|Here is Mr. Engelman last Thursday with |
ringmaster Credico behind him.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Circus Credico redux
If you watched the video of last Thursday's bizarre, mis-labeled WBAI "press conference" and have sufficient knowledge of the station's past, you may have spotted some old performers in Randy Credico's one-ring circus, doddering left-overs who probably showed up on City Hall's steps more out of habit than true concern. After all, this is not the radio station that used to energize and inspire them, but the decomposed remains of a dream they once thought deferred. Circus Credico did not introduce any new acts, nor was it able to drum up a new audience—it was the old choir shouting into an abyss and hearing the decayed echo with scripted delight. It was, in fact, group masturbation from which even the claim of momentary satisfaction would have been a stretch.
Some of you may recall the time when WBAI—then in its early stages of decay—was housed in a former church on Manhattan's East Side. It was still a radio station, it had real studios, and it attracted performers, producers and listeners of real talent and intellect.
Unfortunately, it also attracted people with ulterior motives who saw an opportunity to further their own nefarious agendas. One such person was Percy Sutton, the slick—some would say, slimy—founder of Inner City Broadcasting whose career was a mixture of the commendable and contemptible. Sutton's association with WBAI was peripheral and is said to have involved the station's loss of the church location. In short, told that it was liable for property taxes, the management was forced to sell the church. It is the complicated story of an unwise and, I am told, avoidable decision.
The following enticing footnote comes from an anonymous viewer of this blog, who followed WBAI's sordid history for many years:
"You may or may not have noticed the presence of Ralph Engelman at the rally at City Hall," he writes. "Engelman was the point man for Percy Sutton’s people on the local board in late 1976 – early 1977. It was Engelman who ordered the station off the air in order to shift the station radically (pun intended) away from the original vision toward one of explicit political advocacy.
"As such, it is of course amusing to see him in the present context, once again invoking the original principles which he played a leading role in abandoning and betraying.
"In a sense, Engelman is/was emblematic of the abandonment and betrayal of Pacifica's foundational goals and principles—while invoking them every moment, every second. He particularly drove Margot Adler nuts. She was in many ways the lead person in trying to save the station as originally conceived.
Thus Engelman was effectively the man who pulled the plug on actual free speech at free speech radio."
Perhaps perfectly innocent, but nevertheless interesting.