Posted by: Doug Henwood | March 26, 2011

Another purge at WBAI

WBAI’s program director Tony Bates has ousted another critic of his fondness for quackery and conspiracy theories: Bill Weinberg’s Moorish Orthodox Radio Crusade has been “terminated.” Read about it here.

It’s highly likely that these purges—coming along with those at KPFA (recap here)—are being directed by Pacifica management. It all makes me wonder how much longer I’ll be on at KPFA.

So a radio network with strong signals in five major metropolitan areas, with the capacity to reach about 20% of the U.S. population on terrestrial radio, is being turned over to advocates of chemtrails, 9/11 lunacy, oregano oil, and elixirs that can nearly kill their creator (if you get the wrong batch).

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Responses

  1. This has been a *very* long time in the making, at WBAI. I remember – years ago, now – Emmanuel Goldstein of “Off the Hook” being openly frustrated & incredulous at the use of this 9/11 garbage during fundraising; and then getting hit with a flood of angry emails & listener calls (which he thought it fair to read/air). Fortean times over at the station, if you know what I mean…

  2. I caught that announcement on Indymedia. Though I am unfamiliar with the names and faces of WBAI internal politics, it is a sad turn as you describe it. News and information stations, especially progressive ones should strive for accuracy. Debunked conspiracies (9/11 or otherwise), and aids denial should be anathema to a station that seeks truth not their fundraising staple.

  3. I always enjoy reading these Pacifica craziness updates.
    The moonbeam part of the left that you refer to is getting great market share in this small demographic.
    I’m afraid there is nothing that can stop this conspiracy nuttery. Not facts, not scorn, the money is pouring in for the homeopaths, the chemtrailers, the lizard folks.
    Even on your Berkeley station, there is some kind of herbal hour that’ll send them to GNC/ Null, Inc. in droves.
    I have no allegiance to these anti-rationalists, so I’ve got nothing to do with them. By your willingness to ally yourself with Pacifica in order to do your show, you’ve got to put your good name alongside them. Is the trade-off worth it? That’s your decision purely, and perhaps it is. But what about the Pacifica “mission” survives, to you?
    The whole thing seems senseless, but that’s to me, someone who aspires to do no radio. Why can’t Sean Penn bankroll you and have you start your own network? Clooney? Rich liberals have oceans of money – what the hell are they doing with it?

  4. For selfish reasons, I’d prefer you keep your show going Doug.

    But Martin makes a good point. The quakery does have an audience and that’s the larger tragedy.

    The reason for this is the lack of decent anti-capitalist political economy. The capitalist right has a wrong-headed narrative, but it’s coherent — markets, free enterprise, etc… That coherence keeps the nuttier elements of the right from hijacking their whole enterprise. This despite the fact that they will play paddycake with them.

    And, yes, I get that the right has BIG institutional advantages. But that doesn’t prevent the left from formulating and promulgating a strong, rational alternative to capitalism/imperalism/fundamentalism.

    Without this, people who question the status quo, who should be natural constituents for social democray, latch on to conspiricism; or even simplistic anti-globalism and anti-Americanism. (There, I said it).

  5. Or simplistic anti-globalism and pro-Americanism. (As in, treacherous usurpers in Washington DC have sold out the constitutional republic to greedy interests who have no country and worship mammon.)

  6. It might be possible to get *back* on the WBAI and KPFA airwaves with some good old-fashioned conspiracism. Specifically, the idea that Pacifica management either have been infiltrated by or are agents of the far right, possibly a joint effort like the John Birch Society, by alienated extremist militia-types on one hand and by wealthy and powerful corporate types with a penchant for antisemitism.

    At this point it’s the only possible explanation.

  7. [...] publication of inaccurate or misleading scientific data.” It’s not just the right, as Doug Henwood has documented, it’s taken root in so-called alternative media, [...]

  8. Alas, one thing KPFA will not cease to be is an advocate for the Democratic Party. But as DP leftists also have a penchant for myopic conspiracy theorizing, it will be a good fit.


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