Back of the Book — April 26, 2014

It's Wednesday, May 7, 2014. 03:25, and I've updated this Web page with the location of the next LSB meeting. Previously I'd updated it with the E-mail we read on the air linking to some photomicrographs, and I've posted the information that we're pitching on the next program. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ We will leave really early for this program so that we will not run into the problem we had the last time. We discussed the death of a long time producer, the apparently imminent bulldozing of net neutrality and a science related topic on this program. The Back of the Book radio shoe horn was mightily wielded on this program. Check back here for the inevitable updates, which I hope I get posted in a timely manner.

Did you know that I've got a brief synopsis of some of the WBAI LSB meetings? Well, I do, and I've recently updated some of that.

I have also posted a whole lot of the minutes of the Pacifica National Finance Committee. I'm a member of that committee because I'm the WBAI LSB Treasurer.

The next WBAI LSB meeting will be held on Wednesday, May 14, 2014, at 7:00 PM at The Theater for the New City, on the 1st floor in “the Johnson room,” at 155 1st Ave. between East 9th and East 10th Sts.

The WBAI LSB met last on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, at 7:00 PM at the offices of the Legal aid Society 111 Livingston St, 7th floor, in downtown Brooklyn.

This LSB meeting was mostly taken upwith discussions about the “sustainability plan” mandated by the current PNB and a discussion of the current crisis with the majority on that PNB claiming to have fired Pacifica's Executive Director Summer Reese and Ms. Reese's insistence that she is not fired, and her occupation of the National Office. We let everyone in the room have a say, even people not on the LSB. Some of those people has interesting ideas, and some were really clueless. One of the crazies who's been around for a couple of years now was attacking me, saying that Robert's Rules of Order says that I'm not allowed to make motions ad amendments at the LSB meeting. Yeah, this is the sort of stuff I have to put up with.

The LSB did not get to a Treasurer's Report at this meeting, but I put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read.

In the end the LSB, at the urging of the Chair of the WBAI Community Advisory Board moved to urge WBAI Management to get nine more phone lines installed in the station ASAP. One faction operative, Cerene Roberts, tried to amend that down to four lines. I think it was mostly an amendment made out of spite. Her amendment got voted down, although all of her fellow faction operatives voted for it, and the motion urging the installation of nine phone lines got passed.

The phone lines are used to contact listeners who haven't fulfilled their pledges yet or who need to be contacted about problems with premiums and such.

At a previous meeting the WBAI LSB voted to hold its regular meetings on the second Wednesday of every month and/or the last Thursday of that month, subject to change by the LSB, which gives us the following schedule:

All of these meetings are set to begin at 7:00 PM.

WBAI has a program schedule up on its Web site. The site has gotten many of the individual program pages together to provide links and such, so check it out.

Because WBAI was forced out of its studios by the flood waters' destruction of the building's electrical system we still have this alternate, temporary stream for the radio station! I do not know how long this emergency stream will be up for. If this stream isn't working let me know.

WBAI has put up a stream for the Apple iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. So if you have one of those devices you might try the link out. And let us know how it works for you one way or the other. That way the folks implementing it can iron out any kinks in the system.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Just go here and you'll be able to listen to this program any time for the next couple of months. You may need to scroll up one line to see the audio archive. Let me know if you find this feature useful. There is also another version of the archive here.

If you want to listen to any part of the WBAI archive click here to go right to the archives. When you first go to the Web page you'll only see the WBAI programs for the past 7 days. If you want to see older programs you can click on one of the “See ALL Shows” buttons. Or to see only the two shows in this time slot click here.

Back of the Book is one of the programs that you can download, as well as listen to on line.

In the table on the archive Web page Back of the Book and Saturday Morning With the Radio On are both in the “Show” column. The “Date and Category” column shows the date of the program. After the program I go in and write the details of the program and say which program it is. Of course I'd recommend that you just listen to both programs in this time slot!

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in Manhattan the weekend of October 1-3, 2010. The audio has been posted for the first day of the meeting, the second day of the meeting and the third day of the meeting.

The Pacifica National Board (PNB) met in Washington, D.C. February 7-10, 2014. The big news is that they have mandated that there be no negotiations with the four candidates for the PSOA for 60 days.

Given that the PNB has had a change in its membership that has affected the balance of power, this postponement of any negotiations may actually be a ploy by the people who want to sell WBAI to make that sale more likely. It is possible that a PSOA would allow WBAI to come back after a few years, but it would also not result in a big cash influx to the rest of Pacifica, and that is what some people at other Pacifica stations want. Well, things are pretty much up in the air with WBAI right now.

You can listen to the public parts of the quarterly PNB meeting by clicking on the below links:

The Friday session
The Saturday session
The Sunday session
The Monday session

Chaos and fighting continues on the PNB and at the Pacifica National Office. The people who want to sell off WBAI have started on their destructive path with the firing of the Executive Director at a critical time. The Executive Director, Summer Reese, says she has a contract with Pacifica and that the PNB can't just violate that and fire her the way that they did. So the Executive Director is barricaded in the National Office along with some supporters and the PNB members who want to, among other things, sell WBAI are exchanging barbs with her. Yeah, Pacifica's getting some great publicity from all of this.

The disputed Executive Director has issued a press release giving her side of this episode. Here is her press release. Luckily for the Pacifica stations Ms. Reese worked to get the CPB filings done by the March 14, deadline despite having been fired the day before. Had she not done this work Pacifica, and all of its radio stations, would have missed out on all of the CPB funds for which they are currently eligible.

UPDATE: A lawsuit was filed by some of the PNB Directors asking a judge to grant a temporary restraining order, among other relief. The judge's decision is here. Everyone has another date in court before the same judge about the rest of the complaint on May 6.

Robert Knight

Long time WBAI and Pacifica producer Robert Knight passed away this past fortnight. We were told that he'd been battling some medical conditions for a while.

Robert had been producer/host of the free-form live radio program Earthwatch for decades. He had been a reporter in and Director of the WBAI News Department for some time, and in that role he anchored the WBAI Evening News.

Along with Dennis Bernstein he had produced the Pacifica national program Contragate, which was later renamed Undercurrents. He had been on any number of other programs on WBAI and Pacifica throughout his decades long association with WBAI and the Pacifica network.

Robert Knight also had a history of picking fights he couldn't win. A dispute with then General Manager Phil Tymon got him fired as News Director, and a battle with Program Director Bernard White got him removed completely from WBAI for some years, during which time he still appeared on KPFA with Dennis Bernstein, and elsewhere.

Robert and I were both interested in the sciences, but we had fundamentally different approaches. One example was Robert Knight's programming around the “Face on Mars,” which was an image caught on a 1976 Viking 1 photograph. Robert Knight talked about this on the air and took the side of those who touted it as proof of a conspiracy by NASA to keep people from knowing about advanced life forms on Mars. I talked about the “Face on Mars” as another goofy thing some people got into, and most likely an artifact of shadows and light on a low resolution photograph. Robert subscribed to a lot of conspiracy theories and often ignored evidence that challenged them.

I much prefer to remember the Robert Knight of the 20th Century. As things changed for us all at WBAI, with Robert's close ally and former girlfriend Valerie Van Isler getting fired as WBAI General Manager in late 2000, and then brought back along with incompetent Program Director Bernard White in early 2002, Robert had a side in many of the internal disputes at WBAI and in Pacifica. After Van Isler's final departure in November 2002, there were changes in the internal power structure at WBAI and Robert Knight was driven from the station in 2004, eventually being brought back in 2009, with a change in Management at WBAI.

I should say that Robert Knight and I did not get along in the 21st Century.

He was a part of WBAI's history, and he was one of we producers. He will be missed. And maybe I should say more about Robert Knight's part in things at a later date.

The Reshaping Coney Island skyline
An Addition to the Coney Island Skyline

Pickles of the North and I went to Coney Island this past fortnight. We saw that they have partially erected one part of the new roller coaster that is being built there.

This roller coaster will obviously be an addition to the skyline of the Coney Island amusement area. This part of it is already one of the taller things down there.

They're just calling this roller coaster the Thunderbolt. Pickles and I think it should be called Thunderbolt II. The Thunderbolt was the name of the original roller coaster that used to occupy this piece of land. The Giuliani administration tore it down because they said it was an eyesore for the people they were trying to get to go to the minor league baseball games at what was then Keyspan Park, and is now renamed MCI Park, and which may be named something else in the future.

The original Thunderbolt was interesting because it had a house under it. This was an actual house where people lived for decades. In fact after the roller coaster wasn't being run anymore people were still living there.

The original Thunderbolt could have been repaired and updated, but tearing it down fitted several political agendas better. This Thunderbolt is reportedly going to provide a ride that lasts less than one minute! That's sort of emblematic of the fast buck approach that so much of the new development at Coney Island is based on.

our notice that we're pitching
Yep, We're Pitching on the Next Program

We will be pitching on our next program on May 10th. We'll be pitching as a part of the WBAI 2014 Spring 'Thon. The station is fighting for its life right now.

To the right is our official notice that we're pitching on the next program. It's taken from a spreadsheet program schedule that Management sent out. Management apparently has forgotten that Sidney changed the name of his program when we were all moved into this time slot 2½ years ago, and Management never remembers which program is on which week. But it's our notice that we are pitching. It's an obligation we take seriously on Back of the Book.

Everyone has heard about all of the cash flow woes of WBAI, and before this program the station's call-in phone lines had been shut off due to missing a deadline for payment of yet another bill that was in arrears. There are always bills, and WBAI is still playing catch up. Things are actually somewhat better than they had been in 2013. The station needs to raise enough money fast enough for the improvements to start paying off. We will be pitching on the next two programs, and we hope that everyone who listens will pledge then.

A recent poll by the Associated Press found that 51% of Americans reject the very idea that the Big Bang happened at all!

The Vatican will canonize two recent Popes tomorrow. Wow, it's a Pope-A-Palooza!

Really, this just shows the overt corruption of the Catholic Church these days. At least in the old days they mostly let some time go by before they declared their dead political allies to be saints.

It appears that the FCC is in the process of caving in on the issue of net neutrality. We plan to talk about this tonight.

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued a report saying that climate change is happening and it's going to affect every human being on Earth, and a lot of other life forms as well. From food prices in America climbing higher due to the prolonged droughts out in the Imperial Valley of California to entire habitats disappearing under the rising sea level to the intensification of “hunger hotspots,” the rest of the 21st Century may not be a fun place. We plan to talk about this a little bit tonight.

Are you making your own decisions? Are you sure? We're hoping to get to this topic as well tonight.


We did get through a little bit of the mail backlog on this program. One of the E-mails was from our friend, regular listener, contributor and donor Seth. He sent us a link to some interesting photomicrographs. And you can see how far behind we are on the mail just now. We may need to devote an entire program to catching up to the mail again one of these days.

Subject: Microscopic photos of Human Tears
Date: Fri, 22 Nov 2013 13:42:02 -0500 (EST)
From: seth

I thought you two might have fun with this. Of course, over the years, we've all seen many examples of microscopic photography---but I've never seen photographic enlargements of tears before!

Link to the page Seth was talking about

You can always send us some E-mail.

flowers in St. Nicholas Park after the last program
Early Spring Flowers in St. Nicholas Park

Yeah, I'm posting more photographs of flowers. These are the ones we saw in St. Nicholas Park after we left the CCNY studios after the last program.

No great meaning here, no point to make other than that they look pretty nice. It is good to not have everything covered in snow and otherwise gray.

There are a lot of issues that are considered hazardous to talk about on the air at WBAI, even though the gag rule was lifted in 2002. However, there is the Internet! There are mailing lists which you can subscribe to and Web based message boards devoted to WBAI and Pacifica issues. Many controversial WBAI/Pacifica issues are discussed on these lists.

One popular list the “NewPacifica” mailing list. Founded October 31, 2000, this list is sometimes lively and as of mid-2011, has 687 subscribers coast to coast.

Being lively, of course, it sometimes also gets a bit nasty. All sorts of things are happening on this list and official announcements are frequently posted there.

You can look at the NewPacifica list here, and you can join the list from that Web page too. If you subscribe to the “NewPacifica” mailing list you will receive, via E-mail, all of the messages which are sent to that list.

There is the option to receive a “digest” version of the list, which means that a bunch of messages are bundled into one E-mail and sent to you at regular intervals, this cuts down on the number of E-mails you get from the list. You will also be able to send messages to the list.

This list also has a Web based interface where you can read messages and from which you can post your own messages.

There is also the more WBAI specific “Goodlight” Web based message board. It is sometimes referred to on Back of the Book as “the bleepin' blue board,” owing to the blue background used on its Web pages. This one has many people posting anonymously and there's also an ancillary “WBAI people” board that's just totally out of hand. UPDATE: The bleepin' blue board has had to add a step for folks to get onto it because it's under attack by spambots. When you click on the above link you may be asked for a username and password. Type in Username: poster Password: enternow

When the computer in Master Control is working we sometimes have live interaction with people posting on the “Goodlight Board” during the program.

Our very own Uncle Sidney Smith, whose program Saturday Morning With the Radio On alternates with us, has a blog these days. You can reach his blog here.

We like to stay interactive with our listeners. Here are the various options for you to get in touch with us.

You can also send me E-mail.

And now you can even reach me on Twitter Twitter logo

WBAI related links

WBAI Listeners' Web page

WBAI Management's official Web site

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The contents of this Web page are copyright © 2014, R. Paul Martin.