Thursday, July 13, 2017

WBAI's secret press conference


Thursday, July 13, WBAI staged what they called a "press conference" on the steps of City Hall. They should have asked Trump to do the headcount for the sad fact is that it did not attract many people and those who did show up were for the most part the very people to whom WBAI owes its steady decline. Berthold Reimers was there. He is the guy who wanted us to believe that all was well and that he had the Empire State Building crisis under control. We have grown used to such deception from Reimers; his main occupation over the past nine years seems to have been to cover up his own ineptitude. 

True, he did not sign the ESB rental agreement in question, but neither did he cry foul until he had created an arrears exceeding $2,000,000.00. When the landlord he pretended to have disarmed decided to sue, Reimers continued to say that all was well and when his prevarication began to disrupt the storyline and threaten the existence of Pacifica itself, they concocted a tall tale that made them out to be the innocent victims of dastardly Capitalism. 

The agreement, they now said, had been signed under force and stress by a man who has since "transitioned" to a place outside of WBAI's range. Yes, the money was owed, all two point three million, but how dare these beneficiaries of ill-gotten priviledge insist on getting paid? Don't they know that this is WBAI, the station that symbolizes all that's good and worthy in this world? Haven't they been listening to the fanciful revised history of Africa's shaping of the world? Did any other station offer distilled tap water that cures everything but the common cold? A battery operated "zapper" that heals any ailments double helix water might miss? Who else pointed out that the Fourth of July and the star spangled banner originated centuries ago in an Egyptian pyramid? Also, let us not forget those endless infomercials that dominate WBAI's air pitching bogus "thank you gifts" that you pay for but never receive? Who else would charge for disservice and false hope? Who else would give you the real cult-based lowdown on the London ferris wheel and warn you about the hidden evils of the one planned for Staten Island? What other radio station strives to drive away listeners, depriving them of the deep, philosophical insights of home-grown self-proclaimed spiritualist Kathy Davis, the extraordinary mindless patter of "The Illustrious Blacks", or a slavery obsessed egotist "chief announcer" who can't deliver a simple sentence? 

There is but one answer: WBAI, the station that devised an assembly line of misinformation when it realized the folly of telling it like it is, the station these billionaires now wish to silence.

Ever original, this was a press conference shunned by the press—unanswered questions outnumbered the attendee count, but none were asked. For WBAI, that's a good thing; given the facts of this case, the less said about it, the better. 

How dare these Capitalist realtors ask for the money owed them? How dare anyone suggest that this precious little radio station honor its signed commitment? Never mind that opposing views are kept off its air, don't they know that this is a free speech station? Don't they know that those who are allowed to speak on its air are free to say whatever they want?  

The group comprised the station's on-air occupants, and a sprinkling of hangers-on; some undoubtedly had a modicum of sincerity left, but these were mostly opportunists with store-bought halos who feel they have been wronged by everything that is right.

Some carried large hand-scrawled signs—not to protest the the landlord's rightful demands, but to promote their shows. That said it all: this gathering called for the preservation of inferior radio and the inalienable right of the assembled few not to revert to the noble, principled aims set forth by Pacifica's founders in 1949.

Predictably, it had the air of a B-movie farce—bozos with blinders. Let me emphasize that WBAI is not entirely without caring and capable people who generate good radio, but they seemed wisely to have stayed away from this ludicrous sideshow. 

Randy Credico's tireless efforts to make this a show worthy of the evening news hinted at the presence of supporting politicians, including the Mayor himself, but only two showed up in person and it is my impression that they may be genuinely unaware of WBAI's drastic deterioration and subsequent abandonment by thinking people. What they did hear was shallow fare, ranging from an upset ex-Panther regurgitating embedded anger to the station's poet in residence, a wimpy wannabe who rendered a bizarre, somewhat embarrassing and clearly ill-timed work. 

Mimi in costume, sans cork.
Included are two links: the half hour audio edited for broadcast by Linda Perry, and an un-expunged video posted on Youtube by Joe Friendly.

After you listen or watch, I hope you will share your thoughts in the comments section. (Text edited 7-14 at 11:27 am)

The audio as aired

The unedited video

35 comments:

  1. In a very real sense, I suppose, this may say it all – zombie radio, absent thought, absent heart, absent talent, absent interest, influence, or listeners.

    ~ ‘indigopirate’

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  2. Very sad, but as a former producer, this day was long in coming. A collection of political thugs have destroyed the station. This crap was caused by Samori Marksman - his limited "worldview" squeezed the life out of the station. He tolerated thieves and political criminals while he was PD - he was completely delusional. His misguided fantasies have resulted in this mess.

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    1. Marksman, who as program director described himself as ‘An Ideologue and a Communist Revolutionary’, with his concomitant deep and absolute dismissal of and contempt for arts, music, literature, children’s, and any and all other ‘bourgeois’ programming and ‘mere entertainment’, certainly played a role, as did his active and vigorous suppression of any news or public affairs coverage with which he disagreed.

      It’s important, I think, to bear in mind, however, that he came to occupy that position for the very, very, very simple reason that the national and local boards had consciously and deliberately decided by some time in the mid-to-late 1970s, and moved explicitly in late 1976 and early 1977, to re-cast, re-shape, and re-form WBAI as a station whose sole raison d’être was explicit left-wing political advocacy, with a particular sub-focus on ‘minority community’ ‘issues’.

      That was a conscious, deliberative, deliberate and explicit choice, made solely by the national and local boards with literally no listener input, and Marksman and all that has followed since have followed from that choice, that decision, that fork in the road.

      It was the road taken, the decision made, as it were, solely from on high.

      The explicit abandonment and rejection of Pacifica’s foundational principles and goals, though the mantra of ‘open’, ‘free speech’, ‘listener supported’ and ‘community’ continue to this day, though of course redefined in a sense that either Madison Avenue or George Orwell would both readily identify and find, in some sense, I suspect, amusing as to the sheer clumsiness of their invocation.

      In that sense, then, Marksman is noteworthy, but only as a marker (pun intended) for the road taken by the national and local boards, long ago, not as the agent or the reason for the explicit abandonment of the original foundational principles – that choice, that responsibility, falls to the national and local boards.

      That, and all that has followed, and all that they so very desperately cling to still.

      ~ ‘indigo’

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    2. A great radio station for left-wing political advocacy could have tremendous value, especially considering the number of conservative talk radio outlets that spew their dogma nearly unopposed elsewhere on the dial.

      But WBAI is not that station. As a liberal-minded person, I consider its programming useless, created by and for a fringe audience of special interests and far-left lunatics. Worse yet, WBAI, along with its Pacifica mothership, serves as a caricature of all that is wrong with liberalism. The petty infighting, political dysfunction, utter lack of business skills and frequently batty on-air programming simply reinforce the narrative on the right that liberals are kooks. In that sense, its existence actually does more harm than good to the cause of left-wing political advocacy.

      To be fair, Pacifica's original mission also served a narrow purpose, but it was established at a time when FM radio was a form of alternative media. At that time, FM receivers and listeners were scarce, and FM frequencies were far from the valuable prime real estate that they are now.

      Today, the internet serves this purpose. With a well-crafted website, an organization can reach a special-interest audience far more effectively than with an FM signal, and at a much lower cost. But WBAI doesn't do this right either. Its website lacks the kind of strong written journalism and multimedia experience that propel other political advocacy sites to success.

      Operating a full power FM radio station in the nation's top media market today is an expensive proposition. 99.5 FM is a prime dial position, and the Empire State Building is still arguably the best transmission site in the city. The laws of economics dictate that the cost of operating such a valuable station in one of the most expensive cities in the world is sure to be high. That's why FM radio falls into the category of mass media, because you need to reach the masses in order to sustain it. Put another way, it's called broadcasting because the goal is to appeal to a broad audience. Meanwhile, WBAI is still attempting to do the polar opposite of that.

      WBAI’s pleas of unfairness seem detached from reality. This organization knows they own prime spectrum real estate, they willingly signed a lease for prime transmission site real estate, and they have plenty of options, ranging from a shift to more competitive, profitable programming to moving their operation online.

      While the rest of the media world has evolved, WBAI seems to remain inextricably trapped in the past.

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    3. Excellent post. I knew Samori, and frankly after I got to know him, I hated him. He was a black Stalin. Along with Robert Knight and Mario Murillo, both Samori acolytes, they destroyed the guts of the station. They were never committed to American values of free speech and a free press - they were committed to foreign donors and patrons. The real story of WBAI lies in uncovering that dirt.

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  3. A battle of power factions and egos. Screw "Pacifica's Mission Statement". All that matters is me, me me. Everybody else? Fuck every one of you assholes.

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  4. I did not notice until you brought it up. There was no press at the press conference. There was no Q and A. There really wasn't much talk about the specific situation. It was just ranting and blaming everyone except themselves. They had their soapbox and they used it. I don't know what ESB has to do with getting universal health care but I do know when Out-FM is on. Thanks Bob. Reimers didn't even speak until near the end.

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  5. I still haven't been able to get an answer to my question: does any other station at the ESB pay anywhere in the vicinity of rent that WBAI does?

    Anyway, WBAI's only real defense seems to be crying about an unconscionable contract and how self-important they are to the world, even though they can't get a real press conference going, and should get a free ride.

    What makes me laugh most about the video is how they claim to represent the "community" (whatever that is) but look more like a gathering of yesterday's geriatric lefties who forgot to bring the BBQ and booze.

    By the way, doesn't Credico look creepy, like the mad scientist's helper in old horror films? Oh, well, Mimi looks totally psycho...

    These people are just the most pathetic losers going. I really hope the ESRT stands fast and doesn't let them get away with yet another scam to steal money from people.

    SDL

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  6. Chris,

    I would like to make it perfectly clear that the ESB had no knowledge that Berthold Reimers was lying about the rent- until I wrote to the ESB. I received a letter from the ESB in return. The ESB thanked me for my information.

    IO remember when I wrote to Chancellor Milliken about the imbroglio at CUNY and WBAI's refusal to pay the rent. CUNY was outraged over WBAI's misconduct and refusal to move.

    But to demonstrate what a liar Carolyn Birden is: Birden stated that she was unaware of any problems with CUNY- even though she knew about the imbroglio at CUNY broadcasting.

    The members of the WBAI LSB lie- even though everyone knows that they are lying.

    It never ends.

    Ed Manfrednia

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  7. I watched the unedited video, and all I can say is this: How anybody can think that this bizarre freak show will have any effect on the outcome of a commercial lawsuit is beyond me. They only effect this can have is to deter the plaintiff from trying to work out a settlement. No sane person wants to negotiate with a bunch of lunatics.

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  8. Remember the 1960s saying "What if they gave a war and nobody came?" Well, "What if they gave a press conference and none of the press came?" We have our answer - Mimi, John Kane Rebel Diaz, bad singing and poetry, etc.

    SDL

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    1. I forgot about the bad singing, that woman was awful! I don't know if any of you have seen the PR report Steve Brown wrote and posted—it was as puffed up as a Trump statement—I didn't think he was on quite that low a level. Guess he wants to see his friend, Null, continue to sell his that stuff.

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    2. What report?

      Since you mentioned Null, it's funny he didn't show up.

      SDL

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    3. On Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 1:33 AM, Steve Brown wrote:
      WBAI press conference draws listeners, staff members and politicians
      WBAI's press conference and protest draws listeners, staff members, and politicians to the steps of City Hall

      Dear Friends of WBAI & Pacifica --

      At exactly 1:00 pm on Thursday, July 13, the organizers of WBAI's press conference -- Mimi Rosenberg and Randy Credico -- stepped up to the microphones and looked out over a veritable ocean of clapping, chanting, sign-holding WBAI supporters who had trekked to City Hall from all over New York City (as well as Long Island, Westchester, New Jersey, Massachusets and Connecticut) by train, ferry, bus, and bicycle, in sweltering 91-degree weather ... for the sole pupose of helping to save the radio station they loved.

      As you no doubt know, WBAI is under attack by the Empire State Building, which for the past 12 years has been charging it four times (4 times!) the market rent to host its broadcasting antenna, and now claims that the station owes it $2.2 million in back rent as well as another $2 million in future rent at the same inflated price.

      That could destroy WBAI and also bring down the entire Pacifica network.

      In response, WBAI's many listeners and friends (inlcuding Mayor DeBlasio, NY State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, and numerous City Council Members) have sent letters of protested to the Empire State Realty Trust, a huge multi-national corporation currently sitting on more than half-a-billion dollars in cash and cash equivalents (as Congresswoman Nydia Valezquez recently noted in her letter to Empire State Realy Trust officers).

      The press conference and rally were a great success. We hope that board members of ESRT were watching.

      Below are some of the photos from the press conference sent to me by attendees. State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried is the white-bearded gentlemen in photo 2 . Randy Credico and Mimi Rosenberg (wearing the bright yellow top) are front and center in Photo 3. [In case you're interested, that's me, to the left of Mimi Rosenberg, in the vertically striped T-shirt.] And Councilman Jumaane Williams is wearng the pink blazer in photo 5.


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    4. Then there is this from Steve Brown:

      Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez steps into $4 million fight between WBAI and Empire State Realty Trust




      Dear WBAI & Pacifica Supporter --

      Just in tn time for WBAI’s July 13 press conference on the steps of City Hall today, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez has added her influential voice to those of many other prominent New Yorkers who are protesting the $4 million dollar lawsuit filed by the Empire State Building against WBAI – a lawsuit that could destroy the station and possibly bring down the entire Pacifica network.

      (Photos and a report on WBAI's press conference will follow in another email.)

      In her letter to the Empire State Realty Trust, Congresswoman Velazquez noted that ESRT was a wealthy multi-national corporation, which was sitting on more than half-a-billion dollars in cash and cash equivalents, and urged that it sit down with WBAI and “negotiate in good faith” to resolve their differences without destroying a vital community resource.

      You can read her letter here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0ByvjlST-TrchWUhxR1IxWVdfRWM

      Congresswoman Velazquez now joins Mayor DeBlasio, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and numerous New York City Councilpersons, legislators, and community activists who have weighed in on behalf of WBAI and Pacifica.

      Nydia M. Velázquez is currently serving her thirteenth term as Representative for New York’s 7th Congressional District (home to WBAI’s studios at 388 Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn). In the 115th Congress, she is the Ranking Member of the House Small Business Committee and a senior member of the Financial Services Committee.

      She has made history several times during her tenure in Congress. In 1992, she was the first Puerto Rican woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In February 1998, she was named Ranking Democratic Member of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Hispanic woman to serve as Ranking Member of a full House committee. Most recently, in 2006, she was named Chairwoman of the House Small Business Committee, making her the first Latina to chair a full Congressional committee.

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  9. "...and looked out over a veritable ocean of clapping, chanting, sign-holding WBAI supporters..." That's almost as funny as Chamberlain's, "Peace in our time."

    "The press conference and rally were a great success." Oh, I almost fell off my chair laughing at that one!

    Anyway, maybe i should buy a share of the ESRT stock, as it's cheap enough, would allow me to attend shareholder meetings and bring up the WBAI topic to other shareholders, who may not like the idea of the ESRT throwing away money on giving WBAI a break.

    https://www.google.com/finance?q=esrt&ei=0ZVpWdDTE9KnjAGQ5oqAAQ

    SDL

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    1. Like I said, I thought Steve Brown was smarter than that. What is it that sucks these people into this nonsense? I'm talking about people like Brown, who don't have any apparent reason to play the game.

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    2. I have said before that WBAI is like a cult. I guess people get swept into it and lose sight of the outside world.

      SDL

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  10. A WBAI memory, sadly brought about by the passing of George Romero. Back when Dawn of the Dead was released in 1979, Paul Wunder dedicated a full three hour episode of his Soundtrack show to a long, very in depth interview with Romero. Wunder handled it very well, going through all of Romero's films one at a time.

    FYI: Romero was one of my favorite filmmakers at that time.

    SDL

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    1. Paul did a brilliant analysis of The Quiet Earth, with Jim Freund in accompaniment – credit where due.

      Only person I knew to happily peruse the PDR while sitting in the spring sun on the church steps facing the traffic flow coming off the bridge on to E 62nd – looking for interesting new pharmaceuticals and combinations.

      In between Moon Lander sessions on his HP calc, of course :)

      ~ ‘indigo’


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  11. When 90+% of the staff including myself was let go because the station was broke they even then owed "Empire" nearly 6 months rent. Nothing has changed in four years. Well really 20+ years. Obviously if the station got professional interesting humorous weird thoughtful again the money would eventually start to come back. I mean there are other listener sponsored stations in this market that are able to at least pay their overhead with the dough their listeners send. Especially WQXR that neat classical listener sponsored station. That ask for cash, and it rains money on them just like that. This because they have a profoundly loyal niche audience. Just like 'BAI used to. It's not hopeless. That station we once all loved could be reborn. However not with the internal toxic culture they have now which is, and has been for many years addicted to failure or at best making do. I know you all already know this, but I had to get it off my chest,...again.

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    1. With respect: They are who they are. They’ve insisted on their failures above all for quite a few decades. They’ve earned them.

      I know you know all this, and I understand the need and desire to vent, but…

      Fuck ‘em, they’ve been rotting for a fuck of a long time.

      ~ ‘indigo’

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    2. Yes yes, and true. In fact I'm surprised I still care,...but I do. Both the saddest, and happiest days of my life were spent in that former sometimes wonderful madhouse. Though those days are very long gone. Gone. I'm in touch with what could be called the saner Vets of the place. We all mourn what's happened. I got,...get this 100+ Birthday greetings on Facebook from old staff, and former listeners. We remember better times, and brighter days. That, and we still honor, and love each other. As for the institution itself. For that we have only tears.

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  12. I left a couple of more comments on the youtube page.

    SDL

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    1. Just went and read them :)

      I notice, too, that that video isn't exactly flooded with comments of support.

      ~ 'indigopirate'

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    2. Why is Reimers constantly scratching his nose? Do chronic liars suffer chronic itches?

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  13. A Face In The Crowd is a nice touch, incidentally :)

    ~ 'indigo'

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  14. playing stokely carmicheal talking about honky's kinda says it all.
    Then they have the balls to ask for your money . funny.

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    1. Yes, I thought they might have learned something from the misjudgements that have. Brought them down this dead end street. The idiocy and incompetence isn't just skin deep.

      Mimi is on now—that's a disaster in and of itself.

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    2. Mimi is such a ham that she should star as Captain Kirk's daughter on a new Star Trek show.

      SDL

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    3. Mimi is embarrassing beyond belief. It's bad enough to hear her play Little Eva, but that face and costume.....

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  15. The same rule that applies to everyone else applies to BAI and Pacifica. Everyone is responsible for what they do and say. If you don't take said responsibility, you suffer the consequences.

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  16. A waste. So avoidable. So still fixable. However as we know they are addicted to failure. Which is why they have it in such abundance.

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  17. It makes me sad that some people I used to call friends are so deluded and pathetic. Just give it up, it's over. The station became a scam years ago when it started devoting so much air time to selling snake oil and conspiracy theories. I hosted a show for many years but never tell anybody any more because I find it so embarrassing to be associated with this train wreck.

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    1. As a fellow alumnus, I understand your sadness all too well.

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