Monday, January 2, 2017

Sober look at the rubble

The reality of a destructive faction of Pacifica and its owned stations systematically engaging in a power grab has been known for some time. Indeed, it has become increasingly evident as PNB and committee meetings streamed much of the collusion that developed between like-minded factions at these stations. We heard a ruling majority maneuver votes and rewrite rules in order to move closer to their goal. They even engaged in illegal activity and all with the sanction, if not the covert participation of the Pacifica Foundation's own legal counsel.

Pacifica's last national election severely reduced the obstructionists' faction to a minority, setting in motion a last minute rush to obtain power through manipulation of votes. Sad to say, the damage is done, listenership has been reduced to its lowest point and there is very little money to work with as the debt continues to pile up.

Jim Dingeman is among the few veteran WBAI activists who has been working diligently to knock some sense into the station's management, but Berthold Reimers and his cronies are impossible to communicate with, whether you are a listener-supporter, an honest, earnest person volunteering expertise in fund raising, or a host-producer unwilling to play the game.

When I read the following assessment by Jim Dingeman, it did not surprise me, because he has over the years regularly attempted to wake up this dormant propaganda machine we call WBAI. That includes, in recent years, warning against regressive suggestions to engage in a signal swap with a less powerful station or a Local Marketing Agreement (LMA), which is intended as a temporary arrangement where the station is leased to another broadcaster. LMA's are often the first step in selling a station, which is what the aforementioned faction seems to have in mind.

Here is Jim's assessment of the current situation:

To me
The issue of raising the signal swap or doing an LMA is advocated by some who clearly will benefit by it.

Some of these folks have basically gotten us to this point by three years of absolute unadulterated bullshit excuses and deliberate malfeasance in losing Pacifica as a whole several million dollars in CPB money.

While the discourse in California is certainly a reason why we are having a more intense debate I should note that to my knowledge NOBODY else in Pacifica was brought into this process.
I also reject the seeming reasonableness of the California gestalt of wanting everybody to calm down and take a breath..It usually is a mask for a determined political agenda cloaked in sugar and sweet kumbaya rhetoric

This of course comes at a time when we will soon be in a period of GOP dominance in the three branches of government... we have already been  exposed to deliberate manipulation of the reality of how we have gotten here by falsehoods perpetuated on air, i.e. the feds did this to us, not elements of a majority faction on the PNB.

I see NO, repeat NO, common ground with people who want to basically cannibalize a 50,000 watt signal station in the largest metro market in the United States for their own purposes.

These people include many who politely IGNORE the basic factoid of the collapse of the listener audience due to the decline of the appeal of the programming content in EVERY signal area to people who listen to radio.

At this point, I understand their basic denial of the basic facts as a form of cognitive dissonance, a very human trait. People only like to hear what reinforces their assumptions and propositions and folks here are no different.

Instead of focusing on improving content for the past 15 years we have basically been confronted by a host of individuals who in many cases do not know shit from shineola about broadcasting and do not care to learn to those who have a stake in NOT changing anything. Such attitudes have led to this situation.

Unless a honest facing of these facts is done even if they succeed in a temporary cash bonanza from the demise of WBAI they still will ultimately fail because they still assume the programming, which has evidenced for twenty years or more every possible metric of decline, is honkey dorry.

I attach a breakdown of the U.S population and how marketers perceive it.. Overwhelmingly the bulk of the stations' listenership in every area is aging baby boomers... period.

A tremendous amount of effort has gone into preserving WBAI at this time from dozens of listeners let alone dozens of producers.

That potential, which has in dollar signs easily been tens of thousands of dollars worth of free labor over the past several years, remains a potential untapped force to be unleashed.

It is thwarted by a number of factors but frankly at this point I have to castigate the overworked current management team at WBAI for basically not exploiting this.. this includes all of them.

To me it is illogical to not let talented people work for free to basically help others get paid... it does not make sense.

I also find that in the past ten years the bottom line is that the subscriber base has declined by over 50% and the listenership easily as much, at times.

If people in good faith put forth ideas to alter this and the current implemented montage of ideas have not changed the balance of the basic facts but been directed simply at self preservation has not the time arrived to try out new approaches as well?

It is one thing to change the grid which is still the same as existed in the nineties, except with some tweaking.

Sure, the producers collectively have a lot of power and can raise holy hell but if they are not on the air anymore after a swap or sale then who the hell cares over some of them thinking the way they do now?

The thrust should be to make WBAI a force among millions, not dozens... the possibility of that is always there but the slow deadly impact of fiscal attrition chips away at the possibility of resiliently turning the place around... there are things we should have doing after Sandy and we still get the run around over them.

Enough is Enough                                              —Jim Dingeman


  1. "People only like to hear what reinforces their assumptions and propositions and folks here are no different." ewhat I always say about people. Why do you think right wing AM talk shows did so well?

    Producers aren't going to raise any hell, holy or otherwise. Their lives are their air time, and they aren't risking being fired.

    Dingeman is just another one of these LSB morons who is out for his own ends. Notice how not a single LSB jerk has come out and said fire Reimers, who is WBAI's #1 problem and enemy? That is all you need to know.


  2. Jim and I have different approaches but we agree on the basic problem. This program grid just does not work and needs to be updated. We need an honest program evaluation system designed to create a program grid that appeals to a broader audience. More listeners means more members which means more revenue. Programmers making an honest effort have nothing to fear from evaluation. It can only increase their audience and protect them from arbitrary actions to pre-empt, re-schedule or cancel their programs.

    Programmers can start now by adopting what I'm calling a continuous fundraising model for lack of a better term whereby they start airing ID checks and fundraising appeals that fit the context of their program. This would allow us to move beyond those long dedicated fundraisers which not only pre-empt them but produce diminishing returns.

    We also need to work to retain members once we recruit them. The entire election process was hampered by the lack of accurate membership data. Simply maintaining an accurate list can increase revenue by bringing in dues from lapsed members and voluntary contributions.

    I agree with Jim about not working with those on the opposing faction who are not acting in good faith. However, I do believe there are people of good faith on the opposing faction who are fed up with their own members who pay lip service to opposing a sale while working for a LMA. You can hear it in the voices of members during PNB meetings. We need to reach out to them and find ways to cooperate instead of just trying to dictate with fragile majorities.

  3. Same old drivel from Ochoa. Notice he never says anything about Reimers, Bates or WBAI management? Yeah...


  4. An unoffical WBAI poll:
    Can anybody stand Scott Sommer? or can't stand him but think his info is valuable? or love him but can't stand that "Steam Heat" song from the "Pajama Game"? or love everything about "Housing Nope-Book" except that nasal voice "fwum Bwuklin"?


    1. Housing is a good subject for WBAI to have in the program schedule—are you saying that Sommer doesn't do his homework, or is it the Brooklyn accent that bothers you?

    2. I would rather have Vajra. Scott slams you over the head with his leftist politics like Mimi. He can also bore you to death. I shouldn't make fun of his twang. He is like Gary Null and Mimi- ones who verbally beat you up for not being as compassionate as they are. He is a reasonably serious Jew, and the first go round, Met Council fervently endorsed Dinkins. The second go round, Met Council also fervently endorsed Dinkins, I called up and asked, "How could you when He Kept the cops back for three days on EASTERN Parkway in Crown Heights during the pogrom? He said that was bad information from police commissioner Lee Brown and it wasn't Dinkin's fault". Yimach shmo vezichro- shem reshaim yirkav. I'll translate that if you want me to.


  5. I agree - I can't stand Sommer's holier-than-thou self-righteousness. His show is my second fastest turnoff, after Wolff's "economic" update.

  6. Next week, Norway will go digital. No more FM radio. Switzerland will go digital in 2020.

    Digital radio allows many more radio stations.

    1. An article on this atrocity.

      It was bad enough last year when France, Luxembourg and, I think, Germany killed their AM stations.

      Some is, or will be, making money off these closures. I bet people will start being charged for radio service yet.


    2. I'm surprised, SDL—what on earth makes you so cynical?

      "Education at the Crossroads" is going off now, but "Bashir," the idiot producer/host ran himself off the road a long time ago, so now it's just another excuse to fill air time. This evening's show was ostensibly to promote a friend's upcoming astrology celebration (something life-changing is in retrograde). We were promised that this mission-drifting WBAI joke will soon arrange to have an exciting astrology bash downstairs. They might even invite this Strayhorn guy—another con artist.

      My though was that, between this woman from New Jersey and Strayhorn, the outlook for WBAI will no longer be a secret.

      It's Trump's thugs on a very small, ostensibly insignificant scale.

    3. Does WBAI use it's HD channels? If not...why???!! There could be another three formats geared for individual communities at little cost. I might mention the community station in Atlanta does not operate with HD either which is a pity...

    4. I am not sure if WBAI uses its HDs, but I believe they might have done so at one time (A Catholic channel comes to mind)..

  7. The PNB meeting is obsessing on the issue of write-in candidates. I've heard of filibustering but this is ridiculous.

  8. Why do you dismiss a signal swap outright? That frequency is worth $75 million and that money could be better used to advance progressive principles and causes than running a radio station with "50,000 watts!"
    Study the demographics. Radio listening is getting older every day. My kids, the oldest in college, the youngest a teen, NEVER listen to the radio. All 5 have Spotify accounts for music and GBs of music on their phones.I work for a student run college station which used to have a 20 share with kids kids have NEVER heard of it!!
    A re-think is needed for all progressive factions on how to best use media to advance the cause. I promise you that the fighting at WBAI is doing nothing to advance race relations and equality!

    1. Whatever it really costs to keep WBAI on the air these days is money down the drain, because the listeners have left.

      I don't believe that a frequency swap will do any good unless the station also undergoes a total cleanup. The better host/producers can be brought back, but I think they number no more than three.

    2. Chris -
      Thanks for the site BTW!
      A frequency swap would provide capital to move WBAI into the 21st Century. But you're correct about current management...they would most likely squander any proceeds from such a sale/swap.
      It is painful to watch stations around the country fall victim to opportunists and folks who need mental health evaluation. This country needs reasoned and organized opposition, now more than ever! WBAI and Pacifica are the natural choice to lead the effort but both are paralyzed by infighting and simple ignorance of what it really means to be a "progressive."