Wednesday, March 27, 2013

When the Moderator IS the Troll

A troll is a troll is a troll...

What is a troll, anyway? A recent exchange on the Blue Board prompts me to ask the question.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Gary Null laughs while WBAI burns

 I just listened to an amazing interview with William Blum, whose current book is titled America's Deadliest Export: Democracy - the Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else.

This was a particularly comprehensive review of  the sorry history of U.S. foreign policy, which highlights its worst moments. I recommend that you go grab it off the archives--  um, the PRN archives that is, not the WBAI archives. That's right, I'd heard William Blum speak before on BAI, in fact learned about him on there, but what was different this time was that I was listening to him on Leid Stories, Utrice Leid's new show on the Progressive Radio Network.

Time was when I'd not only have been been listening to William Blum on WBAI, but I'd have been listening to Leid's Talkback there as well. Listening to PRN tends to be a familiar experience. Quite a few hosts that we heard (and still do in most cases) on WBAI can now be heard on PRN, which is similar to BAI in content but is Internet-based only. Gary had a stable of hosts from which to populate his new Internet radio station. In fact the PRN programming grid looks much like a Pacifica grid. In the implementation of his vision, Gary certainly owes a huge debt to Pacifica and WBAI.

I submitted the following post to the Blue Board some time ago, but it was never published by Goderator R. Paul Martin who thinks he has the omniscience to determine the course of conversation on this public forum. Yes, I'm moderated there, which means that my posts have to be  reviewed by him for "suitability" and are often rejected as if they were disruptive troll posts, which of course they are not. Most of my posts contain positive views about WBAI, in contrast to the very negative posts of Chris Albertson. Martin is exercising censorship, pure and simple. Those who criticize WBAI are allowed free reign there, while the ideas of those who support the station (like myself, LSB members  Mitchell Cohen and Carolyn Birden and others) have been suppressed. What's Martin's agenda? It's hard to tell, but he has consistently treated the real troll Chris Albertson, who hates just about everything about WBAI with utmost respect, while disrespecting many of us who love the station. But that's a topic for another day.  Today I want to talk about Gary Null.

Here's a post that never made it to the Blue Board:
Just as some say that Amy Goodmam stole Democracy Now! from Pacifica, I'm contending that Gary Null stole Pacifica from Pacifica, when he created the Progressive Radio Network (PRN), the all-Internet station which is growing by leaps and bounds. The PRN program grid reads like a WBAI Folio. Gary drew his ideas and inspiration from Pacifica. PRN's success illustrates that there's nothing outdated about Pacifica programming as some claim. On the contrary, people are hungering for these kinds of programs. It's more than a little ironic that PRN is experiencing wild growth right now, according to Gary, while WBAI languishes. One can't help but wonder if that's a contributing cause. For example, I find myself turning to PRN more often these days, which means that I'm tuning in less to 99.5FM.

Today I heard this interesting exchange between Gary and Utrice Leid, in which it seemed that Gary was almost gloating over his own success in comparison to WBAI's failures.I couldn;t help wondering if the two were connected. I found the part where Gary talks about stealing WBAI's assets interesting, as well as when he talks about the pre-PRN glory days when it was so easy to raise big bucks for BAI. 

Gary: Utrice, I thought you'd like to know that I collect all the arbitrons, and those are the monthly
reports that show you who's listening, where they're listening from, their age groups and all, and you now have a larger audience listening to you on Progressive Radio Network each day than you had on WBAI.

Utrice (laughing): That's good to know, that's great to know.

Gary: Isn't that something? You also should know that WBAI is now averaging 9600 dollars a day in fundraising.

Utrice: Ow.

Gary: Do you remember before the coup? There was never a counter-coup, there was just a coup,
where they threw you and the progressive-minded people on the boards and stations out, so they could have a giveaway and steal the assets of the station, which they successfully did.

Utrice: Well one little correction there, nobody threw me out. We all walked out in support of
Bessie Wash, who was Executive Director, who brought in a different style of management - I was
one of the people, and there were other managers as well, and when she decided - she said  she
was going to quit, we all said "We are going to follow you right out the door."

Gary: Do you remember how much we averaged per day in fundraising -- you and I every day?

Utrice (laughs): Oh man...

Gary: 85,000 dollars a day.

Utrice: You would really burn up the air.

Gary: In fact you and I had the largest single amount in the history of the station. We raised 66,000 dollars in one hour. I was in the back seat of a cab, being driven back from the Catskills where I did a
lecture, and you were in the studio.  We raised 1 million, 180,000 dollars in 14 days.

Utrice: mmhmm...
Gary: So for those who thought they were really smart and knew everything and didn't need us and our audiences, and now they're raising 9,000 bucks a day? Well that's a lesson in reality (laughs).

Utrice: That's sad, pretty sad, because you know it's such a very important and necessary asset to the community of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and portions of  Pennsylvania, but it is also
the case where people have hidden agendas that they don't readily confess or even talk about, but you
see it in the end, it plays itself out, and we see what the situation really was.

Gary: You're right, but the good news is, you have your audience back and a new audience, and it's
growing. I just wanted to let you know that.

Utrice: Yes, I see the response also on Facebook which has been fantastic, really good connecting with people.

The gist of my argument was that Gary Null owes a debt to WBAI, and that Gary needs to step up to the plate and take some responsibility for WBAI's future. It seemed in that conversation that he was laughing at WBAI's financial crisis. Right now WBAI is in serious trouble, where a combination of events came together to create a perfect storm. Since Hurricane Sandy they have been struggling to pay their bills, and back ransmitter rent was threatening to take them off the air by end of March. The listeners came through and they were able to raise the money needed to pay the back rent but must pay on time going forward for the next 5 months. Plus they have the issues of having to find a permanent place to move to in the future (hopefully to a building that they can own).

What Gary didn't mention was that he had stopped pitching during that fund drive in question: WBAI's winter fund drive. They were in the midst of their Fall fund drive when it was disrupted by Hurricane Sandy, during which they were evacuated from their offices and also lost their phone system. For Gary to refuse to  pitch in the winter fund drive that followed, means that he was contributing to the crisis.

 I saw a letter from Gary to WBAI regarding premiums not having been delivered to his listeners who pledged. I do not fault Gary for being angry. I recall hearing him promise his listeners that the new management would be sending out their premiums on a timely basis. He was giving his word, and when that didn't happen he had egg on his face. So he refused to pitch any premiums during the Winter dund Drive. He did finally do some pitching for the premium-less Transmitter Fund.

No doubt about it, WBAI's management messed up. Their lack of attention to this issue of Gary's premiums was short-sighted, not only on the immediate issue of fund-raising but in regard to the larger picture of how Gary might be able to  help WBAI face its biggest connundrum: why is WBAI losing listeners while PRN is gaining them? Who better to assist with this than Gary Null, who has demonstrated his ability to build a successful network that follows the Pacifica model?

Gary Null has a deep connection to WBAI, based on his 30-year association with the station. WBAI's unfortunate progression of musical managers over the past decade has greatly contributed to its current problems. There has been one managerial disaster after another. At this point they don't need any more unknowns coming to the station on a wing and a prayer, taking 6 months to analyze the situation before taking  action (or disappearing).

Gary Null understands Pacifca concepts and is familiar with WBAI's problems. He has a proven record of success with a progressive grid. He could either become Interim Program Director for a period of time to get WBAI into shape, or work hand-in-hand with whoever takes on that job. Maybe it could be accomplished  internally, using someone from within the station who could work with Gary to accomplish what needs to be done to get WBAI on track.

Beyond that I can envision WBAI in a  partnership with Progressive Radio Network, similar to the way WBAI has affiliates around the country, which could be mutually beneficial.While PRN is an all Internet-based station, WBAI maintains a land-based radio signal which I believe still plays an important role in peoples' lives. I predict that there will be a resurgance of interest in traditional radio. So hang in there, WBAI!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Sexism on the Good Ol' Blue Board

I saw an interesting exchange on the Blue Board recently, and I'm bringing it up here because a couple of things struck me about it.

First, I was bemused by the irony of how few rose to the defense of  other WBAI folks who were being constantly subjected to endless similar attacks by Chris Albertson, in contrast to how the majority of responders rose up in defense of Moderator R. Paul Martin, when a poster named "Melinda" went after Martin's
program Back of the Book in a similar vein. Obviously what was good for the goose was not good for the gander.  It was just one more example of why I consider the kind of unhealthy group think found on the Blue Board to be not beneficial to WBAI.

Second, I found the sexist nature of the ensuing exchanges with Melinda to be disturbing, with some calling for Melinda's head, after being labeled a "troll" several times by the Moderator Martin for essentially daring to post  the same sort of thing Chris Albertson posts with impunity. Interestingly, Albertson himself admitted that Melinda wasn't  doing anything that he himself didn't do. Duh.

At one point I wondered if the entire thing could be a satire. Was Melinda even a female? She was certainly being treated like one by angry, sexist denizens of the Blue Board. I was remembering what it felt like myself when I would post there. Following is a small sample of what went on.