Wednesday, February 24, 2016

And now, a word from our sponsor...


If its under-the-fence entrants grant themselves this financial solution, WBAI's uniqueness will lie in its distant past and its slide to the limits of low listenership and high ineptitude. Pacifica only has to shake off a few worthy programs before it will have come full circle.

In New York, the decline has been slow but deliberate, compounded by a flag-raising shift to a new targeted audience and the lowering of program content to street level. As might have been predicted, this about face has reduced the listenership to its smallest number in WBAI's 55-year history.

Proof of decay and managerial abandonment lies in the hearing: tuning in to 99.5 at any time is likely to produce an assault on one's intelligence and sense of √¶sthetics, not to mention a one or two-hour product promotion. Fund raising has become WBAI's raison d'√™tre, or so it seems, but it still boasts of being commercial-free, often citing WNYC's regular "underwriting" spots as a feature that would severely restrict program content. 

There has, nevertheless, been talk of Pacifica resorting to underwriting, but such proposals are inevitably opposed. Now, however, the situation has grown so dire that some see this dreaded form of advertising as a necessity. This became evident at the February 23, 2016 meeting of the PNB Finance Committee, an uncharacteristically civil discussion that, as so often is the case, found 'indigo pirate' as a fly on the wall. His lead-in is a quote from that meeting: 


The situation at WBAI/Pacifica appears, from what information is publicly available, to continue to spiral inward and downward.

I’ve distilled the archived audio of the Pacifica National Board Finance Committee Meeting of 23 February 2016 down from 1:33:17 to 28:33, focusing particularly on WBAI and Pacifica’s overall financial situation.

I’ve indicated gaps with a bit of click track, and I’ve tried to be as fair as possible in letting the information speak for itself.

Which it does, perhaps all too clearly.


The full audio may be found here.

~ ‘indigopirate’

30 comments:

  1. We may have finally found a grown-up at Pacifica. The CFO seems to be actually trying to sort things out with the audits and the budgets. They're still working on the FY2014 audit. If nothing else, he's calling out the units for their failure to follow simple business practices. I'm amazed how PNB members who put up with violations of their own rules and multiple lawsuits suddenly get concerned at the idea of underwriters possibly asking for changes. Could it be that underwriters might actually insist on running a station properly? Could it be that underwriting might actually mean resources for programming that people actually want to listen? This assumes that you can get underwriting in the first place. Its not like the Fortune 500 is lining up begging to give money to Pacifica. Usually, non-profits look for money from donations of some kind, foundation grants and underwriting. The CFO is stating the obvious when he says you can't rely on one source of funding. They should at least give it a try. If nothing else, they can reduce the number of beg-a-thons.

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    1. Don't forget that underwriters make their decisions based upon various factors, including program content and audience size. WBAI does not shine in either of these areas, and I'm not so sure that the other stations would fare better.

      So, I doubt that the introduction of underwriting stands much of a chance, the question being: can Pacifica stations stay on the air while the Foundation cleans up its act?

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    2. You have a valid point. Based on the current state, it would be difficult to justify giving grants or underwriting. I was making the case that there would be a strong incentive to change knowing that potential grants and underwriting funds will become available.

      Listener funding has plateaued at best according to the CFO and CPB funding is not a prospect anytime soon. I just can't see how the stations can tolerate the current state of affairs and then suddenly 'get religion' when it comes to underwriting and grants. No, I won't take underwriting but I will pay Gary Null money. No I won't take underwriting but I will replace Roy of Hollywood with profanity laced content on KPFK. No I won't take underwriting but I will copy other people's documentaries, mark them up and then forget to actually send it out to people. The PNB and LSBs are mandated by their own rules to help in fundraising. If they truly believe underwriting is wrong, they should come up with new ideas besides on-air fundraising and creative accounting.

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    3. It is my experience that the Pacifica Archive is staffed by people who are more interested in the rarity (saleability) of the tapes they restore than they are in the legal aspects. I have heard them give out avoidable misinformation when describing archived material and I wonder about the legitimacy of airing (and selling) the 6-hour Lorraine Hansberry tributes that Out-FM used as a premium yesterday. No mention was made of the original agreement with AFTRA-SAG, for example, nor did the hosts of Out-FM know who produce this rather spectacular program—they mentioned in passing that some WBAI people ere involved... the fact is that this was a WBAI production that the unions tried to stop from being aired and only after we decided to go public and embarrass AFTRA-SAG did they agree to one single airing. no repeats.

      There is so much of this kind of sloppiness in evidence at Pacific and WBAI. Any lawsuit could trigger an avalanche.

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    4. As I have seen all my life, all "non-commercial" broadcasters love to blather on about how their only source of funding is "you, the listener/viewer." Well, we all know that is normally nonsense. Until recently, even Pacifica received government funding, until ineptitude ended that source.

      Can Pacifica find underwriting? Well, many college stations and lease time shows get underwriting, often from little local businesses. I think people look at underwriting as having to come from some corporation, as it does with NPR or PBS. No, it can come from Sal's Pizzeria or Joy's Beauty Salon, also. So, the question really becomes: can Pacifica and/or it's stations get underwriting from local/community businesses? No, they can't, or they already would have.

      Pacifica can indeed rely on one source of funding, its listeners, if - IF - it provided programming that didn't drive them away in droves. The problem isn't the source of funding, but the content of the programming, which is something these goofs simply refuse to address. There is simply no point in talking about funding until you deal with what is broadcast over the air. Trying to find alternative funding for ever more niche programming that ever fewer people listen to is simply not going to work.

      It comes down to this. Pacifica tried a gamble on a target marketed format and it failed. Mario Murillo was the person who tried it at WBAI without taking a look at how WWRL failed in doing the same thing. They are a stubborn bunch who are going to do things their way and complain when it doesn't work. Well, complain away they shall, as their target market is about "gimme gimme" and not giving. They better keep hoping their listeners keep dying off. However, will bequests will eventually dry up as there are no listeners left to die off.

      The only thing that has a chance of working is more diverse and competent programming content, and then we'll talk money.

      SDL

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    5. Chris, can you explain the details of the Hansberry/AFTRA-SAG dispute you mentioned? Why was there a problem?

      SDL

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    6. That is precisely the problem. The programming is of poor quality and too race-based, politically to entice any kind of serious sponsorship. Basically, the only income generated by WBAI is that which is derived from listeners and that would drop to rock bottom were it not for the products and services offered for sale (let's not fool ourselves, these are sales). People who fall for the various on-air scams are not buying an ideological concept or supporting a vital cause—they are looking for bargains. With increasing frequency, they are realizing that the products and services (if they receive them at all) are not bargains. The listeners are being had by hucksters who are fighting to keep what they consider to be their turf.

      As long as the station/Foundation attracts and accepts such opportunists, these ships of fools will proceed to the depth of oblivion.

      I don't know why people like Reimers cannot see the stagnancy to which they contribute, but it will soon hit them.

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    7. SDL, I will look for the post wherein I explain what happened re Hansberry. In the meantime, this item from the NY Times will give you an idea:

      http://www.mediafire.com/view/j96z2224m63cd5i/AFTRA_Bars_60.jpg

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    8. Thanks. I think I understand the matter. It was about money, even though it was a non-commercial program. Even more importantly, did WBAI actually get those actors and actresses to record specifically for WBAI, or was WBAI using recordings made elsewhere and edited into the program? If you actually got them to do it specifically for WBAI, that is some feat, even then. Now they are lucky to get even one small name to appear on the station.

      SDL

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    9. We contacted and recorded all these performers ourselves. As I recall, only two of them turned us down, John Gielgud and, amazingly, Sidney Poitier. The former did not give a reason, the latter—we later found out—so despised Bob Nemiroff that he refused to be involved in a project with which he was associated. Nemiroff and Hansberry were divorced at the time of her death—he came to us with the idea of doing this tribute, which would in large part be based upon letters, unfinished manuscripts and other papers that remained in his possession. We knew it would be a long program, so we produced it in two parts. With no commercials, we created breaks by playing recordings from her own album collection. I think that was Bob's idea—a good one.

      It was my idea to take this battle with the unions to the press and embarrass SAG/AFTRA into giving in.

      I recall fondly how enthusiastic actors were about this. Bette Davis was her own worst critic, always offering to do her reading over again, for example. Lorraine Hansberry was a beloved and highly regarded figure, but the same cannot be said of Nemiroff—he struck me as being more interested in enhancing his reputation in the theatrical world than he was in paying tribute to his former wife. Perhaps I was wrong in my assessment, but I still think that was the case.

      The producers of Out-FM (John Riley and a woman whose name I didn't get) were generally uninformed and too interested in whether or not rumors of Hansberry's lesbianism were true. This rebroadcast—legal, or not—could and should have been handled with much more care.

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  2. It might be hard to pin this on Reimers. If the Pacifica Archives cleared it for use, then WBAI is in the clear. Of course, if the union objects and they don't take it off the air, that's another matter. Why don't we ask the counsel?
    Hello Dan Siegel..not in..how about Jose Luis Fuentes-Roman? Aren't you also a PNB member? What a coincidence..I know you're busy trying to mortgage Pacifica property but I have a quick question for you....

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  3. Hiawatha and the Peacemaker via amazon.com $17.35

    http://www.amazon.com/Hiawatha-Peacemaker-Robbie-Robertson/dp/1419712209/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456415667&sr=1-1&keywords=robbie+robertson

    Via WBAI $100

    SDL

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    1. I presume the first amount is a typo. Well, look at it practically. Reimers is a guy who got lucky and is taking advantage of his salary that dummies were fool enough to give him. I blame those who supported his getting the position and those who have the power to say he should be fired and don't.

      My question is how does his salary compare with the salaries of other GMs in modern times, say from 1980 up to Reimers.

      I'd also be curious how Reimers salary compares to GMs of other local non-commercial stations. I would imagine the GM of WNYC makes as much or more.

      SDL

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    2. That's Hiawatha robbery!

      Reimer has no shame. By the way, according to Steve Brown, his annual salary is $110,000,00—he must have received a $10,000.00 raise! This is not only totally wasted money, its an outrageous expenditure compounded by a negative return.

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    3. Sorry, SDL, that extra 0 was indeed a typo—now corrected but out of sequence.

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  4. In response to an earlier post, Mario Murillo should be investigated in connection with Dred Scott Keyes for their roles in WBAI current financial situation. The premium problems can be traced to Mr. Keyes. Mr. Keyes continues to sell premiums for his financial gain. Mr. Murillo was directly aware of this and refused to do anything about it, according to staff members.

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    1. Agreed. I would also like to know something else. Murillo was hired as an iPD, during some "time off" from his Hofstra post. Well, seems Murillo never went back to Hofstra. Does that make anyone else wonder? At the time I found one of those "rate your professor" websites, and Murillo's rating was totally lackluster, with lots of complaints. The main complaint was that he didn't really teach anything but just spewed his politics. The kids that liked him said it was an easy class.

      Now, putting all this together makes me wonder what the real story is. Was he getting dumped or asked to leave from Hofstra, and then took the WBAI job while deciding where to go next? Just curious.

      SDL

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    2. The official word (meaningless as such things are at WBAI) had it that he came to the station while on a sabbatical, and when he left and ceased appearing on the Friday morning show, we were told that he had a death in the family. You can't believe anything these people say... For a couple of weeks, Haskins said Murillo would be back "in a couple of weeks," but he eventually stopped mentioning his name.

      What you say has a familiar ring to it—the man was a little propaganda machine and not clever enough to conceal that. That morning show is a mess... they need to get rid of Haskins and find someone with integrity, the right spirit, and a brain.

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    3. sorry to hear of his wife, but I was told he was bisexual.

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    4. This morning on the Slavery Breakfast Show, Haskins went into his usual racist blather (replete with incessant repetition, mispronunciations, and fractured gramma) portraying the lone holdout whose valiant efforts are keeping WBAI on track, telling "our" truth. In the course of this moronic monologue, he mentioned Murillo, stating that his return can be expected in a few weeks.... in the meantime, he, Hero Haskins, will hold the fort. You get the idea... it's all gone to his head and tumbling around in that empty room.

      That said, bisexuals matter—that, if true, should neither be regarded as an excuse nor a demerit.

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  5. He may have been asked to leave due to violating men like he did @ WBAI. But the premium situation is far more serious. Murillo and Keyes are tight. If you want to solve the WBAI premium mess that goes back decades, they have the answers. There should be a search warrant for Keyes's home - ALL the premiums will be found there, according to Schmid.

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    1. I have heard much about Keyes being light fingered, but mostly in the equipment area. Wasn't he banned at one point? Come to think of it, that wouldn't mean anything to Berthold Reimers... he staged Cerene's re-entry and we all know the Bates is not only back, but getting paid for it, too.

      I heard Bates bush a speech by Jon Henrik Clarke this morning, totally swallowing that fraud's invented black history while his sidekick, Kathy Davis went into her amen corner act. Bates is slick and Davis is sick.

      As for Bates violating men, that's a new one on me.
















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    2. I think he meant Murillo violating men. I never heard of any such thing, myself.

      Ultimately, even for his short tenure as iPD, Murillo was a disaster. He got the ball of self-destruction rolling faster than ever at WBAI. He imposed the Black Nationalist format to a greater extent than had existed, and it failed miserably. WBAI is now reaping what he sowed.

      As for the premiums being at Keyes' home, I doubt it. WBAI doesn't even order many of the premiums to begin with.

      Casanova & Cake - WBAI's new star duo.

      SDL

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    3. Bates never violated anyone - Murillo violated people @ WBAI including several men and Delphine Blue and Marina Ortiz, according to Schmid. Ask Schmid - he knows. Sidney was there too, he knows.

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    4. WBAI is reaping what a succession of single-minded opportunists have sown over the years, but I agree that Murillo was treacherous. Remember, he took a long time getting started, then came on like wildfire, destroying everything in his path. One very regrettable legacy of his was the admiration for Haskins, which was probably feigned. Not having much in his attic, he simply followed the route Murillo laid out for him and—already primed by the likes of Hamilton and Caldwell—saw racism as an increasingly acceptable (internally) means by which he could gain the illusion of belonging. All this went to his little head and he lost control of it.

      The morphing of Haskins, Davis and—recently, I fear—Reggie Johnson is grim evidence of a snowball effect. The fact, however, is that this is all taking place in a hole that few people are aware of. It's only important to us, a shrinking legion of former WBAI boosters. When it goes away (probably this year) few will care and even fewer remember. Mumia? What's that?

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    5. Sorry, I had the wrong name... Murillo, not Bates. That said, violating others is not necessarily a sexual act, but anything is possible when you have such a sorry mix of unbalanced wannabes and a cowardly empty shell pro forma at the helm.

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  6. I found a faculty profile for Murillo at Hofstra. It appears to be current.
    Excerpts:
    Mario A. Murillo Professor of Radio, Television, Film
    Degrees MA, 2003, New York Univ (NYU); BA, 1988, New York Univ (NYU)

    Mario Alfonso Murillo is Professor and Chair of the Radio, Television, Film department in the Lawrence Herbert School of Communication at Hofstra University, where he teaches courses in radio journalism and documentary production, media studies, and Latin American studies, among other subjects.

    He has worked in commercial, public, community, and university radio for over 28 years in various creative capacities. He was a longtime host and producer on WBAI 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio in New York, where he served as director of Public Affairs Programming from 1989-1998 and anchored its long-running morning drive public affairs and news show Wake Up Call for over twelve years. An award-winning radio feature reporter and documentary producer, he has reported regularly for NPR's Latino USA as its New York correspondent, NPR’s All Things Considered, and Pacifica Network News, among other outlets. Since 2001, he has served as special guest host on WNYC New York Public Radio’s The Brian Lehrer Show (www.wnyc.org). He also was a news reporter for 1010 WINS AM, the top-rated all-news radio station in New York from 1986 to 1989. Currently, he serves as executive producer of Morning Wake Up Call, the public affairs news/talk program heard on WRHU 88.7FM (www.wrhu.org) every Monday-Friday from 7:00 to 9:00am, the community-licensed radio station of Hofstra University.

    He is the author of Colombia and the United States: War, Unrest and Destabilization (Seven Stories, 2004), and Islands of Resistance: Puerto Rico, Vieques and U.S. Policy (Seven Stories, 2001).

    Teaching Interests
    Radio news and feature production, documentary for radio, media aesthetics and literacy, Latin American media, citizen's media and community development.

    Research Interests
    Indigenous communities, Colombia and U.S. policy, community development and citizen's media.

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  7. You know, there is one way WBAI will stay afloat, maybe even prosper a little - A Trump presidential victory. Hey, it helped WBAI in the '80s to have Reagan...

    By the way, I keep forgetting to mention this. For all the talk about racism on WBAI, no one ever mentions Katie Halper. Her show is nothing but a barrage of I hate white people, people with blue eyes, heterosexual men, no one with blue eyes is allowed on my show, etc. She is absolutely nauseating and moronic. I wonder if she isn't trying to out do Mimi Rosenblack...

    SDL

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    1. I doubt it, SDL. Trump and the BAI Bozos have too much in common. They may view the world differently, but neither has vision and whatever the Bozos believe at any given moment has the durability of an ice sculpture.

      Then, too, there will be no dearth of Trump detractors and WBAI, being but a speck of dust, has been insignificant for years. Funny thought, though.

      I have avoided Katie Halper, but I'll try to catch her act. It is difficult to be more of a laughingstock than Mimi, although Kathy D.'s stream of unconsciousness has rendered Professor Irwin Corey obsolete.

      I'm glad that some of this stuff has been caught on audio and video recording, because not even the most skilled wordsmith could possibly capture this farce accurately.

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