Former KPFA manager Andrew Phillips’ reconstruction of Pacifica station WBAI in New York City is on its second month. All of the station’s on-air paid talent were let go in month one. Now I’m noting quite a bit of west coast Pacifica content on the ‘BAI Program Schedule, specifically from KPFA in Berkeley and KPFK in Los Angeles.
Phillips sent out a memo last Thursday to all WBAI staff (hat tip to WBAI-nowthen), which announced that the station would start rebroadcasting Ian Masters of KPFK’s Background Briefing at 10 AM starting Monday (today if you are reading this on 9/9/13). The show already streams at five AM Monday through Friday.
“I will be direct,” the memo warned. “There is no guarantee that we are going to continue in our present form or even survive. I have never seen things this bad at WBAI. And now we face impending war in Syria with more U.S. involvement. At times like this, people tune into WBAI for an authentic alternative pov.”
In addition to Background Briefing, the WBAI Program Schedule indicates that the station is now running KPFA’s Project Censored Show with Mickey Huff and Peter Phillips, Against the Grain with KPFA’s Sasha Lilley and C.S. Soong, and Guns and Butter with KPFA’s Bonnie Faulkner
The memo told producers to be “on point” about Syria:
“It is likely we’ll be beginning a new morning show – 6-8am very soon. We are in negotiations. It will be a very different sound programming designed to attract a mainstream audience to WBAI. If we do not build audience in drive time we are finished. This is sink or swim. WBAI has floundered for more than ten years and now has insufficient audience to support it. Development and advertising will not save us – that’s a drop in the bucket. We must build new audience and attract old listeners back to their station.”
Music programming will play a less prominent role for the moment, the memo suggests: “As you know, the media market has changed drastically since I was program director here 20 years ago. There are many opportunities for music lovers to find the music they love online. But not so for public affairs such as Pacifica presents.”
Bottom line: “There is war in the Middle East and there is a war-like situation here at WBAI as we fight to survive. I mean it.”