Sunday, December 25, 2016
Does the grid sparkle?
The following is a partial list of programs aired by WBAI that Jack Shalom—in a post to PacificaRadiowaves—considers to be “gems”. I have added my comments (in red). What are your thoughts?
Still good and appropriate, but showing weakness.
*Guns and Butter
Truther talk that occasionally flirts with objectivity.
Law and Disorder
First Voices radio with John Kane
Mostly ego-driven drivel.
Economic Update with Richard Wolff
Talk Back with Ron Daniels
A self-promoting, single-minded grab of free commercial airtime.
Talk Back with Malachi McCourt
Morning Irsay--lessons in music appreciation with James Orsay
Highly questionable misuse of the soap box.
The Positive Mind with acolytes of Armand DeMille
Take Charge of Your Health with Corinne Funari
An inappropriate commercial venture.
Arts Express--arts and politics with Prairie Miller and your correspondent
Very uneven Afro-centric KPFK import.
*Letters and Politics
The Morning Show --with Michael G. Haskins and guests
Valuable time slot wasted by an incompetent, unimaginative host.
Joy of Resistance-feminist show with Fran Luck
Sounds good, but I am not qualified to judge this topic.
Off to a good start.
Laura Flanders Show
Through the Opera Glass
Good music, knowledgeable presenters.
Randy Credico--political comedy
Good interviews with interesting guests—wisely downplays Credico’s humorless comedy.
New World Gallery with Chico Alvarez
Excellent music and presentation.
Golden Age of Radio with Max Schmid
Mixed bag of nostalgia.
Building Bridges--labor issues with Mimi Rosenberg
This laughably self-declared “sister” is a bad joke with a mouth that apparently can’t be closed.
*The Jimmy Dore Show--political comedy
Some of the humor is strained.
Excellent, informative program that stays on course.
Liquid Sound Lounge--free form music with Jeannie Hopper
A long-running, meaningless mixture of bland music and idle chatter, this is a more or less thinly disguised promotion for Ms. Hopper’s commercial ventures.
Off the Hook--issues about hackers and
Generally excellent and authoritative. Good for WBAI.
Out-FM with John Riley and Bob Lederer
The subject could be handled more intelligently, but this one has its moments.
Personal Computer Show with Hank Kee
Hampered by the stagnancy of hopelessly out-dated DOS graduates.
The Katie Halper Show---political comedy
Still waiting to hear an inkling of humor, political or otherwise.
Cuba in Focus with Sally O’Brien
A worthy subject stifled by the host’s race-coated twists of truth.
Everything Old is New Again--the great american songbook with David Kenney
Well produced show, seemingly aimed at the gay cabaret set. No redeeming value as a Pacifica program.
And You Don't Stop--hip-hop with Chuck D.
Basically, a run-of-the-mill DJ show that might do well elsewhere.
All Mixed Up--sound collage with Peter Bochan
Excellent and intelligently conceived audio collages.
Hour of the Wolf--science fiction with Jim Freund
Usually excellent, thoughtfully produced program. Freund knows the subject inside out and attracts the right guests.
Explorations--physics and politics with Michio Kaku
Excellent in every way—should be scheduled in an appropriate time slot.
On the Count--prison issues
Radio Free Eirann
Well produced and presented, but limited to the Irish Republican side of this ongoing conflict.
Equal tIme for Free Thought--atheist and religious issues
An important subject that begs for more open discussion, but definitely fills a gap left by virtually all NYC stations.
And more that I haven't mentioned. (Sigh)
This is an extraordinary list. Maybe some of you from the other stations weren't aware how strong this line-up is. This is hours and hours and hours of great programming. *Anyone who can't sell the shows in this list to a left audience isn't trying.*
A left audience forms only a part of the so-called “community.” WBAI has no mandate to aim at a “left” audience, nor—for that matter—a segment of the area’s black audience. When the lemmings declare WBAI as “community radio,” they are showing how limited their thinking is. Intelligent people of all colors are insulted by such a seriously limited scope. The original common denominator used to be an honest, intellectual approach to as wide an array of subjects as possible. Dumbing the station down and blurring its vision with eyes that see only one point of view is anathema to independent thinkers—an insult to intelligence, an incentive to tune out.
Promoting the current WBAI is akin to selling a seriously moldy loaf of stale bread, because small parts of it remain edible.
And that's the problem. Management isn't trying.
Strictly speaking, the station has no management. Berthold Reimers is by no means the first misfit to occupy the GM position, but he may well be the worst and costliest—ca. $800,000 in salary alone, so far.
* Not originated at WBAI
You're missing the point Jack. It doesn't matter whether we agree a show is good or not. We have no formal way to evaluate programming at the moment. The program grid as a whole simply does not work. Are we reaching a significant share of the potential audience? Are we raising enough funds to meet expenses and pay down internal and external debts? Are we serving underserved communities? Are we reaching out to a broader audience instead of just 'the left audience'? The answer to all these questions right now is a firm no.
We should develop a program evaluation strategy that includes a variety of factors but with the goal of raising the number of listeners and members. More listeners mean more members which means more money being raised. This strategy should be combined with a continuous fundraising model where fundraising is done within the context of a given program. This would end the long boring dedicated fundraisers while raising money on a continuous basis.
There are a number of factors to consider. The first would be ratings which in this context means website traffic and archive downloads. Other factors would include income generated by program, income generated by hour, production values, fundraising efforts by a given program, cross-promoting other shows, adherence to the Pacifica mission, serving under-served communities. Evaluating programs from other stations would need to be done in a different way. I also think we should find ways to work more closely with affiliate stations. —Michael Ochoa