Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Rethinking Pacifica

The following is posted here to comply with former iED Bill Crosier's request for wide distribution. It addresses and seeks to find an overdue solution to an important problem that should plague anyone with true concern for Pacifica's future. —Chris Albertson

It's time we start Rethinking Pacifica - not the Pacifica mission, but how our boards/governance help or hinder the fulfillment of that mission, and about whether and how our Bylaws should be changed to improve our governance, so that Pacifica can not just survive, but grow and make our mission more significant.

Please visit this new web site https://rethinkingpacifica.org for information and click on the link there to fill our our survey - we need to know what you think.

I realize many of you have been thinking about this for some time. When I was Pacifica's interim Executive Director last year, I got a lot of suggestions and feedback from people at all our stations about our governance - about how dysfunctional it is, about how we (those on our boards) should be working together to help our stations instead of spending so much time and energy fighting with each other, and lots more. Despite lots of good intentions, we (board members) have been unable to resolve the problems.

I've continued to get comments, suggestions, and feedback this year, too- - again, mostly negative about our governance. There have been a lot of suggestions for change.

I've been working with some other current and past board members who all agree that we need to fix our Bylaws, this year, if we hope to be able to pay off our debt, get more listeners and members, and survive so that we can further the Pacifica mission. Our priority is to help Pacifica - not to help our friends (or ourselves) to be elected or re-elected to our boards. Our country, and the world, need Pacifica, but Pacifica needs better boards than what I and others have been able to provide, if Pacifica's going to continue.

We need your feedback on what you - Pacifica listeners and supporters (not just LSB and PNB members) - think should be done.

Please take a look at our new web site for Rethinking Pacifica (that's https://rethinkingpacifica.org in case the link does not come through in the e-mail) and fill out our survey - it only takes a few minutes. 

The link to the survey is on that web site. The questions came from suggestions from many people, like you, who care about Pacifica but who realize we need to adapt if we're going to continue bringing people independent news, music, culture, and public affairs that they can't hear anywhere else. We have multiple choice options - check as many as you like, and you can also add your own comments and suggestions at the end of each question.

Please forward this message to your Pacifica friends and share on social media.

Bill Crosier 
for Rethinking Pacifica
Working to build a stronger Pacifica Foundation

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Punch and counter slap

Creative Unity Collective joined the internal protest and quitin the wee hours of Saturday, July 28.

Their sudden voluntary departure is contrary to Reimers' expected outcome when he set out to cash in on Leonard Lopate's misfortune (or was it just dessert?), so he has launched a little campaign to give the elusion that all is well (the old Reimers coverup). Several people (possibly Reimers or one of his cronies among them) have sent comment to this blog for posting. The idea is to convince us that the charges against Leonard are false or sanitized; to this end, Leonard himself has recorded a couple of spots that you might have heard on WBAI's air. This is clearly a concerted effort to whitewash (pardon the expression) the worst manager WBAI has ever had.

I will try to find these spots and post them here.

Then there is the ongoing disregard for Pacifica's principles, which could fill a small pamphlet. As you may have noticed, the most dastardly demon on the radio dial is WNYC—at least according to WBAI management and inmates who try to excuse their own ignorance. Well, they love to point their trembling fingers of shame at WNYC, insisting that it functions as a corporate shill and disguises commercials as underwriting spots. 

True, it can be difficult to draw a line between the two, but underwriting is perfectly legal and is often considered by Pacifica as an option. Not at WBAI, no, no, no! That would be selling out! I think you know where I am going with that: hypocrisy is in their greedy blood. Have you ever heard something that sounded like a commercial on WBAI? Have you ever wondered who profits from many of these so-called "thank you gifts"? Does it not strike you as odd that Gary Null published a 700-page book and makes it exclusive to WBAI for two months? How can he afford that? Given all the generosity he likes to trumpet on WBAI, how does he make enough money to travel around the world and make professional films? I have often brought up the inexplicable holes in Null's tales, but he is not the only one on WBAI's air whose benevolence begs for scrutiny.

Apropos such things, consider the following:

The tickets to see this movie are $12 and $25. WBAI is running this spot quite frequently, without any mention of price or any of the money going to benefit WBAI. You be the judge—is it or is it not an out and out commercial?

More bits and pieces to come.

Click on green text for audio.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

A West Coast view of WBAI

As some of us have periodically pointed out here, WBAI's so-called "management" and some of the producer/hosts who routinely pander to them (Haskins, Kathy Davis, Linda Perry, John Kane, et al) are often actually aware of their own considerable limitations as broadcasters, but that does not discourage them from occupying, year after year, positions for which they are eminently unqualified, nor does it inspire them to take advantage of that time and correct their deficiencies. So they abandon all principles and responsibilities to maintain what they wrongly regard as their turf, stagnating and fossilizing at the expense of listener-supporters and the rich source of fresh voices and ideas that New York represents.

While this may not be clear to the WBAI inmates themselves, it has not escaped the notice of the station's listener-sponsors who have simply tuned out and reduced the listenership to its all-time lowest number. —Chris

Dr. Cohen's observations tell it like it is.

One of the Pacifica mantras is to avoid corporate underwriting at all costs—even if it means killing the network by adhering to an absolutely absurd, catastrophic and anachronistic business model of "100% listener supported."  Maybe if Pacifica had a bit more coin in its pocket, it could pay money to quality programmers and produce worthwhile programming.

But more than that.  As I understand the thinking, it goes something like this: Pacifica would never take an ad from an "evil corporation"—for example from Procter & Gamble (they make Ivory soap), or from a wicked oil company (the Penzoil reference). That somehow Pacifica and its programming is too "good," too  "pure," too "virginal," to be soiled by association with these scoundrels.  

And yet, Pacifica will get behind some of the most reprehensible products and bogus "cures" that are out there and push these products incessantly during fund drives onto a gullible and vulnerable public/listener base in order to make a buck. 

[Or, in the case of Lopate, hire a  programmer with more than a little taint of sexual and ?other forms of workplace harassment.  Don't forget, the reporting states that the workplace training to try and get him to stop this abusive behavior was ONE ON ONE DIRECTED AT HIM at WNYC.  But Pacifica will hire a person out of the gutter if it thinks it will put a few shekels into its coffers.   And when there is an outcry, especially from women, essentially tell them "there, there, calm down little hysterical lady.  Trust Berthold and the rest of us men.  We know what we're doing.  And we wouldn't and will not change a thing because of your outrage."]

Pacifica has a deep and very shameful stain on its soul for promoting absolutely horrible fake cures, get rich schemes, "how to achieve nirvana on earth in 3 ez steps" and all manner of clap trap that has been amply exposed here and at the Waves [PacificaRadioWaves listserv].

My point is that rather than being pure or "virginal"  by eschewing commercial underwriting, I see Pacifica as deeply soiled and absolutely filthy for backing these products and their purveyors.  

Even worse than that is Pacifica's urging  its listeners to embrace  the most incredible un- and and pseudo- and anti-scientific thinking on the planet.  That is a horrible and very obvious byproduct of what Pacifica has done to make a buck.  It has whored itself out by teaching its listeners  crushingly harmful ways of thinking and evaluating/mistrusting evidence and data, and to embrace magical thinking in its stead.  I am sure the damage done to the thinking processes of these gullible listeners has created disaster in their lives far beyond any immediate damage done by constantly promoting these charlatan wares. 

Even worse than that is the absolute moral outrage of taking a person's money for a product and not even shipping it to them.  This is  fraud and thievery on a massive scale.  It's unclear to me why that alone hasn't shut down this bogus-cure promoting station and network. I've observed that the listeners are actually better off to have not received these ridiculous products in the mail, even though they are victims of terrible consumer fraud and theft. 

I am sure there are any number of examples where listeners have been seduced by these false promises, and have paid their hard earned money for them, and tried "double helix water" to, for example, help their back pain. Only to discover, 4-6 months later, that the pain was not due to a deficiency of double helix water, but to metastatic cancer to the spine, discovered later than it otherwise might have been, to the detriment or death of the poor sucker Pacifica listener.  Pacifica knows this.  It has been pointed out to them endlessly. The blood of that listener is on Pacifica's hands.

So whatever "purity" Pacifica claims by avoiding underwriting is completely upended by the vicious cruelty to make a buck that Pacifica daily engages in--by embracing charlatans and their cures. And endlessly promoting them. Even when they've been called on it many, many times. And again, even worse than that is the creation and "underwriting" by Pacifica of deeply flawed, irrational, anti-scientific, suspicious ways of thinking about the world. Pacifica says,If you know nothing about something, don't go to school. Don't read a book. Don't believe a soiled "professor" or engage with "big pharma." Simply make up your own science, and plant doubt in people's minds about the work and research created by scientists and thinkers 10,000 brighter and more acute than the Pacifica branded critics and soothsayers.

The last paragraph is meant to tie in with the two paragraphs directly above it. The thinking here is exactly parallel to Pacifica's promotion of bogus and harmful products to make a buck.  Another Pacifica mantra is to embrace, promote and glorify all kinds of killers and brutal credos that they shilled for--Che, Fidel, Mao and other "freedom fighters" for the "people."  When many of them are blood stained murderers plain and simple.  Or the promotion of ideologies--socialism, "new dialectics", the evils of capitalism—and on and on that have been the underpinning of the most monstrous chapters in human history.  It is exactly the same as killing someone, through delay of diagnosis, with "double helix water" only on a scale that killed has killed millions and millions of people.  Capitalism and democracy, as practiced, are not perfect.  Far from it.  But at least it allows, for now, some modicum of free speech and ability of its citizens to criticize itself in order to try and do better, complete a feedback loop, and hopefully improve people's lives over time, rather than snuffing them out with a gun blast to the head.  —Stephen D. Cohen

What next, PNB? 7-23-2018

The Pacifica National Board Strategic Planning Committee met yet again, to no effect, rambling incoherently, with the occasional moment of pointless semi-near-coherence, with a number of members sounding as if they were literally on their death beds, unable to summon focus or thought, yet strongly feeling the need for their ‘thoughts’ to be heard – a pretty fair model of Pacifica itself, I suppose:

The group, as Pacificans, is incapable of thought or function.

The following is an ‘Executive Summary’ of the accomplishments of the session. Those of considerable patience and even greater fortitude may prefer to listen to the archived audio. I wish them good luck :)

Finance Recovery Workgroup
Recap of previously long-known (scant/sparse) information
Most actual/meaningful information still ‘confidential’
No fresh information
No actual financial plans of any sort discussed or presented
We are however told that there were very pretty charts of the above lack of any meaningful information.

Here is Tom Livingston's report, followed by a Q & A session.

Governance & Mission
Lengthy rambling discussion of plans for a survey re plans for plans re Governance & Mission
Proposed survey content clearly lacking any focus or coherence
Hope is expressed that this first survey may lead to further surveys
No discussion as to any plans re Governance and Mission
No discussion of any plans to create actual plans or proposals re Governance & Mission

Programming Working Group
Chair re-presented his fervent hope for a National Mission Program Director
To be unfunded, with a trivial ‘honorarium’
This position to lead the charge to leftist political relevance… somehow.
All assumptions are that Pacifica’s ‘Mission’ is one of left/progressive advocacy as it has been for roughly the last four decades, to no effect
No consideration of any other options

If I’ve missed anything of earth-shaking or Pacifica-Shaking Consequence, please pardon. For much of this I was deep in My Eyes Glaze Over mode.

Sorries 😁

Anyone who cares to sample the archived audio and can do better is more than welcome, and I’ll be more than willing to present a tip of my virtual pirate hat (or bandanna, as you prefer) 😉

Pirate Special SuperDuper Summary:
Very much the usual. A group of very dim people, incapable of focus, thought, coherence, or prioritization.
Tellingly, I suppose, it continues to be clear that Pacificans’ one true desire, their one true ‘purpose’, de facto, is to continue to continue to continue as they have been for lo these past few decades, obscure and irrelevant, with no actual interest in radio or media, their only differences amongst themselves having to do with ‘power’ within this irrelevant and powerless organization.

Though they hope, of course, that by continuing to fail at what they’ve failed at for so long they may acquire a larger audience and greater influence.

I’d say they were Failure Artists, but I can’t honestly say they rise to that level.Too challenging, I suppose.

Fortunately, from an external perspective, whether they ‘succeed’ or fail, for anyone with any interest in anything other than mindless advocacy of the same old same old left wing variety, particularly for anyone mindful of the actual original foundational goals and ideals, they simply don’t matter to anyone other than themselves – which is to say, to no one at all.

Speaking simply for one random pirate, I may say that I have a deeper appreciation than ever for Pilate’s line within the Christian Mythos:

‘I wash my hands of this.’

Good advice, huh?

~ ‘indigopirate’

Friday, July 20, 2018

Has Reimers called Cosby yet?

You may have noticed that Mr. Lopate appears to be having a problem finding guests for his new WBAI show. His inaugural week's lineup included Malachi McCourt, always a delightful presence, but one that already can be heard on the sinking station for a couple of hours a week.

A few years back, when Delphine Blue heard Kathy Davis and Tony Bates pitch the so-called Double Helix Water with promises of miraculous "cures", she immediately thought of the victims: WBAI's ailing, aging listenership, most of whom could ill afford the highly overpriced tap water. Outraged at this obvious scam, Delphine quit her show and has not returned since then.

The situation is of a different nature in the case of Lopate, but the outrage is equally justified and now Berthold Reimers is not only losing the station's audience, as his mis-management has effectively done over the past few years, he is also beginning to feel the brunt of his ineptitude as we see intelligent, concerned producer/hosts exit on principle.

The station still has an abundance of empty-headed, talent-handicapped opportunists who blithely continue pursuing their personal agendas unencumbered by moral concerns or Pacifica's founding principles. These stagnant cling-ons know that anything goes as long as their fundraising scams ring that cash register, so they stay and most of them contribute nothing to the spiritual or financial welfare of the station—in fact they have aptly been described as a wrecking crew.

Whether you are into hip-hop or not, you lost out on much if you did not tune in to Jay Smooth's Underground Railroad, a show that took listeners far beyond path-altering revolutionary sounds into its host's incisive commentary.

Jay Smooth (John Randolph) became an asset to WBAI two and a half decades ago. Now Berthold Reimers, who never showed any sign of appreciation, has taken the station to such a low point that only the dregs are left to finish the job of killing this once so vital radio voice.

The press has long since lost interest in New York's Pacifica station, but the Lopate hiring has reignited the realization that WBAI has been rendered useless to anyone but the race-based propagandist and an opportunistic group of panhandlers. 

Several press outlets have taken note, finally giving WBAI publicity again, but of a very wrong, fully deserved kind. The remarkable thing is that the Pacifica Foundation, itself teetering on the brink of oblivion, seems not to be doing more than applying bandaid.

As diehard, naïve Pacificans discuss what might be the most effective color for a proposed t-shirt, journalists type away without blinders. The following piece appeared in SPIN and Brooklyn Vegan, with two different bylines.... Hmmmm

The Twitter exchange between Smooth and WBAI management is as real as it is telling.

The Host of NYC’s Longest-Running Hip-Hop Radio Show Just Quit in Protest

With Jay Smooth’s resignation, WBAI loses a supremely knowledgable and compassionate voice, one who balances a firm grounding in the history of the genre with an eclectic taste for music outside its nominal borders. Luckily for fans, he is just as active on his Ill Doctrine video blog, where he opines on both musical and larger cultural issues from a perspective of social justice advocacy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Not quite the welcome mat....

Here's a Columbia Journalism Review piece on the not quite so open arms that greeted Berthold Reimers'  mercenary decision to cash in on Leonard Lopate's situation.


LOPATE AT LARGE, A NEW, HOUR-LONG daily show hosted by Leonard Lopate, premiered yesterday on WBAI, a progressive radio station that is owned by the Pacifica Foundation and based in Brooklyn. Lopate began his career in radio at the station in the 1970s, when he hosted both a gospel music and a late-night call-in show.
The longtime radio host gave a glowing introduction to his first guest, veteran journalist Clyde Haberman. Haberman said he was “delighted” to be on the show, and then tossed an easy pass to Lopate–who was suspended and eventually fired from WNYC last December, where he worked for more than 30 years, amid allegations of “inappropriate conduct.”
I am among those who are still very mystified by what happened at WNYC and I won’t push you on going into that,” said Haberman. “But it’s left a bad taste for many New Yorkers.” It was an apparent attempt to give Lopate an opportunity to address his controversial departure.
Lopate blew right past the prompt, instead launching into a familiar conversation about the challenges facing the American and international press corps. A listener could have easily been fooled into believing the broadcast had come from Lopate’s old studio home at WNYC. Over the course of the hour, they talked about White House hostility, the physical dangers journalists from around the world face (including a fleeting mention of harassment), the evolving notion of journalistic objectivity, and the changing politics of newspapers. 
Nowhere in the hour-long show was Lopate’s previous conduct addressed—and neither did a press release announcing the launchmention it. It was a missed opportunity: by the station, to address the hire directly to its listeners, who provide 100 percent of its financial support; by Haberman, to push the host to clarify; and by Lopate, for declining the opportunity to be transparent.

WBAI approached Lopate and convinced him to come back on the air, according to a press release published by the station. The show seems intended to resemble Lopate’s old one, and will air weekdays from 1 to 2pm. On WNYC, Lopate often hosted guests to talk art, music, culture, and the news of the day, and featured listener call-ins. Lopate at Large is likely to mimic this format, though the inaugural broadcast featured no calls.
Lopate, who worked at WNYC for more than 30 years, was suspended from the air on December 6, 2017, alongside Jonathan Schwartz, pending an investigation into “inappropriate conduct.” Station management did not immediately disclose details concerning the nature of the conduct, but reports say that Lopate had been made to take one-on-one anti-harassment training in February of 2017 after previous complaints of inappropriate comments and bullying. The complaints were substantiated by an investigation according to WNYC.
Lopate is just one of the many men accused as part of the #MeToo movement who are now beginning to appeal to the media community and the public for a second chance. In recent months, Charlie Rose, Tom Ashbrook, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., and Garrison Keillor have also attempted comebacks.
Currently, WBAI producers do not get paid for their work hosting and producing their shows. But WBAI’s General Manager Berthold Reimers confirmed that Lopate and his producer will both be paid.
“We’ve been evaluating and contemplating it for a long time,” he says. Despite laying off most of its staff in 2013 to cover basic operating costs, the station is still financially struggling. The station, which is located in a small office in Brooklyn, uses four bath mats tacked to the walls to dampen the sound.  A cluster of red Christmas lights serves as the signal for when shows are “on-air.”
Reimers cited Lopate’s strong audience numbers–a few thousand downloads per hour of his show on the small, NPR-affiliate WHDD–as the reason for the six-month contract. 
“You know at WBAI, I don’t think we have 5,000 people listening for the whole week,” he tells CJR. “Once we have all these people listening to us for him, this is ultimately an easy form of marketing. There should be no question that our numbers go up for all the other shows because of their quality that no one knew about.”
During Lopate’s first show, Reimers said the number of web listeners was 32 percent higher than WBAI’s most popular broadcast online, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now. If that continues, Reimers says it could help raise WBAI’s profile, allow it to apply for funding from the Center for Public Broadcasting, and increase the audience for other shows on the station.
Some producers at WBAI have questioned the hire and say it is in opposition with what they view as the station’s fundamental values.
“I felt a great sense of betrayal of what my interests are in the #MeToo movement,” producer Fran Luck tells CJR. The theme of Luck’s show, Joy of Resistance, is multicultural feminism and it often covers the wider effects of misconduct in the workplace. “This is not a small matter, even if what Leonard Lopate did wasn’t on the same level as what Harvey Weinstein did,” she says. “He was obviously a problem for a lot of people he worked with, but particularly for women.”
Jay Smooth told listeners on Friday night he was “vehemently opposed” to the decision during the most recent edition of his long-running hip-hop show, The Underground Railroad. “If this show is still airing as of Friday, I’m definitely not going back on Friday,” he tells CJR. “The question for me is, have we gone past the point that I want to go back at all?”
Producer Mimi Rosenberg describes the welcome Lopate received from WBAI as “quite disturbing.” 
“I don’t believe for one second our audiences of beleaguered, impoverished, discriminated communities, who we should be representing the voices of, are crying for Mr. Lopate to come on the station,” she says.
During Yusuf Lamont’s late-night show, Creative Unity Collective, he called the decisions “incredibly short-sighted” and “patently destructive to . . .  the mission that is WBAI.” Off the air, Lamont was more explicit about his feelings. “Uncool is not the word for it. It’s bullshit,” he says.
Smooth says producers did not receive any kind of email or other communication from management about Lopate’s hiring and his new show leading up to its airing on Monday. He read about it in an email that went out to listener-subscribers.
While several producers CJR spoke to were opposed, Reimers says he has received private emails expressing support for the hiring of Lopate, including the chair of the board, national board members, and other producers. 
When asked about specific conditions to protect staff, Reimers says WBAI and the Pacifica Foundation both have zero-tolerance policies regarding sexual harassment and assault. “I have no doubt that we would not have any problems and if there were any problems, action would be taken swiftly.”
But Smooth expects there will be other, negative consequences extending far beyond the length of Lopate’s initial deal. “The idea that management would say, ‘It’s just a six-month contract.’ You think you can lease your soul to the devil for six months and then get it back?” says Smooth. “The damage is done.” 

Disclosure: One of this article’s authors, Alexandria Neason, appeared on Leonard Lopate’s show on WNYC in 2017.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

This little piggy...

Following the station's Marcel Marceau weekend marathon, Berthold lunched. It would seem that the entré was artificial hope, and that he pigged out. 

One wonders why—having shuffled to loaded deck—he gave in to Linda Perry's shamelessly blatant, persistent pandering efforts.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Reimers picks a pre-digested meal...

I have respect for Linda Perry's work in many ways, but I think Berthold Reimers—the squatting do-nothing GM— compounds his years of mis-direction by adding her to his long list of absurd, destructive ideas. Appointing Linda to hold the PD position will, I strongly suspect, prove to be a short-lived disaster.

Mistake number one is, in my opinion, to hire anyone from the womb. I know this is something Linda has wanted, but I will be very surprised if it works—Reimers has already shuffled the programs around in a meaningless way and hired some of the worst host/producers in town to lower the station's level of intelligence and all but wipe out any significance that remained.

I predict that Leonard Lopate  will have a short run at WBAI this time around, and it will have little or nothing to do with the allegations made against him at WNYC.

What do you think?