Wednesday, May 30, 2018

As WBAI germinated

It was fifty-two years ago, almost to the day, that I came close to relocating to KPFK. Contrary to the crap Steve Post wrote in his book of fiction, I was not fired by Pacifica. The truth is that I resigned my position and Hallock Hoffman tried to persuade me not to. He knew that I had become less than pleased with WBAI after Chris Koch showed his true face but he wanted me to stay with Pacifica. 

There was no other Station Manager position for me to fill, so he invented a new one. Here's a letter he wrote to confirm and detail the job to which he wished to appoint me. It is only of interest now, because it gives us a sketch of the thinking that could have made a significant difference in Pacifica's future. Frankly, I thought it had some good points, but I found it unrealistic at the time, so—after fulfilling my promise to train Frank Millspaugh (Hallock's choice as my replacement)—I moved on to the BBC. A month or so spent with Millspaugh depressed me, but he turned out to be a greater bump in Pacifica's road than anyone could have imagined.

Let's hear what you think of Hallock's ideas. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

As we wait...

These figures were not tossed into a cauldron by Reimers, they're just old.

Given the present confusion, you might find them interesting.

Monday, May 28, 2018

WBAI a National Broadcasting Center?

"Anyone with something to say gets a chance to say it—or if it's music, to play it—on WBAI. Without preconditions. And without editing."

"We want to establish a branch station in Harlem, where Negroes will produce their own programs for WBAI—and train for the broadcasting business in the process."

"There is no longer any doubt that WBAI is a permanent active voice on the New York scene."

The above are quotes from this 1968 ad:


WBAI was in its early stages of vandalism in 1968. Nobody could have predicted what a hopeless it would become. I don't know if this ad was ever published. Has anyone here seen it before?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

May 2018 Director's Report to KPFK LSB

As mentioned previously, the recent agreement between Pacifica and the Empire State Realty Trust generated a mixture of relief and lingering skepticism.

Secrecy continues to envelop this agreement, so you might like to hear Director Grace Aaron's May 2018 Report to the KPFK Local Station Board. It includes a more detailed than usual explanation of the signed, sealed and delivered pact.

Grace Aaron's Report

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tallies from the 2018 Winter Fund Drive

The following PDF file comprises scans of WBAI tallies as posted elsewhere by Jim Dingeman this evening.

They reflect the stuck-in-a-groove approach that never fails to fail and I think you will find them interesting, telling, and depressing. They also serve as an indicator of what may be coming in during the current Spring drive. 

WBAI 2018 Winter Drive pledges

Now what? Jara Handala looks closer...

When it comes to the current crisis, we have been given a breather, but not a solution. The debt is no longer an axe ready to fall, nor is it but a memory—nor is it all that needs to be fixed.

At WBAI, unqualified token management, hosts and producers are still in place, still vandalizing, still scamming and feeding a fast disappearing intellectually downgraded listenership the same old pap. 

Here, Jara Handala continues his detailed commentary on Pacifica's current financial state and what it bodes for the future. It can be read or downloaded as a PDF file:  

Jara's ongoing thoughts and insight.

CORRECTION (with apologies)

1) still don't know why, but I gave the wrong figure for FY2008: big mistake, as rather than a loss of $433 161 it's actually a net income of $1 068 901. This is the only time a loss didn't occur in the 10-year period examined, the one ending 30 September 2017 (this assumes loses in FY2016 & 2017, as per the cited spreadsheet posted on Tracy Rosenberg's blog); &
2) the FY2009 audited statements are not available at the Foundation's website,; what's there are FY2005 thru 2015 (bar FY2006 & 2009).

Monday, May 21, 2018

WBAI Sun Worship

It was sunny day in 1964. Bob Potts, our News Director, and I hosted the morning program. I took a cab to work—the driver had WMCA on (NYC cabbies were rarely WBAI fans) and they were running a somewhat unusual summer contest for a snazzy sports car. 

To enter, one had to submit a photo of oneself showing the station's call letters on any part of one's body. The clearest call letters got the wheels.

During our show, I talked about the contest, pointing out how unfair it was to dark-complected people. It didn't take long for the phone to light up. One early caller identified herself as an Afro-American and, with a measure of indignation, accused me of being unfair to people of color. When she informed me that black people also get suntans, I asked her if she would consider competing against me, a white man of Viking ancestry. She thought about that for a moment before admitting that the odds would be in my favor.

Bob and I then improvised a little scene in which we where on WBAI's crowded townhouse roof, checking out a group of stencil-ready sunbathers while pointing out the decidedly discriminatory nature of this contest. We gave out WMCA's number and urged our listeners to register a protest with that station's management.

I had just returned to my desk after the show when my secretary, Joan Henry, said there was a very upset lady on the phone wishing to speak to me. It was a PR lady from WMCA and she came right to the point. "What are you doing to us?", she wanted to know. "What are you doing to yourselves?", I asked, explaining how unfair their contest was to black people. "We never thought of that", she said, as if making a valid excuse. "Please stop having all these people call our station."

Later that day, a call came from WMCA President R. Peter Strauss who admitted the mistake, complemented WBAI and said that he would get back to me.

Not only did he give WBAI $1,000, he also ran three coupon ads in the NY Times, urging people to support WBAI. I don't recall receiving direct response from the ads, but—as you can see—our piggybank was fed.

Admittedly an unorthodox way to raise funds, but nobody lied or promised a cure.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

A backward glimpse

The fund-raising marathon Hallock refers to was our first. It was born out of desperation and it offered only a healthy WBAI, which is what our listenership wanted and found well worth contributing to.

Clear-sighted observations

Due to Blogger's limited space allowance, the following account was submitted by Jara Handala as a five-part commentary, but here it is in a single, more manageable PDF, download file.

Jara Handala's description and observations on the PNB's May 10, 2018 meeting.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


Waiting For A Synthesis of Salvation & Transformation, or: Godot Was Already Here And Left For All-Too-Obvious Reasons And We Didn’t Much Care For Him Anyway, So There

I half-assed half-sampled last night’s festivities of the PNB Strategic Planning Consortium, Gathering, and Assemblage for the Contemplation of Variant Possible Conceivable and Idly-Imaginable Futures Society & Random Rambling Speculation & Quilting While Sipping Beverages While Driving Club on the one hand and the PNB Audit Committee Gathering, Colloquy, and Assemblage of the Mathematically, Logically, and Coherent-Thought Challenged Contemplators and Opinionators on the other hand and, yes, a third hand would have helped I suppose, but difficult to locate, litrally.

Yes, litrally.

They appeared to be as of late civil, polite, and largely pointless.

A couple of simple, salient points then, screamingly if not deafeningly obvious to most sentient beings above the earthworm level. (Yes, I know earthworm lovers will take offense at that – take a number, because I care so very deeply and I’ll get right back to you, okay?)

Pacificans appear, after years and years of years and years, to have ‘gotten’ the idea, the insight, the notion, that they probably really oughta change, and they’re now referring to this shattering insight as the need to ‘reboot’.

Couple of problems there: 1) We all know that ReBoot, the program, was wonderful and brilliant and fun and hell, even had lots of G&S, but that the reboot of ReBoot pretty much, well, Sucked. Also, 2) Reboot means, really, simply, a restart. It doesn’t mean, or suggest, reinvention, rebirth, or anything – gasp – suggesting deep, radical, fundamental change, nor for that matter a return to and recreation of earliest roots revisited.

These are stumbler-bumblers of the first order we all know that, right?

Of course of course of course they don’t know that because… because they’re stumbler-bumblers, of course duh.

Ever-so-slightly more seriously… they’re making lists and ‘analyzing’. Thinking. Thinking. Pshew, thinking is hard, isn’t it?

Surely if they analyze sufficiently a Synthesis of Salvation & Transformation will Emerge, right…?

It’s organic, right…?

Marxist, right…?

Progressive, right…?

The whole Dialectic Thing, Right…?


Wait for it.

~ ‘indigo’

Let's get started...

Monday, May 14, 2018

Got a pen?

Here is the Program Self-Evaluation form Berthold Reimers wants the station's host/producers to fill out.

Program Analysis Questionaire

Friday, May 11, 2018


Naïveté taken to the max...

Click on note to enlarge it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

PNB FC's May 8, 2018 Meeting

A measure of civility has emerged over the last few months of crisis, from which the efforts of Livingston appear to have sought to begin processes of focus and consolidation.

To his and his supporters’ credit.

Credit where due.

All to the good.

One still hears, however, not a single actual fresh idea.

One still hears, however, not the least interest in radio or media.

These are overwhelmingly talentless people. Interested in being heard, but with no driving passion for their medium. With no driving passion for much of anything, really.

But, yes, they’d like to be heard.

It seems to have, after literally years, dawned on them, slowly, slowly, slowly, that they need listeners.

So there are leisurely discussions of possibilities.

If you listen to this particular discussion, it’s immediately apparent that the Finance Committee can’t handle the complexities of even the simplest arithmetic.

I suppose that’s why they’re the Pacifica Finance Committee.

There are discussions, years old, as to whether there should be advertising and promotion first, or program improvement first.

These discussions lead, of course, nowhere.

We have references to the net as a promotional tool, from people, to judge from having heard them, with no grasp of how this worked in ancient times, a few years ago, and no idea, no clue at all, as to how it works now.

Here’s a hint: Without massive budget, one single thing drives explosive presence on social media. It’s called content. That’s how media works.

What a concept, huh?

They are not about media, they are not about content.

What they are about is wanting to carry on carrying on.

Who knows, with five powerful signals in five enormous markets they still may manage to scrape by, I suppose.

It won’t matter, though.

Why would it.
~ ‘indigopirate’

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The disagreeable agreement...

There is no good reason why this controversial lease agreement was kept a secret by Pacifica, but—as always—there was much to hide. Although it is no longer active—having been pushed aside by what may well prove to be an equally unwise judgement—making it public serves as another concrete illustration of how the incompetent bozos vandalized the Pacifica so many of us once had good reason to support.

Contract or death sentence?

Friday, May 4, 2018

Livingston update

Captured and expertly delivered by our blog's trusty 'Indigo', here is Pacifica's iED Tom Livingston with an update on the current situation. It does not answer all the questions, but it is enlightening and includes peripheral reference to a search for two program directors (at 7.24).

Apropos that, there is also talk of harassment training, which may or may not be related to Tony Bates' abrupt May 2 departure. Hmmmm. 

The bequeathed property Mr. Livingston refers to is not Downton Abbey, nor does it sound like the house Berthold Reimers has variously described as being worth $100,000 to 160,000. It is apparently a forlorn Piscataway, NJ house with liens on it.

The audio clip also contains a couple of Q & A's, including a relatively harmless performance by Adriana.

Update from iED Livingston

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bates departed....

Linda Perry has just confirmed that Bates quit today (May 2, 2018) and that Berthold Reimers will handle the rest of the just-started fund drive.

Berthold's official announcement

Programming Manager
Berthold Reimers
Today, 9:15 PMWBAI Staff Announce (

Programming manager, Tony Bates, resigned as of today. Address any business dealing with programming to me.

I will be sending a more detail e-mail concerning this funddrive. As of currently, thaere has not been much collaboration or input from producers. If this continues there will be severe consequences for WBAI’s survival.
Berthold Reimers WBAI Radio 99.5 FM General Manager

Cart before horse department

The following comment on this Monday's PNB Audit Committee Meeting was posted by Jara Handala.

The PNB's attitude to the need to hire a new Chief Finance Officer shows how sclerotic Pacifica is. The PNB seems to have switched off, preferring to bask in the glory of getting out of its ESRT contract & securing a loan to pay them. Since the start of April it has chosen not to go into emergency mode, not to focus on these four immediate aims:
  • (1) start the CFO hiring process;
  • (2) hire all the accounting staff needed at both the National Office & the stations (not least for the fiscal 2016 & 2017 audits), & ensure they have all the means needed so that all accounts & financial statements are always available in real time;
  • (3) devise a fundraising plan to pay off the loan; & 
  • (4) supervise a plan to ensure each station has a full complement of managers (General, Business, whatever). That's the minimum work needed from April thru to June. Naturally, something as obvious & urgent doesn't interest the PNB. 
So consider Uncle Sam's resignation on 28 March. What's been done? Nothing. Pacifica doesn't practise transparency, such as that old-fashioned thing, the public statement, so those out of a loop of maybe three or four people try to interpret whatever snippets of info or rumour they come across.

I'll leave rumour to those able to guess their veracity, so I'll draw attention to two Pacifica comments made in passing, not even as part of a discussion required by an agenda. At some meeting in mid April, Wild Bill said that Sam may be agreeable to stay on a while, beyond his Friday 4 May leaving date. Then at the PNB Audit Committee this Monday, the chair, Eileen Rosin, said (at 9:19)), "there's a [written?] proposal from Sam to stay on a little longer." Don't get excited, because no discussion ensued: this was during the reading of the proposed agenda, & 'Point-of-Order-Madame-Chair' Adriana swiftly brought the chair to order by pointing out that personnel matters are closed session only – so that put a stop to that door opening.

So come Monday, will Sam be there, or will he have left the auditors to deal with the newly-appointed PALO, the Pacifica Accounting Liaison Officer, aka the National Office cleaner, although they're only there Tuesdays & Fridays?    —Jara Handala