Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WBAI's less for more market...

How often have we heard WBAI's product pitchers refer to premiums as "thank you gifts"? Countless times, I'm sure. but it's a meaningless term to describe something  that one is being charged for... especially when the price is exorbitant.

As we all know, this is more a scam than anything else. Berthold Reimers, his immediate predecessors, and their abettors need to keep WBAI on the air. Not because the station is significant and vital to the New York area, but because it is all some of them have standing between them and the unemployment line.

Times have changed, trends have come and gone, technology has altered the landscape, but there is still a serious need for intellectual stimulation of the kind WBAI and Pacifica once represented. 

We half-jokingly refer to Reimers, Mitchel Cohen, and the rest of the station's small inner circle as the gang in the bunker, but the tag is not without merit. There is indeed a bunker mentality surrounding the small group of people who, with increasing desperation, attempt to reverse what they and others have done to the station and its parent organization. They know that the damage can not be repaired, only covered up, which is what they are doing by any means they deem necessary. 

As we all know, these fund drives are now more a scam than anything else. Berthold Reimers came in on a vow to double WBAI's income in a not so realistic short order. He had a plan that would straighten everything out, he said. So, what did he do? He spent his first year as interim GM in the premium room, where unfulfilled orders formed a major part of the clutter left behind by the previous regimes.

When he re-emerged, a year later, this self-professed financial expert (see Linkedin resumé) assured us all that the problem was almost solved, the backlog of product handling and shipment cut down to a negligible size. Sighs of relief were heard, but this turned out to be the tip of the iGM's iceberg of twisted truths, downright lies, and delusions. Even the Sandy blast, which was devastating, did not exonerate Reimers—he was collecting a $100,000,00 annual salary based on the smoke and mirrors that Frank Lefever and a WBAI  committee of selection failed to detect. It has been downhill since then and the deeper the station sank, the bigger and more frequent the lies became. Now it has reached a point where just about anything goes, so the fundraising attempts are more dominant and increasingly irresponsible. The listeners? Well, most of them wisely evacuated themselves and those who remain seem comfortable with shameless political indoctrination. 

No thinking person expects WBAI to revert to Mozart in the morning, but a thought-inspiring schedule of multi-ingredient brain food remained obtainable in spite of changing times and life styles. In its earlier years, WBAI not only survived changing trends, it often helped to shape them, doing so in a seamless, open manner. The listener's mind was ever nourished, never forced into a mold.  These days, technology has—more than ever before—been difficult to keep up with; it has widened generation gaps and, as always happens, left  some people out.

Back in the days when few people owned computers and the new internet was referred to as a "super highway," I recall seeing an elderly black woman interviewed on Public TV by the more respectable of Adam Clayton Powell's sons. His description of this new electronic "highway" produced from her a lengthy pause, followed by a question: "Will it run through Harlem?"

My point, though clumsily expressed, is that some things never change, quest for knowledge being among the perennials. Delivery methods evolve, but there will always be a serious need for intellectual stimulation of the kind WBAI and Pacifica once represented. 

We half-jokingly refer to Reimers, Mitchel Cohen, and the rest of the station's small inner circle as the gang in the bunker, but the tag has merit. There is, indeed a bunker mentality surrounding these people who, with increasing desperation, attempt to reverse the damage they have inflicted on the station and parent organization. They know that their vandalism can not be repaired, so they focus on covering it up, but only succeed in doing so partially.

They lie by rote—and, almost a la Occupy-ers, in chorus—to the few remaining listeners as well as to themselves and each other. With Gary Null cast as Popeil the station's morally bankrupt amateur hucksters have long since abandoned efforts to raise funds for the Hill concept that made Pacifica stations so special. That was only possible when principles of good programming and communication were observed. Now the aim is to keep their own little "shows" and designer politics on the air, even if it calls for embroidering or downright eliminating the truth that once fueled Pacifica stations.

Sunday night/Monday morning, I listened as Tony Ryan played soul music from his own earlier years and offered a premium comprising a children's novel, Indigo Blue, and equally unrelated CD-resident MP3s from "my own collection." As listeners reported problems with their calls to the phone center, Mr. Ryan (Yes, that sledgehammer- toting management member) told them to just ask and pay for the book... he would personally and separately send out the CDs. In fact, he impulsively decided to throw in one or two extra ones. These are obviously discs that he burns, so you know there are no licenses or royalties involved. Copyright infringements do not matter to these people as long as money comes in.

Off the Hook is one of the station's good programs. Its producers have never minced words when it came to voicing their disgust with the way things are handled by Reimers. His cavalier attitude toward them is all the more inappropriate when one considers that their premiums are always relevant and made by them at no cost to the station. When it turned out that many of the show's paid-for premiums were collecting dust in a corner at Atlantic Avenue, and calls to the station went unanswered. OTH spoke up and received Reimers' assurance that all would be taken care of. That promise was empty, so now OTH has again commented on the destructive Bunker game played against the show. You can read it here. The matter was brought up at the WBAI LSB Finance Committee last week and here's what the Treasurer had to say about it: 

The Finance Committee must have been persuasive, because Berthold Reimers came to his senses long enough to let the Off The Hook team back in last night. I doubt that Reimers realizes what a colossal ass he is and how grateful he should be that WBAI has such good, forgiving volunteer producers. Here's what they had to say about their return: 

UPDATE II: Don't expect to hear OTH this week (March 4), because Reimers extended the drive for another week AND PRE-EMPTED "OFF THE HOOK" AGAIN!!! Has this idiot a brain???

As noted, the OTH people are forthright, offering quite a contrast to the misplaced WBAI inmates, who lie by rote to the few remaining listeners and, I think, to each other. With Gary Null cast as Popeil the station's morally bankrupt amateur hucksters have long since abandoned efforts to raise funds for the Hill concept that made Pacifica stations so special. Now the aim is to keep their own little "shows" on the air, even if it calls for embroidering the truth that used to fuel the station—and embroider they do.

If anyone believes Gary Null to be the great benefactor he portrays himself as, I have this bridge... More so than before, endless re-airing of his many self-serving pitches have turned the current drive into a Null show. Is his generosity overflowing, or does he find all that free air time irresistible? Listen to him as he inadvertently tells it like it is...

On one of his misinfomercials—his generosity almost bursting—Null announces in true commercial style that his offer includes "Not one, not two, but THREE bottles!" Then he explains why that is important. Reimers, he says, voiced a concern over the station not being equipped to replenish the customers' supply of monthly bottles. No problem, Null assures the listeners, adding that he is prepared to handle such needs. Of course he is... I have always thought that re-orders is what this is all about, anyway—get them hooked and feed the new need. 

I heard several other good examples of bad radio in the past couple of days, but the WBAI site's archive is so messed up as to be unlistenable

I have previously spoken of that Natalie woman's lies regarding availability of Gwen Scott's  health package. In fact, I have brought it to the attention of Reimers apologists and tried to get it to the mismanager himself, but nothing was ever done about editing out the falsehoods. We are talking about a couple of hour-long misinfomercials that have the two women pitching a 3 discs and a book package in a phone hook-up that dates back to WBAI's Wall Street days. Reimers must love this commercial, for he has scheduled it beyond death. I was able to capture one from last week (they run about 3 or 4 times a day) and extract from it several false claims of WBAI exclusivity, which I strung together for your listening displeasure.

Here is "Dr." Scott's own website where the exact same set can be purchased for $39.99 (+$6.99 for USPS Priority Shipping), as opposed to the $150 WBAI is asking for. A pretty good markup, I would say. I bet the chance of actually receiving this product is far better if ordered from the Scott website.

And here is my string of Natalie's lies. Note that Scott is on the phone throughout and that she never attempts to correct the false exclusivity claim. If you think of it, why on earth would a seller give exclusivity to a failed station in a single market? It makes as little sense as everything else.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pacifica reaches new depths...

I think a more appropriate question would be, is Pacifica salvageable? Here's an informative article by Matthew Lasar. It was published in The Nation, deals with Pacifica's decay, and is, as far as I can tell, mostly accurate, although marred by Lasar's characteristically sloppy "research" and selective omissions.

Be careful what you click on...

This blog's original mission was to publish WBAI-related documents and information in hopes that a deeper knowledge of its inner workings might persuade loyal listeners to stick around and discourage the opportunistic abusers whose vandalism has reduced listenership to its lowest number ever. 

By pointing out the current management's ongoing ineptitude and the steady lowering of program standards, I naïvely imagined that we might hear improvements in content as well as technical quality, and that the worst offenders would be replaced by producers and hosts who possess the spirit and talent that once made WBAI such a significant, pioneering radio station.

A parade of PDs, some barely lasting a week, have been hired for a job that years of ineptitude and moral bankruptcy essentially rendered mission impossible. A major flaw in recent years has been the hiring and inexplicable retention of Berthold Reimers, conceivably the worst GM WBAI has had in decades, and it has become obvious to me that disease that's eating away at WBAI is the Pacifica Foundation itself.

Are there good people on the National Board? I believe so, but they are outnumbered by incompetent, misdirected people whose colossal blunders are not always, I suspect, accidental.

Take, for example, yesterday's allegedly accidental posting of five names that were meant to be kept secret. They are men who want to be the next Executive Director of Pacifica. Not finding any valid reason for not identifying these wannabes, I made an inquiry on the Pacifica Radiowaves list, where a Board member posted their names (as well as his own preference). One would think that I had sent out poisoned Valentines! Nailing, the keeper of that list, a person I had respect for, accused me of running a gossip-mongering blog (this one) and likened me to Rupert Murdoch!

The fact is that I had not yet posted those names here, wanting to first hear why they were secret. Later, fueled by all that hypocritical indignity, I changed my mind.  If candidates need to keep their Pacifica aspirations secret, I wonder what further aspirations they might want to hide once (and if) a small group of the PNB hires them.

Today, Tracy Rosenberg brought this up in her Pacifica in Exile news release:
(The orange highlights are mine --Chris)

Berkeley-Just when it seemed the process to fill the vacant executive director position at Pacifica Radio couldn't get more any troubled, another shoe dropped when board vice-chair Tony Norman, a DC attorney employed by the federal government, inexplicably carbon-copied his ballot indicating his choice for the position to a public Pacifica discussion list-serv with about 100 subscribers.

Pacifica has been trying to fill the position with no success for almost a year, after ousting the last executive director in March of 2014. The current chair of the board, Margy Wilkinson, a retired clerical worker, has been doing the job for most of the year on a part-time basis. She was briefly interrupted by former KPFK manager Bernard Duncan, who submitted a letter of resignation soon after taking the job citing a pre-existing plan to relocate to his native New Zealand. When the board finally selected a new executive director in January of 2015, the candidate, now identified as labor writer Bill Fletcher Jr, declined the position.
Instead of then turning to the second place candidate, who received strong support from many members of the board, the board of directors embarked on a brand new election, apparenty unwilling to abide by the results of the first. Norman's error, as he characterized it five hours later, was attributed to using his smartphone, although ballots were not due until February 18th. It isn't clear why Norman was handling confidential attached files on a smartphone on a federal holiday days before the deadline. 

Norman's actions appeared to set off some panic at Pacifica's national office, where there were reports of lawyers being consulted for advice about what to do. One of the receipients of the email, former WBAI GM Chris Albertson, who maintains a WBAI-focused blog website, went ahead and published the names of the candidates in the final pool on his site at WBAI now and then. Pacifica In Exile, also a direct recipient of Norman's email, will not do so, but is providing the email's time, date and senders and recipients for verification purposes here.  While we are less than comfortable withholding information released into the public domain, any member of the press or Pacifica member with legitimate reasons to want to confirm the full document may make a private request. Pacifica in Exile has no control over the actions of the other 100 recipients of Norman's email.
What Norman's ballot reveals is that he, a card-carrying member of the 2014 board majority, supports the candidate who ranked in the runner-up position in the process the board completed a mere 20 days ago. This suggests the latest maneuver of  "redoing" the ranking process to avoid offering the job to the second-ranked candidate, may have backfired on the board, by defrauding a candidate with significant support on both sides of the aisle, robbing Pacifica of qualified leadership. and potentally torpedoing the entire hiring process. This opens the question of whether the board of directors as currently constituted is capable of performing the functions of a nonprofit board or if things have deteriorated beyond that point.
Pacifica in Exile readers may write to the board at They may want to suggest a year without an executive director is enough and it is time to make a legitimate job offer to a candidate who has now  been through three hiring processes between 2013 and 2015 and cease the shenanigans.
In other news, Pacifica's large pile of documents is due to the Attorney General of California in the correspondence audit launched by the Registry of Charitable Trusts on December 17, 2014. Among those documents will not be the long-delayed audit of the year ended 9-30-2013, which remains undone after 17 months. Auditor Armanino has declined to sign an engagement letter with Pacifica for the next fiscal year, which ended on 9-30-2014.
The board of directors may lose their liability (D&O) insurance on March 10, 2015 after an emergency extension last fall, unless the completed independent audit for the year ending 9-30-2013 is filed with the insurance provider. Under certain circumstances, lack of directors and officers insurance can allow directors to be personally liable for employment and derivative legal actions should Pacifica become insolvent and no longer able to indemnify board members with the nonprofit's revenues.
Pacifica's IED Wilkinson and CFO Salvador informed the board of directors that financial pressures on Pacifica's national office have increased due to the discovery of an unpaid legal bill for $90,000. The bill that was discovered later turned out to be the bill for Pacifica's defense against former WBAI program director Bernard White's 2011 lawsuit for racial discrimination after his 2009 termination. White's lawsuit was summarily dismissed in 2012. The characterization of the bill as "discovered" is odd as Wilkinson received a full legal expenses summary listing all expenses by case and firm and the balances due on them,  as a member of the board in December of 2013, which she appears to have failed to review at the time or in the year following. The assertion the bill was "unknown", which was repeated numerous times, continues the pattern of providing distorted information to members of the board of directors, who in many cases, have not been on the board for very long.
Financial statements, which presumably are being sent to the Attorney General, contain omissions including missing broadcast tower utilities and rents at three out of the five stations, missing major donations, loans unrecorded in the books, and public statements that continue to be demonstrably inaccurate, including the CFO asserting one of Pacifa's largest vendor contracts ended in September of 2013 instead of September of 2012, 6 months after being provided with the original contract with the 2012 date. This audio clip from a finance committee meeting provides a snapshot in a sustained Q+A between the CFO and committee member Bill Crosier, a PNB member from 2010-2012 who recently volunteered to take over as the local treasurer in Texas. 
The tower cost confusion is most acute in the case of NY's WBAI whose situation vs a vs their 15-year lease at the Empire State Building (till 2020) is affected by negotiations that appear to defer more than $2 million dollars in remaining liability on the lease to unknown dates on uncertain terms. Texas station KPFT continues to have unresolved broadcast issues. KPFT is now in the middle of their sixth stay to operate at half power and unable to have the broadcast license formally renewed until they are able to broadcast at full power. Discussions about what to do have included a suggestion from PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert that KPFT take out a mortgage on their building, discussion of a national on-air fundraising effort by all five stations, and suggestions of a possible permanent power downgrade, although that reduces the value of the station license by millions of dollars over a $165,000 equipment replacement need.
Winter fund drives underway or recently completed at all of the stations were disappointing, with KPFT reporting $207,000 on a $280,000 goal and KPFA reporting $542,000 on a $630,000. Partway through their fund drives, the other three stations were reporting 10-30% shortfalls to date. The shortfalls will exacerbate the cash crunch of the past fall when $500,000 in expense reductions were mandated for the network's two large California stations, KPFK and KPFA, both of which are now fundraising from dawn to dusk for more than 90 days per year or 25% of their total daytime airtime.
The national board's February 11th meeting was largely taken up by a ponderous multi-hour process of appointing board members to 2015 officer positions and commitees. As usual, the contested positions focus on the board's finance committee which develops annual budgets for all 7 units of the nonprofit.  For the board chairmanship, and the interim executive director position if the board never makes a permanent hire, George Reiter and Margy Wilkinson will once again oppose each other in a repeat of the 2014 tied election Wilkinson she claims she won on the basis of a mismarked ballot that gave her a "fifth place ranking" when there were only two candidates. KPFK listener representative Lydia Brazon and affiliate director Janis Lane-Ewart are candidates for the vice-chair position. Lane-Ewart was executive director at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (NFCB) in 2013.
In other business, the 2015 board finally passed the DC station budget the 2014 board neglected, leaving the budgetary process for the year that began 10-1-2014 finally completed 131 days into the new fiscal year. The board also approved a casual extension of the $156,000 loan to NY station WBAI (indemnified by the 501c3 Pacifica Foundation) from board member Lydia Brazon's employer after Pacifica defaulted on the first installment payment due in October of 2014. The new agreement, which also contains no terms for late or missed payments from Pacifica nor an arbitration clause, pushes the payments into six installments rather than five and slates them to now start in September of 2015.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Who's suing who for what...


The Blueboard exchange continued today:

R. Paul Martin
The person posting as SDL wrote:
You remember the saying about not learning from the past. Maybe Pacifica will be condemned to repeat it... 
But in this case Pacifica did break with its past behavior. Lawsuits were referred to as the severance pay/pension plan for clods fired for just cause in Pacifica. A whole long line of idiots filed lawsuits against Pacifica, and then got their lawsuits settled out of court. The plaintiffs and their attorneys knew that all they had to do was to file suit and Pacifica would fold, giving them plenty of easy money.

But for the Bernard White lawsuit it was handled differently. Bernard White clearly thought that he was going to take a ride on the same gravy train. Didn't work out. His lawyers, looking for a quick and easy buck, didn't get paid off either.

So this is a case of doing something different, and right, but having it cost a lot of money too. The big screwup was by the lawyers whom Pacifica had hired allowing Bernard White's lawsuit to name Steve Brown as having an ownership interest in Pacifica.

I hope that Pacifica continues to fight these sorts of phony baloney lawsuits, that's the only way to insure that they stop, at long last.

My question is why isn't Pacifica suing Bernard White in an effort to get back the money it spent on this frivolous lawsuit?

SDL continued
Yes, why? If you get a frivolous lawsuit tossed out you should get your legal costs reimbursed. Oh, wait. Through it all Bernard White is an angel. Hey, he's even so celestial he gets to come back on the air. Can't someone on the PNB make a motion to have him banned from all Pacifica properties and air? Should I even bother to be logical?

Feb. 12, 2015: CFO's Report to the PNB

Last night, the PNB held an open meeting (via phone hookups) that ran from around 8:40 PM (EST) until midnight. I captured the entire meeting, most of which was the usual stuff, with constant votes for extensions. I love how they will spend 10 minutes to decide if they should extend an agenda item by ten minutes!

Toward the end, there was an interesting report from CFO, Raul Salvador, that includes the latest tallies and goals for currently running fund drives. In all cases, the pledges are behind the projected goals, but the drives have only been on for a few days, so that can improve, although it is not likely to.

Here, extracted from the meeting, is that report:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

CFO Salvador questioned...

The following Q and A has former Pacifica Board member (KPFT) Bill Cosier attempting to make sense of figures seemingly pulled out of the air by Chief Finance Officer Raul Salvador (the resurrected one).

Thank you Tracy Rosenberg.

WBAI Feb. 2015 Financial Report and early sales figures

In the General Manager’s presentation to the LSB on January 14, 2015, his “WBAI Financials” spreadsheet gives the station’s first quarter (Q1) FY15 “Net Income” actual as ($57,917.11), a negative number. Listener Support and Total Revenue were also significantly lower than budgeted, as the table below shows.

Given the substantial amount of unpaid bills from the previous fiscal year I cannot view these numbers optimistically.

The National Finance Committee (NFC) met on January 27, 2015, and February 10, 2015. During the January 27, meeting the CFO sent the NFC some financial documents. The CFO has sent out both a consolidated preliminary, unaudited Profit & Loss (P&L) statement for FY14 and one for WBAI alone. Unfortunately, these documents are very similar to the ones the CFO sent out some months ago, and they have significant flaws. Repeated again is the statement that the WBAI LSB spent $25,000 in June of last year. At the February 10, NFC meeting I got the CFO to explain that this was actually a loan to WBAI from the landlord at 388 Atlantic Ave. and had nothing to do with the LSB. Also, “Listener Support” once again has a lot of other revenue sources lumped into it. This imprecision would frustrate an attempt to analyze WBAI’s income owing to the lack of reliable data. These P&Ls, even taken as preliminary, are not very useful.

The CFO told the NFC that the National Office is getting all of its financial information collected in one place so as to comply with the California Attorney General’s requests. The CFO said that the NFC should get cash flow reports soon, but for a balance sheet the National Office has to get the FY13 financials done first because the Great Plains software won’t let anyone do subsequent years until FY13 is done. The CFO said that he is looking to get additional staffing at the National Office to work on the schedules for the FY14 audit. At the January 27, NFC meeting the CFO said that within a week of that meeting he should be able to get the final signed audit for FY13.

At the February 10, NFC meeting the CFO reported that he is looking to get the FY13 audit done by March 1. He said that after that the auditors can start working on the FY14 audit, the deadline for which he said would be extended to the middle of April. The CFO is hoping to be able to raise the money needed to pay the auditors.

The NFC had a frank discussion last night about the state of the financial documents received from the National Office and about the likelihood of the FY14 audit being done by the CPB deadline. The bottom line is that there is no way to get a precise grasp of the current financial situation of most of the stations in Pacifica.

As for the FY14 audit being completed within a six week period of time, the FY13 audit is not yet done after more than six months of assurances of its imminent completion. If the FY14 audit isn’t done by the deadline that will preclude any Pacifica station qualifying for CPB grants fir the next CPB funding cycle.

According to the CFO’s “Preliminary, Unaudited Statement of Activities (P&L) For the Twelve Months Ending September 30, 2014,” WBAI’s net was ($36,231), which I have questioned. The General Manager had reported on September 15, 2014, that WBAI had six figures of unpaid bills outstanding; that was only 15 days before the end of FY14. Did we really end FY14 only $36,231 in the red? Here again it is hard to tell what the true situation is given the condition of the financial statements.

At the February 10, NFC meeting the CFO reported that a legal expense of $90,000 owing to a lawsuit has been accrued to WBAI. The National Office will have to pay this fee, and it will be added on to WBAI’s outstanding expenses.

WBAI currently has an on-air fund raiser going on. It is budgeted to last 31 days. Below are the latest tally totals as of the composition of this report.

This on-air fund raiser is going at a better rate so far than any of the ones during the calendar year 2014, did. I have been informed that as of March 31, 2015, Verizon will no longer offer Radio Program Service Lines. These are the special phone lines that bring the audio signal from the studio to the transmitter at the Empire State Building. I have been told by Jon Almeleh that the work-around for this will probably cost around $5,000. This will require the National Office to give clearance for such an expenditure, since WBAI Management is currently not allowed to spend more than $500 without such approval.

The CFO reported that WBAI will be authorized to hire a part time Business Manager this year to handle accounting work and the sending of financial information to the National Office.

Around the rest of Pacifica money is still very tight. KPFT has finished their Winter on-air fund raiser and they have missed their goal by more than 25% which amounts to over $71,000. KPFA is almost done with their on-air fund raiser and may miss their goal, although they’ll have the option to extend it. KPFK, WPFW and WBAI still have quite a few days to go on their on-air fund raisers.

The NFC has discussed the idea of having a national day of on-air fund raising for the goal of replacing KPFT’s transmitter, which has been operating at very low power for years and can’t reach enough listeners. There are also FCC issues with the transmitter not being able to keep the station at its licensed broadcast power levels.

The next NFC meeting will be on February 24, 2015. The next local Finance Committee meeting will be on February 19, 2015, and due to construction at 388 Atlantic Ave. It cannot be held at the station. It is currently noticed as being held at the 60 Wall St. Atrium. The LSB may need to vote to allow the committee to meet outside of the station premises.

Currently I have a number of open questions to the General Manager about the expense details of the last few off-air fund raisers. The local Finance Committee is looking to get more financial documents from the General Manager, and to have those documents be more detailed. If we can’t get adequate financial information we can’t assess the true state of WBAI’s financial situation. WBAI’s current on-air fund raiser is running behind the budgeted daily rate, but it’s going at a better daily rate than any of last year’s on-air fund raisers did. The station still has substantial unpaid bills, the rest of Pacifica is shaky and the details of Pacifica’s financials are not what they need to be. The deadline for sending requested materials to the California Attorney General is February 17, and there is no telling what could come out of that.

In my last Treasurer’s Report I said that Pacifica is at least illiquid, and is arguably insolvent. This is still the case. Unless that long anticipated, and announced, large bequest comes through pretty soon I see no reason for optimism regarding WBAI and Pacifica’s finances at this time.   --R. Paul Martin, WBAI LSB Treasurer

Friday, February 6, 2015

BAI, from bad to badder...

The other say, when SDL posted this assertion on the BlueBoard, R. Paul Martin, who harbors no love for Berthold Reimers, said he was being "mean." This morning, SDL responded:
"Wrong, I'm not being mean. I am being realistic. Your management doesn't trust its own producers/hosts to make as much money as all these garbage infomercials can. Why? Because they know most of the programming doesn't have any support and few listeners. That is a simple truth. It's all about friends getting air time with no consideration for the listeners or what they would like to hear.
I have no problem offering premiums if they are serious ones relevant to politics and arts or what one sees on specialized programs like The Personal Computer Show and Off The Hook. I DO have a problem with premiums lacking any scientific or medical oversight, mysticism/occult-ism/religion, hypnotism, how to get rich or laid, etc. However, I think producers/hosts should have to raise their own money to demonstrate that their programs have listener support.
I have long said that there should be a minimum donation level set for shows to raise or they are cancelled. Mornings and day time should be $800 and night time $400. You know most shows would never make even that minimum. Crackpot infomercials are meant not only to make money, but to cover up the fact that most shows on WBAI simply don't have even minimal support from the listeners.
You have had cancer cures for years? OK. One question then: Can WBAI show me one single person who has been cured of cancer by any of these? Just one verifiable case of a person being cured of cancer by the cancer cures you offer? Come on, there must be ONE. Maybe I should add one person who actually even received their premium to begin with.
Say what you wish, but you know WBAI is a dishonest station. You don't care about the listeners in any way, shape or form. What you people care about is getting your buddies on the air, regardless as to whether the listeners want to hear them or not."
That provides me with a fitting introduction to a post I was formulating after a week of grueling ear abuse at 99.5.

In case you haven't heard, another four-week fund raiser is on and—belying the rosy outlook described by Reimers and his Propagandist-in-Chief, Mitchel Cohen—the money does not appear to be pouring in. Reimers is desperate, which means that he has called for the return of some of the irrelevant infomercials that, although they didn't impress in the past, at least generated more than, shall we say, all that homegrown humbug. 

These bunker bozos—and I think that may be a kind description—never learn from their mistakes, so they repeat them and repeat them and repeat them. One of the doozies that has resurfaced in this round is Earl Caldwell's shameful hawking of cancer "cures," sold in the form of a DVD/book package that glorifies a perp walk of con artists and quacks, some of whose disciples do business on WBAI’s air. As is his wont, Caldwell goes overboard, understandably upset by the then recent death of his sister, who received conventional treatment before dying. All the more reason why Caldwell should want people to look into the alternatives he believes in. If he really believes there are WBAI listeners at death’s door who can be given longer life through this premium’s curative methods, he ought to direct them to a place like Amazon, where the price is $2 to $6 and quick delivery is guaranteed. Instead, he tries to sell them this product for $125 with odds against their ever receiving what they paid for. That is unconscionable, as is the assistance by Michael Haskins, who seems to possess neither conscience nor reason when it comes to having listeners pay for his salary.

On the attached audio excerpt, you can listen to Haskins as he sounded earlier this week on the morning show, introducing and pushing a new intangible kind of premium: "Revolutionary Fitness." Rather than being  a physical item, it is a politicized physical workout—a little like bringing prison activity home. The personal trainer/founder is one Shawn Garcia and, not surprisingly, this appears is an offering concocted by Mario Murillo, whose tenure as iPD is coming to an end.

Don’t worry, Murillo will keep one foot in the door, thus fulfilling what appears to have been the real purpose of his revisit. While Haskins and the other misguided Mumia worshippers were busy painting the station a decidedly basic black, Mr. Mario strode in like La Mara in heat, and with each move he and the agenda-driven one-trackers made, WBAI became more alienated from its original, principled concept.

It is fair to say that, in the months since Murillo's return, there have been some signs of program improvement—mostly time shuffles—but he has not put the trash out, so the positive is negated by the negative. Truly disgraceful tabloid stuff is still aired as were it the truth; Chri$t is now adored in the guise of a disgusting, commercial "gospel show"; homespun guru, the new-age-old-con Kathy Davis was sensibly fired a couple of years back, but now she has more air time for her nonsense than ever before; the shallow disc jockeys are still wasting air time with their generously apportioned bland recall blends of BLS; the agonizingly inarticulate John Kane, who advocates the sale of reservation-based cigarettes and sat in for the indicted (now freed) Ghosthorse, gets an hour of his own; and WBAI maintains its downward trajectory without a safety net or a mentionable net income. As you will hear, there is a good reason why the Haskins, Haskins, Haskins, and more Haskins morning show ought to be renamed "Dummies at Dawn."

Besides the afore-mentioned Revolution Fitness "premium", the attached audio clip contains a remarkably tedious phone interview with one the new regular contributors. A Haskins protegé, this New Jersey activist is heard describing in agonizing detail a personally humiliating non-event in South Jersey. The protest in question was probably not a frivolous one, but it only gets incidental mention as the man on the phone keeps the focus on himself, in a blurry sort of way. It borders on farce, but that escapes Haskins, who wants to hear more next week.

If you think I am exaggerating when I say that these studio "radicals" use the term "community" as a metaphor for people of color, I suggest that you retrieve the entire program from the archive ( You will notice how everything on this two-hour show is strenuously monochrome (black and brown) and never rises to a measurable level of intelligence. I should note that I cut out a couple of forgettable musical interludes, a dozen or so auto IDs by Haskins (like Knight, he loves to mention his own name), and all mention of the "number to call." I don't wish to be regarded as an accomplice in WBAI's demise.

The bunker bozos like to tell us that the morning hours are WBAI's most listened-to time slots, but that raises important questions: Why do they then target but a miniscule segment within a segment of the area’s population and how can they continue to wonder why the overwhelming majority of the station’s listener-supporters disappeared? They may also ask themselves why people only respond to pleas for money when a product is offered, and if the nature of these “gifts” isn’t saying a mouthful about the nature of the purchasers.

Among the many excuses invented by Berthold Reimers and the Atlantic Avenue bunker group, is that WBAI’s listeners grew old and that many of them simply “transitioned” (they don’t like to say “died”). Well, that’s life, isn’t it? But we have been dying since the day the first of us were born, and it is remarkable how long and seamlessly our replacements keep tried and true values.

That said, death does indeed play a role here, but it is the death of a radio station, not its listeners.

Monday, February 2, 2015

No premature signing by Pacifica's auditor

Here, for your information, is another release from Tracy Rosenberg.

Pacifica's Auditor Declines To 
Sign 2014 Engagement Letter

Berkeley-As another month ticks by without a completed audit for the fiscal year that ended September 20, 2013, Pacifica's audit committee reported in writing that auditor Armanino LLC had declined to sign an engagement letter for Pacifica's next audit (for the year that ended in September of 2014).  The report stated: (you can read the full public version here):

The PNB should be advised that, based on available information, it does not appear feasible to meet the regular March 31 due date for the FY2014 audit for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The issue at hand is that this work cannot begin until the FY2013 audit is completed, nor can we even engage Armanino to commit to this work, as approved by the PNB at the December 3 meeting.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting's block grant programs, Community Service Grants (CSG) and National Program Acquisition Grants (NPPAG) require public radio stations with more than $300,000 in annual revenues to submit audited financial reports (AFRS) by 5 months after the close of the fiscal year, with brief extensions available. Full guidelines can be found here.

Enterprising Pacifica hosts used the organization's failure to file required financial reports as a fundraising pitch, re-arranging reality to accuse the agency of "playing hardball" and "punishing Pacifica" while never mentioning the organization hasn't fulfilled basic requirements to submit audited financial reports all other public radio stations comply with. The on-air whining violates most nonprofit development advice which discourages public statements of anger at funders who have provided millions of dollars in past support . The host went so far as to blame CPB publicly for a union vote underway at the Berkeley unit to increase health insurance copayments from $10 to $20 per doctor visit.

The auditor's decision not to expedite the 2014 audit means almost $2 million dollars in 2014-2015 CPB public funding will be forfeited by the board majority which allowed the entire year to go by without taking corrective action. Pacifica filed annual audits for the 30 previous years. The system failure has also precipitated an investigation by the California Attorney General due to Pacifica's failure to submit the audit to the state by June 30, 2014 as required by the California Nonprofit Integrity Act.

The Attorney General investigation did spur the release of the first income statements in six months from Pacifica's National Office, actually they spurred the release of two different income statements, one released to Pacifica's finance committee on Tuesday Janary 27th and another one released to the full board on Thursday January 29th. In the interval between Tuesday's financial statement and Thursday's financial statement, the financial position, primarily at Berkeley's KPFA, worsened by almost a quarter million dollars. No explanation was provided for why $215,000 in new expenses were suddenly found at KPFA in two days that had not been recorded in the previous four months since the fiscal year ended on 9-30-2014.

The overall financial position was pretty much unchanged from the previous year except for a few significant markers: 1) the end of the 2007-2012 Democracy Now contract ending the $650,000 a year expense for the program to Pacifica's national office 2) savings of $800,000 a year in payroll at WBAI from the July 2013 layoffs carried out by former ED Summer Reese, which left NY station WBAI showing the smallest annual operating loss of the network's five stations at $-36,000, followed by KPFT at $-51,000, KPFK at -$285,000 and WPFW at -$393,000.

The largest operating loss of the five stations was at Berkeley's KPFA, the home station of IED Wilkinson and PNB treasurer Brian Edwards-Tiekert which posted a 2014 operating deficit of $-491,00, the highest for the station in five years. The operating deficit sprung up in the last quarter of the year (July to September of 2014) where despite claims of surpassing fund drive goals, the station came up short by almost a quarter million dollars in listener support payments, meaning a huge amount of booked pledges seem not to have been paid following the May and July/August fund drives. During that period of time, the station made a controversial AM change, bringing in a syndicated program from LA to wipe the AM strip of locally generated programming on the premise of increasing income. However, the advertised jump in "pledges" didn't pan out in real life as listener support funds came up way short in the 4th quarter by hundreds of thousands of dollars, netting at $401,000 although the number should have been around $662,000 using the station's regular pledge fulfillment rate.

Pacifica's wait-wait-hurry up process to fill the vacant executive director position ground to a halt after the outgoing board convened an 8 hour phone call on a Sunday to interview candidates and then hurriedly voted less than a week before the end of their terms. The process had already been described as corrupt.  No hire has been announced and rumors are flying that the board majority's choice declined to take the job. The second consecutive blown-up ED hire process poses questions about the board majority's sincerity about finding qualified leadership as despite spending no less than 20 of the last 24 months in executive search mode, the board continues to allow the organization to be lead by a retired clerical worker who describes herself as unqualified for the job after orchestrating the removal of the previous executive director.

In New York, WBAI continues in an apparently endless (now 6+ months) negotiation to secure accomodations for its transmitter and escape a crushingly high contract at the Empire State Building, now costing over half a million dollars a year.  At WBAI's local station board meeting, GM Reimers disclosed that he and CFO Salvador were the current negotating team and that an attorney who was assisting had been sidelined and was just consulting. The negotiations appear to be somewhat problematic as Reimer's last financial statements showed that WBAI paid $163K to Empire in October and November of 2014, or half the entire the gross receipts of their month long fall fund drive. Asked for paper back-up about the status of the negotiations, Reimers apparently responded "trust me" to his local board. WBAI has a standing offer from competing transmitter site 4 Times Square to relocate for $14,000 a month rent, a savings of at least $25,000 month, but has been scared to leave Empire in fear of being sued for the $3 million dollars+ remaining on the lease signed by a Siegel/Brazon-faction dominated Pacifica National Board in 2006. 

The new board got things underway on Thursday the 29th sounding a lot like the old board. Despite noticing no business in advance but seating newly elected members, they carried on with all sorts of business with inadequate notification to the public. Rather than electing new permanent or temporary officers, they just "agreed" the officers left from last year's board should carry on for several more weeks. The new board members pointed out they had not been added to the board's email list. A motion by Houston rep George Reiter to discuss holding an in-person board meeting was referred to a committee that hasn't met in 8+ months, and the question and answer session for Pacifica's CFO was cut off despite a huge amount of board members trying to inquire about the financial chaos.