WGXC-90.7 FM

WBAI pulls 'Off The Hook'

Feb 21, 2015 12:02 am
"Off The Hook," the radio show from the 2600.com hacker collective, airs on WGXC Saturday mornings at 7 a.m., but first airs at 7 p.m. Wednesdays on WBAI in New York City. The new low-power FM Woodstock station WIOF (104.1-FM) has also been airing it live. For the past four weeks, WBAI has stopped airing the show, and the hosts have released this statement explaining why:"

We've been trying to work things out with WBAI for quite a while now, but the time has come to be a little more public about what's been going on.

For months we've been attempting to resolve the many premium issues that remain at the radio station involving our weekly hacker program that has been airing since 1988 at 99.5 FM in New York City, as well as over the net at http://www.2600.com/offthehook. (For those who don't know, premiums are items sent to listeners as a thank-you for pledges to the radio station. Traditionally, they are donated to WBAI by 2600.) We've had many listener complaints about premiums dating back for years that have not been delivered as promised. Some progress was made on this front last year, but our attempts to follow up have been met with either silence or a circular passing of responsibility to someone else. And we have yet to receive ANY update on the Autumn 2014 fundraiser, where we donated 64gb thumb drives containing all talks from the HOPE X conference. Not one person who pledged to the station during that fund drive has received what was promised to them.

Since November of 2014, we have been attempting to get this information so we can provide or replace the premiums. We've also made it clear to the station that we cannot offer new premiums until this situation is addressed, out of fairness to our listeners. The only response to this has been an order from the general manager to not talk with anyone else about this and what appears to be an indefinite suspension from the schedule.

This is not a situation we can continue to tolerate. Our listeners have been extremely generous in their support of our program and of the radio station. Through this problematic period, we have never told people not to support the station in order to keep it on the air. We simply want to make sure those people who are there for us get what we have promised them. The failure of the station to return any of our email or telephone messages is simply inexcusable. It's also self defeating, as "Off The Hook" listeners have brought in many thousands of dollars in recent fundraisers. The replacement programming hasn't done nearly as well. More importantly, treating a highly relevant and popular program like "Off The Hook" in this way is bound to have an alienating effect on our listeners.

We hope to see this situation resolved quickly, as it should have been months ago. We will not be silenced or intimidated into not addressing the issue, on air or off. We are all losing a valuable forum to discuss issues such as net neutrality, online censorship, leaks, and hacker issues at a time when such topics have never been more relevant. A look at our archive at http://www.2600.com/offthehook should be enough to demonstrate the importance of this program remaining on the radio where the mainstream can continue to have access to it.

If you have pledged to WBAI through "Off The Hook" and have not gotten a premium you were promised, please email us at oth@2600.com. We know that nobody has gotten anything they pledged for in the October 2014 fundraiser, as we have not been given any information on fulfillment, so there is no need to email us if you're still waiting for something from that period. For other periods, it's possible that WBAI has lost track of them, in which case we will do our best to replace them ourselves. Rest assured, we will keep attempting to get all of this resolved, no matter what anyone else tells us. We hope that cooler heads will prevail and put our show back on the air so we can resume the valuable service it provides for our many listeners. We apologize for the void this has created."

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