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!!!

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