Top Menu

WBAI taps into west coast Pacifica content

Ian Masters Background BriefingFormer 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.”

Just one dollar a month makes you a patron of Radio Survivor. Help us through our Patreon Campaign!


, , , ,

7 Responses to WBAI taps into west coast Pacifica content

  1. MaryO September 9, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

    Former WBAI News Editor, now independent Andrea Sears, has been doing quite a bit of work on Syria, pressing on with her passion for journalism. She’s been picking up a fair number of hits from Turkey and Lebanon, too. Have a listen at She’s on Twitter at @LeftVoices.

  2. Chris Albertson September 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    What Andrew Phillips has done, so far, is making a big difference to the listenability of WBAI’s offerings. The programs he imports from KPFA and KPFK are simply better than the generally sloppy, stagnant content that lost WBAI most of its listeners. He emphasizes that these are temporary changes intended to fill the welcomed (my word) absence of some truly awful programs. There is still a long way to go, but Mr. Phillips is getting there—the main thing is that one can now finally hear that something is being done to repair the station.

    In the meantime, after three years of gross mismanagement, WBAI’s GM, Berthold Reimers is still largely invisible. He finally posted his monthly newsletter to the station’s site (none appeared for August), optimistically projecting that the station will break even next year. We are given the impression that this is due to intensive work being performed by him and Andrea Katz, his Interim Development Director, a crony who has served the station none too well in the past.

    There is no mention of Andrew Phillips, who is making a real difference correcting the many serious programming mistakes created and/or perpetuated by Berthold Reimers himself.

    Pacifica needs to let Reimers go so that WBAI’s staff/volunteer morale can rise and former listeners can regain trust in the station.

  3. John Jones September 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm #

    We need David Wynyard back at the station.

  4. KoHoSo September 14, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    If WBAI has to pick up some of Pacifica’s west coast programming, Ian Masters’ Background Briefing is an excellent choice. I hope the good people of New York will give it a chance. One link of interest is Masters’ next-to-last blog entry before he apparently gave up that feature on his website. It’s not exactly complimentary of Pacifica.

  5. Kim Kaufman September 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

    Ian Master has been rebroadcast on WBAI for about two years. This is not news.

  6. Matthew Lasar September 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    You are wrong, Kim. It’s news. True, for the last few years WBAI ran Background Briefing once a week (see 2012 schedules here and here; early 2013 schedule here). But now Andrew Phillips is airing the show every workweek day twice a day. That’s broadcasting one of KPFK’s signature shows for ten hours a week. Plus he’s added KPFA shows Against the Grain and Project Censored to the schedule. That’s tapping into west coast content, which is news.
    Maybe if you can’t give Phillips any credit, at least a little slack at this point?

    • Kim Kaufman September 20, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

      This wasn’t anything about Phillips – it was more about you trying to make mountains out of molehills. I have no problem with what Phillips is doing with what he’s got to work with.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes