Monday, June 25, 2012

Null opposes "miracle" water infomercials

My thanks to The Pacifica Maven for pointing me to today's Gary Null Show wherein he takes Double Helix Water, its "inventors" and WBAI's pushers to task. After allowing one of its "discoverers", Shui-yin Lo, uninterrupted time to explain what Double Helix Water is, Null asks pointed questions and talks about the outrageous claims of "cures" made when the product was used to raise funds for a "non-commercial radio station". Not once does he name that station, but we all know that it is WBAI and that the main pushers were Tony Bates, Kathy Davis, and Vikki Hufnagel, the so-called "Ethical Doctor" (a true misnomer). These people are guilty of scandalous abuse of WBAI's air—all with the approval of Berthold Reimers who, when asked if he was going to do anything about it, suggested that it was okay, because Bates was using it, with good results. Reimers is the man in whose hands management of WBAI rests, and he seems to have been rendered impervious to criticism. 

I have excerpted the segment in which Null deals with this matter. You will hear Lo's double talk, just as he and his partner, David L. Gann, delivered it on WBAI's infomercials, and I think it will be obvious to you, as it is to me, that this is a con job. Notice that he is quick to assure Null that they make no claim of the water performing miracles—of course not, because they know that will get them in trouble, legally. However, if you heard Bates, Davis, et all selling this water over WBAI, you may recall that Lo's partner, Gann, was on the phone relating tales of miraculous cures—I particularly recall the one where he implied that the water healed an autistic child.

It would be interesting to hear how much WBAI paid for this "premium", which obviously was not received by the station as a philanthropic gesture. What do the apologists for Reimers, people that include Jim Dingeman and Frank Lafever, have to say about his giving Bates carte Blanche, even when it was to defraud the listener supporters? Was anything done with respect to the nor-so-ethical Vikki Hufnagel? Is it business as usual for Kathy Davis? Where was Knight, the station's self-proclained chief investigative reporter, when this was going on? Why wasn't he looking into what so obviously was a fraud being perpetrated on the station he himself has declared to be a symbol of truth and integrity? Did any of these people give a thought to WBAI and its listeners? I know that Mitchel Cohen did, and he tried hard to put an end to the scam, but if anybody listened, they didn't act.

Finally, why did it take so long for Gary Null to publicly question this? Did he have to wait until Tony Bates was kicked out? Perhaps he will explain that some day. In the meantime, he gets my thanks for challenging these scam artists on the air and, one hopes, paving the way for an honest fund drive—what a welcomed change that would be. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Perceptive observations

For a new insightful post by The Pacifica Maven, please use this link to the Pacificana Forum .

Secret Agent Albertson!

This morning, on his "Earthwatch" program, Robert Knight and Bob Fass had an interesting conversation, parts of which you will hear in the following annotated excerpts. The entire segment runs about 20 minutes and—lest I be accused of "censoring"—can be heard intact by clicking on the last line. 

To make things easier to absorb, I have made four extractions from that segment, starting with the spark that ignited this revealing glimpse of Knight's modus operandi. It all began when he plugged the "Radio Unnameable" documentary and Fass injected what he rightly assumed to be "unsettling" news: "Chris Albertson is in it."

What followed his initial "no comment" reaction provides an extraordinary example of how Knight manipulates facts, stirs in a good measure of his own wishful thinking, and is intolerant of opposing views. This is something I have pointed out previously, but here it is, far more vivid than any words I can put together.

Bob suggests, wrongly, that I left WBAI, harboring a deep "resentment" over the way I had been treated by Pacifica. He probably believes that, because Bob is not one to embellish the truth, but the facts are that I lost much respect for the Pacifica Board when it did not support Chris Koch's trip to Hanoi, but I harbored no resentment. When I submitted my resignation, the Board offered me a better, foundation-wide job (see letter from Hallock Hoffman), which I seriously considered but ended up declining, opting instead to accept a position that called for spending every other month at the BBC in London—the money was the same, but it was time to move on. When Bob speaks of me having resentment, I think he is recalling something that happened on one of my returns from London, when I went to bat for three WBAI producers who had suffered censorship at the hand of Millspaugh (more likely Dale Minor). (see this year-old post).  

Getting back to Bob Fass, notice how he clearly feels that Knight is making a mountain out of a mole hill as he goes on to express his own ambivalent feeling regarding Knight's work at WBAI and suggests that I, as the more experienced, should not have pointed out the errors of a relative novice. This, as you can imagine, does not sit well with Knight, who needs to point out that the Late Lynn Samuels is someone he now considers to be a "great beloved late friend." T'wasn't always so...

The next segment is my favorite. Knight is still talking about Samuels and now uses her to get back on the subject of yours truly. As he so often does, he brings the twist in sideways. Notice how Bob at first doesn't know what the hell Knight is talking about—and why should he? It's totally out of left field, but it is perhaps the clearest example of Robert Knight's distance from reality.

He obviously read somewhere that I worked for the U.S. Armed Forces Radio shortly before coming to the U. S. as an immigrant. Somewhere in his twisted brain, he has concluded that non-US citizens couldn't work for AFRS, hence my getting a job there as a disc jockey/announcer obviously was suspicious (Oh, that WBAI paranoia). The truth is that—although I was the first civilian to work at the AFRS station in Iceland—there was no regulation precluding such a hire. Anyway, as he meanders into the valley of speculation, Knight sees a sneaky correlation between that radio job and my subsequent immigration to the U.S.! Listen as his brain works overtime to weave a fantasy. Then he decides to denigrate my contributions to WBAI (much in the manner that Pamela Somers, his shill on the Blue Board, so feebly has attempted for two years. He does this by comparing the current WBAI budget to the one in 1965, adding that Lou Schweitzer paid our rent, so there really was no challenge! Lou did pay the rent, but he didn't pay the salaries for our staff of 25 people, nor other expenses. Bob tries to point out the big difference between a 1965 dollar and a 2012 dollar, but Knight interrupts when he is told that I did my best to keep the station afloat—RK doesn't like such talk! There is no mention of the fact that when I left, WBAI was not deeply in debt, had a new, more powerful transmitter atop the Empire State Building, and was highly respected by the media as well as listeners and fellow broadcasters. Knight's next round-about assertion is that I called for a boycott of WBAI, which I never did, and notice how quickly he shifts his take on boycotts when Bob admits to having encouraged that. I find the analogy Bob makes next to be quite interesting, but Knight doesn't seem to agree.  

  In the next excerpt, Bob mentions Chris Koch and Knight takes that as his cue to jump in with new imagined accusations. Chris Koch? "Oh, the guy who was censored under that administration, the person you mentioned." Bob isn't buying all that finger-pointing, but Knight plows on about Koch having "repeatedly been censored by Chris Albertson. The fact is that Chris Koch's tapes from Hanoi went on the air exactly as he submitted them, except for one minor edit that was performed by Chris K himself and served solely to lend credibility to the report. Notice how upset Knight becomes when Bob tears down his fantasy. I find it rather amazing that Knight either cannot grasp or conveniently omits the fact that I raised the money and sent Dale Minor to Vietnam, a move that produced amazing reportage that conflicted with what the media was telling us. I also, as a matter of fact, spend nights assembling Dale's tapes according to his instructions. Knight wants to picture me as someone who supported the Vietnam war—he couldn't be more off the mark. Enough from me, I hope you listen to these audio segments and draw your own conclusions.

 The final segment has Knight cornered as Bob corrects his erroneous assumptions. The dialogue speaks for itself, but let me just add that Knight's assertion that Louis Schweitzer was some sort of co-conspirator in my censorship crusade only compounds his ignorance. I have posted elsewhere about Lou Schweitzer, who was an extraordinary man and became a good friend. If ever there was someone who truly believed in free speech, it was Lou—he was remarkable and his memory does not deserve the blemishes upon his character that this little twerp at WBAI administers in self-interest.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

When Frank Fitzgerald announced that his Blue Board would not be shutting down on Saturday, June 9, 2012, as announced, I was unsure whether the news was good or bad. It had apparently always mirrored the unhealthy relationships that festered within WBAI, but it survived because the board was also the only place where serious announcements and dialogue could take place. Recently, however, it has been overrun by an agenda-driven faction comprising insiders who realize that the ride is coming to an end and their handful of supporters. It is called Radio Listeners' Forum, but here, too, the board reflects reality, namely the steady decline in listenership—few posters are not in some way involved in the internal operation of the station. I have already given my impression of the current BlueBoard, and will continue to do so for a while. Today, Frank Fitzgerald posted that he no longer is the moderator, so we now must hope that R. Paul Martin (one of the few WBAI insiders who on the air spoke up against Bates) will at least attempt to clean up this snake pit. That, of course, would be a natural byproduct of cleaning up WBAI's schedule, which is the new PDs job. By all    accounts, he is approaching that task in a sensible, professional manner. 

In the meantime, serious WBAI listeners can go to the Pacificana board set up for us by Brian, whose affiliation is KPFA. It is not exactly off to a flying start, but it has the potential for becoming a true discussion spot for concerned WBAI people and not a combat arena. We'll see. Scroll down for the most recent update.

Update: It is sad, but not surprising to see that the malcontents are easing back into the very attitude that brought the Blue Board to the brink of oblivion. Pamela Somers, whose posts fomented the latest round of hate exchanges, is at it again, delusional, as usual, she has been joined by a small clique of Knight supporters (possibly including RK himself) and now sees her as a long-time "victim" of abuse who has been rescued by her loyalists. Ludicrous nonsense. She will not behave for long, so I'm afraid we will see a return to rancor—all it takes is one honest assessment of Robert Knight's on-air behavior. In the meantime, Somers has found an on and off target is Sidney Smith, WBAI's most prominent on-air voice of reason. Sidney often tells it like it is—which often isn't good—and these trouble-makers simply don't want their delusional world invaded by anyone telling the truth. It is regrettable that Frank Fitzgerald, whose heart seems to be in the right place (on the side of WBAI) allowed this to go on, and perhaps even more lamentable that Frank LeFevre, a board member, has abandoned any integrity he might once have had and is now blindly encouraging inferior  programs. He has the notion that the fund-raising must continue before the programming is improved, which is a status quo attitude that only will bring WBAI into deeper water.  He is rather naïve in the area of broadcasting, so the opportunists will use his for their own advantage. In my opinion, WBAI will never regain its health as long as people with the attitude and inexperience LeFevre represents have any say in the matter.

Tuesday June 12, 2012  So far, the BlueBoard remains uneventful. Some of the disruptive, delusional elements linger and post, but nothing of any substance. The most frequent poster is LeFevre, who—being a member of the Management Search Committee—presumably has at least one foot inside—seems as clueless as ever and posts absolutely worthless attempted humor. When he wondered why WBAI was not using the annual Bloomsday event at Symphony Space to promote the station, he was quickly reminded that there had been a divorce quite some time ago. Robert Knight's girlfriend continues baring her infatuation by posting souped-up announcements for his tabloid shows, still crediting him as an "anchor", and LeFervre has begun a practice of posting a response, announcing his own shadow link. This new pattern is then completed by girlfriend/shill Somers posting her approval. Knight's program has not improved, it is still a fear mongering mixture of his bigoted views with a good measure of Glenn Beck-like venom spewed at President Obama. The new PD might throw a cog into that opportunistic wheel—one can only hope.

Friday June 15, 2012  Still  nothing of any substance being posted in the BlueBoard. James Irsay—who is regarded as "legendary" by some posters—seems to be trying hard to compliment anyone who might give him a WBAI show. Is he good? Some posters seem to think so, but they are not exactly a neutral lot. I told you about the Pamela Somers/Frank LeFevre pattern that had developed: Somers posts her Knight drooling shadow plug, LeFevre follows it up with his "I put it on my FaceBook" routine, and Somers returns so say that she "loves it."  Well, the love was short-lived and Somers now has her fangs in LeFevre. She is also advocating the banishment of any poster who dares to criticize Knight's programs of recycled news and self-adulation. It's all infantile sandbox stuff. What hole did these people crawl out of, and why are they not doing positive things to help WBAI?

Apropos the station, the other morning, when most people are still sleeping, I heard a plug for an upcoming two-hour live Report to the Listener show that would feature management as well as producers. Normally, that would be a weekly one-hour program wherein the GM gives a report on what is and will be happening at WBAI, followed by calls from the listeners. We haven't heard that from Berthold Reimers, who prefers not to communicate, so this was very good news. The problem, however, is that the announcement was aired when even fewer than the normal number of listeners are tuned in, and I haven't heard any mention of it since that morning. There is no mention of this Report on the station's web site (which has a new look, but a very unimaginative one), so one gets the impression that this Report to the Listener is another management secret. This is no way to run a radio station, this is no way to treat the paying public.

Sunday June 17, 2012 As I explain below, before handing over the keys to R. Paul Martin, Frank Fitzgerald placed me on the BlueBoard's censored list. This has nothing to do with content, it is strictly a "punishment" for daring to criticize Robert Knight—Fitzgerald has always been blind to Pamela Somers' outrageous lies and immature behavior, it seems. When someone posted a thank you to me for standing up to the Knight's coterie, Somers responded with the following, typical, threat:

"He better not start attacking She (that's what Somers, ironically, calls herself) or RK again or he'll get his ass moderated."

Here is the post Somers responded to, followed by my reply, which has been placed in BlueBoard limbo:

"Great to see you back again, standing up to the BB Bully Junta here. By the way, why is a BAI staffer boss of the Blueboard? Plus he's a pal of RK, so not kosher."
My response (in essence):

I agree that partiality poses a potential problem, but R. Paul Martin spoke out against Bates even as RK continued to pander to him and his other cronies. Bear in mind that those who were victims rather than pets of management—RPM was the former—had to tread lightly in order to avoid further punishment. I suggest we give RPM a chance to administer the BB in a fair and reasoned manner. 

Here, I need to disclose that Frank Fitzgerald had begun suppressing my posts, even though they were totally non-controversial, while routinely looking the other way when rather nasty stuff was submitted by other posters. Now some of my posts are beginning to come through, albeit inexplicably delayed two or three days. 

The fate of this post will tell us if R. Paul Martin is really calling the shots or if he is taking dictation from Somers or someone else of her ilk. I fully understand that RPM finds himself in a difficult situation, so only time will tell if your fears are unfounded, or not.

Also happening on the BB is Pam Cooke's persistent effort to have a censorship order against Edwin Johnston lifted. I have no idea who Johnston is, but I gather that he played a not so nice role in a past coup. Anyway, Cooke—who appears to be a selective free-speech advocate—is very eager for him to be allowed to speak freely. Johnston is probably a nice guy, but one has to wonder about anyone who is endorsed by these native habitués of the infamous snake pit—they'll hiss on you in a New York minute if you say something that doesn't sit well with them.

Monday June 18, 2012
Progress: My post appeared on the BB today—only a day late. Also, one of the posters who has a habit of instinctively rooting for WBAI's on-air misfits, has made a u-turn—at least in one case. The blue air somehow seems a bit clearer.

Tuesday June 19, 2013
I am now more convinced than ever that R. Paul Martin is going to be good for the Blue Board. He already has demands on his time, so we shouldn't expect overnight changes, but he is working on it and his concern for WBAI is genuine. 

In the last couple of days, an exchange has begun regarding the suitability of Esther Armah to host Wakeup Call. She is a fast and smooth talker, but focuses the program on black feminism. This severely limits the appeal of a program that should be aiming at as broad an audience as possible Also, it ought to be hosted by a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. Monday's program was a painful example of inept radio production/presentation.

Lefever was very busy today, but posted nothing worth repeating. He and Somers are wallowing in their respective health issues and disagreeing as to what might solve them. As if we didn't have cure chat on WBAI's air.

Friday June 22, 2012 I thank R. Paul Martin for fully restoring my access to the Blue Board, and commend Uncle Sidney for speaking up against censorship and unwarranted restrictions on posters. With two exception, the predictable Pamela Somers, and Frank LeFever, Fortunately, they hiss mostly at each other. BB habitués seem to be getting the message and I doubt if anyone misses the hisses.

Monday June 25, 2012 Things are looking up and the problem is basically down to three disruptive, troubled posters: Somers, of course (she knows no other way), Pam Cooke (she's the one who applauds atrocities committed against Palestinian people; and Frank LeFever, who—sad to say—is a member of a WBAI advisory board.  Somers, true to form, nearly had a hissy fit because I praised a program, Equal Time for Free Thoughts that isn't Robert Knight's. To her, any criticism of Knight is grounds for dismissal, so she is once again advocating censorship on the BlueBoard. I don't think anyone take her seriously.

Wednesday June 27, 2012 Last night, Radio Unnameable, a documentary film about Bob Fass, had its premiere New York public showing at Brooklyn's BAM. It was standing room only and some peole couldn't even get that. Berthold Reimers apparently showed up without a ticket, as did Frank LeFever, so they were among the people who were there but didn't see the film. One wonders why Reimers was not given a ticket—he is, after all, the GM of WBAI, the station that made Radio Unnameable, the radio show, possible. Given his demonstrated arrogance, I venture to guess that LeFever assumed he didn't need a ticket and I am not at all surprised that he latched on to Reimers. He is one of the ghostlty GM's apologiats.

Ibrahim González found standing room on the inside and wrote a glowing review, which he posted on the BlueBoard—check it out here. In other BB happenings, Pam Cooke is having conniptions over Hugh Hamilton, whom she labels as an anti-Semitic and blasts for not ignoring the Netanyahu government's atrocities. I pointed out that she was twisting the facts: Hamilton and his guest, Nunu Kidane were speaking of the Israeli governments human rights violations, not the Israeli nation. I know, it's a thin line, but Cooke is foaming at the mouth with outrage and hate. She is now challenging me to...well, here it is in her own words. Remember, she is talking about WBAI, specifically,:

I'll make it easy on you: Name just ONE other country that's been demonized the way Israel has for just the period of one year. How's that? Oh, wait; NO other country has been torn down the way Israel has, not even for one WEEK, much less one YEAR!

So, no, of *course* you can't name a country. Verbose as you are, you're finally at a loss.

I am not at a loss, I just decided that I wasn't going to engage in a meaningless exchange with Pam Cooke. She conveniently overlooks the fact that our own country, the U.S., is routinely and heavily demonized by several WBAI hosts, Robert Knight—whom she repeatedly applauds—being chief among them. What is it about Pacifica that attracts so many hateful people?

Monday July 2, 2012 Yesterday, R. Paul Martin posted a reasonable, much-needed request to forum members, asking that we try to "make this work." He added rules that obviously are designed to curb or eliminate the malicious nonsense that has seriously marred the BlueBoard in the past couple of years. So far, it seems to be working and I suspect that Paul Martin's following admonishments, excerpted from his post, are having the desired effect. Thank you, Mr. R.P. M.

If you post on the board that someone else needs to be banned/moderated you will either get a warning or be banned/moderated yourself.

Billboarding is not allowed. Complaints about some right wing person on another radio station saying something you don't like do not belong here.

The long threads of back and forth very personal vitriol have damaged this board. I want to see an end to that sort of thing. We're all adults here. If everyone will act like an adult I think we can have a better bleepin' blue board than we've had over the past couple of years.

It has always been acceptable to render opinions about radio programs here. If you disagree with someone's opinion go ahead and say so, but interminable tit for tat threads will be deleted.

Tuesday July 3, 2012 Well, the civility didn't last long, but I hope R. Paul nips the vitriol in the bud. The first breach of the guidelines was a totally frivolous insult aimed at me by one of the anonymous trolls ("Cog dis"), who seemed to be testing the waters. Later in the day, Frank LeFever, an "advisory board" member with urgent needs for attention, started posting snippets of nothing (he's very good at that) all over the place, making sure that we knew he had been to such places as Newcastle-on-Tyne and St. Petersburg (when did that become a big deal?). As the day wore on and he wasn't getting oohs and aahs for his imagined witticism, LeFever turned on his nasty button and modulated into a name-calling mode. I don't care what this guy calls me, but I hate to see the BlueBoard return to the snake pit it had become. What bothers me even more is to see such childish behavior by a person who is supposed to be an advisor to the station.

Thursday July 4, 2012  The cyber bullies escalated their disruptive wriggling overnight, apparently horrified at the thought of WBAI's weekly schedule undergoing an improvement. What we have here is, basically, a very small, nasty group rallying behind Pamela Somer's ongoing efforts to paint the object of her drooling, Robert Knight, as a man. Well, let's say as a "brilliant", hard-working "investigative reporter" whose importance—in terms of insight—is close to equalling that of Dr. Martin Luther King. Apropos MLK, Somers once posted that there was a good possibility that Knight might be a product of a dalliance between his mother and the great Civil Rights leader. I know, Somers' little brain is as dull as a bad summer movie. His, of course is not a heck of a lot sharper, he just covers it up with theatrics and archaic, stilted language. Pam Cooke, a Zionist who never heard of an unjust atrocity committed against Palestinians, is ever at Somers' side, but she shows flashes of independent thought, even reason. Frank LeFever is the old rooster turned chronic crower, an opportunist on WBAI management's periphery. Add to this trio a couple of anonymous posters and, occasionally Knight himself, shedding his pretentious skin for a veneer of vitriol. They use a variety of "handles" and IP addresses, but they are ever so transparent.

Motivation? Well, Somers, of course, is making a fool of herself for the sake of her "man." She wants us to believe that she is a feminist under attack for that alone. She also declares as her mission (mandate, actually) the defense of Knight against those who would destroy him. Rather pathetic.

Back to motivation, I believe that what started as a calling from above to protect a delusional, worn-out "reporter" eventually shifted to a pixel war on yours truly. The second line, as it were, seems to be fueled more by the latter. In the end, it's all a matter of preserving ill-deserved jobs and having read the not so favorable news on the wall.

I think this will be the last dated addendum on this post. The new entry, Hissin' into the Wind, will continue the saga with one or two updates. By then, we will see how R. Paul Martin handles these people and whether there will be a return to frivolous venom as usual.

I am sure that most visitors to this blog have viewed or participated in the exchanges that have been taking place for many years in a WBAI-dedicated forum called Goodlight, but more commonly referred to as the Blue Board.

Sad to say, that forum is closing on June 9, 2012, having been abused by disruptive elements, mainly members who reacted—often rather immaturely—to any call for change at WBAI that might affect their particular interest. With so many opportunists involved in the station and a management that more or less gives them free rein, it is not surprising that WBAI has become something very different from the Pacifica stations Lew Hill had in mind.

The venom and self-serving agenda pursuits that over the years have reduced WBAI to a pitiful, penniless station were recently increased when Pacifica added an interim Program Director, Tony Bates, who, in very short order, made a bad broadcast schedule worse, lowered staff and volunteer morale, and took on-the-air fund-raising to a previously unimaginable low.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bates developed a following among the opportunistic panderers, who used his lack of experience, and GM Reimers' lack of presence, to obtain more or better airtime for programs that didn't belong on WBAI in the first place. The fraudulent premiums offered during extended marathons, endless rebroadcasts of blatantly untruthful sales pitches, and a petition calling for his ouster finally brought Bates down. Amazingly, even some board members continued to make excuses for Bates long after it became clear that he was forging a destructive path. This "interim" employee's job lasted longer than many so-called permanent  positions do.

Now there is a glimmer of hope, but the task that faces the new Program Director, Chris Hatzis, is huge. He has made it known that he will examine the program schedule and individual shows carefully, and his background indicates that he has the experience and good judgement needed to start a recovery procedure. I think we should all do our best to support him in his efforts. One way is to have constructive open discussions among people who wish to see WBAI returned to its high principles and quality programming. 

Brian, a staunch long-time Pacifica supporter—aware of the Blue Board's demise—has set up an area on that is devoted to WBAI issues. There isn't much to read there now, but it's off to a good start. Here is how to get there:

Lets do this thing right and discourage those who only wish to disrupt. As things stand, WBAI (and Pacifica, for that matter) is on the edge of extinction, so this is no time for petty feuding. Let's agree to disagree, if we must, but do so with civility.

Finally, I hope you will join me in thanking all who have shown true concern for WBAI's future, including Mitchel Cohen, Chairman of the Local Station Board, and the handful of producer/hosts, staff and volunteers who have had to put up with a management gone bad.