Another Holocaust denier pops up on WBAI
WBAI’s execrable “Guns and Butter” continues to deliver its weekly horseshit. I tuned in recently and heard a guest claiming the environmental movement was a secret socialist plot to abolish private property. The guest made up several facts and assigned new meanings to terms like “austerity.” The most recent (8/11) program featured yet another Holocaust denier. This time, the guest was Michael Hoffman, author of tomes like Judaism Discovered: A Study of the Anti-Biblical Religion of Racism, Self-Worship, Superstition and Deceit and The Great Holocaust Trial: The Landmark Battle for the Right to Doubt the West’s Most Sacred Relic. While he seemed to mostly focus on a rambling Masonic conspiracy, Hoffman did at one point praise the Nation of Islam’s noxious text, “The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews,” a farcical work that claims Jews were responsible for the slave trade.
After the program, WBAI engineer Michael G. Haskins offered Hoffman’s most-recent book as a fundraising premium. I’m afraid I was a bit overly generous towards WBAI management in my last dispatch dealing with “Guns and Butter.” I naively assumed station management was unaware of the content of the show. Now I am convinced management is either cynical, or possibly shares this noxious ideology. Sources tell me the station is well-aware of the type of anti-Semitic vitriol being broadcast on “Guns and Butter.” I’ve never been able to get a response from anyone at WBAI on the matter, but some station supporters I’ve spoken with default to the tired “free speech” excuse. This defense doesn’t hold up as WBAI management is notorious for purging program hosts at will any time one of them publicly criticizes this bastion of free speech. Consider the fact that not a single current station host has publicly called out “Guns and Butter,” though a few have privately expressed outrage. Of course, these are the same people who spent the entire Trump presidency huffing about the threat of imminent fascism.
I used to think WBAI was an important community asset that could still be turned around, in spite of all its flaws. There are some good programmers working to change WBAI’s direction, but I’m hardly optimistic about the future. At some point the station’s donors (including its large low-income listenership) will get tired of ponying up money to bail WBAI out of its perennial financial crises. In the meantime, I’m watching—and listening to—the train wreck from a distance.
On Being and Nothingness at WNYC
Much as WNYC provides some really essential news programming, there’s still a good deal of dreck we can’t get down with. Take “On Being,” an independently produced show, officially distributed by WNYC. The program “takes up the big questions with scientists and theologians, artists and teachers.” Some interesting guests make their way onto “On Being.” Still, host Krista Tippett lays the treacle on heavy. She winds up each show by telling us, “The On Being Project is located on Dakota land,” though she doesn’t specify where exactly that is, or if any of her well-funded staff are drawn from the tribe. Soon after, Tippet launches into her list of funders, a lengthy list of big-money foundations, including the Charles Koch Institute. That’s the same Koch, who along with his late brother David did more to undermine action on global warming than possibly anyone alive. You can trace support for pretty much any awful political initiative, from restrictions on voting rights, to the stacking of the Supreme Court with right-wing judges back to the Kochs. Cloying performative wokeness and enlightened consumerism probably make a good deal of NPR listeners feel good, but we’re not having it.
Funk Flex draws thousands to Coney Island
Thousands of people endured an hours-long line up and down the Coney Island boardwalk to attend Funkmaster Flex’s birthday party last weekend. The Hot 97 deejay’s party, held under the auspices of the City Parks Foundation’s Summerstage, featured a handful of other famous radio deejays, including WBLS’s Red Alert. A few rappers made special appearances, including a far-too-short set by Rakim, still one of the all-time greats.
And no matter any one’s claims about the medium of radio slipping in relevance, Funk Flex, an FM disc jockey is still able to attract a crowd that only a major athlete, movie star or platinum-selling musical act could draw.
Blind Tourist back on FMU/Mahogany with Sonika and Bailey
We’re glad to report Adrienne Lilly’s “the Blind Tourist” is back on the WFMU schedule (Mondays, 8 pm). This show distills weekly themes from found audio footage, often from other radio stations around the world. Lilly wields the medium of radio as an artform. “The Blind Tourist” is really one of the more interesting things on the radio.
A rather recent addition to the WFMU schedule worth checking out is “Mahogany with Sonika and Bailey.” According to its page on the WFMU site, “Mahogany” is “a show that seeks to explore and celebrate the varied textures in which black and brown artists have expressed their experience of the world spirit over time.”Some of the textures I heard included Anthony Braxton, Wadada Leo Smith, Coltrane and a good amount of funk/soul with some of Amiri Baraka’s voice woven in. The show reminds me of the better late-night shows I used to catch on WKCR when I would stay up all night with the tape recorder running in hopes of catching some rare Strata East records. It’s on Thursdays from 6-7, just before Hearty White’s ingenious “Miracle Nutrition.” The energy and vitality of shows like these are a big part of the reason we listen to (and write about ) radio. You know, when the people putting it all together have really done the work and the gears align nicely and you find yourself really taken somewhere else for an hour or so.
Inching toward our one-year anniversary
We’re coming up on this site’s one-year anniversary in September. Frequency and Amplitude was born out of some late-night pandemic conversations at Brooklyn’s Parade Grounds. A few friends who listen to lots of radio agreed on the idea of setting limited parameters (mostly radio, mostly analog) and stretching the limits of our self-imposed strictures. We hoped some of the resultant prose might be of interest to others. Looking back, we think we’ve had our moments. Freq-Amp has resisted the trend of pumping out content for content’s sake. Day jobs and family have limited our ability to update the site as often as we’d like. We still haven’t lost interest yet, and that means something. In year two, we will likely be expanding beyond just radio into other areas of broader interest. There is no grand plan, we’re going to take it as it comes and see where it goes.
Thanks to all of you who have read, those of you who have emailed, those who liked the site, those who let us know what they didn’t like about the site, and thanks to all those who toil to make the airwaves a little more interesting.
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