Monday, October 28, 2013
Last week's Report to the Listener by Pacifica iEC Summer Reese was, basically a bunch of dogs playing poker on black velvet—she painted the picture some wanted to see, but it bore no relationship to reality. We will have to wait and see what her game is. In the meantime, tuning in to 99.5 produces more tangible results...odds are in favor of the voice you hear belonging to Gary Null. As the station heads for the final lap, his merchandising enterprise has received a boost, courtesy of Pacifica. The infomercials are almost all recycled stuff from this and previous marathons, with secondary roles eagerly played by Michael Haskins and Christine Blosdale. Painful to the intelligent ear, these skits contrast what Lewis Hill had in mind when he founded Pacifica in 1949, but—the audience having effectively been dumbed down—they generate money.
It is, of course, only a matter of time before this audience, too, has had enough from these scam artists, so I don't share the flash euphorias one hears from some of the stagnant ones.
Please click on image to enlarge it.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
My days on the infamous BlueBoard may be numbered, for I have invoked the wrath of its Master!
Should he carry out his threat, your posts in that forum will be stifled if you as much as mention my name. It's called censorship and is already in effect for LSB members Mitchel Cohen, Carolyn Birden, and others. Only the Master himself knows why.
|R. Paul Martin|
You will not find that kind of nonsense here, nor would it have been acceptable back in the day when WBAI adhered to Lew Hill's principles, and the "free speech" label was taken seriously. I guess the threat is symptomatic of the abuse WBAI suffers at the hands and small minds of opportunists and amateurs.
BTW—My post, the one that gave the old Master that hissy fit, was rather innocuous (a response to his accusing me of wishing WBAI dead), but it did contain an observation that—while true—was critical of the Master's stance. The man has a difficult time taking criticism.
Anyone catch the Haskins/Davis not-so-dynamic Duo this morning?
Yep, make that Davis, as in Berthold's babbling bird brain! She was on the air live with Haskins this morning, urging the listeners to "prevent fracking in New York City" and—in a contrite aside—to show "forgiveness of things that might have occurred." It was very moving, and Haskins could not contain himself as he enthusiastically declared that he was "energized and charged" by Kathy's words. When our Lady of the Double Helix Water suggested that the fate of the world might depend on "us behind the mic and you on the other side of the dial," Haskins found it so profound as to merit repeating—and so he echoed Kathy.
The product they were pushing is a 3-DVD documentary dealing with the Zionist rape of Palestine. They ask $150 for the DVDs, which will help WBAI bring about peace and understanding to the world. We know how important harmony is to the WBAI family, especially to the loving members who arm themselves for meetings, march around giving the Hitler salute, and—through no fault of their own—now cling to the Pacifica raft.
Now, a mere 150 sawbucks will allow you to extend a hand and pull these wonderful guardians of truth out of the stormy sea. Is it an offer you can refuse? Yes, and you can have your cake, too.
They don't as much as hint at this, but if you want to see this documentary, yet haven't a compelling interest in keeping the profound observations of Michael Haskins and in-depth political analyses of Kathy Davis on the air, click here. The link will take you to YouTube, where you can view it all without spending as much as a penny.
Yes, the WBAI Andrew Phillips tried to give a needed makeover is back, courtesy of the Reimers-Reese team!
Apropos Reese, she has promised a live status report at 6 PM tomorrow (Thursday). Will she sob? Have a tissue handy, just in case.
Monday, October 21, 2013
If the station survives, this could be the start of a new fundraising angle: Why not have other disasters generate money for the perpetual one at WBAI? The Hindenburg burst into flames on May 6, 1937. A high percentage of WBAI's listeners (perhaps as many as 28) live in New Jersey, some may even live in the Lakehurst area. Woe, this could be better than his BAI Buddy idea...... Now, if comeone can come up with a good conspiracy theory...
Friday, October 18, 2013
To cast a brighter light on the Pacifica Board’s (Summers?) decision, here is a letter to the WBAI staff from iPD Andrew Phillips. It is dated October 5, 2013, and I understand that it lifted the morale of producer/hosts and other insiders who saw it as a sign of WBAI’s programming finally having been placed in capable hands. Changes were sorely needed, and Phillips was making them. Of course, this was not good news ro those who were stagnant and snug—the opportunists I often speak of—but it was promising.
Apparently, Summer Reese, Reimers, and other Pacifica bozos, were not happy. About a week later, they threw a big cog in the wheel and ordered a reversion to the very type of programming WBAI needed to shed. Building up a listenership is not done in one week, month—it is a slow process, but Andrew Phillips never had a chance to see the results he strove to obtain—he had been used by people whose goal seems to be to get in some quick bucks and sell out.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
It has come and, as predicted, it is not a happy one.
Summer Reese and her West Coast amateurs have succeeded in killing WBAI once and for all. What we heard on the air this morning between 6 and 8 was a very sad and frustrated Program Director, who knew little more than the rest of us, having been kept out of the loop by the Pacifica gang. They did not even have the decency to inform him of the station's status—he read it in the NY Daily News.
Typically, not a peep has been heard from Berthold Reimers, an excuse of a man, who could have turned things around if he had the backbone, knowledge, and interest. He had none of these, so he allowed the likes of Robert Knight, Kathy Davis, Gary Null, and a smug, dysfunctional group of opportunists to have their way with the station. These are people who have neither conscience nor a sense of responibility—they richly deserve the obscurity that awaits most of them.
We should all express our thanks to Andrew Phillips and the handful of producers and hosts who continued to make listening to WBAI a bearable, if sporadic, experience. May they all re-emerge in a healthier broadcasting environment.
Tomorrow morning at seven, Gary Null takes over that one-hour slot. What will he say? What will he sell? Who will believe him? Who will care? The assignment came from Summer Reese, a woman who turns out to be every bit the mistake I had her pegged as.
Also this morning, as if on cue, the BlueBoard forum, known to some as the snake pit, was down. A coincidence? Perhaps. As for this blog, I will keep it open for as long as there may be a need for a troll-free outlet for discussion of WBAI.
Please use the comments option to tell us what you think.
There is now serious talk of Pacifica having decided to lease to un-named parties WBAI's license. Something like that was becoming increasingly predictable as Management exercised its gross incompetence and Pacifica did nothing to stop it. They made a good show of seemingly attempting to save the station, but it was obviously Pacifica's last WBAI show.
I feel sympathy for Andrew Phillips, who was used by Pacifica to fix something they obviously had no intention of fixing. This latest development has begun to hit the outside media, including the NY Daily News, but I expect there will be much more, and the truth will eventually get thrown into the mix.
Here are posts that appeared in Public forums late yesterday. The posters are Mitchel Cohen, who tried to do something, but ran into the Berthold Reimers block, and Steve Brown, who has a slightly different view, but is basically in agreement.
The opportunists at WBAI still live in their dream world, dteadfastly refusing to acknowledge that it was they, and not Sandy or those damned listener-supporters who killed the station. Some of them still believe that it will all come back—but it won't. The real WBAI hasn't been at 99.5 in many years, and
would have been totally forgotten were it not for the few hones, devoted producer/hosts who held out. Let's hope that they get back on somebody's air. As for the abusers and narcissists, their disappearance is the only good thing to come out of this.
Before you read the Mitchel and Steve exchange, here is an interesting notice posted yesterday by Thomas William Hamilton, a disenchanted supporter of WBAI who is also reacting to the lease rumors:
Should this plan go through, I will cease my $1000 contribution at each fundraiser, and remove WBAI as the chief beneficiary of my will, which, since I am less than three months from turning 75, may be sooner than I would like.
Here is what Mitchel Cohen had to say:
There would be no need at all for any leasing of WBAI and this end-run around the admittedly imperfect but democratic bylaws if management had done the pretty basic things that many of us have been proposing. Note: Management STILL could do these things!
These fairly simple and yet essential managing basics that any organization needs to employ (whether a radio station, an environmental advocacy not-for-profit, or a private company) must be done first, before any Leasing agreement is considered—let alone signed.
What Pacifica's motion—that apparently passed in executive session last week—means, to me, is that Pacifica management has given up on trying to appoint competent management at WBAI and is looking for a way out of meeting its responsibilities.
What I imagine, here, is that a leasing proposal will be accepted from a private person or agency that is as close a match to Pacifica's Mission as possible, but which
a) Does away with the bylaws and listener-and-staff governance of Pacifica;
b) Agrees to put in a few million dollars in the form of guaranteeing ongoing payments to cover WBAI's expenses;
c) Agrees to return WBAI to Pacifica in five years (we'll see how that works out in reality!);
d) Does not answer to anyone;
e) Has private access to all of WBAI's database and website for any purpose;
and a lot more that I'd be speculating about without actual knowledge, but which is pro forma for these matters.
We'd be agreeing to give WBAI away, for five years (ahem!), to a private individual or company. This would be arranged only because the individual or company has some money to guarantee payment on WBAI's debts. So they'll be allowed to legally buy the "rights" to running WBAI for just a few million dollars -- chickenfeed, actually!, given the value of WBAI (politically and artistically, as well as economically) -- that would allow them to play around with our station as they please, regardless of what they promise in any leasing agreement. By doing so, Pacifica is, in my opinion, abandoning its responsibility to appoint a management team at WBAI who would take pretty basic measures to raise the funds needed to make WBAI sustainable fiscally over the next few years.
Those measures would include (and all of these have been proposed repeatedly by members from all factions, but never implemented):
1) A concerted campaign to publicize the station's existence to the 17.5 million people in our potential listening area who never heard of us, and expanding the membership base by 100 percent;
2) Systematically contacting the artists and wealthy individuals who appear regularly on WBAI's airwaves, creating a "sustainers fund" for the station;
3) Sending out mass fund-raising letters to the entire database -- something that has not been done for at least 3 years under current management;
4) Implementing measures to recoup the $800,000 per year in funds already pledged but for one reason or another never received by the station;
5) Re-Negotiating WBAI/Pacifica's $50,000/month (and rising) contract with the Empire State Building (or similarly placed antennas), and bringing political weight, if necessary, to achieve a greatly reduced not-for-profit rate;
6) Communicating regularly with and involving listeners and staff in all aspects of WBAI's situation (that is, EXPANDING democratic control of WBAI, and not setting up listener and staff governance as a strawman and then setting it on fire!);
7) Re-Negotiating WBAI's and Pacifica's current debts (as is done by all for-profit corporations);
8) Re-conceptualizing and expanding WBAI's media footprint and revenue via the internet, and parallel radio stations on WBAI's website;
9) Accrue revenue from WBAI's current leasing of its secondary carrier signals (today all revenue accrues directly to Pacifica and is not applied to WBAI's payments to Pacifica);
Those bullet-points should be part of a comprehensive plan. But the construction of such has apparently eluded WBAI's management for a decade, past as well as current management.
Any competent management at Pacifica and WBAI would have ensured that such a recovery plan be written, circulated, implemented, and monitored -- and it should have been doneyesterday. WBAI's membership should have been sent (two years ago, at least) management's comprehensive plan, which would include all of those items. And management should have provided regular updates on mobilizing the listeners and staff to achieve implementation of such a plan.
Any competent organizer knows that management must do all of the things (and more) listed above -- anyone knows this except, apparently, WBAI's management, which has neverproduced such a plan, let alone submitted it for review to the Local Station Board. Why is it that the National office cannot properly supervise the management that it has appointed to ensure these basic things are done, and done properly?
I strongly oppose the proposed RFP (Request for Proposals) for Public Service Operating Agreements for WBAI-FM (99.5 FM - NY), leasing arrangements, orany deal that privatizes WBAI and its management -- even for a relatively short period. I urge WBAI's directors to the Pacifica National Board and all others to do the same.
former Chair, WBAI Local Station Board (2008-2012), and
current Secretary, WBAI Local Board
TO WHICH STEVE BROWN RESPONDED:
I agree with everything you say (below) about how to save WBAI. But so what? Yes, WBAI was always easy to rescue, and many of us knew how to do it. But management – local and national – refused to take the necessary and obvious steps.
But there is no money to keep WBAI operating for another few months – let alone for another year -- except at the risk of capsizing the entire foundation. For Pacifica has been taking money from the other stations to prop up WBAI (in the foolish hope, I might add, that WBAI could rescue itself by continuing to do the same stupid things that caused its problems in the first place).
So why did management so badly fail WBAI and Pacifica? Why didn’t management – local and national – take the necessary steps to save WBAI (and the rest of our stations, which are headed down the same path as WBAI)? It is not as if those steps were impossibly difficult, or prohibitively expensive. On the contrary, they were easy to implement and cost little or nothing (and are standard practice at virtually every other non-profit organization in the country).
The reasons for management’s failure are three. The first, and most obvious, is incompetence, at both the local and national level. But that would not have been so bad, if management had sought the advice and assistance of those who were competent. But they did not – partly because of the second reason – arrogance -- which prevented them from acknowledging that they needed help. The third reason is cowardice – personal cowardice, or the fear of losing their jobs – which turned them into little more than deferential hostages to the various warring factions within the foundation, whose conflicting ideologies, private agendas, self interest, and petty spites have long poisoned our internal debates, shredded our collegiality, and crippled the administrative functioning of the network.
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Saturday, October 5, 2013
In case you have not seen the mentioned program announcement from Andrew Phillips, here it is:
Until further notice - we are importing a four evening a week general interest public
affairs talk show - The Thom Hartman Program - 9-10pm.
The change happens this Monday October 7th 9-10pm.
Thom is a former Air America host and therefore an established progressive talk
show host with a growing national audience. The Thom Hartman Program runs very
successfully with positive audience feed-back, five days a week on our sister
station KPFK in Los Angeles. The program originates in Washington D.C.
The program is free.
The Thom Hartman Program replaces the M-Th, 9-10pm strip. Most of these
programs will be discontinued in their current format, but there will be oppor-
tunities to produce segments in a new magazine-style format to be announced
following the drive.
In addition to changes in the 9-10pm lineup, we are revamping the week night
10-11pm lineup. Programs currently running 10-11pm will also be discontinued
and asked to produce segments.
In radio, one needs a skill-set that includes edition and production of pre-
recorded programming; editing writing for radio, sound edition and mic
technique to present in a professional and cogent fashion. My goal is to
upgrade our sound and overall quality of programs, and I will do my best
to help current producers.
Following this fund drive, all programming will be reviewed. As you must know,
WBAI is currently in very bad shape and we need to find ways to enlarge
audience and encourage more support. This is a dictate from the LSB and
Pacifica National Office. We believe Thom Hartman can help.
There will be ample future opportunities for producers to find exposure on
WBAI, but our format will change. I will be announcing proposal for a Public
Affairs, Specials and Documentary Department at WBAI. In conjunction will
be classes in production, with a view to improving our broadcast skills.
Andrew Leslie Phillips
Program Director (interim)
WBAI Pacifica Radio 99.5FM
There was this response from Rebecca Myles:
I am host of one of six programs affected by this decision that came in a memo on a Friday night, without a prior call, or any advance warning so I could alert our listeners to what was happening. The other shows affected are The Largest Minority - the only show on radio for those with disabilities, the Asia Pacific Forum, Muslim State of Mind (recently replacing Tahrir Radio) Joy of Resistance, and The Haiti Show. You could argue the decision is discriminatory.
I'm the co-host with Jay Grayce of the Rape Declaration Forum, a monthly show that aired every third Thursday at 9pm. It's a hard, uncompromising show, much appreciated by our listeners, and has a following across the country. The show got the notice of the United Nations this year, and resulted in participation in a panel discussion about the show and its mission during the Commission on the Status of Women. It was a humbling experience and the women who spoke to me afterwards where gratified to hear of the show's existence and remarked on its importance. Most recently we had guests on talking about rape in the military, mostly men.
The show started seven years ago as an experimental show on Int'l Working Women's Day. My co-host to be was my first guest, it was a life changing event for her. For our guests over the years, we were told how important having a venue, a virtual public venue, where people could say what happened to them and how hard it has been to live afterwards, has made a difference in their lives and what a clever use of radio. The show was the brain child of me and my partner, Don Vance, an erotic artist, who needed models for his work and encountered over and over how much shame women had about their bodies and their sexuality, and how often they told him of their painful experiences with sexual violence. My partner died suddenly 4 years ago, the show was part of his life legacy. It is a hard show for radio, but it is an excellent show for radio, and only could have aired on WBAI, and people benefited from being able to asks questions of our guest and share their own stories - some of whom had never said what happened to them out loud. I will contest this programming decision, and will support my other producers in any protests they prepare to mount. The callous treatment of how this programming decision has occurred and its timing won't be forgotten, and this sort of decision makes enemies and pisses people off, and yet I am not really surprised either. I was told when I was laid off from the News Department in August by Summer Reese and Berthold Reimers the show could, of course, continue and they had talked about that. Hum
Please also read the exchanges in the comments section (below).
Thursday, October 3, 2013
The realists among us saw it coming. The announced new approach to fundraising, one where the snake oil people take a hike and premiums actually relate to the station at its best, was too good to be true. It also came much too late—an afterthought preceded by three years of gross mismanagement, low staff morale, and fleeing listeners. The history on a stick idea was good, if not fully developed—there should have been a small, select variety of flash drives—but there were only two, as I can tell, and there was no real promotion behind them. Imagine, not a single mention on WBAI's own web site! One has the distinct sense of Pacifica's dysfunctional board deliberately killing what should be the Foundation's most important station. Of course, they are in California, WBAI is in the other end of the country, and what we have here on a local board is, with a couple of exceptions, a group of dabbling amateurs. The hit man in this final scenario is Christine Blosdale, who has returned from KPFK to finish WBAI off. Well, perhaps she isn't here in body, but those dreadful, dishonest infomercials are just as off-putting when recorded, perhaps even worse, and certainly more deceitful.
I feel sympathy for Andrew Phillips, who had to put up with Reimers, Summer Reese and other roadblocks. His morning appearances have been marred by the interference of Michael Haskins, who has been at WBAI for decades without grasping the concept that used to fuel it. Haskins is a camp follower who lately seems to have aligned himself with a faction that wanted to morph the station into a lower IQ racist outlet, which they called "community." Incidentally, it was a person of that order who played the race card on Andrew Phillips at KPFK and forced his having to take a "leave" from his job there as GM.
Getting back to the WBAI situation, Phillips has made many welcomed changes at WBAI in a very short time, but I think he should have called a press conference and laid the cards on the table. The press loves disasters, so they would show up and it would give the station an opportunity to admit having made colossal mistakes, point out what is being done to return to good radio, and stress the fact that it is a work in progress with many more changes on the horizon. This should also have been an occasion to call for volunteer hosts and producers—WBAI has for many years been sinfully oblivious to the incredible human resources New York has available. Inept management has allowed the station to limp along year after year with the same tired hosts who have big egos and imaginary proprietary rights. The stagnancy has almost become an identifying characteristic of 99.5—most of these people have nothing new to offer, they are on the air for what they themselves can get out of it, and they treat listeners as a necessary evil. Amazingly, nobody is as arrogant when it comes to the listener-supporters as Berthold Reimers, who does not take phone calls and leaves e-mail unanswered, probably unread.
Yes, I think this is really the end and while it is tragic the reality is that WBAI has been dead for a very long time—this is just the last gasp. There is nothing good about the station's demise, but a slight consolation can be found in the fact that it by default decreases the area's air pollution by cleansing it of some truly incompetent opportunists and narcissists.
Sadly, it also closes the microphone to some good people, but I'll be optimistic and assume that their talent will find find them another outlet. While they are best forgotten, I do hope that the people who are responsible for bringing WBAI down will be named and properly disgraced before they go into deserved obscurity. It is a long line that starts with Steve Post and Larry Josephson, and ends with a wimp named Berthold Reimers.