Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Laughing Last: Gary Null Crows while WBAI Struggles

Gary Null was talking with his web master Jason yesterday:

The Gary Null show has had 51 million downloads since July 2010. Our phone service has broken 3.5 million and is now number one in North America, South America  and Mexico, and number two in the world behind a station in Africa.

Twitter your questions to @drgarynull and Gary will be happy to answer them.

We're gonna do that every day now, and we're actually going to start putting up skype so people can skype us and we can see them and anyone watching s here (on ustream) can actually watch them on skype. 

The phone service is helping a lot of people, so  24/7 you can dial the number and hear the show downloaded from the archive if its not live.

And I understand that the average age of the thousands of new people that we get every day, 7 days a week who are coming on to listen, is 37-55. And they are college educated
So we have  a lot of new people coming on every day and we thank them!

Think about it: Did Gary Null steal Pacifica from Pacifica?

Does he owe them a debt? What could he do to help WBAI?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Programming changes coming to WBAI

General Manager Berthold Reimers has announced that in the absence of a Program Director, he is planning to make sweeping programming changes at WBAI.  As one would imagine, this has caused a stir of controversy and protest at the station. Here is the letter of protest from a group of 39 WBAI producers, followed by a few selected comments with which I agree:

My own view, as expressed before, is that changes do indeed need to be made quickly, and that WBAI cannot afford to wait for the long process of searching for, hiring and "breaking in" a new Program Director to replace Chris Hatzis, who did nothing but leave after his 6 month breaking-in period.

So yes, changes are needed but no, they should not be the purview of the General Manager.

 I've met Berthold Reimers and he is no Gary Null

Berthold Reimers seems to have problems with delegating, which is what a manager must do to be effective. When Berthold first became GM at BAI there was ths nasty problem of premium backlogs that had been  plaguing the station for years. Berthold took this on as his first challenge. And how did he handle it? By rolling up his sleeves and pitching in, essentially performing the role of Premiums Director. That in my view was a problem. Berthold's approach was to do the work of getting the premiums mess straightened out himself, rather than delegating it. And the results haven't been that great as we have recently seen. The approach didn't work on two levels. First, this was evidenced by Gary Null's refusal to pledge during the winter fund drive due to the fact that his listeners were not receiving their prremiums. Several yeas later, no matter how hard Reimers had worked, the premiums problem had not been resolved. Maybe things were better, but it was not resolved. In fact I thought it was pretty disastrous that Gary Null was refusing to pitch because of it.

 And it also didn't work because the GM was reportedly knee-deep in premiums, instead of directing his efforts elsewhere as needed. He had told us as much in various public reports. This would be fine if he were the Premiums Director but he was WBAI's General Manager! With his previous business background Berthold would probably have served WBAI well as a Business Manager. Now he wants to serve as Program Director and start making decisions that will radically alter WBAI's programming grid.

As I have said here before, I believe that Gary Null is the person for the job and that he should be drafted if necessary, to work on the programming grid. Go ahead and put a Program Council together and then let Gary Null take the lead. Gary has already proved that he can build a successful radio network to which listeners are flocking, offering the same type of programming that is heard on WBAI. There is a need for this programming. Gary owes it to WBAI to help it get its act together. Get Gary onboard!! Now!!!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gary Null and WBAI

An update on the subject. I just read the following about Gary on one of the listervs.
"He wants very much to pitch during the drives, but management prevents him from doing so, out of what I can only describe as its compulsion to play power games."

And:"Gary has repeatedly told management that he cannot in good conscience continue urging listeners to pledge for premiums that have not been sent ... will not be sent in the near (or even far) future ... and very likely will never be sent at all."

Which is it: is Gary "begging and pleading" to pitch with management  turning a deaf ear to his pleas? Or is he refusing to pitch? 

Obviously I'm not privy to everything that has been going on between Gary Null and WBAI,  but from what I understand, both are at fault:

How WBAI is at fault
For starters, Management apparently did not fulfill its promise to deliver Gary's premiums to his listeners in a timely manner (or maybe at all). For that Gary's anger is totally justified. I can testify to his many on-air promises that problems with delivery of his premiums had been resolved and would not be happening again under the new management at WBAI. So if it did happen again, that made Gary look like a liar. That's Strike 1 against WBAI.

Strike 2: According to a letter from Gary to WBAI management that was published on the listservs, WBAI did not respond to his numerous attempts to get the premiums problem straightened out. If this is the reason why he was refusing to pitch, the blame lies with WBAI.

Strike 3 in my opinion is the mistake management has made of alienating Gary at a time when he could be helping WBAI in ways that go beyond pitching during fund drives.  At a time when WBAI listenership has been flagging, listeners have been flocking to PRN in record numbers. Since Gary has proven himself to be successful in attracting listeners to what is essentially a Pacifica programming grid, his input would be invaluable.

How Gary Null is at fault
Gary obviously took his inspiration for Progressive Radio Netwoek from Pacifa and WBAI, and for that he owes Pacifica a debt of gratitude. Rather than cracking jokes about BAI on his show, as he's been periodically doing these days, Gary should be looking for ways to help the station survive and flourish, in the same way that PRN is flourishing by doing the same thing WBAI does -- offering progressive programming content -- only apparently doing it better. While WBAI languishes, PRN is taking off like gangbusters. Something does not compute! What WBAI needs right now in my opinion is for Gary, rather than poking fun at his alma mater, or refusing to pitch, to pitch in and work to turn WBAI around.
It's the programming, stupid!
WBAI has had no Program Director since former IPD Tony Bates left last summer. This was also when their fund drives started taking a dive. My suggestion is that rather than hastily finding a  replacement for Tony, WBAI could ask Gary to step in as Interim PD, primarily to help WBAI find immediate ways to increase listenership. Since the WBAI and PRN programming grids are so similar, with quite a few of the same voices being heard in both places, I cannot imagine that this will be such a difficult task. There is great demand for progressive programming, and with the state of the economy, and all the problems facing the country and the world right now, there is a crying need for sources of information that are not biased by commercial advertising. We hear things on PRN and WBAI on a daily basis that we don't hear on commercial media. MSNBC, which is touted by some as the first progressive television channel, occasionally does good work, but for the most part  is unfortunately narrow in scope.  We simply cannot afford to lose WBAI!