Here is another performance by Clifford Jordan, Ronnie Matthews, Eddie Kahn and J.C. Moses recorded in WBAI's tiny 30 East 39th Street studio during the station's first fun-raising marathon, July 1965. On the right is a New York Times editorial that appeared in the July 7, 1965 issue a few days after the marathon ended and we returned to normal programing. I wonder if the writer of that editorial is still around and how he would react to the station as it sounds today—not positively, I suspect. You can still hear good things at 99.5, but the station is currently run by people who lack the kind of integrity and intellect that made WBAI stand out. It is truly a shame and while you are probably tired of reading my observations regarding the decay of an extraordinary radio station, I hope you understand.
As I tune in and hear scam artists pushing their wares to an unsuspecting listenership, I am reminded of a fable written by the late Gene Lees for the pages of Stereo Review. It was many years ago and I wish I could bring it to you here, but I haven't a copy, so I will give you the gist of it, in my own words.
Gene's story was about a very fine restaurant, a singular establishment known for its exquisite cuisine. It was also about the new owners of that restaurant and how they gradually altered the menu until the sauce—which no longer contained that decisive dash of Chateau Beau-Sejour Becot—had a brand name. Poured on thick, it all but obliterated a chopped patty that now sat on plates once occupied by exquisite slices of choice Wagyu. Ah, that steak! It lingered in one's memory and the very thought still brought moisture to one's mouth.
The establishment had not changed its name, finding it advantageous to coast on its reputation, but as the cuisine morphed from the memorable to the mundane, so had the patronage and munchies for the masses had a nice ring to it at the cash register.
The story brought in much mail and while most readers wondered what it was doing in Stereo Review, others actually got it. This, they surmised, was a tale inspired by Columbia Records. Indeed, it was, and some people at Blackrock were none too pleased.
Here is Clifford Jordan with a sample of what brought us the pledges and money 45 years ago. Hearing original music played live by extraordinary performers conveyed the message: WBAI was no ordinary radio station. That said it all, and it was very real.There was no need to push fake cures or tabloid-type stories.