It would be a shame if we had to choose between the corporatized NPR-lite version of Pacifica advocated by Marc Cooper and others in the late 1990s (which is precisely why Amy Goodman opposed it, and why she worked to establish Democracy Now! on an independent footing) and the shambles that currently exists at WBAI and (to a slightly lesser extent) the four other Pacifica stations. MIchio Kaku does an excellent program on science for WBAI: http://wbai.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=395&Itemid=141. --PG
Yes, the rent at WBAI is a major problem.
HOWEVER, WBAI's gone through 7 General Managers in the last 7 years and only the one that our INDEPENDENTS fired had taken the very first steps to renegotiate the lease with Larry Silverstein (you wanna talk conspiracies here, Michael?), the building's owner.
The lease should have been renegotiated at least 5 or 6 years ago. Real Estate people I've spoken with tell me that WBAI is paying almost DOUBLE what we could and should be paying these days, which is upwards of $37 thousand A MONTH. It's insane. That that has not been made a priority despite my own and others' attempts to get management to do what they're supposed to be doing is extremely troubling.
From: Larry Romsted
Sent: Aug 11, 2010 9:20 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Doug Henwood on the state of WBAI
Good to read that you are still your same ignorant and arrogant self Michael.
I suspect that you have little if any idea of what has been and is going on at WBAI and that you don’t give a crap. This is clear when you bring up Marc Cooper who was at KPFK a long time ago and had little to do with WBAI then or now and write as tho’ everyone should have listened to him because he is so obviously wise and WBAI would not be in its current problems if everyone had only listened to him. We know of course the Marc always expresses himself in a caring fashion that does not alienate others.
I appreciate Henwood speaking out and Mitchel circulating his letter. In some ways the situation is worse at WBAI than Henwood indicates because he not fully characterized some of the struggles at the station and within the station board. At the same time a whole variety of people are working to improve the situation. One insane and difficult problem is that over 10 years ago the station was moved to offices on Wall street (Wall street????) and WBAI has a huge rent every month and a contract that runs to 2012. WBAI’s rent is much higher than at other stations. This is an enormous problem that has nothing to do with premiums, food fights (personnel issues), or politics. Bad move made BEFORE the “coup” in 2000. A terrible legacy. Would have been nice if the great and wise Marc Cooper had helped prevent that bad move, which was not done by anyone currently on the station board or is part of the staff or management at the station as far as I know.
So, get off your high horse and figure out what you can do to help in some small way instead of just preaching.
On 8/11/10 5:28 AM, "Michael Balter" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
When, several years ago, Marc Cooper and other sane minds tried to reform Pacifica and its stations into something other than an umbrella over every ridiculous fringe tendency, they were accused of being CIA agents, capitalist roaders, and hounded out of the organization. Mitchel was on the other side of this debate; so was Amy Goodman. Today, as Doug so rightly points out, we see the results of those great "victories" for the masses: A bunch of stations very few people want to listen to. Democracy Now is one of the few exceptions, a generally excellent program, but its example needs to be followed across the board if Pacifica is to survive. And that means discriminating between progressives and nut cases.
On Wed, Aug 11, 2010 at 5:20 AM, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
The state of WBAI (dire)
Posted by: Doug Henwood | August 10, 2010
[I just sent this to Mitch Cohen, chair of the WBAI local station board, to be read at tomorrow night’s board meeting.]
To Mitch Cohen and the WBAI local station board:
I’ve been around WBAI for more than two decades. I started as a frequent interviewee on Samori Marksman’s show in 1987, moved on to regular commentaries on his show a few years later, and then began doing the Thursday editions of his Behind the News in 1995. I’ve watched the station go through considerable turmoil over the years, but the current situation has me more worried than ever. I was very relieved and hopeful when Bernard White and Co. were removed from office. But I’ve lost that feeling completely.
Our financial situation remains dire. Indeed, it’s hard to see how we can go on like this much longer. Not only are we not paying our bills, we’re dragging the whole Pacifica network deeper into the red. In this context, it’s easy to understand the temptation to offer sensational fundraising premiums to raise a lot of money quickly. But this strategy is proving disastrous.
A few words about those premiums. During the last few drives, WBAI has offered a variety of rather embarrassing videos and publications. We’ve now moved well beyond the familiar 9/11 conspiracies. Now we also have miracle cures (which, it wouldn’t surprise me, could put us at legal risk for offering, since they make claims about curing disease that, to put it gently, would be very difficult to prove), stories about chemtrails (the theory that the government, for some mysterious reason, is poisoning us by spraying chemicals from the sky), and most recently, a series of videos explaining how the Illuminati are about 90% of the way to taking everything over (it’s only a matter of time until they plant microchips in our heads and solidify a regime of total control). (Tastes of that stuff here <http://www.jordanmaxwell.com/> and here <http://100777.com/nwo/wakeupcall> .) I’m told, though I haven’t heard this stuff myself, that we’re also hawking the work of Kevin Trudeau <http://www.ktradionetwork.com/> , who’s been convicted <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kevin_Trudeau> of credit card fraud and has been fined for making false and misleading claims – and who’s been frequently sued by disgruntled customers. Of professional interest to me are stories about financiers and the Federal Reserve which have no basis in historical fact – and I say this as someone who knows more about Wall Street and central banks than anyone involved with Pacifica. Many of these narratives have deep roots in far-right politics – the Wall Street/Federal Reserve stuff has long been associated with crypto-fascist organizations like Willis Carto’s Liberty Lobby (e.g. the works of Eustace Mullins <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eustace_Mullins> ). Trudeau is a big fan of Matt Drudge and the odious Michael Savage.
None of this stuff can be taken seriously by anyone with an ongoing relationship with Planet Earth. For that reason alone, it’s a disgrace that we give it such prominence. The health claims expose us to prosecution and litigation – a legal risk we can’t possibly afford. But, that aside, airing this sort of stuff drives away sane and solvent listeners. Given the recent drop in our fulfillment rate, it seems reasonable to surmise that people who pledge on this stuff are more likely than most not to come through. So this strategy fails even on purely monetary grounds. But by driving away the audience, we’re undermining the station’s future. Do we really want to be known as the nonprofit telemarketing arm for lunatics and convicted criminals?
I’ve shared these concerns with interim program director Tony Bates and he dismisses my concerns as mere “outrage.”
We urgently need to figure out why we’ve lost listeners and how we can build the audience back up. This is not the way to go about it. It’s a guaranteed route to insolvency and ridicule.