Thursday, January 31, 2013

"The grapes are sour," said the fox

“Now I don't know if asking Robert to lay off his Obama thing will help, but you could try. Next time he's on, and taking calls tell'em to lay off.”Sidney Smith

Robert Knight apparently came near death very recently when he was hospitalized to undergo a serious lung operation, It is, of course, good that he survived, but his problem is not limited to that physical one. I think it has been made abundantly clear by his on-air behavior that he also has a mental problem, and it is not limited to his obsessive hatred for President Obama.

Knight, I am told, used to conduct his work at WBAI in a professional, intelligent manner. Difficult as that is for me to believe, I am inclined to do so. But something snapped and reduced him to the delusional, dishonest propagandist he is today.

I experienced that personally when he interviewed Bob Fass seven months ago and labeled me a secret military agent for the U.S., the implication being that this is how I obtained by immigration visa in 1957. I bring up this instance of attempted character assassination, because, being the victim, I have in it incontrovertible proof of how his fantasies form the basis for what he wants us to believe is honest “journalism.” Whatever Knight once may have been, he is now a shameless fraud.

I dealt with this here last June This link goes there; it has the audio and my comments, sparing me the need to go into repetitious details and return to last night's frivolous rerun of a pre-election “Earthwatch” episode.

Did you hear it the first or second time around? If you have the slightest doubt about Knight abusing the WBAI air, check it out in the archive at

Whether Barack Obama’s presidency makes you feel hot, lukewarm or disgusted, he is our elected Commander in Chief and he has twice garnered the majority of this country’s votes. Criticize him as severely as you think his handling of the presidency warrants, but do so fairly. I, myself, have been extremely critical of Mr. Obama, and disappointed in the discrepancies between his words and his deeds, but consider the alternative we faced, consider his humane decisions. Hell, look at the GOP and consider how eager they are to get rid of Mr. Obama—that alone speaks volumes in his favor.

Robert Knight’s hatred has blinded him. He has been on an anti-Obama crusade almost since he cast his vote for the man (and, possibly, because he gave him his vote in 2009). The program he repeated last night is a vitriolic hate fest aimed at the President, and—typically—totally one-sided. When a caller indicated his displeasure with Knight’s lack of professionalism, he was promptly gotten rid of, but Monroe’s replacement, perennial caller “Tom from the Bronx,” was twice thanked for his paranoid drivel.

Robert Knight’s venomous personal agenda, his routine twisting of truth to present new “facts,” and the teen queen, tee-hee way in which he conducts himself during broadcasts is just the sort of thing that has made the majority of WBAI’s listeners head for the exit. It all works to the station’s detriment—it is an abuse of privilege and it should not be tolerated by management. Of course, neither should management’s behavior be acceptable by Pacifica. Only the listeners have shown the proper reaction: they tuned out.

I was very sorry to hear that Tom Wisker’s problems include alcohol abuse and I understand that this has also been one of Knight's weaknesses, but Tom was never vicious, Tom was sometimes incoherent and he fell asleep on the air, but there was no hate, and there were moments when he managed to push away the demons and shared with us his uncommon expertise.

Now Tom Wisker has been suspended, but I wish they had called it a medical leave instead. Alcoholism is a disease that I witnessed first hand in my pre-teens, but I have also seen it conquered. The self-serving vindictiveness and dishonesty that Knight spews on a steadily dwindling audience six times a week is a character flaw, which is far more difficult to overcome.

Robert Knight was once fired by Bernard White, a man who was hated by many at WBAI. That may have been a factor in his being rehired by Reimers, a man who is not hated, but certainly has earned the disrespect he gets. Reimers not only brought Knight back, he threw out good people to make room for “5 o’clock shadow,” a program that has never kept the promise made by Knight in his comic book promo, a program that mostly serves as an ego-stroking soap box for the man and his delusions.

Let us hope that Tom Wisker overcomes and gets back on his feet to do more informative programs, and that Reimers and Knight go the way of all slush: down the drain.

Please read the comments below, and add your own.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

...and the earth shook!

Please click on above image to make it a readable size.
The following comment is from The Pacifica Maven. He and I agree on many things that pertain to WBAI, but I should say here that my critique of and disappointment in Barack Obama, though strong, is somewhat milder. Do I think he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize? Absolutely not, but—as I have said before—consider the alternative that was available to us.

Here is the above-mentioned link to Robert Finch's article.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

BAI Buddies Gang: Aiming lower still

Realizing that the so-called BlueBoard—a troll-infested playground that seems to serves as WBAI's kindergarten—is not everybody's cup of tea, so I occasionally bring a glimpse of it to this blog for your reasoned perusal. As the station prepares to make what some (including yours truly) believe will be a disastrous move to temporary, shared quarters, the question of its future looms bigger than ever. Many factors and generations of inept management teams that have brought the station to its present brink of oblivion, and the Pacifica Foundation itself is far from blameless, its awkward system of governance having about it a kamikaze quality that appears to be working against Lew Hill's dream. This system was allegedly an attempt to democratize Pacifica's governance, but it has had the opposite effect, opening doors to con artists and opportunists, not to mention delusional producers deprived of positive creativity. As the audience dwindles at an alarming rate, excuses abound from within WBAI and its mercenary inner circle. Grubby fingers are pointed at everything but themselves, but, while that worked longer than any reasonable observer might have expected, the jig now seems to be up. The stampede of listener-supporters fleeing to more intelligent spots on the dial, or just a good book, trampled down most remaining benefits of a doubt.

Under the "management" of Berthold Reimers, the internal polarization continues  and, indeed, thrives. Yes, we have long had the JUC and P&U factions battling it out at 120 Wall Street, on YouTube, and elsewhere, but the conflict is not limited to anyone's like or dislike of Bernard White, it isn't just the Mumia crowd against the MLK crowd (some cannot see the obvious delineation), people of color versus the pale, or hip[ hop versus Haydn. It's, basically, all about turf. The station that had its staff and volunteers united in a cause called WBAI (and all that it once stood for) has been reduced to a soap box for personal advancement and commercial pursuits. People of limited scope and no detectable artistic talent entered through the aforementioned open door, played the game, pandered to management, and settled in. The worthy eventually moved on and up, but the dross just stagnated and occupied slots that were meant to be stepping stones for New York's budding, ever evolving artistic, political and cultural leaders. They stayed and stayed, spewing their self-serving blather and pedestrian music to an audience that once had been intellectually demanding, but now morphed into something very different: a mix of paranoids, finger-poppers, hypochondriacs, racists, and loop dropouts. Stimulating this downgrade were the programs that began to dominate the station's schedule. Good people and good radio did not go away altogether, but so few quality offerings are left that they almost seem to be tokens retained to give some validity to the many false claims made by abusing producer/hosts during fundraising efforts.

"We are the voice of freedom, the only true free-speech station!" exclaim salaried stooges like Michael G. Haskins, Kathy Davis, and Robert Knight as they perform to keep their jobs. That brings us back to the dumbing down of schedule and audience, which has to stop if we are to have any real hope of intellectual and financial recovery. It brings us back to the polarization within. As I pointed out earlier, the line between the "good" guys and the "bad" guys is not as clear as it once was, for this is no longer merely an ideological fight for WBAI's direction, it is now a struggle for individual survival. That turf issue has been there for decades, but it is exacerbated by the gravity of the present situation, resulting in some strange and, undoubtedly, discomfiting alliances. Regardless of their factional differences, the inept and self-serving find common ground as they defend themselves against reality and an exit door that awakening may well unlock.
So much for my overture.  Recently, there have been some interesting exchanges on the BlueBoard regarding the programming and its role in the station's ongoing deterioration. The usual pandering is in place, evidenced by posts from insiders who feel that their squatting privileges are threatened, and by Frank LeFever, who has just been elected to serve on the LSB but somehow seems to believe that he is WBAI's savior. As far as I can tell, the man has been hanging around for years, rubbing shoulders with whoever has the key to the manager's office, but there is no evidence of his ever having accomplished anything for WBAI. Apropos the LSB—stars of many action videos on YouTube—they are having a new battle over their confusing rules. It is currently going on in the WBAI-LSB-PUBLIC forum with Carolyn Birden and Mitchel Cohen having at each other, Janet Coleman on the sideline, and Berthold Reimers jumping into the ring to assert that he is the Big Enchilata. Funny stuff, but not good for WBAI.

A frequent and loud voice on the BlueBoard is Jim Dingeman, who heads the CAB and has a long association with WBAI. Jim is clearly frustrated, for he sees and acknowledges the sorry mess that the station's programing has become. Jim also has a problem that I can well understand: he has been too closely associated with the front office. I have no doubts about his seeing the flaws in Reimers' management, but he treads very carefully when it comes to a true evaluation of performance, tending to be the apologist, although not nearly to the ludicrous extent we see in LeFever. Some LSB members complain over colleagues who try take board matters into their own hands—that accusation has been leveled at Mitchel Cohen, but the shoe fits LeFever perfectly. It all inspired Janet Coleman's well-founded caution:

"So long as individual Board members seek special audience to advance themselves and their personal opinions in the eyes of management, Houston, we have a problem."

Earlier this week, Jim—who frequently comes down hard, almost despairingly so, on the insane preservation of an inferior program schedule—posted the following:

Sidney Smith, who slips in and out of "handles" as he posts and broadcasts, responded to Jim Dingeman's post. Sidney and R. Paul Martin, who also serves as the BlueBoard's administrator, are among the few current WBAI hosts who are not afraid to speak out under their own name. Not surprisingly, both have a death valley time slot, Saturdays at 5AM, which they have to share on alternate weeks.

Here are their respective responses to this particular discussion. There is much more on the BlueBoard, but you have to look for it, and that is not an easy task over there.

It all boils down to a sub-standard, dumbed down program schedule and a managerial misfit who refuses to admit his considerable shortcomings and almost seems to be intimidated by the ensconched thugs who hog WBAI's air with unworthy, often embarrassing programs.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Banned blah, blah, blah...

The following brief exchange took place on the BlueBoard January 9:

Someone—anonymous, of course—posted:
Can't help noticing that now that Pamela seems absent from the blueboard, Chris has turned his considerable ire on Frank. It's always gotta be someone, huh? 
To which my response was: 
Knight's shill would still be trolling were it not for her being banned by the moderator, and I would have continued to show her for what she is. LeFever is someone for whom I lost respect a long time ago, when I realized that he was in it for himself rather than WBAI, and when I saw how off the mark his various ideas are. I suppose I could just sit back and watch as he turns the LSB into an even greater mess. In the meantime, check out his posts and tell me if you think this is someone who should be on a governing board. The real culprit in the present imbroglio is, of course, LeFever's current "friend", Berthold Reimers, the only person on the local level who could make a positive difference, if he were so inclined.
If you search around on the BlueBoard, you will find the original, anonymous, post, but not my response, It has been removed by the moderator because we are not allowed to mention people who are denied access to the BB, reason given is that they thus cannot defend themselves. Noble as that rule sounds,it becomes a downright nuisance (bordering on censorship) when applied. A major flaw in that procedure is that we who post there are not informed of anyone's banishment, so you mention a name, however casually, in a post that might have taken up much of your valuable time, and you click on the "post" option. The software detects the dreaded name and you are informed that your message will be posted upon the moderator's approval. Chances are that it remains in limbo until you receive an e-mail from R. Paul Martin and are given an opportunity to remove the unwanted name and re-post. In some cases, that means that your amended message is delayed up to a couple of days and the immediacy of your response is lost.

In the above case, the offending name, Pamela (i.e. Somers) did not warrant moderator intrusion, but my message (note that I deliberately avoided using the banished name) was removed. The explanation came in an e-mail from R. Paul advising me to "just leave the aspects of moderation alone." So now, a worse sin than naming a banished poster is to mention the fact that he/she has been banished! 

I am adamantly against censorship, but I realize that some rules must be applied to a public forum. Here's a link to the BlueBoard's don'ts —there are 14 of them and many are routinely ignored, but one sticks out—it is No. 12:

Criticisms that the moderators are censoring too much or too little

What do you think?

When it comes to WBAI, I consider R. Paul Martin to be one of the good guys, but frivolous infringement on my right to speak freely puts a dent in that appraisal.

As the moderator of this blog, my only interference with posts is that I block spam attempts. There are about ten to 20 of those each week and they are  bot-generated and self-promotional, thus easy to nip in the bud.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

State of the Station: January 2013

Clicking on one of the comments will enlarge them all.

This one comes from the inside...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Breaking News: Hatzis is history!

Remember Chris Hatzis? He was the new PD who came in seven months ago to straighten out the programming mess left by Tony Bates. Well, have you heard any difference since he came aboard? I haven't, either.This is about all he did. Look at the following notice from the equally useless GM, Reimers, and note that he addresses his letter to the "WBAI Family"!

Dear WBAI Family,
Program Director Chris Hatzis has moved on and is no longer associated with WBAI. Chris Hatzis began working at WBAI in June 1, 2012 and has worked closely with the staff to improve process and programming. We wish him well and we will do our best to fill out such an important position.

Meanwhile, I will do my best to help address any issue that Chris would usually take care off. For any programming issues, please e-mail: Berthold, Kathy Davis, Michael G. Haskins, Reggie Johnson, Ife Dancy, Tony Ryan and Jennifer

Please note that WBAI Winter drive starts on Monday February 4, 2013 and I expect EVERY show to come up with its own premium as I want to go back to the idea that we are offering the content of the shows and not premiums. There will be a separate note soon addressing the fund drive obligations and responsibilities but I wanted to give you a head start.

I appreciate your support and understanding in these trying times.



Berthold Reimers
General Manager
WBAI 99.5 FM Radio
120 Wall Street - 10th Floor
New York, NY 10005
(212) 209-2820