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BINREV SPYD3R

"OFF THE HOOK" BACK ON THE AIR THIS WEEK WITH SPECIAL PROGRAM

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We've received word that "Off The Hook" will be back on for an extended two-hour program this Wednesday from 7 to 9 pm ET. We don't know if this is because of pressure put on WBAI management after being preempted for four weeks or simply because of an unrelated programming decision. Regardless, the support we've received has been very uplifting.

Now for the fun part. This program is being scheduled in the midst of the Winter fundraiser, which we haven't been able to participate in because of all of the preemptions. There is also the issue of undelivered premiums to our listeners from previous fundraisers, which prompted us to decline to offer new premiums until these issues are resolved.

This puts us and our listeners in a rather unenviable position. We clearly need to do well on Wednesday if we intend to continue at WBAI. But we need to do this without offering any of the cool things we usually donate to the station. So yes, we need our listeners to call in and pledge support for the station this Wednesday without getting anything in return other than the opportunity to show that our program has an audience that is there when we need it. And we've never needed it more.

It sounds a bit unfair, but it's really what it should come down to in the end regardless. You should only be calling in if you like the program and want it to continue. Whenever we're able to offer extra stuff as thank-you's, we will do so. But this week, what we really need to see are numbers. The more people who call in, regardless of the pledge size, the better. Please don't assume someone else will do it. If 100 or more people (a small fraction of the listening audience) call in within that two-hour period, even with small pledges, we doubt we'd ever find ourselves preempted more than rarely.

We've heard from a number of you suggesting that we move to a podcast-only format and avoid this hassle. But we feel the hassle is worth it. Besides having the accessibility of a radio studio, we also have the airwaves. People who listen to us via podcast have already done some of the work in tracking us down and are at least somewhat familiar with what the hacker world is all about. With radio, you can literally reach anyone by chance, which is part of its magic. Just as we prefer to have our monthly meetings in public spaces rather than inside clubhouses, we feel broadcasting to free airwaves is a great opportunity to open a door to the public - perhaps to understand our perspective and to get involved themselves. And a 50,000 watt FM station in the middle of New York City is a pretty nice door to have opened. As long as there's a chance of keeping that alive, we intend to fight for it. This week, we need to send a message that there are lots of us out there - and that we're listening. We feel a statement like this is essential at this point if "Off The Hook" is to continue.

Please spread the word - call +1 212 209 2950 between the hours of 7 and 9 pm this Wednesday, pledge whatever you can to WBAI, and make sure you let them know that you want to continue to hear "Off The Hook" every week. We intend to bring you a special two-hour program, as devoid of on-air pitching as possible. A strong response will help ensure this as well as our future at the station. If you have feedback for the show, write to us at oth@2600.com. You can also find all of our previous shows in our archive at www.2600.com/offthehook.



http://www.2600.com/?q=content/hook-back-air-week-special-program
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But we feel the hassle is worth it.

Meaning, "if we left WBAI, things would become favorable for us, and we wouldn't have anything left to piss and moan and feel hopeless about."

Besides having the accessibility of a radio studio, we also have the airwaves.

Which last I checked you already have access to elsewhere, because fuck WBAI!

They really would have done well to actually listen to and consider some of the things Monroe used to say, instead of just blow him off or act all exasperated whenever he called in. Yeah, he could be an unforgiving ass at times, but he had BAI's best interests in mind. Some (many?) of his predictions of doom are coming true before their very eyes. The station (Pacifica itself?) has become such a monster clusterfuck of mismanagement, bad accounting and programming decisions that they don't even deserve the little bit of funding they'll probably get. Emmanuel has joked in the past about BAI flipping to country (I've always thought that was ironically funny, since where I am 99.5 actually is a country station (KWJJ)) Well, selling out to a commercial/semi-commercial entity may well be what'll save it. Rather than wondering if they'll have money from month to month to pay rent and utilities on their studio and transmitter site and all.

That or do a couple weekend marathons a month of reruns of Robert Fass and Bernie Fleshkin's shows. (Or/and the Midnight Ravers) That'd probably turn BAI around really quick. But that would make sense. ("The 'Off the Hook Classics' Saturday", anybody?)

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Obviously what would make a radio station successful is beoynd the grasp of simple listeners like us.

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So... I'm guessing either they must have been preempted again or BAI finally kicked them out? The most recent (would have been 2015 March 04) Off the Hook isn't there.

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Meaning, "if we left WBAI, things would become favorable for us, and we wouldn't have anything left to piss and moan and feel hopeless about."

 

Well, Emmanuel isn't the biggest fan of NPR. If he ended up getting a timeslot on WNYC-AM or -FM, he'd still still have plenty to piss and moan about. Though that's assuming they'd put up with that; airing your dirty laundry is unthinkable in most places.

 

In a way, I can kinda understand his dilemma. On one hand, it's awesome to have a real show on a very good sized FM signal in the top radio market in the country. There's a lot of perks to having a real staff behind you, and being able to reach anyone just tuning the dial. On the other hand though, I know how radio politics can be. Or at least commercial radio politics. There was one particular situation where I'd seen a local talk show host who covered very strange topics - usually stuff associated with people making up crazy stuff. And to be fair, I do know of at least a few guests who'd just outright made shit up. I never asked the host if he knew about that.

 

Anyway, a new program director was coming in who didn't particularly like the show, but it pulled in really good ratings: asking the host to leave would've been unthinkable. So there was also a board op who did news breaks there. This board op happened to really like working on the show - much to the point where they'd chime in every so often, and quite frankly, they sounded great together. Since this was a news station, the program director was concerned about their reputation if there were news personnel making such close, on-air contact with a subject matter that really isn't always seen as all that credible. So the program director sends the board op an email asking to limit their interaction with the host. Long story short, the board op was very angry, but complied. To the program director's credit though, I've never heard any instance of them telling the talk show host not to say anything.

 

From listening to Off the Hook, I think Emmanuel is a very staunch believer in being able to look at any topic without restraint. He's probably worried that WNYC won't honor that commitment as much as WBAI, and that turning his back on them would deal a great blow to an alternative media outlet in the city, even if sometimes it's just an alternative to rational thought. And he's probably right - WBAI is in pretty serious shit, and the show draws in an audience that's both fairly large and generally has a good amount of spending power.

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No, I don't think they would, NPR is really a big joke these days. (That's another thread entirely.)

I meant WUSB, where he already has another program and (presumably) more seniority than at WBAI (he has been there quite a long time). (Maybe there's a policy at USB prohibiting people having more than one show? Don't know) Especially with all of his going on in years past on Off the Hook advocating college radio, now seems a better time than any to move to it.

But generally NPR is, for what it's worth, kind of a lost cause. Like PBS, the big corporate overlords have it by the balls. Even I wouldn't begin to consider NPR as anything other than a very VERY last-ditch fallback, if I were in his boots. I couldn't begin to imagine that they'd even approve something like "Off the Hook", let alone get it to air.

It's just that hacker culture and the "All Things Considered" crowd tend to clash in most places.

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I couldn't begin to imagine that they'd even approve something like "Off the Hook", let alone get it to air.

 

I don't know enough about where affiliate partnerships end and begin in public radio, but the station is owned by New York Public Radio, not NPR itself. Certainly it'd be worth at least sitting down with them? Or even one of the locally owned commercial AMs. The show fits a talk format, and a lot of them are definitely open to new ideas to raise value for the property. They could use some help getting up there on the PPM scale.

 

I wonder if the hardest part has actually been getting anyone to talk to them. What with WBAI's reputation for airing conspiracy shit, they might stop reading the second they see that name.

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As far as I know NPR doesn't own any stations. NPR, like PBS/APM/PRI etc. is only a programming distributor that provides content _to_ stations. The stations themselves are almost always owned by external organizations like universities, independent groups or state-run propaganda outlets like OPB*.

Unfortunately, all too often the corporate quasi-commercial mentality prevalent in NPR tends to make its way down to the local stations. The 2600 guys wouldn't last long talking about the sorts of things they do on a truly noncommercial station like WBAI, or even WUSB, on an NPR affiliate even on a strictly local level. The sponsors (oh excuse me, "underwriters") would likely pull their spon...erm, "support" right there, which would kill Off the Hook FAST. (Yeah, they could always get solely non-corporate funding: grants, endowments and that rot-- heh, like anybody ever succeeded doing that.)

Ever notice how on the News Hour they never talk about the explosions and other problems with Bakken oil tanker cars? They don't want to upset Burlington Northern (one of their sponsors) and lose funding.

Granted, they _could_ take up broadcasting locally through an NPR affiliated independent like WNYC, but they'd probably have some pretty draconian restrictions imposed on their subject matter. They'd have to severely limit the controversial topics they discuss to avoid offending the big money that listens to public radio. (Ever listen to "Morning Edition"? Such mind-numbingly uncontroversial, dumbed-down popular blather that NPR might as well be syndicating an audio version of "The NBC Today Show".) Basically, it would end up having so little resemblance to the WBAI program we're already so familiar with, that it would almost be a completely different show.

* Private joke (don't ask).

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