Listeners respond to the 4-12-01
"Report to the listener" on WBAI
( a transcript of the program is still in the works )
From the list maintained by http://savewbai.tao.ca
Today the WBAI audience was treated to not one, but two, Reports to the Listener. One certainly has to wonder why current management needs four hours to present its case. By way of perspective, reports under past station management were generally one hour, and roughly 50% of each report was devoted to audience call-ins. Today, during only the last 25 minutes of the second report were listeners allowed to call in.
A listener, Dan Wilson, prepared the analysis below of today's events. After listening to caller questions this afternoon, Wilson reports that callers were "instructed to briefly ask a question, and that commentary was discouraged."
According to Wilson, in one instance, Leid told a caller that $6,000 has been spent on station security. Actually, at the recent Houston national board meeting, it was reported that WBAI has spent $14,000 on security, with an additional $3,500 spent to change the locks on all WBAI office doors and all main doors the night of the take-over.
It was also reported in Houston that an additional $23,000 has been earmarked for security costs at the station. (Informed sources expect security cameras any day.) Wilson also reports that the call-in period was "restrictive." A transcript of both the morning report and the call-in period will be provided as soon as possible. Thanks to Dan for his close attention.
WBAI Reports to the Listener, April 12:
stay strong and pay close attention,
"This most brilliant radio manifestation has become in a few short months an emasculated shadow of its former self. This is Leid"s legacy and she is welcome to it."--a listener
Friends, yesterday we asked those on the Concerned Friends of WBAI list serve to send in their reactions to the Reports to the Listener. Below is a first batch. It's an illuminating read, and encouragingly, many listeners seem quite savvy about current events. No one sent in a report that was favorable to management.
I thought I missed something. I turned on at 7am and except for the half-hour I was on the bus to work, I heard the entire proceedings. Not only were there no call-ins, the Leid clique was at its worst, showering each other with praises and lashing out at their enemies far and wide. I called a friend this morning, who like me has been listening to BAI since the mid-60s. I described the program as a mix of Humphrey Bogart's performance in the final scenes of "Caine Mutiny" and Nixon's just prior to resigning the presidency. Whether or not BAI has a future, this gang is finished as far as the progressive movement is concerned.
I only heard this report from about 8:30 on, but in that time one of the things that bothered me the most was Marjorie's statements about Amy Goodman. She was saying something like, "Wouldn't you think that someone who has a national show [and she emphasized the words "national show"] would be talking about some of these things if she's so disturbed about them?" Marjorie and Utrice mimicked and mocked Amy Goodman's signoffs, "From the studios of the banned and the fired," laughing uproariously all the while.
There are so many things that are deeply upsetting about this. First, it is so shocking that they would be taking Amy to task for not discussing the WBAI issues on the air, but instead focusing on the important issues she always does--police brutality, the U.S. plane that collided with a Chinese plane, and so on. Utrice Leid and her minions have consistently condemned "airing WBAI's personnel matters" on the air, and here they condemn Amy Goodman for focusing on her job!
One of the things I most admire about Amy is how centered and focused she has remained throughout all of the totalitarian tactics at WBAI, much of it abuse personally directed at her. She never wavers, she never falters, she never breaks down, at least not on the air. Amy Goodman is my hero. I also find it very upsetting and disturbing the way they talked about Amy without mentioning her name, quoting her and paraphrasing her and making fun of her without even the guts to take responsibility for their adolescent behavior by acknowledging upfront who they were talking about.
Kathy Kattenburg Astor
This morning Utrice Leid used the Morning Show to air her side of the story. I'd never heard her before. Aside from my impression of her arrogant and pretentious tone, she appeared to be gloating. (She must have won some sort of union conflict.) Joined by her less than gracious associate, a man whose name escapes me, but is best described by a rather uneducated manner dressed in a West Indian accent, she aired her racist agenda.
My god, she is a racist! She actually made allusions to people of color running the station now. This is what people of color want, as if she could speak for everyone. She slammed the white trust fund babies who have lost power, never mentioning that some of the best folks who left or were fired were people of color, as in "Bernard White".
If this is the future of the station, then it will surely be sold. Utrice Leid doesn't care about listeners like me. She has set her sight on developing an entirely new listener base that will bring in as much money as the old. This new base wants to hear misinformation that promotes a racist agenda, I think. I can't imagine the programming will be as high quality as in the past.
Carole Linda Gonzalez
I feel it's very difficult to listen to Utrice's "sweet and reasonable" tone of voice and match it up with some of what I feel certain she has done which I disagree with. I only tuned in to the Report starting at 8 AM so I don't know what I missed before that, but I just want to make one comment: what really, really, REALLY disturbs me and infuriates me is her continual misrepresentation about how "People of Color" are now in charge (I'm paraphrasing) and that's why a few (white) listeners are angry and upset.
It is blatantly and unashamedly a huge distortion of the actual, real-life events of the past few months. I mean, who has she kicked out of WBAI? Almost 100% People of Color! Who was the previous Gen'l Station Manager? And Public Affairs Director? (both were People of Color). Anyway, of all the distortions of fact, this one bothers me the most.
1. A key thing to watch since December has been how the listeners (i.e., the masses, the people) are treated and characterized. WBAI's interim management fears the masses. Evidence this morning: No calls taken, the notion that listeners would occupy our own station is characterized as threatening.
2. In addition to fearing the listeners, the interim management belittles the listeners. The scapegoating of Amy Goodman as a manipulative 'svengali' is not just an attack on her, her good work, and the communities served by her good work. It is also an attack on the intelligence of Bernard White, Sharan Harper, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Noam Chomsky, and the outraged masses of listeners.
3. Utrice Leid claimed that the recent pledge drive met its goals without being extended. Simply untrue. Anyone who listened knows that the pledge drive was extended. Further, she made it clear that she defines meeting goals in terms of pledges received, not actual cash. Many people made conditional pledges and will not be sending cash.
4. Utrice Leid is presenting success in raising pledges as a barometer of the support for the opposition to management. This gives us more reason to support and promote the boycott strategy. But it also shows that she's taking advantage of the fact that we as a movement were not united on the question of whether to boycott the last pledge drive. So those who tried to vote with their dollars by pledging to Democracy Now, Earthwatch, et. al. are all being mischaracterized as supporting management.
5. Diabel Faye says there's no "no Amy" policy, then goes on at length to say he told Mario Murillo not to allow Amy Goodman on the morning show or else.
6. Diabel Faye and others continued saying Amy Goodman should criticize management more on Democracy Now, and questioned why she doesn't. But Pacifica management made it very clear by firing Dan Coughlin that management will retaliate. Diabel is acting like the cop who says, "Go ahead. Run away" because he wants an excuse to summarily execute his captive.
7. Once again, it is clear that the gag rule only applies to management's opponents.
8. All anti-management speech is now being mischaracterized as deliberate incitements to violence. No examples of pro-violence rhetoric are given, because there are none to give.
9. Note what is not said. Back in December, Utrice Leid was promising that in due time, she would explain things from her perspective. But she has nothing new to offer us.
10. Also not said: not a word about Pacifica management, except an endorsement for Bessie Wash.
See you on the Brooklyn Bridge on the 28th.
serve the people,
This morning's "Report to the Listeners" contained so many misstatements and distortions of the truth that it would be impossible to highlight them all. What is particularly disturbing to me is how those giving the report abuse the power of the airwaves shamelessly to promote their completely inaccurate and unfounded assessment of the struggle for democracy at WBAI radio.
While this is nothing new, (it's been their attitude since December), it is becoming more and more transparent and sounds more and more lame to those who have been following developments at WBAI. On the positive side, the fact that current station management is compelled to address certain matters is evidence that listeners' efforts to reclaim WBAI are having an impact on those temporarily "in charge." While my frustration mounts with every word they utter, I am also most heartened by the work being done by hundreds of WBAI listeners.
What is most disturbing to me is the cavalier attitude toward those who express their concerns about the direction taken by WBAI and the public and inappropriate ridicule of Amy Goodman and listeners who are making a concerted effort to publicize the difficulties at WBAI. I am appalled at the on-going insinuation that there is a small group of conspirators within the station whose only purpose is to destroy the station, when, in fact, the actions of current management are leading the station toward disaster. The management's continued and totally inappropriate use of the race card is unconscionable and has no basis in reality. Lastly, instead of apologizing to Representative Major Owens, management suggests that the incident with Major Owens was "set up" and that he "hung up" on Utrice. This shows a blatant disregard for truth and for something called common courtesy.
There is so much more, but in the interest of space I will end with the statement that it is infuriating that the airwaves are now controlled by those who show no respect for those of long term and ongoing integrity and who will instead stop at nothing to protect their own fiefdom.
Madelyn Hoffman, listener and former WBAI member from New Jersey
I feel it's very difficult to listen to Utrice's "sweet and reasonable" tone of voice and match it up with some of what I feel certain she has done which I disagree with. I only tuned in to the Report starting at 8 AM so I don't know what I missed before that, but I just want to make one comment: what really, really, REALLY disturbs me and infuriates me is her continual misrepresentation about how "People of Color" are now in charge (I'm paraphrasing) and that's why a few (white) listeners are angry and upset. It is blatantly and unashamedly a huge distortion of the actual, real-life events of the past few months. I mean, who has she kicked out of WBAI? Almost 100% People of Color! Who was the previous Gen'l Station Manager? And Public Affairs Director? (both were People of Color). Anyway, of all the distortions of fact, this one bothers me the most.
I only heard the last part of the morning program and part of the afternoon program. They are getting even more outrageous in their accusations. All of the afternoon calls were against them. I tried to get through myself, but was not able to. They stopped the calls a little early I believe because they were all negative.
I wanted to say that they were making many statements about the issues without allowing the "other" side to comment. Since WBAI is supposed to be a "free speech" radio, why not allow a debate on the air?? I also was going to say that since WBAI is a free speech radio, I know that they will not cut me off when I attempt to give out the phone numbers and web site for people interested in hearing the "other" side.
Lisa in Brooklyn
As painful as it was, I caught most of the morning and all of the afternoon "distort to the listener" by Utrice Leid today (April 12th, 2001). There were too many deeply disturbing comments made during the 4 hours of propaganda churned out by this wacky group lead by Leid to address them all. It would take days.
That said, I know that the station I used to listen to somedays from dawn to dawn has become a wounded soul that exhibits signs of life a few scarce hours a week. Notwithstanding the work of Amy G. (everyday), Peter B. (Mon), Robert K. (Wed), Bob F. (Thur), Grandpa Al (pre-disappeared) and perhaps a few brave moments by a few brave producers elsewhere, this most brilliant radio manifestation has become in a few short months an emasculated shadow of its' former self. This is Leids' legacy and she is welcome to it. Perhaps when she finds herself nothing more than a footnote in the attempted destruction of free speech in America, justice will have been served.
In the meantime, please seriously consider joining the boycott of all Pacifica fund drives and don't stop there...double or triple the amount you might have donated and send it instead to fund the legal resistance. Some fear this will destroy BAI, others feel this is the only way to save her...give it some active thought and do what you can.
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