board ops just gave up.

    When I was there we'd do our job, and leave it at that. Whatever madness the hosts, and guests spewed out was beyond our control. This seems to have slid into sloppy board attitude from professionals that nothing mattered any more. if I was still there I may well have been brow beaten into the same attitude.

    Mind you I'm not excusing this, but trying to show how this all could have happened.

    1. These people don't belong on any Pacifica radio station. They create their own "realities" to fit their own limited minds, not realizing that they are preaching to a very small chorus. The Puerto Rican majority wish for independence is a good case in point. Look at WBAI on FaceBook and you will find singleminded, obsessive racists like Fred Nguyen and Carlito Rovira among a handful who use the BAI Group to spew their hatred. Had these clueless fools any measurable intelligence, they would know that such chronic bigotry is detrimental to the station.

      WBAI is rudderless and infested.

  10. About the "Broadcast Closet".

    If I remember my Pacifica history the first KPFA studio was built with volunteer monies, and labor. Such was their love of the ideal that was about to be launched. That love is still there. Badly terribly abused, but there waiting for any sign of decency or sanity that would bring them back or new-comers in.

    Banished though I am even I would help build the damned thing if there were certain signs of sanity, and a re-dedication to the mission statement.

    None of this is likely. Though it is gay marriage the impossible sometimes happens. My heaven's. It's not super easy to build a studio, but it's not rocket science either...for heavens sake I'm building one in my living room.

    I was amazed at how the prices had fallen on the equipment needed.

    My studio came in at 'well' under a grand. One for the station wouldn't be all that much more...with the stuff they already have under "5K" for sure.

    So what's the hold up?

    I mean other than the traditional inertia stupidity ego incompetence mean spirited attitudes, and factional hatreds.

    Other than that what's the problem?

  11. Tony Ryan is the problem - he needs to be removed - but the person who needs to be removed most is Mr. Reimers!