Tuesday, July 21, 2015
So, what's new?
I was going through some old papers yesterday when I came across the following 1964 memo to Pacifica's Board of Directors from the Foundation's President, Hallock Hoffman.
It gives us an interesting idea of the WBAI situation is it was in the early days, when its Manager was Joseph Binns. I was working at the station then, having graduated from volunteer to announcer, as we then called the board operator in Master Control. I had not yet met Lou Schweitzer, but I would have understood his concern had I seen this memo.
WBAI was a wonderful station that in many ways reminded me of the government-run networks I grew up with in Europe. It was however, a bit on the strained high-brow side, which was more a reflection of Joe Binns' taste than of Pacifica's mission. Still, 99.5 was an extraordinary place to stop in for intellectual nourishment and sophisticated humor.
Not long after this memo was written, the paid staff (with one exception, Baird Searles) got together and submitted individual letters of resignation to Hallock. We had all agreed that better management could have avoided the dire financial situation that kept the station precariously balanced on the edge of existence, so we made our decision to stay or go contingent upon a change at the top.
What followed is a long story, so suffice it to say that I unexpectedly found myself replacing Joe Binns and revising our program schedule. I had no idea that the man who gave WBAI to Pacifica now recommended that it be sold, but it explains why Hallock suggested that Lou and I get to know each other. We had lunch and whatever it was I said made Lou rethink his recommendation. He took a renewed interest in the station and I don't think I exaggerate when I say that we struck up a close friendship.
You might find the memo interesting, not just for what it tells us about Lou's thoughts on selling the station, but also for Hallock's opposing arguments.
Here is the 2-page memo in downloadable PDF format.