The Listeners of WBAI in Asssociation with
Save Our Station & U.E.
invite you to a Listeners' Forum on Pacifica Radio: WBAI
January 5, 1998
at P.S. 41 at W. 11 St. & 6th Ave.
6:30 - 10:30PM
Inside the school there is a line leading to the auditorium door. I
hear Munroe's voice loud and clear(?). He is arguing with a fellow
guardian of purity. The line is slow. They are signing something at the
door. I have already signed the obligatory document in support of Mumia.
One signing per evening is enough for me. I hand my donation to Shawn
Rhodes sitting at the table and work my way around the clipboards and into
Flat light floods an old and beat-up public school auditorium.
Hand-lettered signs protesting Pacifica's sins are taped to the walls. On
the stage - a table, folding chairs, a large BAI banner, some partisans.
Wandering about the hall I see a few radio producers/hosts. It is about 7
4 or 5 people now sit behind the stage table. One announces that they
will be starting in 15 minutes. A very loud voice from the rear of the
hall asks "How are you going to run the station if you can't start a
meeting on time?" Much shouting support and laughter from audience. A
minute or two passes and the official says they have decided to start post
Introductions & opening statements - Jim Damen*, a producer, will
R. Paul Martin (union Chief Steward, producer): there has been a BAI
Union since '87. In Spring '96 - negotiation. 2/97 - NLRB ruling in favor
of union, Pacifica and lawyers appeal. Bill Wells 20 year Chief Engineer
fired 1 year ago, Station Manager Valerie vanIsler protested unemployment
benefits - Wells loses in hearing. Management wants "strip"
programming, want to homogenize programs
M. Elder (listener on stage): doesn't like government/pharmaceutical
viewpoint on AIDS that he feels predominates on BAI, Gary Null is the
exception, complains about Bob Lederer and "experts" used to
raise money during Marathon (Len Horowitz - author of "AIDS and Ebola
- Emerging Viruses")
Mimi Rosenberg (producer): objects to "glib criticism" by
Elder, we should be "constructive," the Board does not represent
the community, only one person of color on it, only two in audience.
Thankfully, Prog. Director, Arts Director prevent BAI from being subsumed
by Pacifica. (rousing speech each time she gets a chance) Speaks about
right to unionize, calls for diversity
Joung Yoon Lym (ex-producer): terminated (she and Radio Bandung) for
violating gag rule, replaced by AsianAmerican Focus, criticizes uncritical
acceptance of Len Horowitz ("he was not asked rigorous questions
during fund raising"), he was to be guest on RB, they were preempted,
she was reprimanded for critiquing move to Wall St. She says she has
copies available of her notice of termination
Brother Shine (producer): problems/this meeting (?) - "it's not
about programming," Max, Sidney & Tom (50 years experience) will
lose jobs, yields his seat to Samori Marksman who is in audience, Samori
evidences reluctance to come to stage
Samori Marksman (Program Director, producer) makes his way up to stage,
sits at table: mentions Asian Pacific program, makes accusation of
"lying" by some on panel, challenges "anyone in room to
show any program" that does not support ideals of founders
Throughout the evening there is loud, often angry, abusive, accusatory,
off-the-wall shouting from audience. At one point a listener screams,
"Ignore the heckelers!"
Open microphones period for audience input -
Mario Morillo (Public Affairs Director, producer): It was reported to
him that after leaving a union meeting there were jokes/comments about
pronouncing his name (anti-Latino ethnic bias implied), accuses
"some" at table of wanting to harm station
Samori: Folio union person was fired, thinks Folio should be
reinstituted. Report to Listener - bumped during Marathon. Why not back?
Mistake - it will be reinstated.
James Hibler (BAI News Dept.): union rep (Bro Shine) was to be with
Joung Yoon Lym at meeting/hearing with Samori, Samori denied her this
Samori: "some of you don't care," he won't address specific
contradictions of particular program, "if there was one program
producer in my 21 years experience that should be banned it is she who
sits at this table," (identity?) won't go into it now, BAI has gone
from 11,000 to 18,000 subscribers
Woman who works as consultant with nonprofits: Pacifica, unlike others,
offers no anual report, there was no report on thinking behind move to
Wall St., demands to know where the money goes. "We are the funders -
it is our station!" She very loud, angry, gets big ovation.
Someone suggests/demands that each day at 5:55 PM announcements about
the station (board meetings, issues, etc.) be broadcast
(most memorable statement of night) Listener: "My name is Al
Framser, also known as Buldek in another life..."
Shelton Walden (producer of Walden's Pond): Bill Wells was fired
"it had to do with a trumped-up charge about the Emergency Broadcast
System." He, Shelton, was also "technically" fired. Valerie
vanIsler appeared at the Unemployment Compensation hearing to fight
against him. She has "serious problems and should not be in a
position over other human beings."
Mimi Rosenberg: $50,000 to print Folio (per what?)
Mitch: view move to Wall St. positively - "punish capital from
building on Wall Street"
Others in audience: urge "write in support for Folio;" a
complaint that astrology is a regular part of Wakeup Call; Report to
Listener should occur more often (Munroe reminds that it used to be
broadcast every 2 weeks in the early days) and more than the usual 20 - 30
minutes should be allowed for listener call-ins (Samori thinks show should
be 90 minutes); many words of support and applause for Radio Bandung.
John, Mother of all radical shouters, will not relinquish Microphone
Left. 2 or 3 other shouters gather around him in a shoutfest, decrying
shouting and intransigence.
Woman: challenges Samori on Folio, calls on him for specificity re
Bob Fass (producer for 30 years): his "carpal tunnel
syndrome" reminds him of past problems with management at station
when he was dragged by handcuff out of station to appear before "a
judge who owned a competing radio station." He says someone quoted
Samori saying about him - "He is a disruptive element." Bob
"respects" Samori but implies he takes diasagreements personally
Suprisingly, the meeting ends on time. I get a copy of the notice of
termination from ex-producer Joung Yoon Lym, wish her well. Woman talking
to her says evening probably did some good, was "a venting." Out
in hall I try to introduce myself to Samori but he is on the move. I exit
into the unusually mild January air. The multitude of buildings look down
bearing indifferent witness to the moment. I pass people on the street who
have not a single thought about WBAI.
BAI listener since mid '60s
* The name I heard as "Jim Damen," I learned in 2001,
was actually Jim Dingeman.
Letter to Samori, thanking him for
attending the forum.
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