Wednesday, July 12, 2017


WBAI GM Berthold Reimers
WBAI GM Berthold Reimers told station listeners on Monday (7/10) that the station will hold a rally and press conference on Thursday (7/13) at 1:00pm. 

Reimers plans to announce how the station will respond to a motion for summary judgment filed by the Empire State Building (ESB). 

In that motion, ESB is demanding immediate payment of $2.2 million of missed rent payments for WBAI’s antenna on the top of the building. WBAI has not paid the rent since July 2014.

The summary judgment asks for immediate payment of the amount due or ESB will seize some of our Pacifica’s assets, meaning its FCC licenses.  Therefore, the debt is a problem for Pacifica’s entire national organization.

During an appearance on Michael Haskins’ morning drive program, Reimers told listeners to gather on the south side of New York’s City Hall at 12:30pm and walk together to the site of press conference.

WBAI's Empire State Building coverage
Reimers said he will announce on Thursday:

1. WBAI demands that ESB withdraw their motion for summary judgment.

2. Demand that ESB let WBAI out of the lease agreement and negotiate a new cheaper agreement.

3. If ESB refuses, WBAI will leave the ESB and move their transmitter and antenna to another location.

Reimers does not discuss what WBAI plans to do about the $2.2 million debt they owe ESB. It appears that Reimer’s strategy is to create a public outcry that somehow will convince ESB to drop their lawsuit and motion for an immediate judgment.

Reimers summed up his rationale:

“WBAI is being asked to pay for rights to the air, which already belongs to the people.”

You can hear an aircheck of Reimers appearance on WBAI here.


Reimer’s muddies the situation even further by throwing Pacifica’s national office under the bus. He said the ESB lease was negotiated, and signed in 2005, by management of Pacifica Foundation, the organization that owns the five Pacifica stations. Each station operates semi-autonomously with its own Board.

Then Reimer’s backtracks and talks about an alleged resolution he negotiated with ESB in July 2014. He told WBAI listeners:

I said [to ESB] we cannot afford to pay $12,000 a month – it would force us to go bankrupt. ESB said if WBAI would make token payments, they wouldn’t take us to court of anything.  It was a verbal agreement, nothing was written down or anything. It was a handshake understanding.

ESB said such an agreement was never made. Plus, ESB said Reimers was not authorized to negotiate on behalf of Pacifica’s national office because he wasn’t a member of the national organization’s Board of Directors.

Haskins opened WBAI’s one phone line for listener questions:

Listeners also pressed Reimers about related matters. One asked about WBAI’s fundraising strategies other than frequent, endless pledge drives. Reimers replied:

“We are living in New York City and there is loads of money out here. We have not received funding for some grants because we do not have a current audit to show them.”

“I think all of our paperwork is in order but sometimes in an audit you need to provide justification and it takes a while to find the documents. We don’t have enough staff to organize all that stuff. We should do that on a regular basis.”

Another listener pointed out that when the ESB/WBAI lease was signed in 2005, the WBAI staff knew fully what the cost of the lease was and agreed to pay that amount. Now WBAI is saying that the ESB took unfair advantage of WBAI.

Others said WBAI and Pacifica are in an impossible situation regarding the $2.2 million they owe. Dwayne, a WBAI listener from the Bronx said:

“ESB’s motion for summary judgment is impossible for Pacifica to defend. It is an issue of material facts. There is no doubt they owe the money.

Reimer’s had no reply.


  1. There is a bit of confusion here; an agreement was made to pay the partial payments, all from a rent escrow account set up for this. However, the agreement was with the Pacifica national office. The problem came up when it was reported that Reimers then spent the escrow fund. Its not clear whether he thought Pacifica was going to make these payments, but when the first payment came due, there was no money to pay it with.

  2. It seems that the budgets should have included this basic expense all along and a plan to pay for antenna. It appears that they didn't and ignored the rent. They should have re negotiated it ages ago or moved out. This is incompetent management and legal counsel

  3. Incompetent management and legal counsel, indeed. Reimers' incompetence became clear when he was handed the job by an incompetent hiring board. almost a decade ago. Nobody did anything to correct that fatal mistake, except erstwhile iED Summer Reese, who fired him, but was quickly overruled by a corrupt Pacifica National Board. Details of all this can be found on my blog, Years were wasted when Reimers and his gang engaged in coverups and told lies so outrageous that many actually believed them. Ironically, Reimers' hiring was in large measure based upon the financial expertise he claimed to have in a falsified resumé. His annual salary is said to exceed by $10,000 his opening salary of $100,000.00. WBAI's listenership is currently the lowest it has ever been, so the often extraordinary programming has been replaced by months of cheap marketing of bogus health "cures" and pirated audio material.

  4. I was with the station from 1978 to 2013 when they laid off 90+% of the staff because of the usual money short falls. We were months behind at "Empire: even then. Bad management for decades no vision toxic work space an us them cultural mindset plus the usual crowd of fanatics of one sort or other on the air driving away likely subscribers. Btw are they still celebrating Mugabe's birthday, and airing racist program about mixed race peoples. Should I bring up the decades long Jew hate? As I say I was there over 30 years. There were always in that time a handful of creative professionals there doing good work despite not because of assorted management's toxic culture of failure at the station.

  5. "Incompetent management and legal counsel, indeed. Reimers' incompetence became clear when he was handed the job by an incompetent hiring board. almost a decade ago."

    Correction to Chris Albertson's comment above. Reimers was appointed by then interim Executive Director Grace Aaron in 2009 - just one of her many bad decisions while she was in that job.