Back of the Book — December 6, 2014

It's Friday night, December 19, 2014, 23:23, and I've added Pickles of the North's narrative about going to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons inflated. The original top of this page follows the arrow. ⇒ It is a dark and stormy night. We are not going to be doing some stuff we'd planned to do tonight, but we will talk about some breaking news. I plan to update this Web page over the next fortnight, so check back in for those updates.

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, December 10, 2014, at 7:00 PM at The Theater for the New City, in the “CINO Theater,” at 155 1st Ave. between East 9th and East 10th Sts. in Manhattan.

The WBAI LSB met on Wednesday, November 12, 2014, at 7:00 PM at The Theater for the New City, at 155 1st Ave. between East 9th and East 10th Sts. on the lower east side of Manhattan. Yes, we met in “the Johnston Theater.”

The LSB heard a report from the interim Program Director. The main thing I heard from his presentation was that he is leaving to go back to his real job in January. He also went over some of the things he's done and some things that he plans to do. Well, we'll see how this all goes.

We also got a report from the General Manager at this meeting. He was not pleased that I had reported what a person associated with the WBAI Community Advisory Board (CAB) had said that WBAI was leaving the CCNY studios after February. Well, it's too bad the General manager didn't attend the local Finance Committee meeting where this was reported, he could have given his side then. But when I asked the General Manager if his comments meant that WBAI would still be at CCNY on March 1, he waffled and then said that he couldn't say that. Uh huh, this is called a non-denial denial. And we had been told previously that CCNY has forgiven WBAI its back rent and wouldn't be charging us any more rent. That doesn't sound like an arrangement designed to endure for an indefinite period. It'd be good if we could know something for sure.

There was no Treasurer's Report at this meeting. As usual I put out a written Treasurer's Report for all to read. Yeah, there's a typo in it, but that's what I'd presented by the deadline so I'm leaving it there.

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.

Here is WBAI's current Internet stream. The stream does appear to be working at this time.

WBAI is archiving the programs! Unfortunately, WBAI appears to have permanently switched to a new archive Web page. I am currently trying to get an archive blurb up there, so far I have had mixed results. Try this page and see if you can find the archive of this radio program. Or, if you don't want to root about through a great many listings on a rather unorganized Web page, try clicking on this link to get to a page of links to the audio of whatever has been airing in this time slot for the past couple of months. There's no program description, but at least you can hear the program this way. Half of the programs on that page are Back of the Book programs, and since the General Manager has banned Sidney Smith from WBAI there's no telling what the other half of the programs on that page might be.

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 a number of workers have quit their jobs in disgust. The people who want to sell off WBAI started on their destructive path with the firing of the Executive Director at a critical time. The Executive Director, Summer Reese, said she had 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 barricaded herself and the National Office workers in the National Office along with some supporters. Yeah, Pacifica got some great publicity from all of this.

The disputed Executive Director 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 been ineligible for CPB funds, which have been a significant part of every station's budget.

UPDATE: There have been lawsuits filed, and judgments rendered in the cases brought by the minority PNB members against the actions of the majority PNB Directors. I'll keep this running battle updated on the appropriate Web page.

Bring Back Uncle Sidney!

Our friend, fellow WBAI producer and Saddle Pal Uncle Sidney Smith has been banned from WBAI by General Manager Berthold Reimers. The General Manager will not say why. He won't even tell Sidney why he's banned! This is grossly unfair to Sidney and constitutes abuse of Staff. Why did Berthold ban Sidney?

There's a posting here about it. More to come.

The odds are very high that we are going to have to postpone a segment regarding a World War I incident and its relation to some other things we had announced on the previous program. We hope we can do it on the next one.

We plan to talk about the Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice and Michael Brown killings, and all of the stuff that's swirling around them.


We are really hoping to be able to get to some mail on this program. As it is, we're not sure though. We hope we can get some in. We have quite a backlog.

Dr. Stephen Hawking has said in an interview with the BBC this past week that the machines are going to take over and supersede humans! I think he's probably right. We hope to talk about this tonight.

Woodstock on Snoopy.
Woodstock on Snoopy

Pickles of the North went to the annual balloon inflation that goes on every year before the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This event happens on the grounds of the American Museum of Natural History. As Pickles relates below, she went with some friends, one of whom is 14 years old and has gone to this event every year of her life.

Here's a shot of the Woodstock and Snoopy Balloon. Pickles told us about this adventure on the air and here's her written account:

Pickles here. We have a tradition going back over 15 years of attending the inflating of the balloons for Macy's big Thanksgiving Day Parade. Back before it became a big thing it was lots of fun to stroll around the blocks surrounding the American Museum of Natural History, drinking street-cart cups of cocoa and admiring the big tanks of helium and the way the workers pumped up and then anchored the balloons. Various friends would meet and attend; even R. Paul ventured forth once but found the ever growing crowds too much of a pain in the ass to deal with, so once was enough for him!

Now it is a Big Deal and masses of people show up. I usually meet our pals Martin, Melissa and Iris and we have slogged through mild nights with people so tightly packed we could hardly move, or slipped along in freezing rain, or had our feet frozen during snow storms, and most lately endured a Nor'easter which did a lot to cut down on those masses, though one lady did manage to ram me with her stroller not once but twice, without anybody else around either of us. Sheesh!

Inclement weather is the best for the now officially named “balloon inflation.” You can linger as long as you like with nobody to jostle you. However, with wind gusts of up to 45 miles an hour, and a driving rain, it was so unpleasant that we all had to laugh. We ended up both soaked and frozen. But we had a really good view of all of our favorites on the road to being fully inflated - the old tyme elves, the little fat policeman and fireman, the giant Christmas ball, the house-sized twin pumpkins. Spiderman with his gargantuan butt rising majestically in the air. And dear Snoopy and Woodstock - so cute!

After lingering long enough to lose the feeling in our fingers, we entered the only bottleneck of the evening - the street corner designated as The Exit, which had been french barrier-ed into a tiny useless space. We were crammed unable to move for a few minutes, then bolted into the street and headed out to find a place to warm up and get some eats. Thanks to the terrible weather, we had a great time!

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.