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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 matters."

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 in exile.



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 matters.

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 res.

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 fact.

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 denied.

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 sooner.)

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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