Monday, October 28, 2013

The Nation Comes to WBAI

Wow, now we're hearing The Nation on WBAI. Thom Hartmann is interviewing someone fromn The Nation right now, and this after making a pitch for his own pet foundation. Isn't WBAI still in its fund drive? We thought Thom was supposed to be pitching for WBAI during his show.

All this during Five O'Clock Shadow time. Who'd a thunk? This is all Andrew Phillips' doing. He also offered Karen Hunter WBAI's Morning Show. She was once the host of WWRL's  Morning Show but was replaced by the far better Mark Riley (whom she would have been going up against if that deal had gone through).  So we're not too impressed with what Andrew Phillips was doing with the program lineup. He has left his official capacity as Program Director, but has said that he'll continue to work for WBAI behind the scenes.

Many people respect and admire Andrew, and people seem to be desperate for change and reassurance that WBAI is moving forward, but we're offering a caution here: let's make sure we're heading in the right direction before we jump.

Gerry Conlon Live at O'Lunney's

A Surfeit of Thom Hartmann in NYC

Now that WBAI is airing Thom Hartmann, we've become more sensitive to his presence on New York radio. Not only does his weekday show that now airs on WBAI at 5pm cause an interesting overlap with his weekday show on WWRL that airs from 3 to 6pm, but last weekend we heard him on WWRL on both Saturday and Sunday! Was he always on this often? Perhaps we're just becoming more Thom Hartmann-aware. WBAI boasts that their Thom Hartmann is the only one on FM in New York City. Maybe so, but so what? We can hear him just as well on AM.

WBAI CAB Meeting on Oct. 30th at 6pm

There will be a meeting of the WBAI Community Advisory Board on Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 at 600PM, at 60 Wall Street, which is the atrium attached to Deutsche Bank.

All are invited.

What is a CAB meeting?

It's a Community Advisory Board Meeting, which is a requirement of the CPB (Corporation for Public Broadcasting). Quarterly meetings must be held and reported on in order to qualify for CPB Funding.

It's also an opportunity for listeners to get involved with the radio station in an advisory capacity. The minutes are sent to Pacifica, the Local Station Board, and then to the CPB.

A good GM or PD could use a CAB to improve community service.

A bit of good news

From the infamous Chris Albertson:
My days on the infamous BlueBoard may be numbered, for I have invoked the wrath of its Master!

Finally some Justice. Now, maybe some Peace?
Looks like the Moderator over on the BB may be coming to his senses after all this time, seeing Albertson for what he is: a drag on WBAI, who will attack anyone who challenges him, and is the ringleader of a bunch of sour grapes naysayers who produce no constructive criticism. Do not be sucked in by these people who argue that WBAI was perfect a half century ago when Albertson was there, but now just deserves to die.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Giuliani Time - Benefit for WBAI

BENEFIT FILM SHOWING FOR WBAI RADIOFilm: "Giuliani Time": Call 516-620-3602 or go to and click on the slide for this event. Donate just $25 to WBAI under "Giuliani TIme" and that will get you in to a special screening of the award-winning film, "Giuliani Time" to benefit WBAI (99.5 FM). The NY Times called the film "a full frontal assault on the civic deification of Rudolph Giuliani."

6 pm
Theatre 80 (St. Marks Place near 1st Avenue, in the East Village)
Following the film (119 minutes), the filmmaker – Kevin Keating -- will be onhand to take questions, along with a panel:
  • Rachel Laforest (Coordinator, Right to the City)
  • Tony Gronowicz (Green Party Mayoral candidate)
  • Randy Credico (Tax Wall Street Party Mayoral candidate)
  • Mitchel Cohen (Environmental & Social Justice activist)
& surprise guests. All proceeds go to benefit listener-sponsored, non-commercial, free speech radio. WBAI.

You may call 516-620-3602, contribute $25 for "Giuliani Time" -- a great film -- and we'll add your name to the list at the door -- no other tickets needed. Or, you can go to the website and click on the event from the slide.

We really need to sell as many seats as possible beforehand. Yes, there WILL be a sliding scale at the door, for any seats that remain unsold. As always, if you're broke and a fan of WBAI or just want to see the film and panel, sure, come for free!

Thank you!

Summer Reese on the future of WBAI

LSB member Frank LeFever's take on Summer Reese's Report to the Listener:

 I thought she did well, and moreover said what some of us expected her to say: that we were near an edge we had been approaching for a decade, but could pull back from the edge if listener response and staff/volunteer morale was sufficient.

She honestly said nothing was guaranteed but we had a fighting chance IF we really FOUGHT to survive.  This squares with everything I know from behind the scenes as well as what's public knowledge if public cares to look.

Nice timing with the immediately following promo for Giuliani Time, a fund-raiser "somebody we know" organized and is working hard to promote (I'm collaborating via social media). He also has finally obtained OFFICIAL go-ahead and website contact channel for recruiting VOLUNTEERS. One of the things I and John Brinkley (yes yes, I know: JUC) hammered at Wednesday night with Berthold was the need for HIGH-LEVEL volunteers, e.g. retired execs of exec secretaries or techies who have maturity and SKILLS -- not HS students who can pack and mail packages. Painful contrast after Summer and callers voiced aspirations for better programming (e.g. arts): Kathy Davis and the Numerology personal portraits scam immediately following. In the two-hour slot that yielded $855 or so for Ecologic, she got $575, and the first $320 of that may have been spill-over from Summer's giving the pledge number near the end of her gig.

Unfortunately, despite the big bucks days Summer alluded to, the trend over the past 3 days has been down, and yesterday's take was about half of what's needed and only 1/3 of the "$30K" that impressed Summer last week. Wednesday night, I told the group (after some back-of-envelope figuring) that we were averaging $18,311 per day, slightly less than the $18,820 projected in the FY 2014 budget, and by Nov. 1 we'd clear more than 500K (fulfilled). Now, I dunno...

Frank is a member of the WBAI Local Station Board

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pacifica Executive Director Summer Reese to address the Future of WBAI

From LSB member Cerene Roberts.
Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 7:26 AM

Summer Reese on the Future of WBAI

Although she has failed to meet* with the WBAI Local Station Board as the Pacifica National Board directed 3 weeks ago, Interim Executive Director Summer Reese apparently intends to appear on air on Thursday 10/24 at 6pm, shortly before the PNB meeting at 8:30pm.
You'll probably want to tune in at 6pm. For out-of-towners, apparently the stream works in spite of a note suggesting otherwise. And, of course, there'll be the archive at


* Although others may also have thought they heard that the meeting was to occur within 5-7 working days of October 3, the written version said it should've been scheduled within this time. No matter, I suppose, as neither has happened in the 20 days since the meeting. I guess sometimes directives are just suggestions to the person the board, on paper, supervises...

Special Executive Session Telephone Meeting
October 3, 2013
Report Out

On the evening of October 3, 2013, the Pacifica Foundation Radio Board: met in Executive Session to discuss privileged matters pertaining to contract negotiations, and passed the following motion:
The PNB instructs the interim executive director to prepare a release an RFP (Request for Proposals) for Public Service Operating Agreements for WBAI-FM (99.5 FM - NY) for approval at the next meeting of the PNB, with a response date no longer than 30 days after the release of the RFP and the PNB instructs the interim executive director to schedule a conference call with the WBAI Local Station Board in the next 5-7 working days in executive session to discuss responses received to date.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Thom Hartmann Show moves to 5pm slot on WBAI

We're listening to the show right now and hearing a vigorous defense of the Obama administration by Hillary Clinton ally David Brock, who co-authored an e-book called “The Benghazi Hoax.”

It's an irony that Obamacare supporter Thom Hartmann is now on WBAI at 5pm, which is  Five O'clock Shadow time, where host Robert Knight was one of Obama's most incisive critics. Speaking of which, former WBAI producer Utrice Leid, another Obama critic, has been doing a series of brilliant shows on the subject of Obamacare at the Progressive Radio Network (PRN). We urge you to check out the archives for Leid Stories over there.

But we're wondering if Thom Hartmann will grow a new fan base on WBAI, because it seems doubtful  that fans who are already listening to The Thom Hartmann Show on WWRL from 3-6pm will switch over to listen on WBAI at 5pm.

Has PRN become the new BAI -- the place to go for a true alternative analysis? We've actually been noting for a long time that PRN and WBAI have similar lineups. SInce PRN is doing well while WBAI has been languishing, our conclusion has been that it's the format, not the content that's the issue. There's still a strong need and a wide audience for this kind of programming.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Frank Lefever's reply to Berthold Reimers

[Posted WBAI-LSB-PUBLIC and a few other places (with CC to Berthold)]

In the context of announced reversion to some of the older program grid, I think it is important to bear in mind that recent and proposed changes by Andrew were aimed at bridging a gap between prior programming and long-term growth programming -- a project interrupted by emergency fund-drive needs which people are trying to meet with some really abnormal segments.  I strongly believe that we should  think in terms of what Andrew proposed; not in all details, but in general thrust.

Like many others, I want to see those evening "special" programs (Asia/Pacific, Muslim, Women's issues, Disabilities) continued as part of our schedule, but I think we need to recognize that so far they have not been adequately promoted to the general public and apparently have no more than a "token" listenership.  We also need to consider whether the formats Andrew was considering might be a better way to present them.

I recognize that in the departure of the only real Program Director we've had in a decade that the GM has to make program decisions, with or without the necessary qualifications to do so, but this needs to be done cautiously and with a lot of informal consultation (lacking any implementation of any formal Program Advising structure for so many years).

-- Frank

Frank LeFever is on the WBAI Local Station Board


Friday, October 18, 2013

Would Pacifica cut off its nose to save face?

Two posts we saw recently that we liked:

"It's ironic that those who are not  willing run ads on WBAI, are willing to lease it via a PSOA or an LMA, or even to sell WBAI. "

Another one in much the same vein, was attributed to WBAI Producer Mimi Rosenberg:

"Food For Thought & Concern:

Pierre Omidyar to fund new "progressive" media venture (review article provided herein) linking up with Greenwald; certainly another missed opportunity, as are many to possibily pay off rather minuscule debts of WBAI in the scheme of things and seeking some meaningful infusion of dollars to preserve the intent and character of WBAI.

But as usual an incompetent, extremely narrow focused and resourceless management rests content with merely placing WBAI on the "auction block."

Of course to shop investors, seek loans etc., for WBAI there has to be a meaningful plan for its sustainability and in some ways the standard fair for any nonprofit is regular direct mail solicitations, including utilization of digital communication; bringing on board development specialists, with real expertise and drive; and special events fundraisers in conjunction with expansive advertisement campaigns. These haven't been addressed in any meaningful way and consistently, nor has management ever sought to delegate to people with proven competencies and skills fundraising efforts, since they simply don't have the skill set themselves.

Further, we are not making $30,000 a day based upon the endless harangue to solicit those people in the listening audience desperately searching for "health" or the promise of eternal youth. But, even if we were the habitual on-air fund raising doesn't work in the final analysis and destroys the listener base and frankly the credibility, and political and intellectual value of the station. But, rather at this juncture we are in a holding pattern, certainly the producers can or will be dumped at whim as the station is prepared to auction off the station, with perhaps the most superficial RFP I've ever seen and unfortunately even within that venue it may completely devalue its legal obligation of assuring the preservation and carrying out of the mission and as well with its blistering sectarian positions and rank antipathies even disregard an entity that may have the most resources to bring to the bargaining table in conjunction with its obligation to assure the actualization of the mission."

Note, in reference to the above, the following:

(AP/Bennet Group) - Pierre Omidyar, the founder and chairman of eBay .

Pierre Omidyar
Born Pierre Morad Omidyar
June 21, 1967 (age 46)
Paris, France
Residence Henderson, Nevada, U.S. [1]
Alma mater Tufts University
Occupation Founder and Chairman, eBay Inc. Founder and CEO of Honolulu Civil Beat
Net worth $8.7 billion (March 2013)[2]
Spouse(s) Pamela Kerr Omidyar

Pierre Morad Omidyar (Persian: پیر مراد امیدیار‎, born June 21, 1967) is a French-born Iranian American entrepreneur and philanthropist, who is the founder and chairman of the eBay auction site.[3] He became a billionaire at the age of 31 with eBay's 1998 Initial Public Offering (IPO).[2] Omidyar and his wife Pamela are well-known philanthropists who founded Omidyar Network in 2004 in order to expand their efforts beyond non-profits to include for-profits and public policy. Since 2010 Omidyar has been invoved in online journalism as head of investigative reporting and public affairs news service Honolulu Civil Beat.[4] Personal life[edit]

Omidyar was born in Paris, France to Iranian immigrant parents who had been sent by his grandparents to attend university there.[5] His mother Elahé Mir-Djalali Omidyar (Persian:Elāhe Mirjalāli Omidyār), who did her doctorate in linguistics at the Sorbonne, is a well-known academic.[6] His father was an Iranian surgeon.[7] The family moved to the US when Omidyar was a child.
Growing up in Washington, D.C., Pierre's interest in computers began at the Potomac School, which started to increase when he was in the 9th grade. He attended St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland. He graduated from St. Andrew's in 1984, and in 1988, he graduated with a degree in computer science from Tufts University. Shortly after, Omidyar went to work for Claris, an Apple Computer subsidiary, where he helped write MacDraw. In 1991 he co-founded Ink Development, a pen-based computing startup that was later rebranded as an e-commerce company and renamed eShop.

eBay and later career[edit]
In 1995, at the age of 28, Omidyar began to write the original computer code for an online venue to enable the listing of a direct person-to-person auction for collectible items. He created a simple prototype on his personal web page, and on Labor Day, Monday, September 4, 1995 he launched an online service called Auction Web which would eventually become the auction site eBay.[8]
It was hosted on a site Omidyar had created for information on the ebola virus. The first item sold on the site was a broken laser pointer. Omidyar was astonished that anyone would pay for the device in its broken state, but the buyer assured him he was deliberately collecting broken laser pointers. Similar surprises followed. The business exploded as correspondents began to register trade goods of an unimaginable variety.

Omidyar incorporated the enterprise; the small fee he collected on each sale financed the expansion of the site. The revenue soon outstripped his salary at General Magic, and nine months later Omidyar decided to dedicate his full attention to his new enterprise.
By 1996, when Omidyar signed a licensing deal to offer airline tickets online, the site had hosted 250,000 auctions. In the first month of 1997, it hosted 2 million. By the middle of that year, eBay was hosting nearly 800,000 auctions a day.[8]

In 1997, Pierre Omidyar changed the company's name to eBay and began to advertise the service aggressively. The word "eBay" was made up on the fly by Omidyar when he was told that his first choice for his web site, "echobay", had already been registered. Not wanting to make a second trip to Sacramento, he came up with "eBay". The frequently repeated story that eBay was founded to help Omidyar's fiancée trade Pez candy dispensers was fabricated by a public relations manager in 1997 to interest the media. This was revealed in Adam Cohen's 2002 book[9] and confirmed by eBay. The service was free at first, but started charging in order to cover internet service provider costs. eBay still charges 10% of sales as a final sale fee.

Jeffrey Skoll joined the company in 1996. In March 1998, Meg Whitman was brought in as president and CEO, and continued to run the company until January 2008, when she announced her retirement. In September 1998, eBay launched a successful public offering, making both Omidyar and Skoll billionaires. As of July 2008, Omidyar's 178 million eBay shares were worth around $4.45 billion.[10] Omidyar is also an investor of Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, California.
In 2010, Omidyar launched online investigative reporting news service Honolulu Civil Beat covering civic affairs in Hawaii. The site has been named Best News Website in Hawaii for three consecutive years.[11] On September 4, 2013, Honolulu Civil Beat started a partnership with The Huffington Post, launching the weblog's latest regional addition, HuffPost Hawaii.

Omidyar Network[edit] Main article: Omidyar Network This section of a biographical article needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately, especially if potentially libelous or harmful. (May 2013)

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic, social, and political change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $270 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including property rights, government transparency, and social media.

Wealth[edit] According to Forbes, Pierre Omidyar is worth $8.7 billion (US) as of March 2013, making him the 123rd richest person in the world and 42nd richest U.S. resident. He is the richest Iranian and the fifth richest French person.[2]
Awards and honors[edit] Honorary degree, Doctor of Public Service, Tufts University (2011)

Good news about WBAI from Gary Null

A few days ago Gary Null received a call from Pacifica's Executive Director Summer Reese, who told him that the morning hours were tanking.
She asked if I would come on to help. I looked at the numbers and I couldn't believe it --
from 5:00 am  - 11:00 am we were bringing in tiny amounts - sometimes as little as 50 dollars!

Well here's the good news - in the last 3 days we've raised over 70,000 dollars, whereas before that we hadn't even raised 7,000 dollars.

So now we're able to pay the transmitter bill and the salaries.

I've been on WBAI  for 37 years and 5 months and this has always been listener-supported radio. The listeners are supporting the station and we must always remember to put the listeners first.

Thank you, Gary!

Andrew's letter to Pacifica ED Summer Reese

What's wrong with  this letter? Andrew Phillips is fighting the wrong fight. This is the battle to save WBAI - all hands on deck -- not a battle of dueling egos. 

All the shows in Andrew's proposed lineup below would have been great. Why can't they exist  as well? It seems to me that in this power struggle the real loser is WBAI. And WBAI can't afford to lose right now.

From: Andrew Phillips
To: Summer Reese ; ; ; Mitchel Cohen
Sent: Thursday, October 17, 2013 4:40 PM
Subject: How will wbai change?

Once again the iED "blindsides" me. Where is the dignity? Gary Null and Christine Blosdale ride into WBAI morning drive on the "Ride of the Vallkyries" with "The Progressive Radio Hour", Nulls bombastic mish-mash of warmed over Pacifica fare.

Where is the dignity? So this is what WBAI became?

Here is a lineup of what was replaced:
  • We had on NJ Democratic Senate candidate Newark Mayor Cory Booker and his opponent
    former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan.
  • We had on Councilwoman Letitia James, who as the likely public advocate, will become the
    first African-American woman elected to Citywide office.
  • We had on Ken Thompson, the Democratic nominee from the Brooklyn DA, who was also
    the first candidate to beat a sitting DA since 1911.
  • Andy Stern, former president of the 2.2 million member SEIU union, who was widely recog-
    nized for successfully for his union to embrace the undocumented immigrant workforce.
  • Interview with Rev. Jesse Jackson on the government shutdown.
  • Tyron Covington, President of Local 3148 Federal Correction officers forced to work with pay
  • Arthur Cheliotes, CWA 1086.
  • Bettina Damiani, Good Jobs NY and the Fiscal Policy Institute on the lack of community trans-
    parency on how NYC is spending $1.7 billion in Federal Sandy aid.
  • Charles Hall, President of Local RWDSU, who is leading fight to pass the NJ minimum wage
    ballot question to tie the minimum wage to the Consumer Price Index.
  • Zack Fink, NY 1 political reporter.
  • Laurie Combo, winner of the primary to succeed Brooklyn Council woman Tish James.
  • And Khalia Kweli, a 31 year old DC 37 organizer.

  • WBAI Program Director Andrew Phillips Resigns

    Well there's some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that Interim Program Director Andrew Phillips has left. This was announced in a Staff letter from Pacifica Executive Director Summer Reese. We're sorry to hear that, as we loved Andrew and were happy to welcome him back to WBAI, and thought he could do some good things for the station. But my guess is that he was not willing to be as flexible, cooperative and supportive as is needed during these difficult times. So once again poor WBAI has lost a manager.

    The good news is that WBAI's fund drive has picked up in the last few days and is now on track for meeting the goal:

    From Summer Reese:

    "The interim Program Director has decided to move on. We thank him for his
    service and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.

    Our fund-drive results have nearly doubled since my mandated changes. We
    are now achieving in excess of $30,000.00 per day in fund-drive totals.

    Additional premiums, preemptions and changes to the schedule will be
    coordinated between the National Office and local management.
    The goal of the fund-drive is to raise much needed revenue to pay
    severance, transmitter tower rent, health benefits, etc.

    The goal is to raise half a million dollars in one month. With much better
    numbers we are on track to meet that goal."

    WBAI 99.5 FM

    Wednesday, October 16, 2013

    Pacifica's RFP for WBAI

    The Request for Proposals (RFP) for a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA) / Leased Management Agreement (LMA) for the legendary New York radio station, WBAI, is now on the website of the Pacifica Foundation:

    Pacifica is leasing out WBAI's airwaves!

    Andrew Phillips on air talking about Pacifica's announcement.

    Below, Steve Brown's comment:

    Overall, an embarrassingly whiney performance by Andrew, although I can sympathize with his frustration at having his programming decisions swept aside by Summer Reese. But if he doesn't like his treatment by the executive director, the sensible – the honorable -- thing to do is resign, not whine about it over the air.
    It is clear that Summer’s programming decisions are designed to raise as much money as possible, as fast as possible (for Pacifica, not WBAI) -- before any WBAI Lease Management Arrangement occurs. Therefore, she will air the programs that can do this, and pre-empt those that cannot. Her focus is on cash, not content. And given that WBAI’s inability to raise cash is the cause of its present sorry state, her decision seems sound, albeit sad.
    By the way, I did not "leak" anything to the Daily News, as Andrew kept saying. I merely reposted the email from our Pacifica National Board member, Cerene Roberts (at her request). The purpose of her email was to inform the WBAI membership – which is her job – about the public (I repeat, public) announcement of the Pacifica National Board regarding the leasing of WBAI. Daily News reporter Hinckley merely picked up this public announcement of the PNB from my email, and reported it – which is his job.

    Steve Brown

    Our comments:

    We agree that Andrew has the right to feel frustrated at having decisions being made without him being kept in the loop. I disagree with Steve that the "sensible" thing for Andrew to do would be to resign. The sensible thing would be to register his complaint privately, not  publicly, and to not overly react. At a time when WBAI's very existence is at stake, there is no room for the usual ego plays. What a shame, because we were glad to have Andrew back at WBAI, and saw it as a silver lining in the cloud that otherwise hangs over the station right now. There was hlope that Andrew would be able to improve the situation.   But this is a time for everyone to be pulling together, not causing more sturm und drang.

    Meanwhile the unofficial word is that Andrew has gone back to California for a few days, and none of the proposed program changes will be taking place. At this time. Stay tuned.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013

    Gary Null Hosts WBAI's Morning Show

    Andrew Phillips, Interim Program Director at WBAI,  announced this morning that Gary Null will be on the air at 7am, starting tomorrow. Gary said the following on his noon show today :

    "I got a call from Summer Reese (Executive Director of Pacifica). The fundraiser is not doing well enough. We're raising 6,000-7,000 a day when we need to be raising 40,000 a day. Berthold Reimers (WBAI's General Manager)  told me that we're one day away from having the tower (transmitter)  cut off."

    Ding Dong! The Witch Is Dead

    Update: It is back. Although it continues to be a breeding ground for naysayers, and too much of a mouthpiece for Chief Naysayer Chris Albertson, we admit that it does on occasion provide information about WBAI.

    The WBAI Radio Listener's Forum - aka "The Blue Board" -  is apparently gone.

    My only comment is, why did it take so long for someone to figure out what a negative it was for WBAI?  

    Pacifica Radio Planning Self-Dismemberment at WBAI

    Pacifica Radio's amateur "democratically elected" national board is moving rapidly in secret session to abdicate operation of its "listener sponsored" WBAI --  by "leasing" the signal and management of its financially-challenged New York station  to an undisclosed external entity as early as November.

    The Pacifica National Board's (PNB) desperate "plan" is to magically absolve more than a decade of its self-inflicted network-wide "structural maladjustments" with a "radical stationectomy."  

    Robert Knight

    Read More:

    Monday, October 14, 2013

    Message from Steve Brown

    Stephen M Brown
    To wbailsbfinance@yahoogroups.comwbaielections@yahoogroups.
    and More...

     I am reposting a message (see email at bottom) from Pacifica National Board Member Cerene Roberts, at her request.

    The message is a bit cryptic. But in case anyone is in doubt as to what it means, the translation is this:

     Because Pacifica is no longer able to support the cost of operating WBAI (nor can the station support itself), Pacifica is, and has been for some time, negotiating with one or more non-Pacifica entities or persons to take over management of WBAI under a lease-management arrangement. This will give the new operator carte blanche to do whatever it wishes with the signal.

    So although WBAI might not be sold (yet), it seems almost certain to be leased.

    But that might not be all bad. I would guess that Pacifica will lease to an entity (or person) with impeccable left- or near-left credentials. Therefore, the thrust of the station’s programming can be expected to remain the same, even if the programs themselves may not. There is at least one, and possibly several candidates offering to take over the station, whose names have been mentioned, but since I have not been able to verify either their identities or their offers personally, I will not name them.

    There could be a hitch, though. Since the bylaws specify that WBAI must have a local station board, and also that this local station board must have a hand in the selection of management (or at least of the general manager), it will be interesting to see how the PNB and any new lessee will attempt to evade these requirements. And evade them they must, since it is inconceivable that any lessee (in its right mind) would wish to retain current WBAI management, on the one hand, or desire to be hampered in its decisions by the station’s LSB, on the other.

    My guess is that, since WBAI’s LSB is (merely) a committee of the PNB, the PNB might simply terminate that committee, and accept the risk, and cost, of fighting off any legal challenges to that termination from whichever WBAI members might choose to make them.

    All in all, depending on the character of the future lessee – that is, how bold, how progressive, and how willing it is to advertise the station vigorously to the general public (as no former management ever has) -- the public might ultimately be better served by a new (albeit undemocratic) WBAI management that can pay its bills, instead of by the current management, which cannot. At least the public will have a live WBAI to listen to, presumably dedicated to the Pacifica mission, instead of a dead WBAI, whose signal has been sold off, for big bucks, to Clearwater or some other right-wing commercial entity (as some on the PNB are in favor of, so that they can divide the sale proceeds among their own stations).

    Stand by and watch the unfolding of events. For as mere listeners (or staff), watching is about the only thing you will be able to do.

    Stephen M Brown

    From: [] On Behalf Of Cerene Roberts

    Sent: Sunday, October 13, 2013 3:54 PM
    KPFK; KPFT;;

    Subject: [wbailsbfinance] Emissions from the 2 most recent PNB Closed Sessions  Please forward this email to the WBAI LSB's open and closed listservs. I am blocked from posting to either and from reading the closed listserv. For your convenience, the addresses are in the cc section above.

    On the evening of October 3, 2013, the Pacifica Foundation Radio Board: met in Executive Session to discuss privileged matters pertaining to contract negotiations, and passed the following motion:

    The PNB instructs the interim executive director to prepare a release an RFP (Request for Proposals) for Public Service Operating Agreements for WBAI-FM (99.5 FM - NY) for approval at the next meeting of the PNB, with a response date no longer than 30 days after the release of the RFP and the PNB instructs the interim executive director to schedule a conference call with the WBAI Local Station Board in the next 5-7 working days in executive session to discuss responses received to date.

    (Editor’s Note: The abovereferenced conference call with the WBAI LSB has yet to be scheduled.)

    Sunday, October 13, 2013

    Programming Changes at WBAI include Thom Hartmann

    Programming changes are underway at WBAI and Thom Hartmann is part of the new lineup. WBAI's Interim PD Andrew Phillips announced the changes in a  memo that said the following:

    " Until further notice - we are importing a four evening a week general interest public affairs talk show - The Thom Hartmann Show - 9-10pm - . The change happens this Monday October 7th 9-10pm.

    Thom is a former Air America host and therefore an established progressive talk show host with a growing national audience. The Thom Hartman Program runs very successfully with positive audience feed-back, five days a week on our sister station KPFK in Los Angeles. The program originates in Washington D.C. The program is free.

    The Thom Hartman Program replaces the M-Th, 9-10pm strip. Most of these programs will be discontinued in their current format but there will be opportunities to produce segments in a new magazine style format to be announced following the drive.

    In addition to changes in the 9-10pm line up, we are also revamping the week night 10-11pm lineup. Programs currently running 10-11pm will also be discontinued and asked to produce segments."

    The following shows in the 9-10pm are being replaced by more mainstream liberal strip programming:
    Asia Pacific ForumMuslim State of MindJoy of Resistance (feminist programming), Largest Minority (programming for the disabled), Haiti, the Struggle Continues, Rape Declaration (womens' issues)

    The rationale is that WBAI is in such an urgent crisis that something must change or it will cease to exist altogether. It's hard to argue with that logic: WBAI might no longer be the voice of anything.

    Still, this move is controversial to some. For example, there's a controversy on a New York Radio message board about whether or not Thom is an Obama supporter. Some have argued that he is, while others have pointed out that he has stood up to Obama on various occasions (such as his opposition to drone strikes). Regardless, we believe no one will argue with the idea that Thom does in the main support the Democratic Party, and in that sense he is no different from any of the folks on MSNBC. We expect to be hearing a lot more of "us vs. them" political talk, along with more defenses than criticisms of Obama Administration policies. Although this represents quite a departure for WBAI, having him on their air could mean that WBAI will begin to appeal to a wider, more mainstream audience than it has in the past. And we guess that's the idea. But will WBAI lose itself in the process?

    Another point being made was that Thom is already on New York radio for 3 hours a day (he's on WWRL from 3 - 6pm), so his fans might be all Hartmanned out by the time 9pm rolls around.  And yet another issue is the removal of programs that are characterized as "the voice of the voiceless". The argument being made for their removal is that they are not being listened to anyway. But listen to what Gary Null has to say about that.
    Hear now what Gary Null has to say
    Gary Null said the following about WBAI's programming the other day:

    "Ideally, you would have at least 14 programs a day that would be responsible for carrying the bulk of the station audience and the funding,  therefore leaving all the other hosts to do no fundraising and whatever the size of their audience was would be immaterial to their having a place at the station, because the very nature of noncommercial radio is that there are some programs that will define themselves by their quality of reaching out to some niche audiences that are not served at all. And that was Lew Hill's message: to be a voice of the voiceless. So you can't have every show be a blockbuster and you can't be mainstreaming your programs on themes that are already covered by NPR, CBS, FOX or MSNBC, because then you're nothing more than an extension of them.

    What I like about BAI irrespective of my 37 1/2 years on the air, and all the arguments I've heard, is that you can hear some of the finest, most progressive and enlightening voices in the history of media. Irene Celeste. And there is no one I know of in the history of radio that has ever come close to Les Hixon's comparative religions programming. And you had these kinds of voices: Rick Harris as Arts Director-- phenomenal. Peter Boshan-- terrific. Mike Feder-- one of those extremely insightful human beings - he used to be a Program Director at BAI - who gives it to you the way you need to hear it, if not necessarily the way you want to hear it. So you look at all the dozens of outstanding voices over the years -- and we've had them -- and other Pacifica stations have had them as well. And then you get those who make you ask how the hell did these people ever get selected to be on the air, or on the board or anywhere else --  who shouldn't be there but that's the way it's always been and always will be. So what you do is select the programs you want to listen to. And we just need more of that, and right now we don't have it, that's our reality.

    I've been keeping track of Arbitrons since I've been on the air because it's one way to see what direction you are going in, but also where the station is going.  And there was a time when we had over 187,000 people listening per day. We were right up there at the top. There was no one comparable to BAI. Today we're at about around 10,000 - 12,000, so we've lost about 90% of our audience.  And our core audience is getting older -  nearing 70, and you can't survive with a core audience of age 70 because they either move, retire, or die.

    And also, there's a whole new generation of people out there that we've lost because we weren't quick enough to get organized and we had to have 16 meetings  and 300,000 Yes votes rubber stamped in Latin before the board could get anything done. I've never seen such inefficiency in my life! But again there's no standard they have to be held to. That's the wonderful thing about Pacifica - no matter how good or bad you are, there's zero standards and all it is, is arguments.

    Then there's the quality of a Robert Knight, who stands up, does his show, wins the Polk Award, which is the highest award you can get, not because he is threatened, motivated  or cajoled -- that's his standard. If you want to be in Robert Knight's realm, you realize that you have to elevate that. I wouldn't ever recommend Robert Knight for MSNBC because he would have to lower his intellect to such a degree to get the people to even understand what he's saying. But when you listen to Robert Knight, you get that quality.

    And you find it on other programs as well. You don't get that kind of programming elsewhere on culture for example, on opera, on music -- James Irsay for example. You hear these people and they're in such a league of their own. Wonderful programs. This gentleman who does the Saturday morning show about Broadway (David Rothenberg).  He kind of reminds me of the social activist Will Rogers. He has these homilies where he breathes this knowledge of  all these people he's been associated with in the theater.  He's a wonderful storyteller and you become enraptured by his stories. And then you want to go see this stuff he's talking about. So that's what we're about. And I'm happy about this."

    We're happy about this too. But the times they are a'changin'. We only hope that WBAI will be able to survive this crisis, and emerge with its values intact.

    Friday, October 11, 2013

    On Dismantling WBAI

    On Dismantling WBAI, the Who and Why: or  Why Saving Our Newest Wave of Programmers is Essential!

    It is once again with heavy heart and political distress that I write about this next round of dismissals of programs, of my radio colleagues.  I write because of the complete absence of process for those dismissed and in condemnation of an institution that whose public persona of respect for and democratic process towards workers isn’t applied internally.  Pacifica management is as cruel a boss as the worst of the plutocrats we publically critique.

    How sad it is to work in an environment where our unpaid staff/worker union was destroyed and the paid staff union, virtually busted. How sad to work as though each producer was an independent contractor, an island onto oneself, alone, without collective support amongst  ones peers, without any input from subscribers and listeners butting up against a cynical, insidious and most definitely an incompetent management, which is the fundamental dilemma Pacifica faces.   Once again we whittle away at staff, whose hard work is ignored, whose important contributions to the public discourse are disregarded, staff whose programming encompassed real consideration for self-determination by racial, ethnic and gender groupings – not merely the platitude of encompassing racial diversity, which we can’t even claim at this juncture. 

    Pacifica management is categorically, arbitrarily dismissing producers/workers, dismantling programming, and by so doing showing its distain for and discarding the listening audience,  an alternative perspective to the status quo and liberal social critique.  It is departing from its mission, a mission rooted in activism, and involvement in actually pursuing change and not merely a homogenous, essentially academic critique of the status quo.  There is a repudiation of the “movers and shakers” as management increasingly tilts towards those with a less strident “left” persuasion toward a more social democratic, a more academic and sedentary critique of policy-makers, rather than a systemic critique oftentimes.  There’s a decided preference that management has for catering to those more economically more solvent, as a group and rejecting emphasis on responding to and hearing from the most impoverished, the most disenfranchised and those communities who suffer the greatest indignities within our system, yes those without some “name recognition” and some careful admittance into the media stream.   

    So, without any internal process, without any focus groups, and with decision-making concentrated largely in the hands of a small grouping, from outside the listening area, whose own incompetency's  are legion, now another dozen or so programs are to be disappeared.  Those programs are to be disappeared and replaced, at least momentarily with more males,  Caucasian men from the middle class, with generally a social democratic political perspective and familiar and characteristic form of expression.  Management is dismantling the production staff and with it  firing the listeners, particularly listeners with more overt activist perspectives and practice and within those areas dismissing various cultural sensitivities within immigrant communities and communities of color in a city that is increasing Black and Latin in its population.

    It certainly wasn’t that the programming now shredded wasn’t meaningful in content, and well-produced in form - programming by activists that gave voice to activism and stirred further involvement in responding to and alternating the political paradigms in our system.

    Yes, this is the ideological dismantling of the station, this is the elimination of broad blocks of workers  and the firing of their listeners, which I believe really is occurring to eliminate any resistance to the an inept management across the network.  Ours is a management, without the essential credentials to administer a multimillion dollar alternative media network, in a series of increasingly expensive markets.  Ours is a management installed by fiat, not because of individual knowledge, background, experience and acumen in dealing with alternative media institution financing, changing technologies or simply intellectual study and acumen.  Ours is a management grouping that is given license by an undemocratic, cumbersome, fractious and fractured governance structure that has never since the most recent bylaws were implemented raised a fathering to support the station or produced a single constructive project or process for growing the network and developing the stations.  It is not by-in-large the programmers, or the programs that are pushing the network to its possible demise, but the management and a hopeless governance structure.

    As the entire network falters, WBAI is the cow being led to slaughter, that is the cash cow that is being discussed for leasing, possibly for bankruptcy, or sale, possibly to shore up the faltering Pacifica and the California stations.  Of course, lose the programmers, lose their listeners and weaken any resistance for the hierarchal management schemes on the horizon. There a dare say soon to be revealed schemes regarding WBAI that are being fleshed out by Pacifica management and the Pacifica Board that are kept secret, that we need to be wary of and are certain to follow!!!
    Replacing programmers with a Tom Hartman, or trumpeting, as labor friendly a returning broadcaster who had cooperated with the infamous Utrice Leid, where all workers were treated as fodder for an administration that virtually destroyed the network is not a formula for success.  Some name recognition of professional, broadcasters, in generally secondary markets, from the failed Air Americas or who sound like and look like the voices and personalities heard over NPR stations cannot grow WBAI’s audiences. 

    We must have our own signature, we can’t copy and we can’t compete with NPR.  We can’t compete with WBGO or other music avenues either and progress. WBAI must capitalize on its mission, its history, its own identity, its own unique signature.  That is we must be committed to substantive change, be active in working towards it and engage those in the broadcast process who are the iconoclasts, the organizers, the creators for a better world, particularly in our communities where human and democratic rights, where economic opportunity and equality are the most limited.  The policies and practices that discriminate and create disparities in out cities, our nation and across the globe, always looking towards getting people involved in changing them, not just theorizing about them unconnected to becoming immersed in the process of change is what has and should characterize our broadcasters. 

    Seeking activists from across the working class spectrum and certainly those with a  “liberal” and left’  persuasion to listen to WBAI should be an affirmative duty and upheld.  Seeking listeners who are the most sensitive, informed and aggressive in railing against individual, attitudinal cruelty and discrimination as well as institutional forms for discrimination are who we want to be our audiences and programmers.  Catering to social change activists and those who value and give value to oppressed groupings – racially, ethnically, gender, sexual orientation, the disabled, the working class those are not “niche audiences but the audiences we should service and grow amongst. 
    Assuming you don’t believe this is about the deconstruction, dismantling entirely of WBAI, “burn the village to save the village” – then surely realize that the notion of predominantly, if not exclusively white, liberal men – formerly from the failed Air American, or those imported from California, or former administrations, attempt to immolate and or compete with the sound and general perspective of NPR hosts is not a workable formula for increasing listenership.

    Bringing on board an increasing homogenous group, color wise, class and gender wise producers of “C” or “D” list fame, who can as well be heard elsewhere, will not draw more listeners to our station, but rather further alienate and eliminate the audiences we have – they will continue the process of firing the listeners and disregarding those most in need of a progressive venue of communication for those otherwise locked out of media to tell their stories “Like It Is”.  People fighting for freedom and equal rights aren’t niche audiences.

    Lastly, with the unpaid staff/workers union destroyed, with SAG/AFTRA virtually busted and growing numbers of programmers dismissed and their listeners turned away who is left to resist?  Management understands this and the Tom Hartman’s I believe are at best just holding spaces while WBAI as we know it is being dismantled.  Management, the Pacifica executive management and the Pacifica National Board are locked away from view, deliberating amongst the hierarchy, soon no doubt to release their plan for whether a leasing/operating plan for WBAI, a bankruptcy, a sale I dare say will soon be revealed. 

    The real problem with WBAI is a management across the network that isn’t competent to administer our beloved media network and a cumbersome, fractured, contentious governance structure that hangs like an albatross over us.  Those are the real culprits in the dilemmas faced by the network.  

    In Struggle & with Hope
    Mimi Rosenberg
    Co-host of  Building Bridges, which airs weekly on WBAI

    Wednesday, October 9, 2013

    WBAI Local Station Board Meeting


    WBAI Local Station Board Meeting
    Wednesday, October 9, 7PM
    Alwan for the Arts, 16 Beaver Street, Downtown Manhattan
    Trains: 4,5 to Bowling Green (wheelchair accessible); 2,3 to
    Wall St; 1 to Rector, J to Broad St., R to Whitehall St. (but R
    is not running uptown from Brooklyn) Please come to the local board meeting. There will be opportunity to share your views on the leasing of WBAI, program changes and other issues.

    Does it matter if there is something called “WBAI” if it does not feature programming by and for underserved communities? Four weekly hours of programming by and about Asia and Asian-Americans, Muslims, women, people with disabilities, Haitian freedom and independence,
    and rape have been cancelled by the Interim Program Director, Andrew Phillips, whom Pacifica sprung on WBAI in early August.

    In their place at 9PM, Monday through Thursday, Phillips has put former Air America host Thom Hartmann whose self-titled program is seen on Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) weekdays at 3PM. Earlier this year, Hartmann was the substitute at Pacifica’s Los Angeles station while a regular host was on maternity leave. (KPFK-Los Angeles’ is the home station of Pacifica National Board Chair and Interim Executive Director Summer Reese.)

    WBAI’s Monday to Thursday 10PM slot will also be eradicated after the fund drive. The 7 programs heard there and the 6 programs from 9PM can request segments on a new 10PM show. The shows to be removed, without notice, discussion, or evaluation, are:


  • Asia Pacific Forum
  • Muslim State of Mind (formerly Tahrir)
  • Joy of Resistance (women’s liberation) / Largest Minority (disability rights)
  • Haiti, the Struggle Continues / Rape Declaration Forum

  • 10PM

  • In Other News
  • Expert Witness
  • Women’s Collective/The Holistic Edge (formerly The Open Center Show)
  • Ethics on the Air (Ethical Culture Society) / CUNY: A Mission Deferred
  • Global Movements, Urban Struggles (incl. The War on Immigrants Report)
    All other programs, we are told, will be “reviewed”.  Wondering what happened to WBAI’s only youth program, “Rise Up Radio”, produced by members of the next generation of activists? It was one of 3 shows previously yanked by the Interim Program Director without discussion in the 2 months since he arrived.

    As Pacifica’s Interim Executive Director (IED) and the Pacifica National Board (PNB) work on leasing the station, the IED and the Interim Program Director she installed at WBAI are flouting the bylaws that require program changes be a result of a collaborative and respectful process. Any consultation that may be happening here is being done outside of the full national board, outside the full local board, and without the involvement of the staff as a whole. Apparently, in the effort to “save” the station by “broadening” the programming reach aka giving more airtime to more white men, management feels entitled to trample organizational rules and staff rights.

    If this sounds at all familiar, it may be the rhetorical echoes of those who gave us the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act and those who justify the NSA incursion into everything.

    P.S. While proximity of administrators to programmers matters, how is it that the temporary studios at WHCR in Harlem have suddenly become so unbearable that money can be found to urgently build a studio in Brooklyn when laid off staff have not been paid severance and so don’t have money to shop the health care exchange? And while ownership is generally preferred to forever paying rent, exactly why the push to buy a multi-million dollar building that is not central to he five boroughs, much less to the rest of the metropolitan listening area, instead of negotiating an extension of the reasonable lease there?

    Justice and Unity
    PO Box 2690, Manhattanville Station,
    New York, NY 10027

    Sunday, October 6, 2013

    WBAI needs our help

    WBAI is currently in a very serious financial crisis. The October Membership Drive, called The Phoenix, which signifies WBAI's rise from the ashes of its past vicissitudes, is crucial.  

    The best way we can help is to become a BAI Buddy. This gives WBAI a secure cushion that can be relied on for paying the monthly bills.  As little as $10 a month can make a real difference to WBAI's survival. That's not much compared to what we pay monthly for our TV shows.
    Go here to help:

    Become a Buddy or become a Member for $50, or give whatever you can afford.

    What we cannot afford is to lose WBAI!