Additional notes on '98 SOS Forum posted
to WBAI Issues board
A Few Thoughts Sun Jan 20 05:38:13 2002
Sometimes you don't realize how much something means to you until it is
gone. And sometimes you don't realize how much you love something until it
comes back. That was the case with the return of the "real" WBAI
for me. As a listener since 1965, I had forgotton how much I love WBAI
until this week.
But. . .
I remember attending a meeting at P.S. 41, I don't remember when. Maybe
'95 or '96. At that meeting, it was sponsored by the then SOS (Save Our
Station) listeners were upset about the gag rule, firings, the
encroachment of Pacifica. As memory serves people who were opposed to the
listeners fears and concerns, included Samori Marksman, Mario Murillo,
Mimi Rosenberg, and Amy Goodman.
I remember both Samori and Mario stating publicly that dont' worry
about what goes on behind the scenes, it is what is on the air that
What worries me now, is the nature of our "victory" here. It
is a victory for producers and program hosts, and yes, that is important.
Loyal listeners are thrilled at "what is on the air" now. But
how do we prevent a takeover or worse from occuring in the future? That is
the essence of all of this to me.
We can't afford to have just a return to programming and leadership
that was in place on December 21.
We need democratization and we need it now.
Some of the thanks from the producers and hosts to the listeners seems
geniune, both some of it sound disingenious to me.
I remember responsding once to a fund raising letter for WBAI signed by
both Samori and Amy Goodman. I wrote back and said that I couldn't give
money until the Pacifica gag rule was no longer enforced on WBAI, that was
a long time before the Christmas Coup of 2000.
I don't know if I am alone in this, but I would have felt a lot better
if one person had thanked Patty Heffley for what she did back when.
SOS meeting, Monday January 5, 1998
Frank, Sun Jan 20 07:59
(this was a repost of my notes on the meeting)
Yup, that was the meeting Sun Jan 20 10:11:14 2002
I see that it was only 4 years ago. I also remember Mimi Rosenberg
calling for "time" on any speaker that she disagreed with at
that meeting. It was so ironic that we she finally got the microphone she
went into a talk that was more like a filibuster. I remember calling out
"Time!" at her. Frank, your notes are very detailed and helpful.
My memories are still clear though on the chilling comments made by Samori
and echoed by Murillo, about what is on the air is all that matters.
If we had addressed what was behind the scenes at Pacifica and WBAI
earlier we wouldn't have had to endure the past 13 months as a listnership
I remember it too Sun Jan 20 11:30:40 2002
My memories are still clear though on the chilling comments made by
Samori and echoed by Murillo, about what is on the air is all that
It does seem chilling in light of what eventually happened. But even
though it was only four years ago, it was a different time - a time when
Pacifica was recognized as a problem, but when it was believed that
Station Management would stand up to Pacifica and fend them off. Samori
believed that WBAI would always be successful at keeping Pacifica at bay
as long as they were strong, and that meant being financially strong. Thus
he placed great emphasis on million dollar fund drives. Samori believed if
WBAI was independently successful that Pacifica would never come after us.
He also believed that it would do a disservice to the listeners to bring
them into the frey. They were paying for good air, and that is what they'd
get, not dirty laundry.
He both overestimated and underestimated the power of Pacifica - I
don't think he ever dreamed that they would be overthown, but rather saw
them as an ongoing necessary evil, a part of doing business. At the same
time he never thought that they'd come after WBAI as long as it remainded
viable and financially strong.
In those days (4 years ago), WBAI was percieved as an independent unit,
rather than a node in a wholistic network. What happened in Texas or DC or
LA was of little or no concern. What happened in KPFA in '99 was of some
concern, but the feeling was that it "doesn't affect us". And
listeners were just that - listeners.
How much has changed since then! We see ourselves as being a vital node
in a 5-station network. The idea of listener empowerment has now become a
given. When the coup happened, and Amy Goodman said "It's up to you,
the listeners to save the network", everything changed forever.
It's fascinating to go back to those early meetings, and the bright
lights that were giving early warning, and also seeing the resistance,
which was part "world view" part political, including a great
distrust of Jim Dingeman, who always managed to place himself in media
Those were different times, and we've come a long, long way!
Re: I remember it too Sun Jan 20 12:18:30 2002
Joung Yoon Lym, regardless of what Samori said at the time, was fired
because she violated the standing gag rule in being critical of the move
to Wall Street. At the time, Grandpa and the RFE guys had less time on the
air. When Lym was booted they each picked up a half hour of her time.
There was no protest on her firing on those programs This is historical
Yes, it was a different time but all the issues where in place for the
Pacifica takeover. The woman who rose and spoke of the absence of
financial transparency on the part of Pacifica and WBAI was right on then
as she would be now,saying the same thing. So much of this goes back to
the 1977 crisis. Some lessons just weren't learned then.
Yes, this is a time for reconciliation, but it is also a time to learn
from the past. I am a big fan of Grandpa Al and his programming. But I
think he has a short memory when he wants to fire the fence-sitters,
because back in '97 he sat on the fence himself while he vultured air time
from a gag-rule "violator."
I was no running mate of Lym and didn't necessarily find her
programming on point, but the purpose of WBAI is not to have 168 hours of
programming on the air that I like. She was unjustly fired for breaking
the gag rule, which every other progammer had "honored". This
acceptance of the policy enabled what followed to happen.This can not be
I was boycotting then, and the new "old" WBAI being on the
air may not yet be a reason to abandon the financial boycott now. We must
have democracy and accountability. The Pacifica takeover and subsequent
Christmas Coup happened on our watch. The listeners needed cooperation and
assistance from the on-air producers in '98, as much as the banned and the
fired need cooperation and assitance from the listeners starting in
December of 2000. The difference is that the listeners came through in
2000, but the producers failed to stand up when needed, much of what
transpired after that has to fall on their shoulders.
Lets not lose focus now with revisionist history. To many of the
producers WBAI was their show, their air time. Only when it became
intolerable for them to do their shows, did it become time to challenge
the status quo.
We need to do what is necessary to protect WBAI from now on. Learning
from our mistakes is an important part of the process.
this listener slow to act Sun Jan 20 14:59:18 2002
I am glad I have my notes, because I remember little else about it
except the dischord evidenced among producers. Back then, I kept hearing
callers (probably Dingeman and Patty) bringing up looming problems, only
to be brushed off by Samori, Bernard, etc. ("What do you mean, 'We're
being taken over by Pacifica'? We ARE Pacifica.") I was not comforted
by this -and the lack of info re budget - AT ALL, but didn't know what to
do... and hoped that Samori was right and was a good captain, capable of
navigating the troubled waters. The fact is though, there was no
"crisis" that I could see and I had no info.
Even back then (when I was a computer newbie) I could see that BAI was
totally ignoring the Internet. The station site was not well-maintained
and most producers offered no email contact. There was no way to really
have a dialogue. When DN was threatened back in the Fall of 2000, I
(knowing a little more about www) decided to "do something" by
starting this web board. I put it online and handed out fliers at the
Leonard Peltier demo... can't remember if I did any other promoting...
probably emailed the producers I had addresses for. Then came the 3 women
with their baby and the rest is history. Unfortunately, it just points to
the fact that folks (like myself) will not act until there is a "real
crisis." (Actually, I was - and am - involved in a number of other
pre-crisis activist campaigns and may be another reason why I didn't act
I agree about regarding Grandpa's bluster with a large lump of salt.
When I heard his characterizations re "good Germans," all I
could think was "God save us from the righteous"!
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