Defending WBAI

Berthold Reimers | 5/16/2013, 4:33 p.m.

Personalities like Earl Caldwell, Gary Byrd, Basir Mchawi, M. Saidia Mclaughlin and others who have links to the community seemed to have disappeared from view on the air. It seems that only a chosen few who are constantly begging for money have access to the airwaves."

The writer is incorrect. Byrd was on air for his weekly Saturday show, "Global Black Experience, Global Beat" from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 16, just as he has been for many, many years. Caldwell is host of "The Caldwell Chronicles," and he continues to host that show. Mchawi hosted with Sally O'Brien and Interim Executive Director Summer Reese Thursday, March 7 and continues to host "Where We Live" and "Cuba in Focus" from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Indeed, all of those people listed have shows on WBAI; please see the show schedule at www.wbai.org for details on their shows.

"The general manager seems to lack the accountability required of previous managers and program directors. This seems to contribute to the 'tribal warfare'that is evident in the programming and has an adverse reflection on the administration."

[I] Berthold Reimers, the general manager, send out a report every month to the listeners as well as reports at our Local Station Board meetings, which are open to the public. We invite the author to attend one to see what accountability standards he is held to.

"A woman from California has taken control and has even eliminated the world-renowned International Women's Day programming."

The writer is incorrect. There is no "woman from California" who has "taken control." Reese, the interim CEO of Pacifica Foundation (which is a national group of five sister stations), was recently appointed to the seat after her tenure as the chairperson of the Pacifica National Board was over. She came to assist us with on-air pitching for our Emergency Transmitter Fund. The decision to not offer International Woman's Day programming was made by the WBAI management because of the more pressing need to raise revenue on air so that the station would still be here next year to offer that programming in the first place.

"There is no accounting for money that has been raised. Fundraising has been ongoing since Feb. 1; no one seems to know the total amount raised to date."

Amounts raised are shown on the website via a meter. Please see the meter located on our website, www.wbai.org.

"The perpetual fundraising along with the same repeated programs turns the listenership off."

Having been a listener for so long, the author might have noted that WBAI was hit hard by Hurricane Sandy. As one of numerous not-for-profits and small businesses in the area, the effects were financially devastating. Lost revenue is not being covered by insurance because it is being deemed "flood related," and FEMA has extended deadline after deadline without addressing early applications for aid. The fundraising has been a community effort to keep the station broadcasting. All not-for-profits (WBAI is exclusively listener-supported and receives no paid advertising or corporate funding) have been hit hard since 2008. The pool for foundation grants has diminished and numerous government grants have been lost.